When Special Counsel Robert Mueller arrested Donald Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort on Monday morning and charged him with the kind of crimes that could prevent him from ever tasting freedom again, it wasn’t necessarily an attempt at getting Manafort to flip. Instead it was more about sending a message to everyone else involved in the Trump-Russia scandal: it’s time to come clean while you still can. Sure enough, by Thursday, a number of Trump campaign advisers were tripping over themselves to give each other up.
First came the stunning news that Jared Kushner is cooperating with Mueller by turning over documents relating to Donald Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey (link). This means that Kushner has now begun giving up Trump in an attempt to avoid facing criminal charges. Then came the news that Sam Clovis, who was recently implicated in the Trump-Russia scandal by George Papadopoulos, appears to have flipped on Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump (link).
Somewhere in the midst of it all today, Jeff Sessions admitted that he did know about the Russian plot by Papadopoulos. In turn this may have incriminated J.D. Gordon for lying to the FBI (link). Then by the evening it was revealed Carter Page had testified to the House Intelligence Committee that Sessions also knew about his trip to Moscow during the campaign (link).
So to tally the scoreboard: Jared Kushner has given up Donald Trump on obstruction. Three people have given up Jeff Sessions for lying under oath. Sessions may have given up someone as well. Robert Mueller has been able to set all of this in motion simply by arresting Paul Manafort to make an example out of him, and announcing the George Papadopoulos confession. This is despite Manafort’s total lack of cooperation, and the fact that Michael Flynn hasn’t even been arrested yet.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report