As part of a CNN panel discussing the sketchy financial dealings of associates of President Donald Trump that may be under investigation by the FBI, talk turned to the biggest fish caught so far: former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.
Reacting to news that Manafort associate Richard Gates has reached a plea deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller to testify against his former partner, host Don Lemon asked what that portends for the already-indicted Trump confidante.
“I want you to explain, why Manafort is in bigger trouble than we might think,” the CNN host asked contributor Garrett Graff
“Well, Gates can bring new pressure,” Graff began. “But we also saw evidence on Friday that Bob Mueller’s team said that they have evidence of new bank fraud that Paul Manafort might be involved in.”
“This is a 68-year-old man, even 10, 12, 15 years in federal prison could be a death sentence for him,” Graff continued. “There is nothing about Paul Manafort that we’ve seen that says to me that this is someone who wants to risk dying in federal prison.”
Addressing CNN legal analyst Laura Coartes, Lemon asked, “The White House says they’re not worried because Gates is flipping against Manafort. Should they be?”
“Yes, they should be if there is reason to be — and that is kind of an innocuous way of putting it,” Coates quipped. “It may be that Manafort is the biggest fish in the category of money laundering, but if Rick Gates is able to give information — remember, he outlasted Manafort in the campaign, worked with the inaugural committee as well.”
“If there’s something that ties into the Trump administration, we’re talking about a whole different kit and caboodle than with Manafort,” she added. “But it could be two separate tracks. Gates flipping on Manafort may not mean Manafort will flip on Trump, but it will make Donald Trump’s transition team and the inauguration team very nervous.”
Watch the video below via CNN: