Sunday, May 27, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He lamented that the Mueller probe is ruining the lives of people suspected of being part of a criminal conspiracy to sabotage the election.

Trump's tried a new tactic today in his ongoing efforts to discredit the investigation into Russian interference in the election that brought him to power:

It's not clear whose "young and beautiful lives" Trump thinks are ruined. Two of the people who have pleaded guilty so far are relatively young--George Papadopoulos is 30 and Alex van der Zwaan is 33. But van der Zwaan is a Dutch citizen in a private sector job, and Trump himself threw Papadopoulos under the bus as soon as the latter entered into a plea deal. Richard Pinedo is indeed young at 28, but while his life has been disrupted by his guilty plea, the business he was in--facilitating identity fraud--isn't really public service. Neither is the work done by the thirteen Russians charged by the Mueller probe, or in any event it wasn't done in service to the American public. But since the Putin regime has promised never to extradite them, their lives are probably not "in tatters."

Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort is 69 years old, and given that most of his career has been spent propping up dictatorships abroad, he doesn't really seem to qualify as a starry-eyed naïf. The same can be said of Manafort's partner Rick Gates, who is 51. Michael Flynn is 59, and while Trump did once describe him as "wonderful" (if not "beautiful"), that relationship has turned sour as Trump has apparently decided that his only defense against what Flynn might testify to is to discredit him.

Of course, there are people in public service who have had to retain expensive legal counsel simply because they were in the room when actions in furtherance of a criminal conspiracy were taken. One good example of this is the indisputably young Hope Hicks (age 29). Hicks was forced to resign as White House Communications Director when (with the benefit of legal counsel) she admitted at a Congressional hearing that she had told lies on Trump's behalf. But while that admission cost her a job, she also has real criminal liability for her alleged role in helping the cover-up effort over Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with Russian agents.

Why is this a bad thing?

  • There are supposed to be negative consequences for people who get caught committing crimes.