Special Counsel Robert Mueller just reminded us yet again that he’s several months ahead of the media and the public, and more importantly several months ahead of Donald Trump, when it comes to his latest moves in the Trump-Russia investigation. As of now, we know that Paul Manafort is officially out of the picture. The fascinating part is that we’re just now learning that Manafort has been out of the picture since last year.
All along we’ve thought that Mueller was trying to use Rick Gates to get to Manafort, so that he could use Manafort to get to Donald Trump. Trump and his team certainly thought this, as they went so far as to dangle a pardon in Manafort’s face last year in the hope of convincing him not to flip. The joke was on Manafort, because Trump clearly never did pardon him. But the even bigger joke was on Trump, because Mueller is now revealing that he’s never needed Manafort.
Mueller’s latest court filings reveal that all along, he’s been trying to get Gates to flip on Trump, not Manafort. It turns out Gates and Manafort were both conspiring with a Russian intel officer during the final months of the general election, but by that time it was Gates, and not the already-fired Manafort, who was still in a leadership position in the campaign. This means that in the month since Gates cut his plea deal, he’s been spilling his guts about how Trump and other key figures in the campaign were conspiring with Russia.
So why is Robert Mueller even bothering to put Paul Manafort on trial? Because that’s what prosecutors do when they encounter evidence of crimes. But all along, Mueller has been eyeing Rick Gates, and not Manafort, as his star witness. All this time, Trump has been worried about Manafort. He should have been worried about convincing Gates not to flip – and now it’s far too late.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report