Donald Trump was willing to put down most of his few remaining chips on an idiotic memo from Devin Nunes because, even though it was a low percentage play. Trump has become so desperate to fend off his Russia scandal, he doesn’t have much left to lose. Except, as it turns out, Trump has plenty more to lose. The memo has unintentionally exposed one of Trump’s key former advisers to criminal culpability, even as that adviser is preparing to flip on him.
Former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page told Congress months ago that he called Steve Bannon on the phone during the transition period and told him about his interactions with the Russians. It went under the radar because Page is such a bizarre character, most of what he says tends to get written off. That meant that Trump and Nunes made a strange choice when they focused the memo on the FBI’s FISA surveillance warrant on Page. But now it turns out Page’s phone was tapped at the time he made that call to Bannon.
It was Politico who pieced together the timeline as it’s now understood (link). Let’s be clear here. Special Counsel Robert Mueller surely already has everything that the FBI picked up on the Carter Page wiretap. But now Steve Bannon knows he’s been caught on that Page wiretap. Depending on what Bannon said during that phone call, he may be on the legal hook for anything from failure to report a felony, to conspiracy to obstruct of justice.
Steve Bannon is figuring this out just as he’s preparing to head into his interview with Robert Mueller. By all accounts, Bannon was already preparing to cooperate with Mueller, if only to get revenge on Donald Trump for destroying his life. But now that Bannon knows Mueller has him caught on a wiretap, it gives Bannon even more motivation to spill his guts about every crime Trump has ever committed. Trump and his memo stunt have just done Mueller a big favor at a crucial time.
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Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report