If the name “Nostradamus” doesn’t evoke memories of what you might have learned studying 15th century history, he was a French physician who, in 1555 published Les Prophesies. This book contained a number of predictions about the future, many of which were later deemed to be quite accurate. That led to the good doctor’s forecasting ability becoming legend, something that has followed him to this day even though analyses of his bon mots hundreds of years later strongly suggested that they were not as “spot on” as originally believed. All this is offered to provide some insight into the title of this blog with emphasis added here to the word “playing”. Take what follows for whatever you think it’s worth, or alternatively, with a heavy dose of Valium.
History as prologue
In our lifetime, there have been two attempts to remove a president from office through the impeachment process. They provide an interesting and informative study in contrasts: Bill Clinton’s travails were based on his lying under oath about an extramarital affair and then obstructing justice to prevent his paying the price for both the dalliance and deceit. Note that the affair itself did not involve treasonous behavior or “high crimes” against our nation.
Now, hold that up against what Nixon did: He was caught lying and obstructing justice over an attempt to subvert our democratic election process, then paying off the culprits who were involved and planning to use the powers of the presidency to thwart the investigation into all this.
While Clinton’s behavior was not found to rise to a level where it was appropriate to remove him from office, Nixon’s did. Faced with that prospect and the two-thirds majority vote needed, Nixon resigned.
It is noteworthy that from the June 17, 1972 break-in at the Watergate complex to the August 8, 1974 date of Nixon’s resignation, 782 days passed!! Simply put, the case against the shamed former president did materialize overnight. It had to be built on carefully gathered evidence. That is the process that Special Prosecutor (SP) Robert Mueller is now engaged in vis-a-vis any potentially impeachable offense(s) by Trump and/or criminal behavior by a small group of his closest associates. So, while it took over two years to catch Nixon, Mueller is now barely a year into his probing of 45’s presidency. Thus, the prediction offered here is: Do not look for this to be over any time soon; not even by the time of the 2018 midterm election.
Trump’s alleged crimes
What started out as a possible case of Trump colluding with Russia in its’ meddling in our election, has now expanded into the potential obstruction of justice by 45 as he sought to put an end to the former by firing FBI Director James Comey, and then asking National Security Advisor Dan Coates and Director of National Security Adm. Mike Rogers to go public with a statement absolving Trump of collusion.
On superficial examination, the contents of the preceding paragraph look like obstruction on its face. But, in order to make such a charge stick, the SP has the legal burden of proving criminal intent on Trump’s part. That’s a tricky bit of business because “intent” is a synonym for “motives” which are private and thus, not patently evident to observers. You either have to catch the “obstructor” red-handed or be able to prove a clear and unambiguous pattern of obstruction.
Right now, based on what is public knowledge, the obstruction case against 45 is what a lawyer might well call a “thin beef”. The prediction here is that Mueller won’t go forward with an obstruction charge unless he has collected and is holding back more evidence that fits the aforementioned pattern.
That leaves us with the possible charge of collusion. Thus far, the evidence supporting such an allegation is meager and tissue-thin. Such being the present case, the odds are slim that Trump acted as a witting accomplice in helping Russians with their meddling. But, 45 could have been an unwitting confederate of the Russians by supporting Russian initiatives like its incursion into eastern Ukraine and/or the annexation of Crimea. The prediction here is that the SP will find it impossible to build a substantive case for witting collusion. Unwitting collusion is a prospect with better but still rather long odds.
Here we are referring to Michael Flynn, Paul Manaford, Carter Page, Roger Stone, Jared Kushner and Paul Manaford. All have been cited in at least one previous blog posted at this site. The prediction here is that one of them and possibly two (Flynn and Kushner) will be charged with the relative minor crime of failing to report contacts with foreign entities as required when they sought security clearance. As for the rest, the prediction is that Page will be cited as an unwitting Russian collaborator, but Stone a witting one. Lastly, there is Manaford who, it is predicted, will be charged with money laundering and fraud.
As noted early on in this blog, do not expect all of this to be unraveled in short order. Some of it may turn out to be a “dry hole”. But, the view held here is that there are just too many “coincidences” for there to be nothing criminal going on. That said, don’t go out and bet the ranch on any of this. Take the bucks you save to buy some popcorn so you can sit back and watch all this drama unfold as it surely will over the next many months.