Is Sam Nunberg playing Donald Trump in order to appease Roger Stone?

If you’ve been under a rock all day, you’ve missed former longtime Trump adviser Sam Nunberg making one television appearance after another in increasingly startling and unhinged fashion. Nunberg spent the day ranting and raving and contradicting himself, revealing that he’s planning to get arrested in defiance of a Robert Mueller grand jury subpoena, while also basically admitting that several people including Trump are guilty. But was this some kind of strategic act?

Nunberg’s performance today was profoundly disturbing. This is far from the first unhinged TV interview he’s given this year, but today’s performance was unprecedented. Many observers questioned if he was mentally unstable, or perhaps under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It was so startling that at one point CNN host Erin Burnett asked him to his face if he was drunk. He denied it, but did announce that he’s on antidepressants. There’s nothing wrong with that, if he’s getting them properly from a doctor. But millions of people are on antidepressants, and almost none of them go on television and act like Nunberg just did. So what was really going on with him today?

Maybe we were indeed watching a meltdown by a guy who’s been crumbling under the pressure of the Trump-Russia investigation for some time, and finally cracked once he received that grand jury subpoena ordering him to turn over evidence against his friends. But is it possible something else was going on here? The bulk of Nunberg’s premise was that he’s was willing to go to prison to avoid turning over emails he’d exchanged with his “mentor” Roger Stone. But if he thinks Stone is innocent, why not just turn over the emails? Why go on television and announce that he’s taking a bullet for Stone? Why reveal that Stone is the target of a Mueller grand jury?

It’s tempting to ask if perhaps Sam Nunberg strategically put on all these public histrionics today in order to convince Roger Stone that he wasn’t willing to sell him out. That way, Mueller has to send agents to Nunberg’s house to forcibly take the emails from his electronic devices, and Nunberg can honestly say to Stone that he didn’t voluntarily sell him out. On the other hand, if this was just an act from Nunberg, it was an incredibly convincing one. We’ve spent all day re-watching the interviews, and we’re still not sure what we just watched.

Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report