Special Counsel Robert Mueller is, to use the baseball reference, now batting a thousand. As of yesterday, he’s now managed to get a cooperating plea deal from every Donald Trump associate he’s indicted. He’s even managed to get cooperation from the Trump associate he had SDNY indict. He’s landed immunity deals with a close personal ally of Trump, and the most important official in the Trump Organization. Some of these people fought bitterly in court and publicly swore they’d never cave, but they all work for Team Mueller now. Why is Mueller suddenly able to make this look so easy?
There are few different key factors here. The first is the sheer amount of time and effort that Robert Mueller has invested into these cases. He first indicted and arrested Paul Manafort more than ten months ago. It took this much legal maneuvering, too many superseding indictments to keep track of, an entire jury trial, and several weeks of on-again, off-again plea negotiations before he was finally able to convince Manafort that his life was over unless he gave up Trump.
The second factor here is that Donald Trump’s own people know him well enough to ultimately not trust him with their futures. The likes of Manafort and Michael Flynn and Michael Cohen wanted to remain loyal to Trump, but in the end they each concluded that Trump either could not or would not help them. They all decided that voluntarily going to prison gave them better prospects for the rest of their lives than trusting Trump to bail them out. You can’t make a much more compelling case than that for just how selfish, and inept, Donald Trump is.
The real upshot may be this: Robert Mueller keeps winning because he’s really good at this, and Donald Trump keeps losing because even his own people know he doesn’t have some secret master plan for getting out from under this mess. Mueller still needs voters to take Congress away from Trump’s complicit Republican Party in November. But if Trump can’t save his own loyal people, and more importantly, if he can’t stop them from flipping on him, is there any reason to believe that he’s going to be able to save himself in the end?
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report