Easy prediction: If the jury hangs, Trump will pardon Manafort

Just a quick thought inspired by this cryptic news:

I’m not sure how to read that. Does it mean they’ve reached a verdict on all counts except one, or are they hung on multiple counts and want to know from the judge if they need to reach a verdict on every single count or else Manafort goes free? (They don’t.)

The answer’s important because I think it’s a near-cinch that Trump pardons Manafort outright if the jury hangs. Lefties would say, “He’s going to pardon him no matter what!” Eh, I don’t know. It depends on how many convictions there are. If Manafort walks on all the major charges and is convicted on only a few lesser ones, Trump might pardon him. If they get him on the big stuff, though, then that becomes more politically fraught for POTUS. There’ll probably be a commutation at some point but not right away. Letting a man go free when he’s staring at three years in prison is one thing, letting him go when he’s staring at 30 is another. It’d be absurd for Trump to have sat on his hands throughout this whole process, let Mueller proceed all the way up through a momentous conviction, and then free Manafort with a pardon. He’d be choosing the least politically opportune moment to act, when he stands to take the most heat from the public. If he was planning to pardon Manafort all along, why not do it a year ago?

A hung jury, though, would present him with the most politically opportune moment to do it. “I played fair,” Trump would say. “I gave wacky Bob Mueller every chance to prove his case and he failed! Our country has better things to do with its money than cut a blank check to a weak prosecutor who can’t get a conviction on his first try. You only get one bite at the apple, Bob!” True to form, there would be an untruth in that statement: Mueller can’t take a whole bite of the apple against Manafort right now because some of the charges against him are based in Washington D.C., not in Virginia, where the current trial is being held. Manafort’s going on trial again next month in the Capitol on money-laundering charges — unless, that is, POTUS seizes on the opening presented by a hung jury in Virginia to give him a full pardon. That would let him walk on everything even though Mueller hasn’t presented the money-laundering case yet. And we’re still far enough removed from the midterms that the aftershocks of the pardon will probably (probably!) have subsided by Election Day.

I think he’s gonna do it but for the moment we’re stuck waiting on jury number one. Stand by.

Update: Hmmmm.