This past Friday it came to light that a Federal Judge in the District of Washington D.C., following review by a Grand Jury, had signed off on a sealed indictment and that an arrest (or arrests) are imminent and will probably take place on Monday. There’s taking place a wide level of speculation regarding who will be taken into custody, but the leading names fielded thus far are Paul Manafort (Trump’s campaign manager for a period of 3 of the 5 months he was involved) and Michael Flynn (heavily involved with the campaign and, albeit briefly, served as National Security Chief). Both of these men resigned when their various involvements came to public notice.
While other names are being floated such as Felix Sater, Roger Stone and Simon Gorski, Manafort and Flynn are the most often cited in conjunction with an impending arrest or arrest.
Manafort’s Resignation as Trump Campaign Chair
There’s a need for a set of reminders as to Manafort’s role. President Trump has repeatedly attempted to downplay Manafort’s role in his campaign, inferring that he played a very minor role and his influence was exceedingly limited. In reality, Manafort was involved for a total of five months and for three of those months he served as campaign chairman. His role cannot be deemed as “minor”.
Additionally, Manafort’s involvement with Trump and his campaign antedated his formal inclusion and apparently continued, at least to some degree, after his departure. Manafort has been connected to Trump and his circle for many years through Roger Stone–the two were business partners. Stone’s connection to Trump–and Manafort–go back to the early 1980s.
On August 19, 2016 then candidate Trump announced,
““This morning Paul Manafort offered, and I accepted, his resignation from the campaign,” Trump said in a statement. “I am very appreciative for his great work in helping to get us where we are today, and in particular his work guiding us through the delegate and convention process. Paul is a true professional and I wish him the greatest success.”
Manafort resigned amid criticisms of his activities as a paid lobbyist for Russian and Ukranian oligarchs set against the backdrop of Trump’s ad nauseum assertions that he had no Russian ties or connections and a preponderance of evidence suggesting that such assertions were balderdash. As has come to light, President Trump has had a series of involvements with Russian interests. To assert that Manafort’s inclusion in the campaign did not result in a series of positions and pronouncements favorable to the Russian interests from whom Manafort has netted tens of millions of dollars would seem a preposterous assertion at this point. As has been noted, the only plank in the GOP platform that the Trump campaign pushed was the curtailment of sanctions against the Russian Federation for its incursions into the Ukraine. This alone raises consideration of possible slanting toward Russian interests possesses considerable merit for further scrutiny.
Manafort didn’t resign as Trump campaign Chair due to liberal media bias. He resigned because he had his hand in the cookie jar and got caught. It’s that simple. His involvements with Russian and Ukranian oligarchs are well-documented and indisputable.
A Bit of a Refresher on Michael Flynn’s Resignation
Michael Flynn, a retired three-star General of the United States Army, had a memorable moment at the Republican National Convention (RNC) last year when he led the chant, “lock her up” with regard to Hillary Clinton’s e-mail scandals and her various quasi-ethical involvements. He additionally noted, at various points, that seeking immunity from prosecution for cooperation in any investigation implied culpability. Yet, earlier this year Flynn’s attorneys approached the Senate with offers of cooperation in exchange for, you guessed it, immunity. Hmm.
Flynn’s place in history is assured, and it won’t be for serving his nation honorably for decades in uniform, with all of the personal sacrifice that entails. Unfortunately, Flynn’s place in history will be to be remembered as the National Security Adviser whose term broke all records, twenty three days. The shortest term served in the position. He wasn’t forced to leave his post due to liberal media bias or uneven-handed treatment. Flynn was forced out due to the simple fact that he failed to register as a foreign agent and he failed to disclose both his activities and efforts undertaken on behalf of the Turkish and Russian governments and interests.
So, how much did Flynn get paid and not report. Accounts vary. But at a very minimum he failed to report $150,000 on his 2016 tax returns A portion of this was drawn from his work with Russian state-backed media outlet RT. As came to light prior to his departure from the administration, Flynn had received considerable payments from Turkish sources.
Bob Mueller and his Team and the Impending Fray
Mueller has got to know that the minute the arrests are effected and Manafort, Flynn or whoever else is taken into custody the fur will most assuredly fly. He has to know that whatever he has, it better be good. As a former FBI Director, decorated combat veteran and a man long-experienced in the political arena, Mueller must no very well that filing charges against former–and possibly current–administration officials is not something one does without ample grounds and preparation. Given the caliber and experience of the team he has assembled and the fact that a Grand Jury and a Federal Judge signed off on the evidence and sealed indictment one can only conclude that the case must be quite compelling.
In the prelude to the arrest of arrests about to happen there’s been plenty of activity within the administration and among those supporting its membership. President Trump took to Twitter immediately on the heels of the announcement, trotting out Hillary Clinton’s transgressions. Distraction or valid concern? Well, how many senior Clinton campaign staff had close contact with the FSB? In terms of remuneration we have 30 years of Clinton tax returns. We have yet to see the President’s, despite his multiple prior assurances that as soon as he was elected he’d immediately disclose full financials…and we’re still waiting on that promise as on so many others. Distraction, dissembling, disservice.
Betting on Mueller’s preparation is a good bet. Whatever he has, it will probably be good.
Trumpertantrums to Follow
President Trump, in effect, has already initiated his trademark tirades seeking to divert and deflect. Many people that news of an impending indictment or indictments had been circulating for some weeks and that Trump and his staff sought to head off any criticism by throwing out a series of incidents involving, you guessed it, Hillary Clinton. If Hillary Clinton and\or her campaign staff did anything untoward in the conduct of opposition research is another set of considerations. If she or her staff did anything illegal or unethical those affronts should by no means be ignored. Here’s the thing, though, Hillary Clinton is not the President of the United States. Trump and his campaign are the subject of the Special Prosecutor’s investigation. What Hillary Clinton did or didn’t do represents a separate set of considerations.
On Monday, within minutes of any arrest or arrests, expect a series of Tweets from President Trump. Expect that the Tweets will not directly respond to the material contained within the sealed indictment. He will not directly answer as to the material evidence, merely dissemble and avoid. His outbursts have been characterized as Trumpertantrums and that term seems most apt.
His posturings and positions, just like his methodology, have become tediously predictable: He lies or blurts out some ill-digested statement. When confronted with his lack of accuracy or the absence of a fact-based veracity, he doubles down and digs himself in still deeper into the misrepresentation. When confrontation continues rather than falling back and apologizing or noting he might be in error, he proceeds to the next phase of his method: personally attack whomsoever calls him out. It doesn’t matter who or what he attacks–no person or institution is beyond the direct fire of a Trumpertantrum; Gold-Star Mothers, War Heroes, Disabled People, Professors, Journalists, all are fair game. Whether they are right or wrong doesn’t enter in. Simply pointing out Trump’s errors or misstatements suffice. Not very Presidential.
Monday, the long-game will start in earnest. For those watching closely this represents a beginning, not an end. The ball of yarn is starting to unravel and the Trumpertantrums are about to increase in ferocity and frequency. We have a big brat in the White House and he’s about to start whining louder than ever before.
This is only the beginning…