Thursday, August 31, 2017

Robert Mueller's August Surprise

In a stunning development, investigators for Special Counsel Robert Mueller have joined forces with those of New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in the Paul Manafort probe. The announcement comes just days after Donald Trump's pardoning of former sheriff Joe Arpaio, and, unless you believe in coincidences, the intent could not be clearer: state convictions, unlike federal ones, are not subject to presidential pardons.

It's well known that Schneiderman has been investigating Manafort's real estate holdings for some time, and the joint effort with Mueller will give investigators on both teams that much more leverage to flip the former Trump campaign manager. And once they have Manafort, the dominos will start to fall.

There is, of course, another, even better, reason for Mueller and Schneiderman to join forces: to delver a message loud and clear to Trump himself. Anybody he pardons will not only be subject to criminal prosecution at the state level, but will lose the ability to plead the Fifth Amendment, meaning they will have to tell the truth under oath. He can pardon the universe if he wants, but he cannot prevent the truth from coming out.

You have to wonder whether Mueller would've resorted to such drastic measures had Trump not issued the Arpaio pardon. You also have to wonder whether this joint venture was made to ensure that in the event he was fired by Trump, Mueller's findings would wind up in friendlier hands. My guess is we'll never know.

What we do know is this: Schneiderman is no fan of this president. Remember it was his lawsuit that forced Trump to shell out 25 million dollars as part of a settlement for his scam university. Now with Mueller's investigators at his disposal, there's no telling what he might uncover; and, just to reiterate: there isn't a damn thing Trump can do to stop him.

As if that news wasn't good enough, both The Hill and The Daily Beast are reporting that Mueller is now working with the IRS's Criminal Investigations unit. This means that Mueller almost certainly has Trump's tax returns and has strong reason to believe that there's something rotten in Denmark.

According to retired IRS agent Martin Sheil, "The FBI’s expertise is spread out over so many statutes—and particularly since 9/11, where they really focused on counterintelligence and counter-terror—that they simply don’t have the financial investigative expertise that the CI agents have. When CI brings a case to a U.S. Attorney, it is done. It’s wrapped up with a ribbon and a bow. It’s just comprehensive."

A ribbon and a bow, heh? Gee, that would be a nice present to give a weary and torn nation, and just in time for the holidays; or, for all you evangelicals who sold your souls last November, if you prefer: Holy days.

Either works for me, ribbon or no ribbon.

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