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Dershowitz: Manafort, Trump 'acted too late' to avoid consequences of cooperation with Mueller investigation

Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz said Sunday that both President TrumpDonald TrumpMaria Bartiromo defends reporting: 'Keep trashing me, I'll keep telling the truth' The Memo: The center strikes back Republicans eye Nashville crack-up to gain House seat MORE and his former campaign chairman, Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortLegal intrigue swirls over ex-Trump exec Weisselberg: Five key points There was Trump-Russia collusion — and Trump pardoned the colluder Treasury: Manafort associate passed 'sensitive' campaign data to Russian intelligence MORE, "acted too late" to avoid the possible consequences of Manafort's cooperation with special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE's investigation.

"Manafort, if he was going to make a deal, should’ve made it before he was convicted. He would’ve gotten a better deal," Dershowitz said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"And President Trump, if he was going to pardon, he should’ve pardoned before Manafort agreed to cooperate," he added. "So there’s not going to be any pardon now, and Manafort has a deal. His sentence will reflect how much cooperation he gives."

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Dershowitz, who is an opinion contributor for The Hill, said it was possible that Manafort was acting on his own to make money when he communicated with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign. Even so, he noted that Manafort's decision to cooperate with Mueller marked a "very bad day for the Trump administration."

Manafort, who was convicted last month in Virginia on charges of bank and tax fraud, pleaded guilty on Friday to two federal charges and reached a deal to cooperate with Mueller and avoid a second trial on additional charges in Washington, D.C.

The deal includes an agreement to cooperate "fully and truthfully” with the special counsel.

Dershowitz on Friday called Manafort's guilty plea a "big win" for Mueller's investigation. "Potentially, [Manafort's guilty plea] opens up lots of doors that probably haven't been opened before," he said.

Manafort’s cooperation with Mueller could be significant to Mueller's investigation, given his work on the Trump campaign. 

The White House and Trump's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, have downplayed the potential impact Manafort's deal may have on the president.

Trump's lawyers and Manafort's legal team had a joint defense agreement, meaning the two sides shared information. Giuliani declined to comment on whether a pardon was possible for Manafort, though he has said in the past such an offering would come after Mueller's investigation is ended.

Manafort is the fourth former Trump associate to reach an agreement to cooperate with Mueller, joining Michael Flynn, Richard Gates and George PapadopoulosGeorge Demetrios PapadopoulosTrump supporters show up to DC for election protest Trump pardons draw criticism for benefiting political allies Klobuchar: Trump 'trying to burn this country down on his way out' MORE.