Donald Trump will end up in prison for the rest of his life as a result of his treasonous plot with the Russians to rig the presidential election in his favor. Most of his family, and dozens of members of his campaign and administration, will do time as well. But Watergate taught us that these kinds of massive criminal conspiracies take time to sort out. For now we’ll have to celebrate that the first major prison sentence has arrived in the Trump-Russia scandal, and it’s for one of Trump’s people.
It’s not George Papadopoulos, who cut a plea deal for lying to the FBI, and who may end up doing no time at all if his cooperation ends up being sufficient. It’s not Michael Flynn, who also cut a plea deal, but whose eventual sentencing is far from clear; he committed treasonous crimes, but he also appears to have provided crucial evidence for taking Trump down. It’s not Paul Manafort, who’s still awaiting trial. It’s Manafort’s buddy Rick Gates, who revealed today that he’s pleading guilty, and is agreeing to go to prison despite his deal.
Gates is testifying against Paul Manafort, which is vital because it should force Manafort to testify against Trump. But Gates understands that his guilty plea is going to land him in prison for around eighteen months, according to the Los Angeles Times (link). So now we have a major Trump campaign adviser not only agreeing to turn state’s evidence, but agreeing to serve significant time.
He’ll be far from the last. Because of the severity of Michael Flynn’s crimes, which include everything from conspiracy against the United States to conspiracy to commit kidnapping, it’s difficult to imagine him getting to walk away no matter how useful his plea deal is to the Feds. Manafort will certainly do serious time even if he cuts a plea deal. So will dozens of other Trump advisers big and small. But most importantly, this is all a buildup to putting Donald Trump and his family in prison for the treason they committed. One step at a time.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report