Last week Robert Mueller brought felony charges against an obscure Trump-Russia connected attorney, simply for misleading federal investigators. The charges must have been legitimate, because the attorney promptly pleaded guilty. It made clear that Mueller is going to bust everyone in the Trump-Russia scandal for every procedural law they violate. Which brings us to the odd case of Jared Kushner, who has already been caught up in a felony in plain sight.
The SF-86 security clearance form says right on it that intentionally filling it out incorrectly is an imprisonable felony. Jared Kushner omitted hundreds of meetings with foreign nationals when filling out his form, including the pivotal secret meetings he’d held with the Russian Ambassador and the head of a Russian bank just a month or two earlier. Kushner has since revised his forms to include those meetings, thus admitting by default that he committed the initial felony by leaving them off. Mueller could have arrested Kushner for this at any time. So why hasn’t he? It’s a simple answer.
That kind of middling criminal charge might have ultimately been enough to get a conviction against Kushner, but it probably wouldn’t have been enough to convince Kushner to promptly cut a plea deal. As we’ve seen in the Paul Manafort saga, when a defendant decides to go to trial instead of flipping, that process can take a very long time. His trial isn’t even set to start until September, and could take years to finish. By that time, Trump’s fate in the Trump-Russia saga will likely already have been decided.
So it would do Robert Mueller no good to arrest Jared Kushner on the kind of middling charges that might prompt Kushner to simply take his chances at trial. Manafort still hasn’t flipped after being hit with dozens of serious criminal charges. To get Kushner to flip on his own father-in-law, Mueller will have to hit Kushner with the kind of overwhelming evidence of serious crimes that’ll make Kushner realize he has no chance of winning at trial. Mueller has to build that strong of a case. Until he’s finished that case, there would be no point in arresting Kushner on anything less. The good news? Based on Mueller’s recent moves, it would seem he’s nearly there.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report