President Trump Really May Go to Jail ! : For the Rest of His Life
Nearly two years ago, in the first month of Donald J. Trump’s presidency, I touched off a firestorm by telling the public what our Intelligence Community—publicly attacked as Nazis by our 45th president on the eve of his inauguration—felt about their new commander-in-chief. As I tweeted, passing on the viewpoint of a senior IC official: He will die in jail.
A retired Army three-star general and disgraced former Defense Intelligence Agency head, Flynn lasted barely three weeks in the Trump White House before he resigned over his dubious ties to the Kremlin, which he admitted he lied about to the FBI. Flynn’s fate has been up in the air for more than a year, and Mueller’s filing makes clear that the general has provided the Special Counsel with ample evidence against the president. In exchange for his “substantial assistance,” including 19 meetings with Team Mueller, Flynn will likely serve no jail time at all.
If this weren’t enough to terrify the White House, Friday’s news proved more devastating still to Trump and his defenders, who continue to insist, per the president’s oft-repeated tweets, that Mueller is a fraud peddling ‘FAKE NEWS’ and there was ‘NO COLLUSION’ with the Kremlin in 2016. Late on Friday evening, Team Mueller blew those lies apart by revealing that Paul Manafort, the president’s campaign manager during the pivotal period of the 2016 race, had lied to the Special Counsel.
In violation of his cooperation agreement with Mueller, Manafort remained in contact with the White House, passing Special Counsel information on to the Oval Office. Worse, Manafort stayed in touch with his longtime Russian partner and friend Konstantin Kilimnik, who has also been indicted by DOJ for his role in the 2016 campaign. Since Kilimnik is a known Russian intelligence operative, this was an almost unimaginably stupid thing for Manafort to do. Why he remained in touch with Kilimnik raises troubling counterintelligence questions. As Mueller’s memo stated forthrightly, “The evidence demonstrates that Manafort lied about his contacts.” Already 69 years old and facing a raft of serious charges, not to mention an angry Special Counsel, Manafort seems likely to die in jail.
Even that was not Trump’s worst news on Friday. Mueller also released a seven-page sentencing memo in the case of Michael Cohen, the president’s longtime personal attorney. While Cohen remains in considerable hot water with Federal prosecutors in New York’s Southern District regarding various financial misdeeds, the Special Counsel is pleased with Trump’s fallen consigliere.
This is simply more of the up-is-down argument—peddled by the president and his sycophants for two years now—that Hillary Clinton is the “real” Kremlin tool, the Democrats are the “real” conspirators, and the “Deep State” is a subsidiary of the Democratic Party that’s out to overturn the 2016 election. Such absurd deceptions may still work on the president’s hardest-core of true MAGA believers, but their impact on the rest of America seems minimal. As a deterrent to the Special Counsel’s activities, such lies can be rated at less than zero.
In truth, the Mueller investigation is closing in on the president’s family and Donald J. Trump himself. It seems inevitable that charges will be filed against people named Trump, perhaps soon, and they will include indictments for crimes related to collusion with the Kremlin. This is the indelible impression left by last week’s Special Counsel memos. Above all, Team Mueller knows a great deal more about the 2016 election than they’ve told the public, including damning evidence of collusion collected by our Intelligence Community.
Even stalwart Trump defenders are beginning to let a bit of reality intrude. Last week, Andrew Napolitano, the New Jersey judge turned Fox News commentator, informed his FNC flock that, actually, this Mueller thing is real. Attacking the president’s efforts to pretend that it’s all fake news, Napolitano explained, “I am not of the view that Mueller is on a fishing expedition or is about to go home,” adding that news about Cohen and Manafort was bad indeed for the White House. “Federal criminal prosecution is not beanbag,” he concluded ominously, warning of more indictments to come.
Donald J. Trump is 72 years old. His conviction on serious felonies could be tantamount to a death sentence. Yet that may be his future if the president doesn’t rapidly come to some sort of agreement with Bob Mueller and his prosecutors. As our spies have known all along.