In the week since the news broke that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has begun investigating political operative Tony Podesta for possible violations of the Foreign Agent Registration Act, Donald Trump has been jubilantly and publicly celebrating. Tony Podesta is the brother of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta, so Trump thinks this is good news for him. But new details have surfaced about why Mueller is targeting Tony Podesta – and it’s Trump’s worst nightmare.
Tony Podesta had no connection to the Hillary Clinton campaign. Nor did John Podesta appear to have any connection to Tony’s overseas work. So whether Tony turns out to be innocent or guilty, this isn’t going to lead back to Hillary. Instead it’s going to lead back to Donald Trump. CBS News is now reporting (link) that Mueller is specifically looking into the oversea works that Tony Podesta did for Paul Manafort and Rick Gates.
In other words, Mueller is pursuing Tony Podesta to try to get him to incriminate Manafort and Gates. Today a federal judge assigned a trial date for Paul Manafort of May 7th, 2018. If Manafort refuses to cut a deal, his trial will come way too late to be relevant to the Trump-Russia investigation. But if Tony Podesta steps forward in the mean time as an incriminating witness against Manafort, and particularly if he can produce evidence to support his testimony, then Manafort may realize he’s screwed – and cut a deal.
To be clear, we have no idea if Tony Podesta is innocent or guilty of FARA or any other potential crimes. But in the hypothetical scenario where he’s guilty, he’d be motivated to cut a deal which would compel him to flip on Paul Manafort. On the other hand, if Tony Podesta is innocent, then he’ll have no reason not to give up Manafort. If Manafort decides to flip as a result, he’ll have to give up Donald Trump. You can draw a fairly straight line from Tony Podesta to Trump’s demise.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report