The pace of Robert Mueller's investigation has been stunning. And it's a big investigation. Paul Koring writes:
It’s bigger, much bigger both in scope and gravity. This isn’t about whether Bill Clinton lied under about sex with an intern or whether high officials in the George W. Bush administration deliberately outed a CIA agent. In geopolitical importance it’s far greater than Iran-contra on Ronald Reagan watch. In terms of political skulduggery, it eclipses whether Richard Nixon was trying to rig his own re-election in 1972.
At stake is whether Donald Trump’s inner circle colluded with Russians in what amounted to an attack on the United States by subverting its democratic electoral system to serve Moscow’s interests. Trump defiantly insists there was no collusion but he has since been forced to retreat from the first line of defence in which he dismissed talk of Russian meddling as “a hoax.”
Even if Trump was blithely unaware of Vladimir Putin’s clandestine scheme to subvert the 2016 presidential election, and even if Trump’s claims of “no collusion’ prove true, Mueller’s fast-paced probe is now focussed on the president and his innermost circle. And for Trump, the innermost circle is family: daughter Ivanka, her husband Jared Kushner, and favoured son Donald Junior are the president’s closest and perhaps, only trusted, confidants.
So far, the most significant person to cop a plea has been Rick Gates:
Gates worked for Paul Manafort, whose myriad and profitable ties to Moscow and pro-Russian factions in Ukraine have resulted in more than two dozen serious charges including money laundering. Gates, long Manafort’s junior partner peddling influence abroad, stayed on the Trump campaign after Manafort was ousted over his Kremlin connections. Gates was also on Trump’s transition team, was close to right-wing ideologue Steve Bannon and remained a player in the White House for months after Trump became president. He evidently knows a lot and knows that Mueller put him behind bars unless he tells all.
John Dean, the White House counsel whose decision to come clean was the turning point that sunk Nixon’s presidency and therefore knows a thing or two about such things believes the Gates flip may be pivotal.
“If Gates can testify that Manafort was acting with Trump’s blessings, it’s the end of his presidency,” said Dean.
Flipping Gates could be regarded as Mueller seeking to strengthen the case against Manafort but a close reading of the indictments and the sweet deal Gates was offered also suggests bigger targets.
The next big target is Jared Kushner. And Mueller's investigation into Jushner will be when the Trump presidency really comes apart.
Image: Jerusalem Post