With the focus of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation on former Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, we are beginning to see the outline of his grand plan. Phase 1: Pressure Manafort to flip. Phase 2: ?. Phase 3: Impeach Trump.
Of course the big problem is Phase 2. Just what can Manafort reveal if he "flips" since there is no evidence that he knows anything about Trump-Russia collusion? What? What rightwing source is making that claim? Well, Vox which is hardly conservative. In fact it can best be categorized as way left of center. The Vox writer revealing that there is probably no there there as far as any Trump-Russia collusion knowledge by Manafort is Andrew Prokop:
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation about Russian collusion has increasingly appeared to zero in on one particular Trump associate: Paul Manafort.
...Now, though Manafort’s history of pro-Russia consulting work and experience with international skullduggery have long made him a prime suspect for potential collusion, public evidence on that front remains thin.
Beyond the Trump Jr. meeting, which all parties are claiming led nowhere, we haven’t yet seen specific and substantiated claims that Manafort was involved in any sort of improper collusion effort during the presidential campaign.
So "public evidence" of Manafort's Trump-Russia collusion involvement "remains thin" and "we haven't yet seen specific and substantiated claims that Manafort was involved in any sort of improper collusion effort during the presidential campaign." Yup! Definitely no there there according to Prokop. Which makes one wonder just exactly how Manafort can "flip" on something about which he has no knowledge.
As far as Manafort being involved in collusion, that is turning into a big nothing burger. Therefore Mueller is now digging into Manafort's pre-Trump activities, apparently hoping to pressure him to flip to reveal...what? Certainly not Trump-Russia collusion which is supposed to be the purpose of Mueller's investigation.
The catch is that Mueller’s team is also investigating what Manafort was up to before the campaign. Specifically, they’re looking into whether Manafort appropriately disclosed his foreign work, and whether he was involved in illegal money laundering or other financial crimes.
If Mueller’s team finds damaging evidence here, they’re reportedly hoping they can use the threat of charges to get Manafort to give them more information on the collusion matter (if he has any). That is: They’d like him to flip against Trump or other Trump associates.
"If he has any?" Again. How do you flip somebody who has no incriminating evidence to reveal?
Prokop then asks a couple of questions for which he has already pretty much provided answers:
First, was Manafort involved in, or does he know about, any collusion between Trump’s team and the Russian government during the campaign?
Um, I think you already answered that in the negative, Andrew.
Second — if Manafort does have any useful information, can Mueller’s team convince or compel him to share that information?
Big "if" there. And since, as Mr. Prokop conceded, Manafort probably does not have any "useful information" there is nothing for him to share with Mueller and his team of investigation gnomes. Thus the big Phase 2 question mark.