'He’s more scared of the Russians than jail': Former federal prosector wonders why Paul Manafort going to trial
Paul Manafort (Photo: Screen capture)

On Monday, Special Counselor Robert Mueller released the names of five witnesses granted immunity to testify against former Trump campaign aide Paul Manafort. Manafort's first day of trial is set for next week.

The big mystery surrounding Paul Manafort is why he's choosing to go to trial, given the preponderance of evidence against him. Why didn't Manafort cooperate with prosecutors in exchange for leniency?

On MSNBC Friday, former prosecutor Mimi Roach floated a disturbing possibility.

"I think he's more scared of russians than jail," Roach said. "This is me inferring based on the reporting we've seen. I think he's scared if he cooperated and provided information about Russian attacks on the election and conspiracy about the Trump campaign, Russians could come after him."

Roach and the other panelists observed that the prospect of the Russian government hurting Manafort if he cooperates is farfetched. Still, his insistence on going to trial—given the years he faces behind bars—is hard to fathom.

Other possibilities are that he didn't have good enough information to snag a good deal in exchange for cooperating or that he expects a presidential pardon if he's found guilty.