So far this month we’ve seen Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s allies at the SDNY get the ball rolling against Donald Trump by formally accusing him of committing two felonies. Along the way we’ve seen Mueller drop isolated hints that his Trump-Russia accusations against Donald Trump are also on their way. Now we’re seeing information surface which suggests Mueller’s obstruction of justice case against Trump is ready to roll.
In a story that almost surely wouldn’t be coming out right now unless Robert Mueller gave the go-ahead for his people to provide the information, Vox is revealing that Donald Trump and Paul Manafort began conspiring in early 2017 to sabotage the FBI’s reputation. Why is this such a big deal? In our view, this makes it significantly easier for Mueller to prove that Trump committed obstruction of justice, for a specific reason.
Most of Donald Trump’s acts of obstruction of justice were committed in the name of protecting himself from criminal investigation. But that will leave Trump with the argument he didn’t know he was a criminal target at the time he took those actions. This won’t convince many people in the court of public opinion, but in a court of law it could go to reasonable doubt.
However, at the time Donald Trump and Paul Manafort were conspiring to sabotage the FBI, Manafort knew he was a criminal target of the FBI, and so did Trump. This proves that Trump was willfully and knowingly obstructing justice. While we expect Robert Mueller to hit Trump with dozens if not hundreds of counts of obstruction, this Manafort connection could be the key to making them stick.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report