(Optional Musical Accompaniment To This Post)
“A man’s or a woman’s?”
Dr. Mortimer looked strangely at us for an instant, and his voice sank almost to a whisper as he answered.
“Mr. Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound!”
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles.
It was about quarter-to-Frances McDormand on Sunday night when Oscar Twitter was interrupted by what back in the day would have been called a hail of writs from the office of Robert Mueller, Special Counsel. And, as LBJ once put it to a reluctant legislator, it’s like being out on the road in a Texas thunderstorm - can’t run, can’t hide, can’t make it stop. From NBC News:
According to the subpoena, which was sent to a witness by special counsel Robert Mueller, investigators want emails, text messages, work papers, telephone logs and other documents going back to Nov. 1, 2015, 4½ months after Trump launched his campaign. The witness shared details of the subpoena on condition of anonymity. The news site Axios reported Sunday that a subpoena was sent to a witness last month.
In addition to the president, the subpoena seeks documents that have anything to do with these current and former Trump associates:
· Steve Bannon, who left the White House as chief strategist in August.
· Michael Cohen, a personal lawyer for Trump who testified before congressional investigators in October.
· Rick Gates, Trump's former deputy campaign manager, who pleaded guilty last month to conspiracy and lying to the FBI.
· Hope Hicks, who resigned last week as Trump's communications director.
· Corey Lewandowski, Trump's campaign manager until June 2016.
· Paul Manafort, a former Trump campaign manager and Gates' business partner, who pleaded not guilty to money laundering, conspiracy and making false statements last week.
· Carter Page, a former Trump campaign aide.
· Keith Schiller, a former bodyguard for Trump who left as director of Oval Office operations in September.
· Roger Stone, a longtime Republican political operative and Trump campaign adviser who sources have told NBC News is the focus of investigators interested in his contacts with WikiLeaks during the campaign.
Here’s what all this means. This means that Mueller and his staff have likely concluded now that the entire Trump For President campaign was a corrupt enterprise in one way or another almost since the moment it was first conceived and that the same can be said of the Trump presidency*. It’s the money. It’s the Russians. The whole damn dirty deal is one great writhing ball of poisonous snakes and Mueller seems to be perilously close to untangling it.
The subpoenas go back to 2015 and woe betide anyone, as the nuns used to tell us, who fed any subpoenaed material into the shredder. At least a few of those people on that list have already flipped or likely have announced their intentions privately to do so. All of them except Cohen will have left the White House when Gates leaves in a few weeks.
The working presumption of the Mueller investigation now is that nobody is clean in all of this. Everybody has something to tell about everybody else. Absent the promise of a presidential* pardon - a promise that is prima facie worthless simply because it comes from this president* - the stampede for the lifeboats is going to be deafening this week.
There is one name curiously absent from the list: that of Vice-President Mike (Choirboy) Pence. It’s not like Pence is untouched by all these scandals. He reportedly already has cooperated with Mueller to an extent. It’s not unreasonable to speculate that Mueller doesn’t want to be tasked with decapitating the entire executive branch and that, for that reason, he’s already got at least some kind of modus vivendi in place with Pence should the worst befall the current president*.
This story has to be read in the context of the Washington Post story depicting the White House as being in the throes of a modern-dress version of King Lear with the president* playing the roles of both the mad king and the fool. From the Post:
Mr. Trump is now a president in transition, at times angry and increasingly isolated. He fumes in private that just about every time he looks up at a television screen, the cable news headlines are trumpeting yet another scandal. He voices frustration that son-in-law Jared Kushner has few on-air defenders. He revives old grudges. And he confides to friends that he is uncertain about whom to trust.
Certainly, this most recent action by Mueller isn’t going to make the president* any less of a furious paranoid. Mueller’s investigation is clearly now going into the deepest, darkest corners of Everywhere. He’s looking into shady money from the United Arab Emirates and he’s questioning whether or not the Saudi blockade of Qatar was in retaliation for the Qatari sheikhs’ understandable reluctance to loan gobs of cash to Jared Kushner.
He is looking at the Trump campaign and the Trump presidency* as one massive three-year money-suck, a fundraising mechanism to enrich its inside players and to monetize the political system, and then the presidency, for every last dollar, riyal, or ruble that can be squeezed out of both of those institutions. Mueller is finding corruption everywhere he looks. He is now a fireman in hell.
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