On July 17, special counsel Robert Mueller’s office asked a Virginia judge to grant immunity to five then-unnamed witnesses in former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s imminent trial. (Manafort is being tried in Virginia on charges of bank and tax fraud related to lobbying work for Ukraine; he will also face other charges in Washington, D.C.) On July 19, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson reported that Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta—whose firm worked with Manafort on Ukraine lobbying—had been “offered immunity” to testify against Manafort. Such friendly treatment of a well-connected Democrat like Podesta, Carlson said, was yet another indication that Mueller’s investigation is fundamentally biased against Donald Trump. “This case ought to make you nervous,” Carlson said to his viewers while looking directly into the camera, smashing his viewers across the face with subtext in Fox’s trademark over-the-top-satire-of-1984 style.
On Monday, however, Virginia judge T.S. Ellis granted immunity to the five individuals in question and ordered their names released. None of them are Tony Podesta:
(At least two of those individuals appear to be former Manafort accountants; it’s not clear who the others area.)
Carlson has a little bit of wiggle room here, given that he reported vaguely that the offer had been made, not accepted. It’s also possible that the offer Carlson was referring to is related to Manafort’s D.C. trial and not the one in Virginia; Podesta’s former firm is referred to in the D.C. indictment but not the Virginia indictment. But the timing of Carlson’s report, coming just after the announcement of the five Virginia offers, seemed to suggest otherwise. (Carlson doesn’t appear to have commented yet on the apparent discrepancy; we’ll update this post if he does. Update, July 24: Carlson indeed says that, according to his sources, the immunity offer for Podesta involves D.C. and not Virginia.)
One person whose “reporting” was definitely wrong, though, was former Manafort colleague and longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone, who said last week on the conspiracy site InfoWars that Podesta was “one of those five witnesses” that Mueller’s office had inquired about with Ellis. A rare miss for InfoWars!
One more thing
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