Deripaska made his money in aluminum and other things and offered to testify in exchange for immunity. The offer was refused. It wasn’t out of the goodness of his heart that he’d talk, though, because the testimony could be personally beneficial since sanctions against Russia include both the country and individual Russians. The personal sanctions make it harder for the Russian super-rich to move their money around the world, in a never-ending game of Monopoly. As Manafort’s sponsor into Ukrainian politics, where much of Trump’s Russian trouble began, Deripaska’s testimony could’ve saved the government time and money, assuming he’d tell the truth.
At the same time Rick Gates, Manafort’s deputy, was entering a guilty plea to lying to the Special Counsel’s investigators, Mueller filed a passel of new charges against both him and Manafort in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Virginia. The original indictment was filed in Washington D.C. The addition of a second venue upped the cost of Manafort’s defense and stacked up more penalties if he’s convicted in both districts.
Under house arrest and pacing the half-million-dollar oriental carpet that’s come to symbolize his luxurious excess, the former campaign chair, as per the pundits, is mulling a deal. They’re bound to be disappointed because Manafort has elected to trust the justice system that everyone else, so far, has felt with would doom them, (excepting the thirteen indicted Russians who are outside the jurisdiction). There’s a message here for others in the zone of danger; it isn’t over till someone in a black dress pounds the desk with their hammer.
Manafort might as well spin the wheel. He’s 67 and even a ten-year sentence puts him, statistically, pretty near the end unless his genes are superior to those of most men. Mueller’s new charges, therefore, likely don’t mean that much to Manafort. He’s ruined no matter how you look at it and has the choice of forfeiting all he owns to the government or, in the alternative, giving it to high power lawyers to keep him out as long as possible. Mueller, already, has a lock on Manafort’s assets in anticipation of forfeiture. This could hinder the defense but Manafort may have money, elsewhere, and there are 5th amendment (government taking) and 14th amendment (due process) issues involved which might be raised, in due course, to defeat any applicable criminal asset forfeit act provisions.
While Donald Trump could grant a pardon to Manafort it’s unlikely he’ll do so because that might make the president susceptible to charges that the pardon was an ultra vires act taken to mask his own conduct. It’s not like a pardon would matter because New York State Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, a Mueller correspondent, is waiting in the wings with state charges that the president cannot wipe out with the stroke of a pen.
Manafort, too, may fear negative consequences for turning on his Russian friends. Mueller, meanwhile, gets the opportunity to test fly case strategies for use on those not yet indicted. It’s going to be a long Spring, Summer, Fall, November for some people.