You can always tell when we’re about to get more potentially foreboding news on the Mueller probe, because one of the targets of that probe has an exceedingly amusing habit of dropping hints via absurdly bombastic social media messages delivered hours before the latest headlines cross the wires.
Witness Donald Trump on Friday morning. The following is a public service announcement brought to you by the White House (verbatim):
So, if there was knowingly & acknowledged to be ‘zero’ crime when the Special Counsel was appointed, and if the appointment was made based on the Fake Dossier (paid for by Crooked Hillary) and now disgraced Andrew McCabe (he & all stated no crime), then the Special Counsel……. ….should never have been appointed and there should be no Mueller Report. This was an illegal & conflicted investigation in search of a crime. Russian Collusion was nothing more than an excuse by the Democrats for losing an Election that they thought they were going to win…. ……THIS SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN TO A PRESIDENT AGAIN!
Nope – nothing guilty-sounding about any of that.
Fast forward a couple of hours, and sure enough, Mueller asked a judge in Washington for a 60-day extension prior to sentencing Trump’s former deputy campaign chairman, Rick Gates, who of course pleaded guilty last year to conspiring to defraud the United States along with his prison-bound mentor Paul Manafort.
The (potential) problem for Trump, is this:
Got that? Gates “continues to cooperate with respect to several ongoing investigations.”
We added the “potential” qualifier above with respect to the president, because it wasn’t immediately clear who Gates is still cooperating with and, more importantly, who he’s cooperating against. Conceivably, this could be in relation to investigations not run by the special counsel’s office.
This makes for an interesting compare/contrast exercise with Michael Flynn, whose status report this week indicated that his cooperation with the special counsel is now “complete”.
As alluded to in the screengrab from the first filing above, the next status report on Gates is due on May 14.
Again, it’s not entirely clear what the implications of this are for Trump, but it seems likely Gates is cooperating with New York prosecutors, possibly on the investigation into Trump’s inaugural committee.
“The update in Gates case is a reminder of pending investigations into matters he worked on. As Trump’s deputy campaign chairman and a top inauguration official, Gates had firsthand insight into several of the president’s senior aides and activities”, The Washington Post reminds you, adding that after Manafort left the campaign, Gates “remained in Trump’s orbit, working as a campaign adviser until the election [before] helping organize Trump’s inauguration.”
This is the fifth time Mueller’s office and lawyers for Gates have requested delays.
The bottom line here (and this is why we wanted to highlight the latest episode from the soap opera that is Trump’s own, personal legal hell) is that if Gates is indeed cooperating with investigators on something other than the Mueller probe itself, it would appear to underscore the notion that even as the special counsel probe winds down, the multiple inquiries it spawned will prove to be Trump’s undoing – if not while he’s president, then after he’s no longer shielded by the office he holds.
Regular readers might recall that we spent quite a bit of time discussing that last month in “Trump, Icarus And One Man’s Legal Hell.”
As far as the Mueller investigation is concerned, the House unanimously passed a symbolic resolution this week calling for the special counsel report to be made public.
When Chuck Schumer tried to bring it up in the Senate, Lindsey Graham blocked it.