More than a few commentators have variously suggested that Donald Trump’s legal team may not be up to the task when it comes to squaring off against “Bobby Three Sticks” and co.
Consider these brief excerpts from a Bloomberg piece out earlier this month, for example:
As Mueller adds experienced prosecutors and broadens his investigation, Trump’s legal team still appears disorganized and understaffed. An army of well-paid lawyers would help the president get in front of the investigation: preparing responses to allegations before hearing about them from prosecutors or reporters, anticipating where Mueller is going, and developing a counternarrative to stymie him. Junior staffers could spend all night researching case law or obstruction of justice and conspiracy statutes; they could be available at a moment’s notice to draft pleadings challenging Mueller’s requests to interview witnesses or gather documents.
Instead, Trump’s defense has been almost entirely reactive—responding to the latest bombshell report with uninformed statements by surrogates.
Yes, “uninformed statements by surrogates.” And as Trump himself will tell you, his surrogates are perpetually (and woefully) behind the curve:
Well, just one day after we learned that the Senate Judiciary Committee is set to hear closed-door testimony from Donald Trump Jr. and that Mueller has issued subpoenas to a former lawyer for Paul Manafort and to Manafort’s current spokesman, we get the latest on the Special Counsel investigation and it looks like “Bobby” is about to try and circumvent Trump’s pardon power.
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is working with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on its investigation into Paul Manafort and his financial transactions, according to several people familiar with the matter.
The cooperation is the latest indication that the federal probe into President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman is intensifying. It also could potentially provide Mueller with additional leverage to get Manafort to cooperate in the larger investigation into Trump’s campaign, as Trump does not have pardon power over state crimes.
The two teams have shared evidence and talked frequently in recent weeks about a potential case, these people said. One of the people familiar with progress on the case said both Mueller’s and Schneiderman’s teams have collected evidence on financial crimes, including potential money laundering.
Note that bolded bit.
It seems entirely plausible that Trump was trying to send a message to his former and current associates with the Arpaio pardon. Namely, that everyone’s got a “get out of jail free” card if push comes to shove.
Obviously, if you know you’re likely to be pardoned, you’re less likely cooperate in an investigation.
To the extent the above is accurate and, perhaps more poignantly, to the extent Mueller uses it as a tactic to pressure other people he thinks might have been involved, he could effectively remove the incentive everyone had for keeping their mouth shut and replace it with the threat of being charged with a state crime.
Trump’s legal team might want to start burning the candle at both ends…