Interesting development just two days after Alan Dershowitz, who often defends Trump, said on ABC that he expects the Mueller report to be “devastating” for Trump. Not devastating in the sense of criminal charges, mind you. Dershowitz doesn’t foresee any of those. But he apparently expects Mueller to issue a report that paints a pretty ugly picture of ties between the Trump campaign, WikiLeaks and perhaps some proxies of the Russian government.
Is Trump laying the groundwork now to undercut Mueller’s credibility in advance of such a report? Or did Mueller really abuse his power with his treatment of Paul Manafort?
Actually, both can be true, and for my money that’s your best bet if you want to understand this:
“The Phony Witch Hunt continues, but Mueller and his gang of Angry Dems are only looking at one side, not the other. Wait until it comes out how horribly & viciously they are treating people, ruining lives for them refusing to lie,” Trump wrote on his Twitter account. “Mueller is a conflicted prosecutor gone rogue.”
Moments later, he continued his Twitter assault on the special counsel.
“The Fake News Media builds Bob Mueller up as a Saint, when in actuality he is the exact opposite. He is doing TREMENDOUS damage to our Criminal Justice System, where he is only looking at one side and not the other,” Trump wrote.
He concluded in a third.
“Heroes will come of this, and it won’t be Mueller and his terrible Gang of Angry Democrats. Look at their past, and look where they come from. The now $30,000,000 Witch Hunt continues and they’ve got nothing but ruined lives. Where is the Server? Let these terrible people go back to the Clinton Foundation and ‘Justice’ Department!,” Trump said in the posting.
Mueller’s team of prosecutors in court filings on Monday said Manafort breached an agreement he had to cooperate with the investigation and now faces a stiffer sentence.
“After signing the plea agreement, Manafort committed federal crimes by lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Special Counsel’s Office on a variety of subject matters, which constitute breaches of the agreement,” the court filings say.
They did not immediately detail what Manafort lied about, saying his “crimes and lies” would be revealed at another time.
Remember, this is the same investigation that resulted in Michael Flynn being convicted of lying to the FBI even though the FBI was of the opinion that he told them the truth. And Mueller is following the not-so-fine tradition of special prosecutors nabbing people like Scooter Libby for process crimes only to have it revealed later that their “lies” were really easily explained miscommunications.
This is what special counsels do. They squeeze lesser players with trumped up charges in order to get them to testify against the real target. And if they aren’t getting the story they want, they’ll pull plea deals and lever accusations of “lying,” which are often mere matters of interpretation or nuances of wording – but no matter.
The special counsel has the power to bring charges for anything he likes. The special counsel will do so.
Here’s what this sounds like to me: Mueller gave Manafort a plea deal in the hope that Manafort would give him the goods on Trump, something that would produce if not a criminal indictment then certainly a political pretext for impeachment. When Manafort didn’t give him that, Mueller accusing him of lying and called the whole thing off.
Manafort and his attorneys insist, for what it’s worth, that everything Manafort told the FBI was the truth. So here we are.
My guess is that Manafort expects Trump to pardon him, so he’s not going to give Mueller a BS story about Trump just to keep his plea deal. He’s not going to prison, at least not for long. That’s making Mueller angry because he has to justify all the time and money he’s spent on this, and the only way to do that is to give the Beltway the report it wants to read. Manafort was supposed help him do that, and Manafort’s not helping.
Why? Probably because the facts Manafort possesses don’t really support the story Mueller wants to tell about Trump, and Mueller can’t handle that so he’s dropping the hammer.
I suspect Trump has known all along what the game is likely to be here. He knows there aren’t going to be any criminal charges related to “collusion” because Trump knows what did and didn’t happen on his campaign.
That’s why he keeps calling this a witch hunt. It’s a never-ending attempt to find something when it’s really been clear from the beginning that there is no something.
What’s coming is a political document that paints a horrendous picture of the Trump campaign and how it operated, peppered with reminders of how many indictments Mueller secured – even though none of them were related to “collusion”, and all were of minor figures. That’s going to be the biggest news in Washington when it comes out, and you’ll hear rumblings from House Democrats that it calls for impeachment – although they won’t actually do it because they’ll look like fools if they really go down that road.
Mueller is getting set to write a glorified op-ed slamming Trump. He figures that because he’s been deified by the Beltway establishment, he can pretty much say whatever he wants and it will be taken as gospel truth.
Trump is correct to assail Mueller’s credibility. The inevitable report, however “devastating” it sounds, will need to be challenged both factually and with respect to Mueller’s conclusions. The press will treat everything Mueller says as above any doubt or question. He doesn’t deserve that kind of deference.