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With Several Trump Associates Receiving Deals and Immunities, There Must be Bigger Fish to Fry
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24 Aug 2018 10:39 PM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Robert Mueller (Image source: Screenshot)

 

With yet another Trump associate receiving immunity for his testimony on Friday, it brings up the question of why so many are being granted immunity or are receiving deals in exchange for their testimony. Prosecutors wouldn't be willing to give up so easily on guilty verdicts that are a sure thing, would they?

 

There must be bigger fish to fry, and that's the reason they're all being given immunity. This would mean whatever crimes they did aren't nearly as bad as the "target." 

Additionally, if they were already able to get Michael Cohen to plead guilty to eight counts, why are they still offering plea deals in that investigation? Are they expecting to bring Cohen up on more charges? Or is there, once again, bigger fish to fry than the former personal attorney to the president of the United States?

 

Donald Trump and his attorneys have been waffling for months now on whether or not he will sit for an interview with Robert Mueller's investigators who are looking into possible collusion between Russia and Trump's 2016 campaign to throw the election to him and to possible obstruction of justice when he fired James Comey as FBI director in May 2017. 

Let's look at what we do know. We know that Russia did have its hands in the 2016 election. We know that they were behind the hacking of DNC emails. That much has been proven. What we don't know is what, if any, part Trump's campaign played in it.

 

There is a lot of interest in the Trump Tower meeting. This meeting went down in 2016, before the election, and was attended by Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and four Russians. Trump Jr. has said he was promised they would get dirt on Hillary Clinton to help his father in the election. 

But he maintained a year later, after his father was in office, that they never found anything out and that all they talked about was Russian adoptions. It seems a little far-fetched for Trump's son, his son-in-law, and his campaign chairman to all be at a meeting about adoptions, doesn't it?

 

Trump maintained for the past year that he didn't know about the Trump Tower meeting until shortly before the public found out. But when Cohen's back was against the wall after his office and home were raided by the FBI, he started talking. 

Cohen said he was there when Trump Jr. told his father about the Russians' offer. He said Trump gave his eldest son permission to attend the meeting. Despite saying for a year that the president didn't dictate a letter for Trump Jr. to explain the meeting, Trump's attorneys eventually acknowledged he did dictate the letter, meaning he knew about it before he said he did. This led prosecutors to ask if he was trying to obstruct a federal investigation.

 

Some in the media were saying that Trump was worried after Cohen's statement about the meeting, worried it was putting his son in legal trouble. He appeared to try to take the blame for him, blamed the media, and tried to make sure no one would come back and blame him either, with a tweet saying he was worried about Donald Jr.'s meeting. 

But that's where he implicated himself again. He said "This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics — and it went nowhere. I did not know about it!" Now he was admitting this meeting was about getting dirt on Clinton. But if he didn't know about it, he really doesn't know what it was about, does he?

 

The DNC was also hacked that summer before the election. Incriminating emails were leaked. Mueller's investigation has determined that it was the Russians who hacked the DNC emails. Yet for some reason they turned up on WikiLeaks. Is Julian Assange connected to Russia, or was there a third party who brokered this interaction to be sure they were published? 

That third party looks to be Roger Stone. He is a political consultant and lobbyist who worked with Paul Manafort. He was also at one point an advisor for Trump's campaign but left early on.

 

He was accused of working with WikiLeaks and Assange. He published tweets about Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta, Clinton, and WikiLeaks, and after that Podesta's hacked emails were published by WikiLeaks. He told the House Intelligence Committee he only "wanted confirmation" from Assange that he had information about Clinton, and that that was the extent of his involvement. 

Stone asked a New York radio host, Randy Credico, to request emails from Assange that the Wall Street Journal described as "related to Mrs. Clinton's alleged role in disrupting a purported Libyan peace deal in 2011" when she was still Secretary of State.

 

Credico wasn't sure WikiLeaks had the info, but Stone seemed certain that it would be released really soon with "that batch probably coming out in the next drop." How did Stone have such knowledge? Why would Assange share that information with him if he wasn't involved? 

Additionally, Mueller has subpoenaed several people in connection with the WikiLeaks investigation who worked with Stone. One of them, Andrew Miller, refused to show up, even after he was subpoenaed. He was held in contempt of court.

 

Why not show up if you don't have anything to do with this? And if he does, then Stone certainly does. What reason would Stone have for being so deeply involved in the email release if he wasn't doing this at the behest of Trump? 

The next talking point is when James Comey was fired by Trump in May 2017. At the time he said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein recommended it because Comey had mishandled the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails.

 

Comey has talked publicly about the event and written a book about it as well. He wrote a memo after he met with Trump shortly after he took office. The president talked to him about Michael Flynn, who at the that time was the national security advisor. He resigned shortly thereafter, accused of misleading the vice president about his communication with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. Comey has maintained Trump asked him to drop the investigation into Flynn. 

He also wrote a memo after a phone call from Trump in March. He asked him to confirm he was not himself under investigation. Comey didn't want to do that since the direction of the investigation could change.

After Trump was fired, Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller as special counsel to head up the Russia investigation. He's also investigating whether Trump was trying to halt or stop the investigation by firing Comey. If so, that was an obstruction of justice.

 

Despite Trump maintaining for a year that Comey was fired because of the Clinton investigation, his attorney, Rudy Giuliani, said in May that Comey was fired because he would not confirm he wasn't the investigation's target. 

If Trump did nothing wrong, why should it matter who is investigating him and whether or not he is a target? There shouldn't be people being fired over a fear that is unfounded.

 

And this year we started talking about the women. Despite knowing the president to be a dog after his "Access Hollywood" tape, the voting public didn't know to what extent he'd go to make sure people didn't know how much of a dog he was. 

Stormy Daniels, an adult film actress whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, claims she had a physical relationship with Trump a number of years ago. He promised her a spot on "The Apprentice," and in return she slept with him one time. When the TV spot never came to fruition, they stopped seeing each other.

 

During his 2016 campaign, she was threatened to keep quiet about the affair and offered hush money. She signed the deal that earned her $130,000. She had already told her story to In Touch, but it went unpublished. 

Early this year the Wall Street Journal published a report saying she'd been paid to keep quit and signed a nondisclosure agreement, and In Touch then finally ran her story.

 

Cohen pressured her into signing something denying a relationship with Trump. It all came out publicly anyway. He stated he paid Daniels the hush money himself and that Trump didn't pay him back, thinking it would clear them of campaign finance violations. 

Trump and Giuliani have never been able to decide what Trump knew and when of the payoff or whether he paid Cohen back or not. There have been multiple differing statements. Daniels is suing to be released from her nondisclosure agreement.

 

Karen McDougal has a similar story. A former Playboy Playmate, she claims to have had a several-month affair with him. She believed she was selling her story to the National Enquirer's parent company, American Media Inc., and that it would be published. 

Instead, in September 2016 AMI did a "catch and kill." They paid her $150,000, but the story was never published. They had exclusive rights and made sure she couldn't tell anyone else about it. She filed a lawsuit against them, and it was settled in April, allowing her to talk about the affair freely.

 

The FBI raided Cohen's home and office and took away a lot of evidence, specifically recordings of phone calls and financial documents. They were looking for evidence of how Daniels and McDougal were paid and if it was a campaign finance violation. 

Needing a new personal attorney, Trump hired his old friend Rudy Giuliani. So far his job has been to be a mouthpiece for the president, but he hasn't been helpful as of yet. He often tells the public things that were unknown that perhaps he shouldn't have and is often contradicting what Trump has already put out there as the truth.

 

One thing Giuliani has been relentless about is whether or not Trump would open himself up to an interview with Mueller's investigators. There were suggestions months ago that Trump might be subpoenaed, leading to questions of whether a sitting president can be subpoenaed. 

Giuliani would talk about the possibility for an interview often, multiple times a week, for the past few months, yet there was very little from the other side.

 

Mueller did make an offer for the interview: he'd allow Trump to submit a few answers via email, but Giuliani's been holding out on an agreement that Trump wouldn't have to answer anything about the possible obstruction charge. If he did nothing wrong, why is there such a big push to avoid the questions regarding Comey being fired? 

While there have been a handful of people involved in Trump's campaign who have already pleaded guilty to charges stemming from Mueller's investigation, and with several Russians charged as well, there has only been one person to go to trial.

 

That person is Paul Manafort, Trump's onetime campaign chairman. He's looking at some charges for a trial that will start next month, including tampering with a witness. But this month  he stood trial on bank and tax fraud, not having much to do with Trump's campaign for the most part, but next month promises to have more Trump in it. 

The jury was deadlocked on 10 of Manafort's charges by one jury member, but they were able to agree on convicting him of 8 of the charges for bank and tax fraud.

 

That certainly wasn't good news for Trump, but even worse was that just before the verdict came in, Cohen took a plea deal and started talking.  

He pleaded guilty to eight counts, admitting that he arranged to pay off two women, who we know are Daniels and McDougal, to keep their stories of their affairs with Trump from going public before Election Day. He says he did this with Trump's coordination, as well as David Pecker from AMI and the CFO of The Trump Organization, Allen Weisselberg.

 

This is seen as a campaign finance violation, as this money was paid for the reason of keeping people quiet so that Trump would be elected. And with his guilty plea, Cohen implicated Trump, Pecker, and Weisselberg. 

Within days, Pecker and Weisselberg had immunity deals for the Cohen investigation, a man who has already pleaded guilty. What possible reason could there be for this?

 

The Cohen case is no longer part of Mueller's investigation. That was left to the deputy U.S. attorney of the Southern District of New York, Robert Khuzami. Why would he take a plea deal when it had nothing to do with Mueller? 

There is just no other way to look at this than Mueller knows he has bigger fish to fry. Paying attention to Manafort's trial, everything was very methodical, point by point by point. There were no stones left unturned.

 

And that's how this entire investigation has been run, it seems. Mueller is making sure he dots all the "i"s and crosses all the "t"s with this. Everything has been done for a purpose so far, and there doesn't seem to be any reason for him to slow down now. 

It seems like Mueller knows he has the goods on the big fish, the president. He brought all these people up on smaller charges, knowing they would want to limit their jail time and would turn on Trump. But the big catch of the investigation was Cohen. Now that he flipped, Mueller knows he's going to get his man eventually.

 

That's why he's not concerned any longer about an interview with Trump. It's not necessary. He has all the information he needs, or at least he knows he'll get there soon.  

Mueller was tasked with investigating the possibility of collusion and obstruction of justice, and it seems the further and further he went into it, he knew all roads led back to Trump.

 

He doesn't appear to have the goods yet on what really went down in the Trump Tower meeting, but now that Manafort has been convicted in his first trial, he might be more willing to make a plea deal and give Mueller that missing piece of info.  

All that's left after that is to answer the question of what happened with WikiLeaks, and with Miller being held in contempt, maybe he'll be coming around soon as well.

 

One thing is sure: the number of people to fall in this investigation is not done. Mueller didn't spend this past year trying to bring own Cohen, especially after he willingly gave up that case. He's really close, and those walls are just going to keep on closing in on Trump.

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