11 July 2017

Smoke and Fire

The big news in the past few days are a series of bombshell articles about how Donald Trump's oldest son, plus his son-in-law and then campaign manager, met with a Kremlin-connected lawyer who offered Russia's help to undermine the Democratic nominee (details here and here), something the younger Trump himself has confirmed.

The series of shocking revelations in these articles, including conflicting contradictions bubbling out of the Trump White House, succinctly expose that the elder Trump's claims of no Russian contacts during the campaign is a bold-faced lie.

More importantly, the chances that some members of Trump's inner circle could face criminal prosecution seems much more likely. This is because federal law prohibits substantial assistance to a foreign national in an electoral intervention.

A prominent law professor published a piece in the scholarly journal Just Security yesterday about how Team Trump is now in deeper legal trouble for multiple reasons (link here). It's a long but fascinating read, and if you're at all interested in this subject, I highly recommend this piece.

This new series of reports puts so many important questions on the table that sound like some of the big issues in the Watergate era. What did the President know and when did he know it? Who else was part of this conspiracy? What will Congress do about all this, if anything?

The whole issue of criminal election interference is being investigated by former FBI Director and now Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is being aided by an impressive staff of seasoned prosecutors. They may have known about all of these revelations for a while now, but if not, you can be certain they're investigating them now.

It seems all but certain that at least some of Trump's senior people and possibly close family members will be indicted. As for Trump himself, no direct knowledge has been revealed and, besides, legal experts disagree about whether a sitting President can be criminally prosecuted outside of the impeachment process.

At a minimum, it shows that Trump was woefully out of touch with his own campaign which may have been breaking the law and repeatedly right under his nose. That would make him look like a doddering old fool, much like the Iran-Contra era Ronald Reagan.

The bottom line is that this scandal is now much worse than we realized even as recently as last week. It's like Watergate deja vu all over again.

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