Whenever a major news outlet publishes an insider’s view of what’s going on in a major political scandal, you always have to run it through a filter of trying to figure out who the source was for the story. After all, the inside source is the one who gets to largely decide the narrative and tone of what’s being reported.
Take, for instance, today’s lengthy new Washington Post article about how Manhattan prosecutors are still moving full steam ahead with a grand jury against Donald Trump, but they’re frustrated at how Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg is still refusing to cooperate. Among the odd details in the story: Weisselberg apparently visited Trump on Trump’s birthday, which the article interprets as a sign of Weisselberg’s continued loyalty to Trump.
The article also points to the fact that Weisselberg is still showing up to work for his job at Trump Tower as a sign that Weisselberg is refusing to cooperate against Donald Trump, which feels a bit… obvious. Even if Weisselberg has secretly flipped on Trump, what’s he going to do, stop showing up to work? Of course Weisselberg is still showing up to work. Why would anyone involved bother to provide this detail to the Post, as if it were significant – unless it’s some kind of misdirection?
That makes me wonder who the source is for this story. Ordinarily I’d presume that prosecutors leaked the story, in an attempt at scaring Weisselberg into realizing that he’s going to be indicted soon if he doesn’t cooperate. But they already did that last week, when they let it be known that Weisselberg was on track to be indicted this summer. More specifically, who’s the source of the information that Weisselberg was hanging out with Trump on his birthday?
Maybe prosecutors have been keeping tabs on Weisselberg, and this is their way of letting him know that he’s being watched, in case he gets any ideas about conspiring with Trump to commit obstruction of justice. But there’s another possibility. Let’s say Weisselberg has secretly flipped on Trump, and he’s hanging out with Trump in order to spy on him. It would make perfect sense for Weisselberg and prosecutors to jointly leak today’s story about how Weisselberg is still supposedly refusing to cooperate out of his sense of loyalty to Trump.
We’ll see where this goes. If Allen Weisselberg and/or his kids end up being indicted, then it’ll mean he obviously did not flip on Trump. If Weisselberg has secretly flipped, then prosecutors won’t let that detail be known until after Weisselberg has clandestinely obtained all the evidence he can from his ongoing contact with Trump, and we may not find out about such a plea deal until Trump’s indictment surfaces.
In any case it’s important to keep in mind that Michael Cohen, who has met with these same prosecutors more than ten times about the criminal case against Trump, keeps stressing that the prosecutors have more than enough evidence to take Trump down whether Weisselberg flips or not. So the case against Trump is not in jeopardy if Weisselberg decides he’d rather go to prison than sell Trump out. It’s just that the slam dunk case against Trump will be even more bulletproof if Weisselberg becomes a witness.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report