So Much for Masterminds and Up Guys
by Murfster35 –
You know, for all of the striking similarities between Trump and Nixon, and the similarities between Watergate, and the current monster scandal, there are two striking differences, both coming into clearer focus more and more every day.
First of all, The Watergate break in occurred in June of 1972, but Nixon was already almost done with his first term, he was cruising to reelection. And the scandal didn’t really break wide open until June of 1973 when John Dean spilled the beans that he had discussed the coverup 35 times with Nixon. With Trump, we’re already talking about immunity and it’s been what? Seventy days now?
The second difference is the cast of characters. Nixon was surrounded by loyal aides. Dean only flipped on him when he came to realize that he was being set up by the White House to be the fall guy. And two of Nixon’s closest advisors, HR Haldeman and John Ehrlichman refused to roll on him at all, and both paid for their loyalty with prison terms. For Trump, there are three top advisors and surrogates, two of whom, Flynn and Manafort want to sing in return for immunity, and one, Kushner who wanted to testify in open session in congress to plant some juicy seeds to get a deal of his own. Some stand up guys!
There is an old adage in law enforcement, when you’ve got multiple bad guys, as a general rule, the one who sings first gets the best deal. In fact, depending on what he spills, the others may get no deal at all, he can help to hang them. But, which one has the most to trade, and how soon will he deal?
At first I thought that Jared Kushner was the most likely one to deal, and the juiciest plum. He has been in the topmost inner circle since the beginning. Trump trusts him more than almost anyone than Ivanka, there is little that went on that he didn’t know about and at least tacitly approve, Trump would listen to him. But I just don’t see Kushner rolling over on the father of his wife, and the grandfather of his children. Kushner was fiercely loyal to his own father, and I don’t see him any less loyal to Trump. With one exception we’ll get to in a moment. But he can almost certainly give them both Manafort and Flynn on a silver platter, and maybe even Carter Page and Roger Stone. A nice haul. But for someone that high in the food chain, you punch up, not down, and there’s only one bigger fish.
I thought that Manafort was the most logical choice. If Trump was dirty, Manafort could most certainly Judas him out, and he has no particular reason to be loyal to Trump. In fact, the exact opposite. If Putin has already jettisoned Trump as an unacceptable risk, Manafort can do the same. Especially since, if Putin has written Manafort off as a bigger liability than an asset, say by having the bank in Cyprus cooperate with American investigators, and even talk to Richard Engel of NBC News about him, he has just lost his escape hatch if the heat got too high here.
Mike Flynn always seemed to be in the weakest bargaining position. He could testify about telling the Russian ambassador to chill out, Trump would fix the sanctions once he got sworn in, what else did he have? While he was an ardent supporter and surrogate, he didn’t seem to rise to a top tier position in the campaign, he did what he was told. And either possibly Manafort or almost certainly Kushner could take him down along with each other. Where’s his leverage?
We may be about to find out. In his request for immunity, Flynn’s attorney said he had a “story to tell”. What story? He already admitted to colluding with the Russian ambassador about the Obama sanctions, that’s no longer much of a story. It can mean only one of two things. Either he was higher up the ladder than he appeared, and had evidence on either Manafort or Kushner approving illegal behavior, or he can give the Feds the Holy Grail. He can tell them that he could testify that Trump gave him explicit permission and approval to go to Kislyak and undercut the authority of the sitting President. With that, they can just charge Kushner and Manafort with whatever they can make stick with their investigations.
This is the nightmare scenario for Jared Kushner. He would be loath to turn on Trump, it would almost certainly cost him his marriage. But if Flynn can give them Trump, and maybe even give them Kushner if he was in the room for the meeting and agreed with Trump, he’s toast. The only way he can save himself is to roll on Hair Furor, as well as Manafort if possible, and Flynn, and anybody else he can think of in order to save himself. In that case, I can see Kushner casting Daddy in law out to sea in a leaky dinghy. He saw what federal prison looked like from his visits with Daddy, not something a silk boxers guy wants to go through. Hell, you can always get another wife and have more kids.
Strangely enough, Manafort may be in the greatest jeopardy here. Unless Trump was directly involved with some other collusive activity during the summer of the campaign, Manafort can’t give them The Orange Julius, he was gone by the time Flynn talked to the ambassador. And unless Flynn was higher up in the campaign than anybody thought, he can’t give them Flynn either, just Kushner. And if he goes down, even if only for money laundering charges stemming from his cash purchases and quick mortgaging of multi million homes here in the US, they may be able to charge him under the RICO statute, which would mean not only hard, and possibly long prison time, but he could also face forfeiture of all ill-gotten gains.
Flynn is a little better than Manafort. If he can give them Trump for approving his conversations with Kislyak, and possibly Kushner if he agreed to approve it, he’s got a twofer. But unless he was a shadow power in the campaign during the summer, and there was criminal activity, he can’t give them Manafort. And while immunity would save him the threat of prison time, it would not save him from a military court martial, and a possible hit to his pension payments if he is reduced one or more ranks in grade.
If he has a story, he can almost certainly give them Trump, who else can he give them that they can’t get from one of the others? I doubt if Das Donald would approve Flynn’s fireside chats without bouncing it off of Kushner, as well as Flynn, can give them Trump, and possibly Kushner, but not Manafort, he was gone. If Flynn can give them Trump (my guess), it all depends on how desperate Kushner is. Also remember, he’s the only one who volunteered to testify without requesting immunity. Will he roll the dice, spill all he’s got without assurances of immunity, and hope it’s enough? All depends on how desperate he is.
In 60 years, I have never seen anything even remotely like this, If you tried to sell this script in Hollywood, they’d bounce your ass out into the street. But it appears very much to be real, and one thing is certain. If the immunity feeding frenzy bears fruit hanging from the highest branch, Trump’s Presidency may well be much shorter than anybody could have dared to dream. And if anyone can say that Pence was present, and nodded his assent, you would have a world class constitutional crisis on your hands. If it happens that it turns out that way with Trump, I can’t help wondering who will be the GOP Senators drive those long sixteen blocks to the White House and advise their lord and master that the gig is up. This just keeps getting weirder, I give up on even trying to keep up with it.
Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos