With his opening moves, Special Counsel Robert Mueller showed he’s going after the Trump campaign like a mobster family or a criminal syndicate, wrapping up the little guys with easy-to-prove charges that carry serious time in an effort to flip them into witnesses for the government.
We also know that at least one has already flipped – recently unsealed documents showed that George Papadopoulos pled guilty to his charges in exchange for being a “proactive witness,” which typically means wearing a wire. Prosecutors don’t just make deals for no reason – Papadopoulos had to have offered something juicy to Mueller in order to get such a sweet deal. The question is, what? In the words of the Boston Globe:
‘The significance of the Papadopoulos plea deal is enormous. The special counsel may now have a cooperating witness who can provide first-hand information about whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government. And he’s had an agreement with Papadopoulos since early October. Indeed, Papadopoulos was arrested in July of this year. Who knows what else he has told the special counsel?’
What else has he told Mueller? Who has he told on? What conversations did he record? Well, we just got a clue.
In an interview with MSNBC, Barbara McQuade, a former US Attorney who stepped down from her role as part of Trump’s early purges, creates a compelling case that Papadopoulos is being used as a witness against four particular people.
“Is it likely at this point that Mueller has gathered a lot more information from Papadopoulos than we are aware of at this point?”
“Yes,” McQuade replied. “I think that’s highly likely.”
She then goes on to say:
‘I know President Trump and others want to minimize his role in the campaign – and no doubt, he is a small fish, that’s how the strategy typically works – but what we can safely conclude is that Mueller’s team gave him a plea deal. They would only do that because they believed they were receiving something of value.
‘That could be information about others. If you look at that statement of the offense that was filed in connection with the plea agreement, he identifies four other officials with whom he communicated about this, not by name, but by title. He – I’m sure – told the team who those people were, and those people are now either subjects of interview, or subjects of the investigation.
‘In addition, I think it’s quite possible – and Robert Mueller said this in his motion to seal the documents – they wanted to explore “proactive cooperation.” That typically means that the person will wear a wire in conversations with other people in hopes of collecting information, or recording phone calls. So it may be that any of those things have panned out and Robert Mueller has already gained that information.’
You can watch the rest of the interview below:
McQuade knows what she’s talking about. She was the US Attorney General for the Eastern District of Michigan before stepping down, and is now a professor of law. She’s tried a number of high profile cases, including terrorism and public corruption. She also sits on the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee, co-chairing a subcommittee specializing in terrorism and national security, and sits on several other committees in a lesser capacity.
In other words, she’s very well qualified to point out the obvious in this case: Trump’s days in the White House may be numbered at this point. Papadopoulos isn’t the only member of Team Trump facing legal troubles, and as pressure mounts on Manafort in particular – with a trial estimated to last only a few weeks – the chances of Trump’s inner circle turning on him grow. No wonder he can’t stop screaming about the Democrats on Twitter.
Featured image via Mark Wilson/Getty Images