U.S. senator, legal analyst weigh in on Paul Manafort indictment

A U.S. senator, legal analyst weigh in the Paul Manafort indictment

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - U.S. Sen. John Kennedy and  a legal analyst are among those reacting locally to the indictment of Paul Manafort.

"I don't know Mr. Manafort… If he's guilty, I hope they put him under the jail but if he's not I hope they don't," Kennedy said to FOX 8 News.

Manafort and his business associate, Rick Gates, were charged in a 12-count indictment as part of special prosecutor Robert Mueller's probe into Russia's meddling in the last presidential election.

"I thought he would be the first. I mean, when the FBI comes to your home at six o'clock in the morning and says, 'Excuse me, please, we're going to turn your house upside down and look at everything here,' there's generally a sign they think you've done something wrong," said Kennedy.

The indictment includes a charge of conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money and making false statements and representations.
The feds also revealed that former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russians.

FOX 8 legal analyst Joe Raspanti said the lying to the FBI charge tends to be an easy catch for federal prosecutors.

"It's very easy because they don't allow the defense attorney to record it and they don't record it, so it's what they write in their 302s. This is what I recollect and he lied.  That's why my clients don't talk to the FBI," said Raspanti.

Some prominent defendants from Louisiana and elsewhere have landed behind bars because of it.

"Jim Brown, Martha Stewart, and countless others were not convicted of the underlying crime, but they were convicted of lying to a federal agent and they did jail time for this," Raspanti continued.

Pundits ponder whether the president will use his pardon pen if Manafort is convicted.

"I think what you may want to look at going forward is the separate state of New York investigation.  A president of the United States can't pardon you from a state crime, and if some of his people get indicted there watch out," said Raspanti.

"The issue is not whether Russia tried to influence the election, it did and Vladimir Putin is probably laughing his rear-end off at us right now.  The issue it seems to me is did he succeed and did someone in America, subject to America's laws conspire with him to do so and in an illegal way and what I want the FBI to do is go get the facts and if somebody broke the law they need to be prosecuted, if they didn't break the law the FBI needs to say they didn't break the law and report those facts to American people and let's put this behind us."

"This is the first shoe dropping of a centipede disrobing. I think there's going to be a lot more to go.  I think this is the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning, but we got a long way to go, this guy was step one," Raspanti said of Manafort.

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