What a day we just witnessed! On Friday, the rumors began that special prosecutor; Robert Mueller, would hand out indictments on Monday. Anyone with a brainstem could have guessed that Paul Manafort would be the target. Manafort has long been known as a “gun for hire” with more than questionable associations to Russia and other foreign countries and governments. It wasn’t just Manafort who was brought in though, as his associate Rick Gates was also brought down. They are, however, just the shiny objects of the day. The real news was Mueller truly outdoing himself, by showing that he had George Papadopolous in his back pocket. Papadopolous is the real story here, as he’s the one that will likely lead to the eventual impeachment of Donald Trump. There’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s jump into the facts that we know, then we’ll look at where things go from here.
Let’s start at the beginning: On July 26th of this year, FBI agents did a “no-knock” search of Paul Manafort’s home. What they found there must have been enticing, because it led them to George Papadopolous. The very next day (July 27th- remember this date later on), he was arrested at Dulles airport. On October 5th, he pled guilty to perjury. However, there was something very interesting in his guilty plea: he’d become a “proactive cooperator.” Given the context of everything, language like that, leads one to think that Papadopolous has been wearing a wire for Manafort since late July.
The question then becomes: did this work? The answer is most assuredly is yes! The only way that Papadopolous would be allowed to plea down on October 5th is if he had already given Mueller audio that he could use, or proved to Mueller that he was capable of getting audio that Mueller could use. If Papadopolous did not have the connections to the higher ups in the administration (like they are claiming) he never would have been allowed to sign the plea on October 5th. So that means that he either already given Mueller evidence that can be used to build a stronger case against the administration, or he convinced Mueller that he still has access to the Trump brain trust.
A couple of things to note here: first off, the fact that Mueller kept this a secret since July is truly amazing. Very few people knew of this man, or that he had agreed to help Mueller. The media never looked his way when the announcement of indictments came out. Everyone (myself included) only thought of Manafort. Also, there are reports that the Trump team was shocked Papadopolous was helping Mueller. If he wasn’t able to get evidence by now, the fact that he’s been named means that he’d have zero ability to get Mueller evidence in the future. Again, it shows pretty clearly that Papadopolous already delivered the goods that Mueller needs to continue the investigation.
Here’s where things get really interesting. Assuming that Papadopolous already gave Mueller everything he needed to get a bigger fish in this thing, who is it? Papadopolous was hired by Sam Clovis, his supervisor was Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and Manafort was another supervisor. So, let’s play this out: would Muller have used Papadopolous to get to Manafort? No way! Mueller had other charges to bring Manafort in on. So that leaves Sessions and Clovis as the two people Papadopolous would have had the most contact with the past ninety day (the timeframe he’d have been wired) So what about Jeff Sessions? Since he’s recused himself from the Russia probe, it might be difficult for Sessions and Papadopolous to have much contact. That leaves Clovis as the next chain in this link that inevitably leads up to the president.
Sam Clovis was Trump’s liaison to his foreign policy/national security team. It’s also worth noting that Trump nominated Clovis to be the top scientist at the USDA, despite Clovis not holding a single scientific degree to his name. Why? The timing might provide an answer, as on July 21st (six days before Papadopolous was arrested) Trump offered Clovis the position at the USDA. Did Trump know something was about to happen and he wanted to keep Clovis on his side? The only thing we know for sure is that whatever Trump communicated to his national security advisory committee about Russia, Clovis also knows. Which is to say, almost everything! For instance, Clovis would know whatever information was being reported to the national security team (and Trump) by Sergey Kislyak. Or he’d know about the changes in the GOP platform regarding sanctions on Russia, and Trump’s unilateral decision to stop said sanctions.
Mueller has Manafort already. Flynn has already said he’d flip and help in the investigation. So Mueller needs Clovis to help build an airtight case against Trump, and Papadopolous probably just delivered him to Mueller on a silver platter. This is what an expert prosecutor looks like, and this is what he does. Mueller has played his hand so beautifully here, that you really need to appreciate the brilliance behind it all. To the MAGA crowd, who grouse about how Trump is playing some 4 dimensional chess; what we saw yesterday is how you play that game. Mueller set all the pieces up, and is putting pressure where he needs to and using people to eventually bring the biggest fish in.
Think of this as a mafia sting. You don’t go right for the godfather. Instead you get the people doing his dirty work first. You force them to play ball and roll over on the person who’s next in the line. This is what we’re seeing play out before our very eyes.
And that’s where we are today, on October 31st, 2017. Yesterday was as good as it’s going to get for the Trump team regarding Russia. From here on out, the circle around the administration will start to close in, and the noose (if you’ll pardon the expression) will only get tighter. Yesterday we saw the beginning of the end of the Donald Trump administration.