Throughout Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation, we’ve seen time and again that there are only two constants: 1) Mueller already knows what really happened before he questions any given subject or target, and 2) that person will probably lie to Mueller anyway. This has allowed Mueller to keep nailing people for the crime of lying, forcing some of them to cut plea deals. That brings us to Mueller, perjury, and Donald Trump himself.
Given his nature, there is no doubt that Donald Trump lied repeatedly in the written answers he gave Robert Mueller a few days ago. Mueller knew this, and surely asked Trump a bunch of questions he already knew the answers to, so he could catch Trump lying. Now we’re getting details about some of Trump’s answers. For instance, according to CNN, Trump has claimed in writing that Roger Stone never told him about WikiLeaks collusion, and no one involved with the Trump Tower meeting with the Russians told him about the meeting. Why does this matter?
Donald Trump is surely banking on no one directly involved with these things being willing to sell him out. The three Trump people who attended the Trump Tower meeting are Donald Trump Jr, Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort. Two of them are related to him, and Manafort just got caught conspiring with him behind Mueller’s back. So as long as these people don’t give Mueller the truth about the meeting, Trump can lie about it, right? Wrong.
For instance, Michael Cohen has already publicly accused Donald Trump of having known about the Trump Tower meeting in advance. Can Cohen prove this, beyond his own testimony? We don’t know. But if Cohen was in the room when Trump learned about the meeting, so were other people – and Trump has no way of knowing which of them may secretly have cooperation deals or immunity deals in place with Mueller. Again, Mueller wouldn’t bother asking the question unless he’s sitting on proof of the answer, because that’s how he operates.
Then there’s the matter of Roger Stone. Sure, maybe he won’t end up selling Donald Trump out to Robert Mueller. But as we’ve seen, Stone has sloppily put a lot of things in writing, including death threats aimed at Randy Credico, and discussions about WikiLeaks collusion in emails with Jerome Corsi. If Stone told third parties in writing that he had told Trump about the collusion, that’s hard evidence, and if Mueller has obtained it, then he doesn’t need Stone’s cooperation.
So it looks like Robert Mueller has gotten the provable perjury he was seeking from Donald Trump. The one caveat here is that, according to how CNN is describing Trump’s answers, it sounds like he phrased them in the vein of “I don’t recall.” That may give Trump a smidgeon of legal wiggle room, but not really. If Mueller was hoping Trump would be dumb enough to lie to him in writing, it sounds like he got his wish.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report