Former Watergate prosecutor Nick Akerman argued in a Thursday op-ed for NBC News that special counsel Robert Mueller’s work and pace as a part of the Russia investigation has been “remarkable” — and that should put President Donald Trump on edge.
This analysis comes in the wake of former Trump campaign Chairman Paul Manafort’s agreement to cooperate with investigators. Watergate prosecutors never achieved such a coup during their investigation.
“Mueller has already accomplished something that was not done in the Watergate investigation: He has flipped two major figures close to the president — Manafort and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn,” wrote Akerman. “There was no cooperating witness comparable in Watergate who was as close to President Richard Nixon as Flynn and Manafort were to Trump. John Dean had the title of counsel to the president, but he was not one of Nixon’s close insiders.”
He continued: “I’ve been a criminal lawyer, both as, a prosecutor and criminal defense lawyer, for over four decades. Manafort’s ‘Superseding Criminal Information‘ sets forth the longest recitation of facts I have ever seen admitted to in a guilty plea — dozens of pages plus attached exhibits. In that document, Manafort admitted to every fact the government has alleged in both the District of Columbia and Virginia prosecutions.”
He argued that Manafort’s conviction is now essentially “pardon proof.” The former campaign chair has now admitted, on the record, to crimes that states could bring against him even if Trump were to pardon him for all federal crimes, Akerman argued.
This move undermines one of the biggest defenses Trump has in his arsenal, raising the likelihood that Mueller’s probe could uncover seriously damaging information about the president or those close to him.
“When Manafort’s testimony is combined with the additional testimony of Flynn, Cohen and Gates, it appears that Mueller is quite likely on the verge of handing down new major indictments,” Akerman concluded. “These indictments could very well answer the ultimate question of what Trump knew and when he knew it.”