While Trump and the GOP look to score a single major legislative victory before year’s end with their proposed massive tax overhaul, there’s really just been one big development in the Russia investigation this week, and so it isn’t a particularly close race for the number one spot on the panic power rankings. It goes to the one-time national security advisor…
1. Michael Flynn
The New York Times broke the story on Thanksgiving Day that Flynn’s attorneys had ceased sharing information with White House attorneys, a move that often signals the two party’s legal interests have diverged. This stoked speculation that special investigator Robert Mueller and his team had flipped Flynn, who, along with his son, Michael Flynn Jr., have significant legal exposure related to their failure to register as foreign agents for Turkey, and an alleged kidnapping plot that was to be carried out on that government’s behalf. Yesterday, ABC News appeared to confirm what the Times had suggested when it broke news that Flynn’s attorney met with members of Mueller’s team, ostensibly to discuss a plea deal. To understand the potential significance of Flynn’s cooperation, it’s helpful to remember that Trump resisted calls to demand Flynn’s resignation as national security advisor despite knowing about his exposure, only did so when pressed, had to be talked out of re-hiring him just days later, pressed then-FBI director James Comey to “see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go,” fired Comey when it became clear he wouldn’t comply, and told Flynn as late as April to “stay strong.”
2. James O’Keefe
O’Keefe heads up Project Veritas, a conservative operation that attempts to infiltrate mainstream media outlets in hopes of catching them in lies. Basically a “fake news” police force. Yesterday, however, the Washington Post delivered a heavy blow for legitimate journalism when it reported that a woman sent by Project Veritas had attempted and—thanks to the revolutionary journalistic process of intense fact-checking—failed to peddle a story about Roy Moore impregnating her and forcing her to have an abortion. Rather than publishing the bogus smoking gun that would have allowed Veritas and right-leaning media to pounce on the ‘liberal media fake news propaganda machine out to get conservatives,’ Post reporters did their jobs, found inconsistencies in the woman’s story, confronted her, and sought to determine the real story. O’Keefe declined to answer questions from the Post.
3. Robert Mueller
He appears to have Flynn in-pocket now. Manafort and Gates are still under house arrest. Papadopoulos has sung his song. And he’s rolling through interviews with White House staff. Remember also, media reporting on the investigation is months behind where the investigation actually is.
4. Roy Moore
Trump, being the binary-thinking type, decided that at some point, he was either going to have to condemn pedophile senatorial candidate Roy Moore, or go all in and support him. He chose support, in hopes that the pedophile would be an empty senate husk at least capable enough to rubber stamp conservative judges and Obamacare repeals and future GOP tax reform bills. It may not cost him any support among his political base, but it sure isn’t making him look any better.
5. Rex Tillerson
“Wow, we’re in trouble here. What should we do to defeat the idea that the administration is in Russia’s pocket?” - Any rational administration member
“I know, we’ll wait seven weeks past the time we’re supposed to enforce sanctions on Russia—sanctions that the U.S. Senate, this U.S. Senate, passed by a 98-2 margin—and then we’ll just eliminate altogether the very office that’s in charge of enforcing them.” - Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
This story should get a lot more public attention than it probably will, but don’t think it’s escaping Mueller’s team.
6. Donald Trump
Trump, ever the PR expert, took the occasion of a ceremony honoring Navajo code talkers from World War II to take a random swipe at Senator Elizabeth Warren, referring to her as “Pocahontas.” He did this in front of a portrait of an American president largely known for massacring Native Americans.
7. Steve Mnuchin
Apparently the jetsetting, uncut bills-loving treasury secretary’s public image (along with that of his wife) and reputation on Capitol Hill are so toxic that House Speaker Paul Ryan has asked the president that Mnuchin be kept away from the Hill for negotiations on the tax bill.
8. Gary Cohn
The White House economic advisor recently faked bad reception to get off a phone call with Trump during a meeting on tax reform, according to Delaware Senator Tom Carper. We’d watch this sitcom all day long.
9. Steve Bannon and/or 10. KellyAnne Conway
The smart money is on one of these two being behind the Project Veritas botch job.