President Donald Trump has gone on a rampage against Robert Mueller upon reports that the special counsel is voiding his cooperation agreement with Paul Manafort, the president's former campaign chairman, on the grounds that Manafort has lied after reaching a plea deal in the investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election.
In a pair of successive tweets, Trump wrote that "....The Fake News Media builds Bob Mueller up as a Saint, when in actuality he is the exact opposite. He is doing TREMENDOUS damage to our Criminal Justice System, where he is only looking at one side and not the other. Heroes will come of this, and it won’t be Mueller and his..." and that "....terrible Gang of Angry Democrats. Look at their past, and look where they come from. The now $30,000,000 Witch Hunt continues and they’ve got nothing but ruined lives. Where is the Server? Let these terrible people go back to the Clinton Foundation and “Justice” Department!"
"The Phony Witch Hunt continues, but Mueller and his gang of Angry Dems are only looking at one side, not the other. Wait until it comes out how horribly & viciously they are treating people, ruining lives for them refusing to lie. Mueller is a conflicted prosecutor gone rogue...." Trump wrote in a tweet on Tuesday morning.
According to Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer, the Manafort situation is responsible for Trump's erratic behavior in recent weeks. Giuliani told CNN on Tuesday that the president has "been upset for weeks about what he considers the un-American, horrible treatment of Manafort."
Although it is unclear at the present time if these two stories are linked, it has also been revealed that Manafort secretly met with WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London around the time he joined Trump's campaign, according to The Guardian. He is also reported to have visited Assange in 2013 and in 2015. Months later The Guardian published a number of Democratic Party emails that had been stolen by Russian intelligence officers. Manafort has denied any involvement in the hack, claiming assertions to the contrary are "100% false," but his lawyers did not answer questions by The Guardian about his visits to Assange.
Both Assange and Manafort have extensive connections to the Russian government. The Kremlin has defended Assange for many years and a number of links have been alleged to exist between the WikiLeaks founder and the Russian government, while Manafort has advised Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who was widely perceived as a puppet of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
On Tuesday, The Washington Post reported on the details behind Mueller's decision to void his cooperation agreement with Manafort:
In the filing voiding the agreement, Mueller’s team promises extensive information on Manafort’s alleged lies before he is sentenced. “The government will file a detailed sentencing submission to the Probation Department and the Court in advance of sentencing that sets forth the nature of the defendant’s crimes and lies.”
The words “detailed sentencing submission” loom large. Mueller’s team has always been tight-lipped publicly, but it has made some key disclosures through indictments (often referred to as “speaking indictments”). The indictments of 13 Russians earlier this year contained extensive detail and was perhaps more about disclosure than punishment, given the Russians almost definitely will never be in the United States to face trial. The initial Manafort indictment disclosed that he was viewed as a key witness not just generally, but specifically with regards to potential Trump campaign collusion with Russia — a pregnant inclusion.
Manafort agreed to cooperate with the special counsel and had been fielding questions since September after his August conviction on financial crimes charges in late August marked the first major prosecution won by Mueller.