Early last week Steve Bannon announced through the media that he was ready to become a cooperating witness in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Donald Trump’s Russia scandal. Yesterday we learned that right after Bannon announced his intent to flip, Jeff Sessions quickly gave a cooperative interview to Mueller as well. Hours after the Sessions interview was announced, Rick Gates changed up his legal team and began negotiating a plea deal. None of this is by coincidence, but rather by Mueller’s design.
Mueller would certainly like to amass as much incriminating testimony and evidence against Donald Trump as possible. But there’s a sliding scale as to how much that evidence is worth. The first person to provide certain testimony is going to get the best plea deal. The next person to provide that same overlapping testimony isn’t going to get as favorable of a deal, because that testimony isn’t worth as much. There are only so many “Get out of jail free” (or “Get out of jail sooner”) cards to go around, and most of Trump’s co-conspirators know it.
Mueller already has Michael Flynn in the fold, who knows Trump’s secrets ranging from Russian election rigging to transition period hijinks to subsequent coverup efforts. Once Bannon was also revealed to be in the fold, it became clear to all involved that Mueller was close to having what he needed. Sessions, ever the disloyal opportunist, predictably rushed in to make sure he could protect himself; he was always going to wait as long as he could and then cut a deal as soon as he thought he needed to.
Bannon led to Sessions flipping. Sessions led to Gates flipping. Gates may lead to his associate Paul Manafort flipping. But these people don’t even have to be directly connected to each other. Robert Mueller has engineered a feeding frenzy. Every Donald Trump adviser who has ever pondered cutting a deal is now well aware that the clock is ticking. We’ll see more of them come forward in rapid fashion. At this point it’s not even clear that they’ll all get the deals they seek.
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Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report