“There’s just something so reassuringly presidential about screaming ‘DO SOMETHING!’ into the void.” - Stephen Colbert.
The wheels are coming off. They're coming off so much so that Donald Trump himself, who did actually plead with...America, it seems, to "DO SOMETHING!" isn't even on this week's Trump Administration panic power rankings, despite Hoover-level approval ratings. He's busy noshing on the sweet, sweet fruit borne from surrounding oneself with the very best people. Which is not to say this week's edition isn't a real doozy...
1. Robert Mueller
It’s hard to imagine a public servant more diametrically opposed to Trump than Mueller. Someone who almost never speaks in public, tightly manages the flow of information coming out of his camp, appears undistracted by any of the turmoil surrounding him, and who is highly, coldly competent. He hands down the Manafort indictment. Okay, it was pretty easy to see that coming. He also hands down an indictment to Manafort’s business partner, who also worked on the campaign. Hmm, interesting, but no big deal [pulls collar]. Then, completely out of left field, “someone” leaks news that little-known campaign aide (he was on our radar awhile back) George Papadopoulos, who’d been trying to arrange a meeting between the Trump camp and the Russian government during the campaign, already pleaded guilty to a low-level charge in exchange for “proactive cooperation” with the investigation, with a lot of analysts coming to the conclusion that he’s been wearing a wire. In the avalanche of political analysis concerning the Russia investigation, do not forget this important fact: Bob Mueller is a badass motherfucker.
2. George Papadopoulos
Along with news of George’s cooperation, the announcement of his guilty plea came chock full of snippets of the kind of email exchanges that will lead a rational person to take a plea deal, and appear to implicate higher-ups in the campaign with, at the very least, compelling enough circumstantial evidence to keep the investigation train rolling for as long as it takes. The biggest question now is who was ol’ George able to get ahold of and talk to during his period of alleged wire-wearing.
3. Paul Manafort and 4. Rick Gates
The headliners of yesterday's #indictmentmonday faced 12 counts for various crimes allegedly committed prior to their involvement with the Trump campaign and related to their work with the Ukraine. Among the counts are conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, making false statements, failing to register as foreign agents, and giving false and misleading FARA statements (more on that down the list a bit). Mueller went after them on these charges in hopes of getting them to flip on Trump and other high-level campaign officials. They're currently under house arrest awaiting trial on $10 million and $5 million bails, respectively.
5. Sam Clovis
An Iowa man currently awaiting confirmation as head of the USDA, for some reason. He was the co-chairman of the Trump campaign and has been identified as the point man for approving off-the-record Russian meetings proposed by Papadopoulos. Consider him likely to be in a future round of indictments.
6. Jeff Sessions
The attorney general has, much to the president's chagrin, recused himself from involvement in the Russia investigation essentially because he's a target of said investigation. Sessions headed up Trump's national security policy during the back half of the campaign and was, according to the files released with the Papadopoulos announcement, present at a meeting where Papadopoulos discussed his Russian connections and their desire to meet. Sessions has denied repeatedly to the Senate that he knew anything about Russia ties to the campaign. Another man likely to see indictment.
7. Jared Kushner
Did you see that FARA-related charge Manafort and Gates faced? Kushner never met a security clearance form he couldn't fill out wrong, so he's as good as indicted. He also took an unannounced trip to Saudi Arabia last week, the purpose of which has not been explained.
8. Donald Trump Jr.
As a guy who, along with Kushner, was demonstrably present at what is, to date, the "headline" Russia meeting, Trump Jr. can reasonably assume he'll be targeted in this investigation. I'd be sending Paul Manafort gift baskets each and every day until this thing blows over.
9. Carter Page
Page, another Trump campaign advisor and the number-one candidate for "the low-level campaign official sent to Russia to negotiate on behalf of the campaign," gave a deeply strange interview last night to Chris Hayes, in which he revealed that he has no official legal counsel and was very possibly on email threads with George Papadopoulos regarding Russia contacts. If you can't watch the above interview right now and soak in the oddity of it yourself, just know that Hayes ended it by saying, "I genuinely hope, Carter, that you're innocent of everything, because you're doing a lot of talking."