Heading into what is already set to be a pivotal week in Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation, Erik Prince just threw us all a curveball by admitting that he participated in the long-alleged second Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr and others during the election. He then comically claimed that this meeting is only missing from the transcript of his sworn House testimony because the transcript is somehow wrong. Even as everyone rightly marvels over the absurdity of this, Prince just gave away something larger.
From an optics standpoint, what Erik Prince just said looks absolutely terrible. There is no one in the court of public opinion who is going to believe that he confessed to this meeting during his House Intel Committee testimony two years ago, but no one from either party remembers him saying it, and the transcriber somehow missed it as well, and even though Prince has known all this time that this incriminating transcript was incorrect, he’s never thought to ask anyone to go back and check the tape until now. By claiming this, Prince is making himself look like an idiot.
As Palmer Report likes to point out, there are only two reasons a person tries to make a scandal go away by floating an excuse that has absolutely terrible optics. The first is if they’re simply an idiot and they simply don’t know how bad it’s going to make them look. The second is if they’re savvy enough to know that they’re facing criminal implications in the scandal, and they’re making the calculated decision to sacrifice the optics in the name of establishing a criminal defense. After all, obtaining a “not guilty” plea only requires carving out a sliver of reasonable doubt, even if the jury thinks you’re very probably guilty.
Erik Prince is a steaming pile of crap, but he’s definitely not an idiot. He’s a shadowy figure who’s suddenly decided to come out of the shadows and do an interview with a journalist he knew would be hostile toward him, just so he could admit the second Trump Tower meeting happened, while claiming the meeting was about Iran policy instead of conspiring to rig the election, and laying out a legal defense against perjury charges. The only reason for Prince to do this right now: he expects Mueller to indict him any day, and he’s focused on his own trial defense.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report