Thus far Special Counsel Robert Mueller has arrested four people in Donald Trump’s Russia scandal, and he’s taken a different approach with each. One of Mueller’s former colleagues famously said that Mueller likes surprises in order to keep everyone involved off guard. However, I do believe I’ve found a definitive pattern when it comes to which Trump-Russia players he’s looking to arrest and prosecute, and which ones he’s merely looking to grill for information. Moreover, that pattern points to who’s about to get arrested next.
Mueller has taken a different approach with each of his four arrestees thus far. He raided Paul Manafort’s house to try to scare him into cutting a deal. He snuck up on George Papadopoulos in an airport and cuffed him without warning. He used a softer touch in getting Michael Flynn to agree to surrender voluntarily and cut a deal. The pattern here is what Mueller didn’t do in each instance.
In the past months we’ve seen Mueller formally interview people like Sean Spicer, Reince Priebus, Hope Hicks, Don McGahn, and Stephen Miller. None of these people ended up being arrested, even though they could each theoretically get popped for conspiracy to obstruct justice or some other similar crime. When it comes to the four people Mueller has pursued criminally, he didn’t conduct a full interview with any of them.
So the pattern here is that if Robert Mueller makes a point of not interviewing someone, and he instead works around that person by interviewing everyone else in their circle, that’s the person he’s targeting for prosecution. Mueller reportedly spoke briefly with Jared Kushner just before arresting Flynn, but he never did circle back and conduct a full interview with Kushner. So if you want to know who’s most likely to get arrested next, look at Kushner or someone else Mueller hasn’t interviewed.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report