Here’s how you know that Donald Trump’s Russia scandal is finally hitting the fan when it comes to Trump’s own inner circle. It’s not just that two of the key players have begun cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the scandal. It’s that other key players in the Trump-Russia scandal are now hitting the panic button in response to the fallout.
On Friday, Donald Trump’s former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus began cooperating with Mueller, to the tune of a full day of voluntarily answering questions about the scandal. On Monday, Trump’s former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer also spent a full day with Mueller. This doesn’t mean they’ve outright flipped or cut deals to avoid any potential obstruction conspiracy charges. But it does mean that Mueller has now breached Trump’s inner circle – significantly increasing the odds that someone cuts a deal soon and flips. It’s enough to prompt Jared Kushner to make immediate moves to try to reposition himself.
Kushner has quickly revised his legal team in the immediate aftermath of Priebus and Spicer beginning to cooperate with Mueller, according to a new Vanity Fair report (link). What precisely is Kushner doing? That’s not yet clear – but when you hire a different kind of attorney, it means a fundamental shift in legal strategy is coming. It also suggests that Kushner was caught off guard by Priebus and Spicer, which would mean that Trump has also been caught off guard by it.
When it comes to Donald Trump’s alleged co-conspirators flipping on him in order to avoid facing criminal charges, there are only a finite number of favorable deals to be had. At some point Robert Mueller will have enough insider witnesses, and everyone else will be out of luck. Now that Priebus and Spicer are thoroughly cooperating, look for a chain reaction among Trump’s own people.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report