Donald Trump is sitting around ranting about who he’s going to try and fail to fire next, even as he spends all day watching Fox News and tweeting every positive thing that the propaganda network says about him. As far as strategy goes, the game he’s playing is somewhere between fifty-two card pickup and Hungry Hungry Hippos. Meanwhile, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been playing four dimensional chess – and he’s been stealing most of Trump’s pieces.
Last week Attorney General Jeff Sessions gave a cooperating interview to Mueller. This week former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon will do the same. Current White House Counsel Don McGahn, former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, and former Press Secretary Sean Spicer have all done the same. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn cut a formal plea deal against Trump seven weeks ago. Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos cut a deal before that. Campaign adviser Rick Gates is negotiating a plea deal as we speak.
This raises the essential question: why has Mueller found it so easy to flip Trump’s people against him? Part of the answer is that Mueller is aggressive, and has the law on his side, and knows what he’s doing. But it runs deeper than that. Trump has shown virtually no loyalty to his own people. He pushed Flynn out the door at the first sign of trouble. He dumped Priebus and Spicer unceremoniously. He made a point of ruining Bannon’s life. Whatever you think of these advisers, Trump has been driving them into Mueller’s arms.
There is also another issue at play here: there doesn’t appear to be anyone in Donald Trump’s camp who is actually willing to go to prison in order to protect him. McGahn threatened to resign, rather than carrying out Trump’s illegal order. Flynn cut a deal. Paul Manafort will cut a deal against Trump the minute he concludes he no longer has any chance of winning at trial. Trump hired a mix of non-criminals who weren’t willing to commit crimes for him, and hardened criminals who weren’t willing to be loyal to him. No wonder most of them have ended up on Team Mueller.
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Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report