FILE – In this Sept. 4, 2013, file photo, then-incoming FBI Director James Comey talks with outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller before Comey was officially sworn in at the Justice Department in Washington. On May 17, 2017, the Justice Department said it is appointing Mueller as special counsel to oversee investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

 

On October 30, 2017, concurrent with Robert Mueller’s indictment of former Trump campaign chairman and longtime alleged fixer for the Russian mob, Paul Manafort, the brother of Clinton Family consigliere and Clinton campaign manager John Podesta, Tony Podesta, abruptly resigned as head of his lobbying and influence peddling company, The Podesta Group. The reason was that the indictment revealed a close and symbiotic relationship between Manafort, Podesta, and Vin Weber’s lobbying firm Mercury LLC, to support the pro-Russian regime of deposed Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych (see my posts on this episode here | here | here | here).

Just a few days ago, Mueller’s team asked a federal judge to grant immunity from prosecution to five persons in order to compel their testimony at Manafort’s trial. Now we know that one of those persons is Tony Podesta.

Tony Podesta, founder of the now-shuttered Podesta Group and brother to former Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, has been offered immunity by special counsel Robert Mueller to testify against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, according to a report.

Fox News’ Tucker Carlson announced on his show Thursday evening that two separate sources confirmed the offer.

“In other words, for a near identical crime, Bill and Hillary’s friend could escape and emerge completely unscathed while Paul Manafort may rot in jail. Only one of them made the mistake of chairing Donald Trump’s presidential campaign,” Carlson said.

I’m sure there are internet trial attorneys and internet former prosecutors out there who will say this is completely normal, but as a layman, it stinks. Why would Podesta get immunity when Mueller could just as easily over-indict Podesta for, say, felonious mopery with the intent to loiter, get a guilty plea and then have Podesta testify without limits as part of the plea? There is a lot here that gives flashbacks of how all of the potential Clinton-associated felons have been treated by the government. For instance, Paul Combetta, the guy who Bleach Bitted Hillary’s server, received immunity. The guy who set up Hillary Clinton’s server, Bryan Pagliano, got immunity. John Bentel director of the State Department’s Office of Information Resources Management, who seems to have approved Hillary’s personal server, got immunity. Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson, Clinton’s “lawyers” and co-conspirators, got immunity. And one can’t help but wonder the degree to which the cozy relationship Mueller’s number two guy has with the Clinton’s doesn’t factor into the “prosecutorial discretion.” Things get pretty Gothic out in the Hamptons if you’ve just presided over the indictment of the brother of Hillary’s closest adviser…and they are all at the party.

Based on this offer we can expect the other four witnesses will also be prominent lobbyists. As I said, Vin Weber’s Mercury LLC was in the Manafort indictment so it stands to reason that either Weber or one of the other principals will be on the list.

The real question is why Mueller is pursuing this action which is so obviously inflammatory and calls into question the integrity of the investigation. I have two different theories.

One. This is simply psychological warfare waged against Manafort. As the trial judge noted some months ago, it is obvious that Mueller has no interest in Manafort beyond leveraging him to try to get criminal charges against Trump. Manafort is in jail for the crime of participating in his own defense…apparently “witness tampering” happens when you talk to your own witnesses but the prosecutor is free to rehearse the testimony of his. Granting immunity to people who are just as mucked up with Yanukovych as Manafort would have to hurt.

Two. The only thing Mueller thinks he can hang on Trump is some nebulous “obstruction” charge to vindicate his buddy James Comey and he’s making this move as a way of baiting Trump into pardoning Manafort.

Whatever the reason, this is ugly and feeds a narrative that one would think Mueller would want to tamp down.

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