Unless you completely ignore all political news, you likely know that Paul Manafort plead guilty to several crimes late last week. As part of his guilty plea, he has agreed to cooperate with the Russia investigation. The talking heads have been talking about the ramifications of the plea agreement. They range from it has nothing to do with Donald Trump to it is the end of the Trump Administration. The truth likely lies somewhere in between.
Manafort’s cooperation with the Mueller Investigation will result in several new indictments and revelations about public corruption in the lobbying business. Most of you won’t be surprised by any of what is likely to come.
There is, however, one target that is likely not sleeping well at night right now.
It is Donald J. Trump, Jr., Donald Trump’s son.
On June 9, 2016, a meeting was held at the Trump Tower in New York. It has been reported that at the meeting were Donald Trump, Jr. Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.
A July 15, 2017 CNN newscast reported four additional individuals attended the meeting. According to the Associated Press, lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin attended the meeting. CNN added that Rob Goldstone also attended the meeting, along with an unnamed translator and another person.
Trump, junior has admitted that he attended the meeting in hopes of receiving damaging material on Hillary Clinton, his father’s opponent in the 2016 presidential election. There have also been several iterations of what the meeting was about and what everyone knew in advance.
Donald Trump has stated that he did not know about the meeting beforehand.
Although Paul Manafort’s expected cooperation with the Mueller Investigation is assumed to be focused on the Trump Administration, however any such cooperation ignores how organized crime investigations are conducted.
RICO Act criminal investigations use underlings to get to the top. It is a ladder investigation where the underlings on the lower rungs are forced to provide evidence on the next rung up. It continues as each new criminal rung implicates the next until enough evidence becomes available to prosecute the criminal leaders.
Paul Manafort is just the next rung that takes the investigation to the next obvious one up – Donald Trump, Jr.
Indicted and prosecuting Donald Trump Jr. takes the whole criminal investigation towards its expected conclusion, forcing Donald Trump to take drastic actions.
Donald Trump has said that his family is the “red line” that cannot be crossed.
Indicted and prosecuting Donald Trump, Jr. would result in Trump firing Robert Mueller and pardoning his son. That would force the reluctant Republicans to act and put the country on a collision course with a presidential crisis.
One question on readers minds is why Donald Trump, Jr. and not Jared Kushner?
Kushner, although a family member because of his marriage to Trump’s daughter, would likely not drive the immediate response from Trump that the indictment of his son would.
Additionally, Donald Trump, Jr. has criminal liability directly tied to the Trump Tower meeting in his public pronouncements about the meeting and the actions he took subsequently to that.
Most important, though, is that Donald Trump, Jr. is not a government employee nor a White House official and thus prosecuting him does not have to overcome the hurdles of “executive privilege” and the constitutional questions of whether White House officials can be charged with crimes.
Without the drama of constitutional questions, charging Donald Trump, Jr. with a crime, like obstruction or lying to federal investigators, forces Trump to take actions that would precipitate the type of chaos that would make questions about whether a sitting president can be indicted moot.
Therefore, the obvious target from Paul Manafort’s cooperation with the Mueller Team is Donald Trump, Jr.