Andrew Napolitano just said this on Fox News regarding the trial of Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort:

Here’s Manafort’s defense: I was investigated for all this by the government 8 years ago and I was exonerated, and I’m going to put on the witness stand as my first witness the young lawyer who exonerated me. Do you know who that young lawyer is? Rod Rosenstein.

Is Napolitano right that Manafort was exonerated by the government 8 years ago for the crimes he’s now been charged with by Special Counsel Robert Mueller?


1 Answer 1


No, that's chronologically impossible, because some of the alleged crimes were committed less than 8 years ago.

The charges against Manafort are specified in this indictment. Many of the charges relate to actions allegedly taken by Manafort after 2010, so he couldn't possibly have been exonerated of those charges 8 years ago. In particular, Counts Four through Seven (false statements and obstruction of justice) relate to Manafort's allegedly false statements to investigators starting in 2016, and attempts to influence witnesses in that investigation.

It's true that some of the charges relate to patterns of conduct that started around 2008 and continued beyond 2010. If in fact Manafort was "exonerated" for those actions around 2010 (which I haven't verified), then one might guess that similar actions after 2010 weren't illegal either. But that isn't the situation for all the charges against him ("all this").

  • 8
    mind that indictment is NOT charged. It's merely an intent to pursue charges.
    – jwenting
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 11:24
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    @jwenting: Maybe it's a semantic argument, but I think an indictment is exactly what most people mean when they say "charged", in the sense of "formally accused". Keep in mind that this indictment has been approved by a grand jury. The DoJ speaks of this process as the grand jury "voting to charge an individual with a crime". The indictment forced Manafort to either plead guilty or stand trial. Also, several dictionaries I checked give "indict" as a synonym of "charge". Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 14:40
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    I believe, rather than an exoneration, it was a decision to not move forward with the case. Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 14:42
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    Technically in the US legal system "exonerated" means the person was a) Convicted of a crime and b) A judge decides to reverse the conviction. Its not an activity within the power of a "young lawyer".
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 16:16
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    @TylerH - "found not guilty" is also a technical legal term, and it requires either a Judge or a Jury. Another thing a "young lawyer" cannot do. But more importantly, this use of what is in fact a criminal justice term for something having to do with the criminal justice process looks a lot like a purposeful attempt to convince people that something legally binding has happened that has not in fact happened.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 16:20

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