The reason for Manafort's defiance: As we hypothesized barely an hour ago, it looks like Rick Gates is going to plead guilty today and become a cooperating witness.
Last night, we were told, by Julia Ainsley, that the word on the street said he couldn't do that—said he didn't have enough to offer Mueller. That latest expert speculation has apparently turned out to be wrong.
Serious journalists don't spend oodles of time speculating—about future election results, about future plea decisions. That said, Brian Williams can speculate too.
Lsast night, Jeremy Bash and Brian Williams offered a tangy speculation about Manafort's refusal to come in from the cold. Is Manafort holding out in hopes of getting a pardon from Trump?
WILLIAMS (2/22/18): Jeremy, I'm duty bound to ask you about pardons, only because I'm just picking up interstitial bits of conversations on both sides of the political isles about pardon.That was speculation too, a major speculation by Bash. Manafort is hoping for a pardon. Trump is considering giving it. (When Bash said "Manafort and others," he may have meant that Gates was signaling Trump too.)
Is the President's power limitless? He said that someday maybe we`ll talk about at a later date of the Flynn matter, but here come more names and more charges. And I think it`s going to force more of the conversation.
BASH: ...I think Manafort and others are signaling the president tonight that, "Hey, we don't really have a lot to say negative about the president. We're digging in, we're fighting the prosecutor. We're not waving jurisdiction. We're going to force him to litigate this and potentially two occasions."
I think that's a signal to the White House that, "Hey, we're open for business if you guys want to talk pardon."
WILLIAMS: Jeremy, this calls for an opinion, you know, on your part. Do you think it's among the possible? [sic]
BASH: Yes, very much so. I think the president is weighing whether to extinguish all of these criminal charges and basically put Bob Mueller out of business using his power of the pardon.
Bash could be right about Manafort and Trump, and he could be wrong. In that sense, speculation can provide hours of fun.
On balance, it makes better sense to wait to see what actually happens. Eventually, we'll all know whether Trump handed out pardons or not.
Some among us don't like waiting. They prefer to burn their hours speculating, especially in ways which will please the tribe.
As they burn the hours away, they help the tribe get dumber. They also make the rest of the world go away.