Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s troubles with special counsel Robert Mueller could deepen after it was revealed that Manafort’s attorneys have been sharing information with President Donald Trump’s legal team during Manafort’s cooperation with the Mueller investigation.
Former independent counsel Ken Starr said Wednesday on CNN that if Manafort was acting as a mole for Trump and feeding his lawyers inside information about the investigation, the “government is going to come down really hard” on him.
“You at this stage belong to the prosecutors. You’re now inside the tent, you’re part of the team,” Starr said of Manafort. “So to be leaking information to the lawyers outside the team, that’s going to be viewed very seriously and obviously is.”
“If you’re cooperating with the government, you should not be sharing information,” Starr said after host John Berman asked if Manafort was “some kind of mole”, funneling information to the president’s legal team. “The government is going to come down really hard on you. If he’s been sharing very helpful information, just call it a bad move.”
Starr also noted that Manafort might be safe if he was transparent about any information he shared with Trump’s lawyers.
However, reporting from The New York Times indicates Mueller was unaware of the arrangement between Manafort’s attorneys and Trump’s legal team — a situation one of the president’s lawyers acknowledged and defended.
The arrangement was highly unusual and inflamed tensions with the special counsel’s office when prosecutors discovered it after Mr. Manafort began cooperating two months ago, the people said. Some legal experts speculated that it was a bid by Mr. Manafort for a presidential pardon even as he worked with the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, in hopes of a lighter sentence.
Rudolph W. Giuliani, one of the president’s personal lawyers, acknowledged the arrangement on Tuesday and defended it as a source of valuable insights into the special counsel’s inquiry and where it was headed. Such information could help shape a legal defense strategy, and it also appeared to give Mr. Trump and his legal advisers ammunition in their public relations campaign against Mr. Mueller’s office.
Read the full NYT report.