Alan Dershowitz said that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is hoping that Paul Manafort will opt to testify against the president, rather than face a lengthy prison sentence.
Manafort faces numerous charges, including conspiracy to commit money laundering, making false statements and working as an unregistered agent of the government of Ukraine. If convicted, he faces decades in prison.
He’s also facing separate conspiracy charges in Washington, D.C. His trial in Virginia is set to begin Tuesday.
Appearing on “America’s Newsroom,” the Harvard Law professor emeritus said that if Manafort is convicted, it would give Mueller an opportunity to question him about the president’s actions.
Although the former Trump campaign chairman’s case stems from Mueller’s Russia probe, prosecutors have said that his trial won’t explore attempted Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
According to the Associated Press, though, “the trial won’t be entirely without references to the campaign.”
Dershowitz said to pay attention to whether the prosecution hints at Manafort’s relationship with Trump.
“The judge is not sympathetic to this prosecution,” he said. “I suspect that we’ll see that in some of his rulings.”
Dershowitz added that in D.C., Manafort is less likely to get a sympathetic jury and that the courts have “two shots” at him.
“[They’re hoping to say] look, you have two choices: die in prison or testify against your former associate. And most people will take the ‘testify’ option rather than the ‘die in prison’ option.”
Similarly, Dershowitz said Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen is also “in a squeeze” and may have to provide evidence against Trump for a “better deal.” He said witnesses like that sometimes end up “composing” evidence in a bid for reduced charges or a lesser sentence.
He explained that possible charges against Cohen over his taxi medallions could be a motivating factor in his dealings with federal prosecutors.