Trump’s Aides Are Having a Major Nervous Breakdown Right Now. Here’s Why
The appointment of a special counsel to head the Department of Justice investigation into links between the Trump campaign and Russia is making Trump’s aides very nervous. “Everyone is looking over their shoulders,” a White House source told reporters.
And they have reasons to be worried. The expanding investigation isn’t just a scandal about the president’s conduct. The probe is quickly engulfing those surrounding the president — including Mike Pence.
For weeks, the investigation has focused on Michael Flynn’s conduct; campaign aides Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, and Carter Page. Now, Political Dig has learned that the probe is aiming squarely on current White House aides like Jared Kushner and Jeff Sessions; and –get this– Vice President Mike Pence, who was the leader of the presidential transition team.
If Trump he has committed obstruction of justice or another offense, that’s a remarkably serious development that puts impeachment on the table, as well as criminal prosecution once he’s out of office.
But special counsel Robert Mueller has broad authority to bring charges against basically anyone besides the president, up to and including Mike Pence if he’s found to have committed a crime. And this is making everyone at the White House very nervous, to the point of paranoia.
It’s really not that uncommon for senior aides to the president to face felony charges. With Mueller now in place, it’s time to start thinking about not just how this scandal will affect Trump’s presidency but how it will affect people close to him.
Some of the people, currently in the administration, who could conceivably come into the crosshairs as the special counsel’s investigation proceeds include Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who said under oath in his Senate confirmation hearings that he had no communications with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign. This is false; he spoke twice with the Russian ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak, as Sessions himself has conceded. So we’re looking a clear case of perjury.
That raises the possibility that Sessions hasn’t been totally forthcoming with federal investigators, which would be an additional crime.
Or take senior adviser/presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner. Multiple reports have suggested that he encouraged Trump to fire FBI Director James Comey, a firing that may count as obstruction of justice on Trump’s part. Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Don McGahn reportedly also supported the firing. If Trump really did commit obstruction of justice by firing Comey, you could imagine his aides who supported that decision being investigated for conspiracy to obstruct justice, a crime for which Nixon White House aides H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman were convicted during the Watergate trials.
Pence also, as head of the transition, knew that Flynn was under investigation and allowed him to be hired anyway. That itself isn’t a crime — but it’s damning and suggests that Pence is not just an innocent actor in all this.
Time to lawyer up.