It’s begun. Special Counsel Robert Mueller was always going to go full throttle against Donald Trump’s White House senior staff in order to get them to flip on Trump by any legal means necessary. Several of them have lawyered up, out of fear they might end up facing obstruction of justice charges or worse. Now that process is officially underway.
Mueller began “interviewing” Trump’s White House senior staffers on Friday, starting – as expected – near the bottom of the food chain with National Security Council chief of staff Keith Kellogg, according a report from The Hill (link). This comes a few days after CNN reported that Mueller was about to get underway (link). From here he’ll quickly work his way up that food chain, with the goal of getting the people on the lower rungs to flip on the upper rungs, thus forcing the upper rungs to flip on Trump directly.
There are scattered reports that Trump’s senior staffers have become paranoid toward each other, and are going so far as to accuse each other of wearing a wire while on the job. That kind of paranoia plays directly into Mueller’s hands. The more these staffers believe their colleagues may have already cut deals, the more likely they are to hurry up and try to cut a deal themselves, because there will only be a certain number of good deals to go around.
By the way, the word “interviewing” is in quotation marks above because the process is anything but a traditional interview. Donald Trump’s staffers will be grilled on every detail of every relevant conversation they’ve ever had with Trump. If they lie, it’s a crime. If they refuse to cooperate, it’s a crime. If they participated in a coverup, they’re guilty of conspiracy to obstruct justice. If they witnessed a felony and failed to report it, they’re guilty of misprision of a felony. One way or another, they’ll all end up guilty of something. Who will flip on Trump first?
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report