Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been quietly but aggressively following the path used for taking down most criminal kingpins: use the crimes committed by the kingpin’s underlings to pressure them to flip, and then use their testimony to nail the kingpin dead to rights. The process is used to take down everyone from mafia bosses to corrupt CEOs – and it always starts at the bottom. Now Mueller has tipped that he’s moving pretty far up the food chain.
Mueller “interviewed” Trump’s former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus today, according to an on-air MSNBC report. That matters for two specific reasons. The first is that if Mueller has already worked his way up to Priebus, it strongly suggests that he’s already gotten people lower in the food chain to flip on Priebus. The second is that it means Mueller is now just one step away from Trump, if he can succeed in flipping Priebus. The evidence indicates that he can.
There are a number of angles from which Mueller can threaten to hit Reince Priebus with criminal charges. For instance, Priebus was involved when Trump discussed with several of his advisers how best to cover up Donald Trump Jr’s Russian collusion. That means Priebus is on the hook for conspiracy to obstruct justice or misprision of a felony or both, depending on his specific role in that discussion. Mueller’s decision to work his way up to Priebus points to someone else in that discussion having already flipped. But there’s more.
Reince Priebus was the Chair of the Republican National Committee when the Donald Trump campaign and the Russian government conspired at the Republican National Convention to alter the Republican Party platform in Russia’s favor. Priebus was also seen walking into Trump Tower the same day Donald Trump Jr held his meeting with the Russian government. Robert Mueller has surely investigated these angles, for ammunition to get Priebus to flip. If Priebus gives up Trump, it’s nearly checkmate.
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Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report