Donald Trump is going to go ahead and double down in the face of a Mueller investigation that is likely to get more aggressive going forward.
Hours after Trump’s former campaign chairman and a long-time associate were indicted on 12 counts including “conspiracy against the United States,” the President said this:
Mr. President, with all due respect (and that’s a misnomer because you are due absolutely nothing in the way of respect from America), your associates are being indicted for conspiring against the country you run. That’s called “treason.” And the best you can come up with is a tweet about “Crooked Hillary and the Dems”?
Give me a break. And he went further:
“The lady doth protest too much, methinks”
Trump has a decision to make. In all likelihood, this is going to get worse and you’ve got to think that Michael Flynn is next. After that, the dominos really start to fall and the walls start to close in.
He’s either going to have to fire Mueller and risk a constitutional crisis or sit idly by and tweet while Mueller indicts associate after associate after associate. It has no doubt occurred to the President that when faced with charges of conspiring against America, one of these people is going to flip. That’s inevitable.
In what looks like the first example of just that, moments ago we learned that George Papadopolous, a former campaign adviser to Trump, secretly pleaded guilty October 5 to making false claims to the FBI.
BREAKING: Former Trump campaign advisor George Papadopolous has pleaded guilty to making false statements to FBI agents. pic.twitter.com/VXZKTOmK8m
— ABC News (@ABC) October 30, 2017
Specifically, according to Bloomberg, Papadopoulos “told investigators he learned Russians possessed thousands of emails about Hillary Clinton prior to joining President Trump’s campaign, when in fact he learned of them after being told he would become a Trump adviser”, according to Justice Department document.
Special Counsel Mueller appears to have a cooperating witness, George Papadopoulos. That is significant. Time will tell how significant.
— Preet Bharara (@PreetBharara) October 30, 2017
So who the hell is Papadopoulos? Well here’s a reminder from WaPo and do note that I have stripped any semblance of bias from these excerpts (i.e. this is just who the guy is and what he did):
Three days after Donald Trump named his campaign foreign policy team in March 2016, the youngest of the new advisers sent an email to seven campaign officials with the subject line: “Meeting with Russian Leadership – Including Putin.”
The adviser, George Papadopoulos, offered to set up “a meeting between us and the Russian leadership to discuss US-Russia ties under President Trump,” telling them his Russian contacts welcomed the opportunity, according to internal campaign emails read to The Washington Post.
Campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis wrote that he thought NATO allies should be consulted before any plans were made. Another Trump adviser, retired Navy Rear Adm. Charles Kubic, cited legal concerns, including a possible violation of U.S. sanctions against Russia and of the Logan Act, which prohibits U.S. citizens from unauthorized negotiation with foreign governments.
Undeterred, Papadopoulos alerted then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski in an April email that he was receiving “a lot of calls over the past month” about arranging a Russia meeting.
“Putin wants to host the Trump team when the time is right,” he wrote on April 27.
The only other option is for Trump to start pardoning people, but remember, pardon power is supposed to be an act of mercy, not a tool to be used to insulate the presidency from criminal charges. If he starts pardoning people, it’s difficult to imagine that it won’t create the same kind of turmoil that firing Mueller would invariably create.