AP: Trump Aides ‘Caught in Web of Deception’ About Russia

Special Counsel Bob Mueller has slowly been disclosing a very broad and extensive pattern of deception by Donald Trump’s aides and associates, according to the Associated Press. Seemingly everyone involved tried to cover up Russian contacts during the 2016 campaign and transition period, the AP reported.

Most observers have said that they have never seen so many people lying so extensively while attempting to hide the truth in such a situation.

The large number of lies to the FBI and to Congress, instead of covering up the truth, have raised new questions, leading to new insights about Trump‘s connections to Russia.

What has emerged is “a portrait of aides eager to protect the president and the administration by concealing communications they presumably recognized as problematic,”according to the AP.

The false statements by so many witnesses highlight Mueller’s mission, which is to cut through the lies as he seeks the truth of what happened between the Trump campaign and Russia. This is the only way he will be able to establish the existence of a conspiracy to sway the 2016 presidential election.

Mueller’s investigation has been seeking truthful answers to the following key questions:

  1. Why did the incoming Trump administration discouraged Russia from retaliating over sanctions imposed for election hacking;
  2. Who knew about illegally obtained Democratic emails, and when did they know it; and
  3. How were plans made for a Trump Tower in Moscow and who was involved in these plans?

Daniel Petalas, a defense lawyer and former Justice Department prosecutor pointed out that when so many lies are told by so many people, it indicates that they are covering up some extremely important information.

According to Petalas:

“You can draw a conclusion that these false statements generally relate to an effort to protect the president of the United States in connection with his dealings with Russia. That’s what makes them material to the investigation that Mueller is pursuing, which is a necessary element of a false statement claim — that it has to be material.”

Examples of Trump associates lying include:

  • Trump‘s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about negotiations he had on Trump‘s behalf for a real estate deal in Moscow.
  • George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign adviser, pleaded guilty last year to lying to the FBI about April 2016 conversations with a Maltese professor who told him Russians had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails.”
  • Trump‘s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, admitting lying to the FBI by saying he didn’t discuss sanctions against Russia during the transition with Sergey Kislyak.
  • Prosecutors this week accused former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort of lying even after his guilty plea, though they have not said about what.
  • A draft plea agreement against another Trump supporter, conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi, accused him of misrepresenting a conversation with Trump confidant Roger Stone about WikiLeaks, which released thousands of stolen emails in the run-up to the election to harm the Clinton campaign.

Perjury charges can be powerful tools for prosecutors, especially in investigations where witnesses are openly adversarial. In the Mueller investigation, Trump’s associates have been emboldened by the president’s antagonist stance. Many may have expected to be supported by Trump, and even receive presidential pardons.

As Duke University law professor Sam Buell said:

“You’ve got a system where you’re trying to take evidence from people, get their testimony under penalty of prosecution if you lie. And that’s what you do when you have uncooperative people when trying to conceal something that you’re trying to get to the bottom of.”

Sen. Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, said the panel has made referrals to prosecutors and cited Cohen as an example.

“It’s a loud message to everybody that is interviewed by our committee, regardless of where that prosecution comes from, if you lie to us, we’re going to go after you,” Burr said.

Though Trump regularly complains about Mueller‘s style, there’s nothing unusual about prosecutors pursuing false statement charges to send a message and using their testimony to make cases against higher-level targets.

“This is what happened to the mob, this is what happened to the drug cartels,” Buell said.

Donald Trump for many years has operated his businesses like mob operations, and like the mob bosses before him, his enterprise will soon come crashing down, and he will probably end up spending many years in jail. All of the lies told on his behalf by his underlings won’t help him, but instead will end up helping prosecutors put him away for a long, long time.