The indictments of Paul Manafort, Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos told us a few things. Firstly, based on the blitz of Manafort-Russia related leaks over the Summer, we had a clear sense that the former Trump campaign chairman and bestie to Putin-linked Russian oligarchs was on his way to feeling the wrath of Robert Mueller, especially after Manafort's house was the target of a pre-dawn raid. Secondly, based on Gates and Papadopoulos, we're really only aware of a small fraction of what's going on behind the scenes inside the office of the Special Counsel.
In other words, very few of us anticipated that Gates and Papadopoulos would appear on the indictment list. In fact, very few of us even knew who they were, pre-indictments. This tells us we might see further indictments handed down against, y'know, anyone. However, one of the names we have yet to see in the array of leaks to The Washington Post, The New York Times and others is, of course, the centerpiece of this entire story: Donald Trump himself.
The biggest ginger-snap in the entire box hasn't really appeared in the collusion reporting we've seen so far, certainly not in the context of actual participation in a conspiracy to cooperate with the Russians as they attacked our democratic institutions and turned social media into a propaganda machine. The president has barely popped up in the reporting, which, sure, could be because Mueller is especially secure about this potential angle in the investigation. But we might've also seen leaks from the various congressional committees about Trump himself and his involvement in the conspiracy.
That hasn't happened either.
However, we're rapidly discovering that Trump might end up being indicted on obstruction of justice charges related to his hamfisted attempts at covering up the entire affair. So, Fox News and the president himself are trying to scam their fanboys with a remarkably obvious shell-game -- that the president might not be under investigation for collusion/conspiracy, while distracting from the reality that we know for sure he's being investigated for obstructing justice, post-inauguration.
Bottom line: Donald Trump is absolutely under investigation, and we know this for sure. We might not have heard anything about conspiracy charges, but that doesn't mean he's not being scrutinized for that, nor does it mean he's not under investigation for other crimes. ABC News reported yesterday:
Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team investigating whether President Donald Trump sought to obstruct a federal inquiry into connections between his presidential campaign and Russian operatives has now directed the Justice Department to turn over a broad array of documents, ABC News has learned.
In particular, Mueller's investigators are keen to obtain emails related to the firing of FBI Director James Comey and the earlier decision of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from the entire matter, according to a source who has not seen the specific request but was told about it.
Unless you're hiding in the ventilation ducts inside the drop-ceiling of the special counsel's office, there's no way of knowing the extent of the evidence Mueller's team has collected on this front. But we know for certain they're busily collecting every digital record they can find, and then some. And that's really horrendous news for Trump, given how hilariously stupid Team Trump has been about email correspondence, whether it's between A-list Trumpers inside-the-loop or the Russians themselves.
Nevertheless, for months now, Trump has repeatedly said in public that he's not under investigation. Either he's just being an idiot about it, or he's lying. It's a tossup as to which is the case because he's prone to both. But even if we rewind back to June, we see hints that Mueller is aiming for Biff Tannen himself. The Washington Post reported back on June 14:
The move by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to investigate Trump’s conduct marks a major turning point in the nearly year-old FBI investigation [...] Trump had received private assurances from then-FBI Director James B. Comey starting in January that he was not personally under investigation. Officials say that changed shortly after Comey’s firing. [...]
Daniel Coats, the current director of national intelligence, Mike Rogers, head of the National Security Agency, and Rogers’s recently departed deputy, Richard Ledgett, agreed to be interviewed by Mueller’s investigators as early as this week. The investigation has been cloaked in secrecy, and it is unclear how many others have been questioned by the FBI.
Do I care which charges are brought against Trump? Frankly, nope. Whether he gets nailed for collusion/conspiracy, or whether it's obstructing justice (or some variation), or whether it's a combination of both, it really doesn't matter to me, as long as the charges are career-ending. Trump needs to be held accountable for his unforgivable behavior, at the very least in order to dissuade future copycats from trying the same stunts. As long as the charges are enough to trigger an impeachment or a resignation, I'll take it.
From what we can see from the outside. it looks more and more likely that Trump's men: Jared Kushner, Manafort, Donald Junior, Stephen Miller, Mike Flynn and the rest, have done solid work insulating Trump himself from the conspiracy to attack the election. Trump could also be in the loop himself, but there's no reporting to that end. But where Trump seriously fucked up was after he was inaugurated. He was clearly basking in a sense of unlimited power and influence, enough to feel safe in flagrantly interfering in the Justice Department's investigation. The abuse of power has to be punished if for no other reason than to finally trap this bastard, knowing he's abused his power in one form or another for the last 30 years -- abuses that include his self-described "celebrity" latitude to sexually molest non-consenting women.
Trump has no respect for the rules of the office, or any rules, for that matter, be they written or unwritten. But if my hunch is correct, he's going to find out that he should've done his homework before destroying his family and his presidency by exploiting his newly found power to fire James Comey, among other obstructionist actions. Trump's men will go down for conspiracy, and Trump will go down for the cover-up. Naturally, all of this could change, but, at least based on the leaks so far, this looks like where we're headed.
All-in-all, we're looking at the potential for some fantastic news still to come.