We all expected Matt Whitaker to flip on Donald Trump eventually, because even a lunkhead like Whitaker can see that there are no magic pardons coming down. We just didn’t expect Whitaker to flip quite so quickly or dramatically. He testified today to the House Judiciary Committee about Trump’s obstruction of justice crimes, according to Chairman Jerry Nadler. This is a big deal. But Whitaker isn’t the first cooperating obstruction witness against Trump.
For instance, it’s been widely reported that former White House Counsel Don McGahn has been cooperating with Robert Mueller’s obstruction of justice probe for more than a year, most of that time without Trump’s knowledge. It’s also been reported that Steve Bannon gave Mueller twenty hours of testimony, and no one testifies for that long unless they’re cooperating. Before that, there were major media reports that Reince Priebus and Sean Spicer both documented Trump’s obstruction in real time, and then gave those notes to Mueller.
In other words, this isn’t merely a matter of Matt Whitaker’s word against Donald Trump’s word. It’s a matter of Whitaker, McGahn, Bannon, Priebus, Spicer, maybe Hope Hicks, and probably others, all testifying that they witnessed Trump commit highly similar crimes in different settings. This adds up to corroboration.
We’ll see where this goes, but here’s what stands out. If even a dummy like Matt Whitaker can figure out that Donald Trump isn’t really going to pardon any of his henchmen, that tells us that most of Trump’s henchmen have likely figured out by now that there are no magic pardons. So the list of cooperating witnesses against Trump is probably even longer than we could guess at.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report