Trump’s Fears Grow As Mueller Investigation Zeros In

Trump sure has a lot to worry about. On top of reports that Trump’s legal team discussed pardons with Flynn and Manafort’s lawyers, new filings last night show why Trump’s fears continue to grow.


New reports reveal that Trump’s legal team discussed pardoning Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort, suggesting they were concerned about what they might reveal to Special Counsel Mueller.


New York Times: “A lawyer for President Trump broached the idea of Mr. Trump pardoning two of his former top advisers, Michael T. Flynn and Paul Manafort, with their lawyers last year, according to three people with knowledge of the discussions.”


New York Times: “The talks suggest that Mr. Trump’s lawyers were concerned about what Mr. Flynn and Mr. Manafort might reveal were they to cut a deal with the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, in exchange for leniency.”


Manafort and Flynn aren’t the only ones Trump has to worry about. New revelations of Gates’ discussions during the campaign zeroed in on what Mueller may get from Gates’ guilty plea, and the threat that poses to Trump himself.


Politico: “When Rick Gates struck a plea deal last month with special counsel Robert Mueller, the 45-year-old former Trump campaign official likely avoided decades behind bars and salvaged a chance to watch his children grow up. The question is what Gates offered Mueller in return. Though it is a virtual given that Gates will sell out his business partner and Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, less understood is the direct threat Gates could pose to President Donald Trump.”


New special counsel filings allege that Rick Gates had direct contact during the presidential campaign with Konstantin Kilmnik – who worked for Manafort – and that Gates knew at the time he had ties to Russian intelligence services.


Washington Post: “Prosecutors explained that van der Zwaan had lied and withheld documents about information that was ‘pertinent’ to their investigation — that Gates had been in direct contact during the presidential campaign with a person who ‘has ties to a Russian intelligence services and had such ties in 2016.’”


Washington Post: “Prosecutors made the allegation without naming the Manafort associate but described his role with Manafort in detail. The description matches the Russian manager of Manafort’s lobbying office in Kiev, Konstantin Kilimnik.”


Washington Post: “The documents, filed late Tuesday by prosecutors for Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III, also allege that Gates had said he knew the associate was a former officer with the Russian military intelligence service.” 


Trump’s White House and legal team have tried to downplay this threat, but several current and former Trump aides and associates have noted the level of access Gates had to Trump, his family, and his entire campaign.


Donald Trump’s former lead defense attorney John Dowd: “Draw your own conclusions. I’m not concerned.”


Sarah Sanders: Sarah Huckabee Sanders acknowledged Gates’ visits but downplayed his access, telling reporters he had attended ‘meetings here at the White House, but nothing directly with the president.’”


Republican consultant that worked with Gates during the campaign:He saw everything.”


Defense attorney working on the Russia case: “They’ve been very concerned about it. … It’s something they’re worried about.”


Rick Gates was in Trump’s inner-circle far longer than Manafort was – after the election he worked on Trump’s inaugural committee and then as an informal adviser until his indictment.


Politico: “Manafort may have struck a larger public profile, but Gates spent more time in Trump’s orbit. Manafort left the Trump campaign under a cloud of scandal in mid-August 2016. Gates, his right-hand man, stayed on through the election before assisting the Trump inauguration and Trump’s early presidency.”


Politico: “Manafort was ousted as campaign chairman in mid-August 2016 after The New York Times published a story describing a secret ledger he kept for his lobbying work in the Ukraine on behalf of pro-Russian politicians. But Gates, whose name never commanded headlines, stayed on the Trump campaign despite also working on the account. … Before a September 2016 debate on Long Island, Gates was seen talking with casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and Michael Flynn, according to The New York Times. Gates was also spotted back at Trump Tower in the days before the election.”


Politico: “After the election, Barrack hired Gates to run day-to-day operations for Trump’s Presidential Inaugural Committee; He helped raise more than $100 million.” 


Politico: “Barrack soon hired Gates as a political adviser. Given Barrack’s close relationship with Trump, the job kept Gates in the president’s immediate circle. Multiple sources confirmed a June 2017 Daily Beast report that Gates was seen on several occasions at the White House when Barrack was visiting with Trump.”


Meanwhile, Trump’s attacks on Mueller by name appeared to be part of a coordinated opposition research attack among pro-Trump allies and media outlets. It’s clear that fears are growing as Mueller appears to be zeroing in on Trump.


Politico: “When President Donald Trump lashed out against Robert Mueller by name earlier this month, the president’s supporters sprang into action—treating the chief Russia investigator to political campaign-style opposition research. Within hours, the Drudge Report featured a story blaming Mueller, the special counsel leading the Justice Department’s Russia probe, for the FBI’s clumsy investigation into the 2001 anthrax attacks when Mueller ran the bureau. The independent pro-Trump journalist Sara Carter posted a story charging that Mueller, as a federal prosecutor in Boston in the mid-1980s, had covered up the FBI’s dealings with the Mafia informant Whitey Bulger. Carter was soon discussing her findings in prime time with Fox News host Sean Hannity.”


Politico: “Meanwhile, Trump supporters on Twitter circulated video of testimony Mueller gave to Congress ahead of the 2003 Iraq War in which he endorsed the view, later proven false, that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. To some, the barrage looked coordinated among pro-Trump allies and media outlets, a concerted effort to tarnish Mueller’s reputation as part of a political strategy to undermine, or even eventually fire, the Russia investigator.”