On the surface it appears that Donald Trump is winning. He has a unique ability to dominate news cycles and absorb all of the media’s attention through his brash public statements and his tweet storms.
What Trump has said and done since the story was published about an FBI informant in his presidential campaign is totally outrageous. He has gotten the Department of Justice to give in to his demands that they provide classified information to Congress and start a separate inquiry into the FBI’s actions.
But below the surface, Donald Trump is losing, and he knows it. The more he attempts to get attention for himself in the media, the more things are going really bad for him legally, and this past week is no exception. He is engaging in the strategy of distraction, and it’s not working.
Mueller and his team are working diligently behind the scenes gathering evidence and preparing indictments. They completely ignore the headlines and the media hubub about the president’s latest actions and statements.
The real story is what has been going on legally, because this explains why Trump is making his increasingly reckless and risky moves. So here is a legal update and a summary of what has made this a great week for Mueller and his team:
- Michael Cohen’s business partner flipped on him.
- Both Rachel Maddow and Michael Avenatti predicted that Cohen will soon turn state’s evidence and start providing testimony against Trump.
- Paul Manafort’s former son-in-law flipped on him several days ago, putting more pressure on him to also flip on Trump. Since Manafort’s right-hand-man Rick Gates already flipped and is working with Mueller, the pressure on Manafort to flip on Trump is getting very intense.
- Roger Stone on Sunday confirmed that he expects to be indicted and arrested soon, which means Mueller will soon be trying to negotiate a deal where Stone would testify against Trump in exchange for reduced criminal charges. Nobody expects Stone to hang tough against Mueller and be a stand up guy. Instead, they are predicting Stone will give in quickly to Mueller in order to save himself.
The prospects of Donald Trump’s closest and most long-standing friends, associates and confidantes all flipping on him probably caused extreme panic in the White House. And that is exactly what Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort and Roger Stone are.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, what really set Trump off, and caused his Sunday morning Twitter meltdown was the prospect of his son, Donald Jr., going to jail. As we reported on Monday,
“when the New York Times ran its blockbuster story about a second Trump Tower meeting starring Donald Trump, Jr., it added an entirely new allegation concerning Trump collusion which has to be explored by Bob Mueller and his team. “
We also previously reported that Don Jr. might actually be a target of Mueller’s investigation.
It’s important to look at the big picture of the Mueller investigation and not get lost among the confusing daily details of what appears in the media. The big picture is that Mueller has been slowly and steadily accumulating evidence against Trump’s closest associates so that he can pressure them to flip on the president. These people know everything about Trump, and when you add it all together you can see what Mueller is doing.
Plea deals are negotiated in private, and what happens in public doesn’t matter. The way mafia kingpins fall is by the testimony of the people under them who they thought they could trust.
Mueller and his team of crack prosecutors have brought down criminal enterprises before, and that’s what Trump’s operation is, and has been for a very long time.
On top of that, you have the prospect of Trump’s family members going to jail. This is how Mueller got Michael Flynn to flip and start cooperating — he showed him the evidence he had that could send Flynn’s son to prison for a very long time. So Flynn decided to cooperate to keep his son out of jail.
The combined pressure of Trump’s family facing jail time while his closest associates are flipping on him may be too much for Trump to take. He knows he may soon be indicted himself. This explains his brash behavior and his desperate moves. It also increases the risk that we will see more extreme behavior on the part of the president in the coming weeks.
This is a scary thought but it also may indicate that the Mueller investigation is reaching its final stages and Donald Trump may not be President of the United States much longer.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.