What Paul Manafort’s Boneheaded Mistakes Reveal About Trump’s Legal Vulnerabilities

“Not too bright!”

Mother Jones Illustration

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


That’s how Mother Jones Washington Bureau Chief David Corn describes Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, who is now facing allegations that he tried to tamper with witnesses as he awaits trial on federal money-laundering and tax-evasion charges.

“We’ve seen a series of boneheaded moves throughout the scandal from the very beginning” of the Russia scandal, David told Mother Jones Senior Editor Aaron Wiener on this week’s episode of the Mother Jones Podcast.

“He has two GPS ankle bracelets—not one, but two!—and his travel is highly, highly restricted,” David said. And yet Manafort has managed, yet again, to put himself in the special counsel’s cross-hairs. “Not too bright.”

As David explains this week for Mother Jones in more detail:

To recap this curious episode: Just two months after Mueller slammed Manafort for scheming with Kilimnick, a former Russian operative, to get around the gag order, Manafort—who was under close watch by Mueller’s crew—again allegedly recruited Kilimnick for a criminal plot to encourage perjury…  it’s hard to imagine that when Mueller and his team of prosecutors discovered Manafort’s latest scheme with Kilimnik, they weren’t shaking their heads in wonder and disbelief.  

Listen to the episode, and subscribe on iTunes:

Also on this week’s show, extraordinary stories of living in limbo: You’ll hear from Mother Jones readers who have had their lives upended by Trump’s travel ban and are now awaiting a fateful Supreme Court decision on the policy—coming any day now.

In January, Mother Jones asked readers to share their stories about how the ban has affected them. That’s how Anthony found us and shared the Kafkaesque nightmare of being separated from his boyfriend, Reza, an Iranian refugee who fled his home because the police found out he was gay. Podcast producer Ashley Dejean published Anthony’s story in March, and it was so powerful, we wanted you to hear from him directly on the podcast.

“We just try to have faith that love will find a way and then eventually we’ll be together,” Anthony told podcast host Jamilah King. “But we’re still hanging in there, and we’re still trying to find a way.” (We’re withholding his last name to protect his privacy.)

“I’m scared really scared,” he said. “I just can’t even believe that in America, we’re in this situation where somebody who had to flee their country because they were going to be killed is now being left out of our country because the country that he had to flee because they were going to kill him.”

You can read more stories from readers caught in Trump’s travel ban turmoil here.

And of course, as always, you’ll also hear from reporter David Beard with his weekly dose of uplifting news from the Recharge newsletter. Sign up for more here.



Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend