You are Paul John Manafort Jr., former exalted campaign manager for Donald J. Trump.
Your lawyer has called with the news. Now you’re sitting in your silk bathrobe and chinchilla slippers staring at a 31-page federal indictment.
Your name is all over it. If your lawyer can’t save your ass, you’ll be going to prison for a long time.
You are 68 years old. You really don’t want to go to prison. It’s a bad place for somebody like you, accustomed to the fine life.
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You’ve got that terrific house out in the Hamptons, and another in Virginia. Then there’s your 5,231 square-foot home in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
Eighty-four square feet is the size of an average federal prison cell, but that’s if you’re stuck in solitary.
Your cell would probably be larger than that, though you’d likely have company. With any luck your roommate would be a tax cheat or an embezzler, not a meth dealer.
You start reading through the indictment. It’s depressing. You thought you were clever. You thought you’d been really careful all those years.
But the Special Counsel’s office dug up so much stuff — all those offshore companies and bank accounts. They tracked at least $18 million that found its way back to the United States, money you spent on real estate, clothes, antiques, art, home-entertainment systems….
This Mueller guy, he doesn’t fool around. The deeper you get into the indictment, the more you find yourself wondering what you could do to get out of this mess.
They want you to talk, of course, about the summer you spent running the Trump campaign. The Russia thing, in particular.
But you don’t want to be branded a rat.
You continue studying the indictment. Every paragraph is painful.
They know about all the money you got from the pro-Russia faction in the Ukraine, and the lobbying campaign that you denied coordinating.
They also know about the banks you used in Cyprus, the Grenadines, and the Seychelle islands. Right there on page 3: “In total, more than $75 million flowed through the offshore accounts.”
They found the wire transfers, too. The Internal Revenue Service says you didn’t pay taxes on the income. You begin to wonder how your lawyer can be so optimistic.
Reading pages 7 through 14 makes your colon twitch. They’ve listed all the payments from your shell companies to “vendors” in the states. Between June 2008 and August 2014, you spent more than $5.4 million on home improvements for your spread in Bridgehampton.
You’re wondering: How in the world could drywall cost so much? Or maybe it was that new duct work for the air conditioner.
There’s another $820,000 for landscaping, $112,000 for audio-video equipment and almost a million bucks on antique rugs. You are fully aware how ridiculous this appears, but those rugs are incredibly nice.
Same goes for the $1.3 million worth of men’s clothing you bought during those years. The suits are truly awesome — the tailor takes your inseam with a platinum tape measure.
You remind yourself it’s no crime to be rich in this country. You’ll plead innocent, go to trial, and your lawyer will work his magic!
But what if he doesn’t? What if a jury of ordinary folks can’t understand how a person as busy as you are could forget to register as a foreign agent, forget to mention his offshore bank accounts, and forget to pay taxes on $18 million?
You think about the man you helped elect president. Maybe he’s worried enough — or crazy enough — to grant you a pardon. Is it worth a phone call?
You try to crumple the indictment, but it’s too thick, so you just kick it across the antique rug. You don’t want to be a rat, but you also don’t want to spend the rest of your ambulatory life in court.
Page 30 was the crusher. The feds want to seize almost all your property, including the remodeled houses in Bridgehampton and Arlington.
For some reason they didn’t mention the home in Palm Beach Gardens. Maybe that could be part of the deal.
You are 68 years old.
Florida would be a nice place to settle down.