The hard part of dealing with Trump is that you often don’t know where to start. Slate had a list of over 200 things that Trump said BEFORE the election which disqualified him from being president. The net effect of this is that any NEW Trump scandal or controversy has to be a little bit bigger to get any attention. You know as well as I do that Trump could nominate a serial killer to be the new FBI director and it would only register a couple of days on the news cycle at this point.
But another thing has become crystal clear. We have entered new territory. Trump’s firing of Comey already put him into impeachable territory. But Trump’s own admission that he fired Comey at least partially due to the Russia investigation is textbook obstruction of justice. Right there, that’s all democrats would need to impeach him, even if the investigation of Trump never actually found anything. It should also be quite easy to show that Trump tried to shut down the Flynn investigation, as has been alleged. Again, easy to prove obstruction of justice and quite impeachable. We don’t even have to get into emoluments clauses or even Trump’s actual Russia ties or any of this other stuff.
In that sense, the special prosecutor is a bit of a short-term relief for Trump. It gives him time to recover. This could take years to investigate, and we could have all kinds of legislation passed in the meantime, which is exactly why McConnell and Ryan are desperately trying not to investigate Trump themselves. And while in the long-term it is almost certain to turn out badly for him, it may not be as bad as liberals hope. The most likely outcome is some shady ties by his former associates: Roger Stone, Carter Page, Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort.
Here’s what we think we know reliably so far:
- Roger Stone has said he thinks there was FISA surveillance against him. That’s a fairly high bar of evidence if accurate, and probably something unflattering will come out about him.
- Carter Page supposedly also had a FISA warrant against him.
- Michael Flynn was an unregistered lobbyist for Turkey up until the election, even while advising Trump, and pushed for policies that Turkey favored during his short tenure. Plus the whole illegal Russia negotiations thing and the fact that Trump was warned about Flynn before the inauguration.
- Paul Manafort, Trump’s high profile campaign manager, was forced to resign after Russia-linked Ukraine ties were uncovered. More financial ties to Russia continue to be uncovered.
- You know the White House is concerned about this, because they have gone out of their way to say that Trump’s own campaign manager was not closely involved in the campaign and was only involved for only for a short time. Wow. They clearly know something bad is coming out about Manafort. I’m surprised that didn’t get more coverage a month or so ago. If memory serves, they’ve also distanced themselves from Page.
What’s notable here is that it all stops at the subordinate level. There are not links to Trump, at least yet. Truthfully, I doubt there will be any ties to Trump that stick. At worst, my guess is that they’ll find he has some financial conflicts of interest with Russia, but nothing that will draw criminal charges.
If I’m a liberal, it doesn’t matter. Trump’s unusually close relationship with Russia, combined with his fetish for advisors with Russian ties are plenty of ammunition. And we’ll be left with a President who may or may not be impeached, depending on who is in control of congress, but who will probably come out of the investigation without being charged with anything.
In either event, Trump’s actions will not be viewed kindly by history. Even if exonerated of actual corruption and collusion with Russia, obstruction of justice is not illegal only if you’re guilty.