Three of Donald Trump’s key former advisers have agreed to go to prison for their roles in the Trump-Russia scandal. One participant in the scandal has already gone to prison. More than a dozen others have been indicted. Dozens more are under investigation. The question all along has been just how many people in Donald Trump’s orbit will end up going to prison. Special Counsel Robert Mueller just sent a clear signal today: everyone.
It’s no surprise at all that Mueller hit Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort with obstruction of justice charges. Mueller has already charged Manafort with everything under the sun, and he’s going to keep hitting him with more charges until he breaks. Instead, what stands out is what Mueller did to alleged Russian government spy Konstantin Kilimnik today. Mueller has been poking around at Kilimnik all along, but apparently never could find anything to charge him with – until now.
Mueller is hitting Kilimnik with obstruction of justice, and conspiracy to obstruct justice, and no other charges. Why does this matter? It sets a clear precedent that Mueller is in fact going to charge and try those Trump-Russia figures who have only committed obstruction, or who can only be nailed for obstruction. So it’s time for Trump advisers like Sean Spicer and Reince Priebus and Hope Hicks and Stephen Miller to worry, because if their attempts at helping Trump sabotage the investigation meet the legal definition of obstruction, they’re going to be charged as well. Even folks like Sean Hannity should be worried.
Now we know that Robert Mueller is in fact planning to throw everyone in prison who has allegedly committed obstruction of justice during the course of the Trump-Russia investigation. That’s a phenomenally long list of people. Mueller sent a clear signal today that he isn’t planning to let anything slide. And as we’ve seen with the likes of Michael Flynn and Rick Gates, even those who cut plea deals against Donald Trump are still looking at prison time. And if course it means Mueller is looking to put Trump in prison as well.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report