Manafort Impresses Prison Buds With Tales Of Breaking Mueller Plea Deal In New Book

Former Trump campaign chairman needed to avoid being seen as a 'rat' in prison.
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 27: (EDITOR'S NOTE: Image has been converted to black & white.) Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort arrives to his arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court, on June 27, 2019 in New Yor... NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 27: (EDITOR'S NOTE: Image has been converted to black & white.) Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort arrives to his arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court, on June 27, 2019 in New York City. Manafort pleaded not guilty to mortgage fraud and other criminal charges filed by New York state authorities. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images) MORE LESS
Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

Former 2016 Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort arranged for transcripts of his plea hearings to be sent to federal prison to prove to inmates that he wasn’t a “rat,” he wrote in a forthcoming book.

Manafort wrote that he needed to prove himself after conflict erupted between him and “Billie J” — a prisoner incarcerated with him at FCI Loretto who Manafort dubbed a “hypocrite” and a bully. Billie J, in Manafort’s telling, abused his power over the jailhouse commissary, using “his role there to get people hard to find commissary goods — for a price, of course.”

“I refused to respect him which pissed him off,” the former Trump campaign chairman wrote. “In retaliation, he accused me of being a rat, citing the fact that I had done a plea agreement.”

Manafort wrote that he moved quickly to “cleanse” himself of Billie J’s assertion.

“I had to have my attorney send me my sentencing transcripts — ‘my papers,'” the former Trump campaign chairman wrote. “The prison hierarchy could read the ‘papers’ and proclaim judgement.”

Manafort entered into a plea deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller in September 2018, admitting to a conspiracy and witness tampering charge. Prosecutors said that he repeatedly lied to them after agreeing to cooperate, thereby breaching the deal.

TPM obtained a copy of the forthcoming memoir, titled “Political Prisoner: Persecuted, Prosecuted, but Not Silenced.”

In his memoir, Manafort wrote that two members of the “prison hierarchy” read the papers — a man named Ralph who dined at the facility’s “Italian table” and a “muscle-bound specimen of a man” named Vegas.

“Of course, they immediately proclaimed me innocent of the Billie J. attack,” he wrote.

As Trump’s 2016 campaign manager and a former political consultant in Ukraine, Manafort took center stage in the Mueller investigation. After facing down two indictments in D.C. and Alexandria, Virginia, Manafort found himself incarcerated in 2018, having been convicted at one trial and having struck the plea deal to avoid another.

Manafort wrote that his fellow prisoners in FCI Loretto, a low-security institution located in rural Pennsylvania, told him that they couldn’t understand why Trump had not pardoned him for the time he was there — from 2018 until May 2020.

“To them, the worst criminal is not somebody who breaks the law, but a rat,” Manafort wrote. “To them, Trump should have made sure the family was taken care of — that I wasn’t in jail anymore.”

Manafort entered into the plea deal with the special counsel’s office after being convicted on eight out of eighteen felony counts for bank and tax fraud in a trial in the Eastern District of Virginia.

He then avoided a trial in D.C. by agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors. That agreement broke down as Manafort repeatedly lied to the government, a judge found.

During that time, reports emerged that Manafort continued to feed information — via his attorneys — to Trump’s legal team. At one point, Rudy Giuliani claimed publicly that Manafort had not yet shared anything damaging about Trump with the Mueller team.

Manafort affirmed this in the book, describing interactions with Mueller prosecutor Andrew Weissmann.

“Another thing that upset Weissmann was the fact that I had maintained my joint defense agreement with Trump’s attorneys during the time we were working on the proffer,” Manafort wrote.

The agreement allowed Manafort’s attorneys to share information with Trump’s legal team, even as he was supposed to be cooperating with the government.

“I never tried to hide this from Weissmann, but he was still angry when he found out,” Manafort wrote. “Oh, well.”

Manafort recalled directing his attorney to make it known to the Trump team that “there was nothing to fear.”

“I wanted to make sure they knew that even though I was cutting a deal, I wasn’t going to make anything up,” Manafort wrote, adding later that he was “led to believe that it was communicated.

Manafort wrote elsewhere in the section that, when considering the plea agreement, he committed to not crossing certain “red lines.”

“I wouldn’t be their stool pigeon,” Manafort wrote.

Trump ultimately pardoned Manafort after the 2020 election, in December of that year.

Latest Muckraker
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: