Despite efforts on the president's part to distance himself from his former campaign manager, an analysis of a legal agreement between Donald Trump and Paul Manafort reveals that the two are using a common mob technique that could eventually lead to a pardon.
Earlier on Thursday, Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani revealed to Politico that the president and his former campaign manager have a joint-defense agreement that allows them to communicate in a manner that is protected by attorney-client privilege.
"All during the investigation we have an open communication with them,” Giuliani told Politico. “Defense lawyers talk to each other all the time, where, as long as our clients authorize it, therefore we have a better idea of what’s going to happen. That’s very common.”
In an interview with The Atlantic, former federal prosecutor Elie Honig said those sorts of agreements are commonly used by the mafia to get their stories straight.
"These types of agreements are very common in mob and street-gang cases," the ex-assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted over 100 members and associates of La Costa Nostra told the magazine. "I’ve seen some joint-defense agreements with 20 participants … It enables and facilitates all defendants to get together and say, ‘Let’s get our ducks in a row.’"
"Strategically, it enables all the different defendants and targets in a case to get together, work out what they’re going to say, and get on the same page so as not to implicate each other," he added.
Former federal prosecutor Jeffrey Cramer told the Atlantic that the agreement signals that "both Trump and Manafort that their interests are aligned." Patrick Cotter, another ex-prosecutor, said it's "another way [for Manafort] to demonstrate his loyalty to Team Trump."
Though Honig said Trump's team must be wary of the appearance of a potential pardon being a means of obstructing justice, Cramer told the magazine the move is "not a bad roll of the dice" for Manafort.
"As we’ve seen from Trump’s past pardons, Manafort won’t need to wait on career prosecutors or the [White House’s] pardon office to make a recommendation," the prosecutor added. "It’s really just about waiting on the president’s whim."
Read the entire report via The Atlantic.