Shockwaves were sent through the Trump-Russia scandal on Friday when Donald Trump’s former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus spent a full day being interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. This came while Mueller was still working his way up the White House hierarchy, and strongly suggested that Priebus was suddenly looking to flip on Trump and cut a deal. Now comes inside word that Priebus was indeed more than a little eager to cooperate with Mueller.
One Republican insider familiar with the situation says that Reince Priebus was “champing at the bit” to testify for Robert Mueller, according to a new Vanity Fair profile (link). This confirms that Priebus really was specifically looking for a way to talk to Mueller sooner than would have traditionally happened. Even so, Mueller would have had no motivation to skip ahead to Priebus, unless he had good reason to believe that Priebus was going to voluntarily give him valuable information that could speed up the investigation.
Normally, a prosecutor like Mueller would work his way up the hierarchy one witness at a time. He would start by getting someone in the lower ranks of Trump’s staff to flip on someone like Priebus, which he could then use to pressure Priebus to flip on Trump himself. That didn’t happen here. Mueller had only interviewed Keith Kellogg, who’s so far down the Trump White House adviser food chain that most of you have never heard of him, before jumping straight to Priebus – who is more or less at the top of the hierarchy. This kind of thing doesn’t happen without a good reason.
This brings us back to why Reince Priebus would have been so eager, and indeed “champing at the bit,” to hurry up and testify for Mueller. His most likely motivation would be that he believes Trump is dangerously unstable, and he wants to help oust him as quickly as possible.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report