Thus far, most of the charges in Donald Trump’s Russia scandal have been rather clinical-sounding. Lying to the FBI and money laundering are serious charges, but they’re not exactly juicy. The “Conspiracy against the United States” charges sound rather ominous, but there are few among the public who know what that term means. The public’s interpretation of the scandal is about to change, however, because two of Trump’s top people are facing charges that are straight out of a Law & Order episode.
It went under the radar ten days ago, but former CIA Director James Woolsey confirmed to the media that he’s been cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller in a case against Michael Flynn, according to an NBC News report (link). Woolsey attended a meeting in which Flynn conspired with the Turkish government to kidnap a cleric in Pennsylvania and ship him off to Turkey. That plot never played out, but Woolsey’s involvement is a signal that Mueller is indeed planning to charge Flynn in relation to that kidnapping plot. Even as the public is about to digest the notion of the Trump-Russia scandal involving kidnapping charges, there may also be murder charges. No, really.
When Donald Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort was doing political work for the Kremlin in Ukraine in 2014, a number of political protesters were murdered during the election cycle. The new government of Ukraine is now sending signals that it wants to charge Manafort in relation to those murders, according to a Daily Beast report (link). It’s not clear that Mueller could charge Manafort for these murders, as they took place outside of the U.S. and were against non-U.S. citizens. However, a number of U.S. soldiers were placed in danger while these murders were being carried out, meaning Mueller could charge Manafort with intentionally endangering the soldiers.
So we’re on the verge of entering a new phase of Donald Trump’s Russia scandal in which two of the most notorious players are facing charges that involve words like “kidnapping” and “murder.” This could serve to fundamentally alter the public’s interpretation of the seriousness of the Trump-Russia scandal.
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Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report