For lack of a better example, the last three weeks of the Trump-Russia scandal have resembled a game of musical chairs. Everyone is nervously waiting for the music to stop so they can try to hurry up and grab a chair before they’re all gone. The music started when Paul Manafort was arrested, and it just stopped when Michael Flynn signaled last night that he’s negotiating a deal. Now the scandal is done being musical chairs, and it’s officially a feeding frenzy.
Flynn, by virtue of being one of the most valuable potential cooperating witnesses, and by virtue of stepping forward at the right time, will get the best deal. That doesn’t mean he’ll go free. He’ll surely end up doing prison time. But he’ll taste freedom at the end of his sentence, as opposed to the life in prison he’d otherwise have been facing. Perhaps most importantly to him, his son will likely go free. Regardless of why Flynn ultimately decided to flip, everything now suddenly changes for everyone else involved in the scandal.
Everyone else facing even the slightest whiff of potential criminal charges in the Trump-Russia scandal now finds themselves in the following situation: Michael Flynn is in the process of cutting a deal that will likely take down Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr, and Jared Kushner. At this point, what the hell could anyone else have to offer that would warrant a deal? Robert Mueller now has relatively little incentive to let anyone else cut a leniency deal, beyond his already-demonstrated preference for building overwhelmingly comprehensive criminal cases.
So yeah, a few more people in Donald Trump’s Russia scandal will be able to get favorable deals, if they’re sitting on the right information. But they’d better hurry, because Michael Flynn just took the best deal off the table. What’s left now is nothing but table scraps, and not enough to go around, which means we’re looking at a feeding frenzy among Trump’s remaining associates.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report