So now what? Special Counsel Robert Mueller has plea deals in place from three key former Donald Trump advisers, indictments against nineteen different Trump-Russia scandal participants, a criminal trial scheduled for Trump’s campaign chairman, and too many confirmed cooperating witnesses to list, even as new details surface every day about how much crucial evidence Mueller has uncovered. This is all adding up to something major. But what’s next?
Let’s start with what we know. This week we learned that Mueller has a grand jury in progress which involves at least ten Trump-Russia names you’ve all heard of. Mueller subpoenaed Sam Nunberg to testify about ten key players he personally interacted with during the course of the scandal. That doesn’t mean all ten of these people are criminal targets of the grand jury; it’s possible that some of them are merely uncooperative witnesses. But the list is a who’s who of familiar names, and it’s fairly clear that this grand jury is central to Mueller’s strategy. So what’s he doing with this grand jury?
Federal grand juries nearly always return any indictments the prosecutor seeks. Because evidence is being presented about the involvement of these ten big names, Mueller can indict any of them he chooses. For nine of those names, which include the likes of Steve Bannon and Hope Hicks and Carer Page, the entire point of indicting them would be to pressure them into cutting plea deals against Donald Trump himself. The tenth name on the list is Donald Trump.
This does not mean that Robert Mueller is going to ask this particular grand jury to indict Donald Trump. Mueller may not be there yet. The inevitable indictments against Trump have to be so earth shattering that they immediately destroy him politically, and allow Mueller to move in on him. So this grand jury may simply be asked to indict everyone around Trump, so Mueller can flip them against Trump, so he can then use their cooperation in getting the next grand jury to indict Trump. One way or the other, this current grand jury will result in – at the least – the arrests of several key people close to Donald Trump. We’re getting warmer.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report