We’re days away from the prison phase of Donald Trump’s Russia scandal

The optimists in Donald Trump’s base, and the pessimists in the Resistance, are equally convinced that no one involved in the Trump-Russia scandal will end up in prison for it. This notion technically went out the window when obscure Trump-Russia player Alex Van Der Zwaan became the first one to go to prison last month. But now we’re entering the phase where major Trump-Russia players are headed to prison – some of them likely within days.

Donald Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort has an arraignment scheduled for this Friday in relation to the latest criminal charges filed against him. If Special Counsel Robert Mueller gets his way, and it’s very likely he will, Manafort will be locked up in prison on Friday. No more house arrest. No more ankle bracelets. Manafort will be sitting in a prison cell from now until the completion of his trial, which will likely see him sentenced to hundreds of years – meaning he’ll probably never have another day of freedom in his life. But he’s not the only one who’s about to report to prison.

George Papadopoulos cut a plea deal roughly a year ago, and agreed to serve between zero and six months in prison. His sentencing has been delayed all this time because Mueller was still using him as a cooperating witness. But two weeks ago Mueller filed papers confirming that Papadopoulos’ cooperation period is complete, and that it’s now time for him to be sentenced. Although he’ll end up with a rather short prison sentence, some much longer sentences are waiting in the wings for bigger names.

Michael Flynn and Rick Gates have agreed to plea deals which, according to various legal observers, are likely to include multi-year prison sentences. The only reason Flynn and Gates aren’t sitting in a cell right now is that Robert Mueller isn’t using them as witnesses yet. So we’re already looking at five people in prison, including Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, his deputy campaign chairman, and his White House National Security Adviser. Roger Stone and Michael Cohen will be arrested soon. This will end with Trump and certain members of his family in prison as well.

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