Hush money or not, Hope Hicks is still looking at prison

Yesterday we learned that Donald Trump’s allies in the Republican National Committee have funneled half a million dollars to the law firm representing Hope Hicks and a few other less relevant players in the Trump-Russia scandal. In other words, Trump is ensuring that Hicks’ legal bills are paid, in the hope of convincing her not to cut a plea deal against him. The trouble for Hope: that money won’t keep her out of prison.

Hope Hicks isn’t merely a witness. Trump’s former legal team spokesman Mark Corallo recently testified to Robert Mueller that he heard Hicks promising to bury the email evidence against Donald Trump Jr. If Corallo’s claims can be corroborated via other witnesses or evidence, Hicks is on the hook for felony obstruction of justice. That comes with a multi-year prison sentence, at the end of a multi-year trial.

Considering the hush money involved, Hicks’ lawyers are clearly high priced and capable. These kinds of attorneys tend to focus on weakening the case by getting a few bits and pieces of it thrown out on technicalities. But that doesn’t always work; thus far, Paul Manafort’s high priced attorneys have lost nearly every gambit they’ve tried. And eyewitnesses, particularly if their testimony is backed up by contemporaneous notes or some other form of evidence, make for a compelling criminal case. Unless Corallo’s story falls apart, it’s difficult to see Hicks finding a way to get out of this.

We’ve already seen that Donald Trump is not willing to take the enormous risk of trying to pardon his former advisers in order to keep them from cutting plea deals. Is Hope Hicks naive enough to think Trump will pardon her? If not, she might as well just cut a plea deal now, before Trump inevitably cuts off the RNC money flow to her, and leaves her all on her own.

Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report