Donald Trump once famously released a book (ghostwritten entirely by someone else) called Art of the Deal. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is about to play a different game entirely, called the Art of No Deal. He gave a favorable deal to George Papadopoulos to get the ball rolling. He’s in the process of giving a deal to Michael Flynn because he’s so valuable. Now a whole lot of other people are suddenly going to want a deal, and some of them are going to be very disappointed.
Robert Mueller only has two goals: to make Donald Trump answer for his crimes, and make sure justice is served when it comes to the overall Trump-Russia criminal scandal. Mueller will hand out as many plea deals as necessary in order to make sure Trump is nailed. He has to sell Trump’s guilt to the court of public opinion, so he’ll surely aim for redundancy. But that doesn’t mean he’s simply going to hand out a deal to anyone who wants one. In fact, each time Mueller hands out a deal, it means he needs the next cooperating witness all that much less. So who’s about to lose in all this?
In general, every player in the Trump-Russia scandal has less bargaining power now than they would have if they’d offered to cut a deal a week ago. Michael Flynn’s cooperation gets Mueller a long way toward proving that Donald Trump was conspiring with Russia to alter the outcome of the election. Some of the other people who fit the same description are probably screwed, because they can only offer Mueller what Flynn is already offering, and less of it.
The people most likely to get deals at this point are those who can prove Donald Trump guilty of additional crimes. Robert Mueller is trying hard to nail Trump for obstruction of justice, so there’s a good deal waiting for anyone who conspired with Trump to try to sabotage the investigation. Of course half a dozen or more advisers fit that description, and Mueller only needs one of them – maybe two if he wants redundancy. Some of these people are simply screwed.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report