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 John TrumpDACA recipient claims Trump is holding ‘immigrant youth hostage’ amid quest for wall Lady Gaga blasts Pence as ‘worst representation of what it means to be Christian’ We have a long history of disrespecting Native Americans and denying their humanity MORE and his former campaign chairman, Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortBuzzFeed story has more to say about media than the president Dems revive impeachment talk after latest Cohen bombshell The case for Russia sanctions MORE, "acted too late" to avoid the possible consequences of Manafort's cooperation with special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe 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 PapadopoulosBarr: It would be a crime for president to pardon someone in exchange for their silence Press: What dirt does Putin have on Trump? Tweets, confirmations and rallies: Trump's year in numbers MORE.