Paul Manafort isn't the first prominent political personage to be advised that, no matter what else he may do, never, never lie to the FBI or violate his oath to tell the truth in any other way. Because it will come back to haunt him.
In this case, his nemesis was a federal judge by the name of Amy Berman Jackson, her honor and avenging angel. "This is not middle school," she said. "I can't take away his cellphone. ... This hearing is not about politics. It is not about the conduct of the office of special counsel. It is about the defendant's conduct."
Or as the judge told Mr. Manafort in the course of a 90-minute hearing and severe lecture: "I'm concerned you seem to treat these proceedings as another marketing exercise." That was and is a mistake, and he soon found out just how bad a mistake he'd made as he was led off to the hoosegow.
Mr. Manafort must be aware of other politicians to get such wise advice and then ignore it. The name William Jefferson Clinton springs to mind--like a steel trap all baited and ready to snap shut on his most vulnerable parts. Pride still goeth before a fall, and in the case of presidents and their aides, it's a long, long way. So better not look down.
And yet there are still high and mighty pols, not to mention lower-downs, who show at least no outward signs of remorse as they proceed on their treacherous way in the course of this high-wire act. "Never let 'em see you sweat," seems to be their guiding principle if they have no other.
According to the prosecutors, on the very day after he was indicted in connection with various offenses, Mr. Manafort began trying to sway the testimony of a couple of members of a PR team who'd worked with him, sending them encrypted messages. The prosecutors allege that he tried to cover his electronic tracks by using a sophisticated method known as foldering by which multiple recipients of his emails could be given access to his communiques in draft form rather than his actually sending them. Oh, if only his conscience were as deep and active as his knowledge of computer science.
But this time Paul Manafort may only have outwitted himself. The accusations against him may be many, but they all stem from a single failure--that of his conscience.
Paul Greenberg is the Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial writer and columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Editorial on 06/20/2018
Print Headline: Jailbird