Special Counsel Robert Mueller is still aggressively plugging away with the Trump-Russia investigation, using the legal and investigative tools available to him. He’s clearly made significant progress of his own accord. But sometimes you just get lucky. Mueller spent the day getting lucky with his investigation today, first thanks to a story about Trump attorney Michael Cohen, and then thanks to a performance by Trump adviser Sam Nunberg, which may have both served to help crack the case wide open.
Nunberg’s series of interview meltdowns across MSNBC, CNN, and NY1 today were so jolting that they’ve grabbed the bulk of the day’s headlines. It served to drown out another major story from earlier in the day. The Wall Street Journal reported that Michael Cohen’s $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels has been flagged as suspicious, and that Cohen later complained to friends that Trump still hadn’t reimbursed him for it (link). Why is this important? Congressman Ted Lieu, who has a legal degree, put it this way: “That makes the $130k payment to Stormy Daniels a felony in violation of federal election law.”
If Cohen has indeed committed a felony with this transaction, it’ll be significantly easier for Robert Mueller to force Cohen into a plea deal against Trump. This would be huge, because Cohen likely knows where most of Trump’s proverbial bodies are buried, and attorney-client privilege doesn’t apply to anything the two of them might have illegally conspired on. So Mueller was already having a great day just by getting out of bed. But then Sam Nunberg stepped to the plate.
Robert Mueller sent Nunberg a grand jury subpoena for all the emails he’s ever exchanged with Donald Trump, Roger Stone, Steve Bannon, and others. Nunberg then went on television and, in a very disturbing performance, announced that he’s refusing to turn them over. Nunberg doesn’t appear to understand that Mueller typically only asks for documents once he’s already obtained copies of them; it’s a way of getting witnesses to show their hands. So now Mueller can arrest Nunberg and pressure him to cut a deal. In addition, Nunberg seemed to semi-coherently announce that Trump, Stone, Bannon, and Carter Page are all guilty. That opens even more avenues of investigation for Mueller. This is his lucky day.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report