Another veteran Washington lawyer, who declined to be named because he represents an individual involved in the Mueller probe, said he had “never in my life” heard of a defendant staying in a joint defense agreement after signing a plea agreement with prosecutors. “It has to be that Manafort expected a pardon,” the lawyer said. “He’s not dumb. He had to have known how dangerous this was. And if his lawyer agreed to go along with it, then he is on the borderline of professional malpractice—especially knowing that Giuliani, an unguided missile, is around. So there must have been a damn good reason for him to stay in this joint defense agreement.” Giuliani freely acknowledged the joint defense agreement in an interview with the Times and seemed to boast about the insight Trump’s legal team had gained from working with Manafort.

Whiting noted that Manafort has been taking risks throughout this process. “Manafort has always gambled for the big win that would get him out of this completely,” Whiting said, pointing out that Manafort chose to go to trial, “against all odds” that he would be found not guilty. “I think he knew what he was doing all along, and that this was not a genuine effort to cooperate but a further gambit to try to win a pardon.”