Two years ago, former National Security Agency analyst, veteran national security strategist, and ardent never-Trumper John Schindler touched off a mini-firestorm. Schindler claimed that a number of active and retired intelligence agents were determined to bring down a president whom they saw as a clear and present danger to the republic. How determined? They were going to ensure that he spent the rest of his life behind bars.
This may have sounded outlandish at the time, even to the most diehard Trump foes on both sides of the aisle. This writer, for instance, believed that Trump was likely headed toward one of two fates–impeachment and removal, or a landslide defeat in 2020 not unlike the 44-state beatdown Franklin Roosevelt inflicted on Herbert Hoover in 1932. The latter is still one of the worst, if not the worst, defeats that a sitting Republican president has ever suffered in the absence of vote-splitting.
But suddenly, Schindler’s prediction doesn’t seem so outlandish anymore. In his most recent column for the Observer, Schindler peered into the guts of the legal bombshells special counsel Robert Mueller detonated last week. His conclusion was that they could only be read as a clear warning to Trump–he is in very serious legal danger of dying in prison.
Like most of us, Schindler drew the same conclusion that almost everyone else drew when Mueller recommended former national security adviser Michael Flynn get no jail time. According to Mueller, Flynn deserves credit for “substantially assisting” his investigation and revealing details about a number of topics–including interactions between the Trump transition team and the Kremlin, implicating a lot of people close to Trump. Reportedly, he was also responsible for others flipping and talking to Mueller as well.
Additionally, Mueller’s filing is laden with redactions referring to at least one other active investigation. All of this led Schindler to state the obvious–the fact Flynn won’t spend even a day behind bars strongly indicates Trump’s bleating and screeting about “NO COLLUSION” is hot air.
If that wasn’t enough, Schindler believed another klaxon should have sounded in the Trump camp on Friday, when Mueller filed a memo spelling out the ways in which he claimed former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort breached his plea agreement. Mueller claimed that Manafort lied about his contacts with the White House, and has evidence that Manafort was texting with West Wing officials even after being indicted.
But Schindler found something even more damning in that memo–evidence that Manafort lied about his interactions with one of Manafort’s longtime confidants, Konstantin Kilimnik. Earlier this summer, Kilimnik was indicted for allegedly helping Manafort tamper with witnesses. What really jumped out at Schindler was that Kilimnik has documented ties to Russian intelligence. Specifically, he is suspected of being part of the Russian military intelligence unit that hacked the Democratic National Committee.
In light of this, Schindler believes Manafort’s continued contact with “a known Russian intelligence operative” was “almost unimaginably stupid.” After all, at five months shy of 70, Manafort could potentially be a decrepit old man before he’s free again–if he doesn’t die behind bars. He believes it could also raise “troubling counterintelligence questions.”
Incredibly, Schindler believes that this was only the second-worst piece of news Trump faced on Friday. To his mind, the worst news comes in the sentencing memo Mueller filed for former Trump lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen.
According to Mueller, Cohen provided information about “certain discrete Russia-related matters core to its investigation”–information gleaned through “regular contact” with Trump Organization officials. Additionally, Cohen admitted making contact with a “trusted person” in the Kremlin who could offer “political synergy” with the Trump campaign. That same person even offered to set up a meeting between Trump and Russian strongman Vladimir Putin, but nothing came of it.
But the fact remains that Trump’s personal lawyer was not only hobnobbing with a Putin confidant, but had information about Russia matters. As Schindler put it, it would be obvious to “any fair-minded observer” that Trump’s personal lawyer was colluding with Russia.
Schindler believes that based on these filings, “people named Trump” are all but certain to be indicted for “crimes related to collusion with the Kremlin.” And this may be the tip of the iceberg. As Schindler notes, Mueller is privy to more information than he’s publicly revealed, including “damning evidence of collusion collected by our intelligence community.”
Lest you think this is hyperbole, a man who is a Trump by marriage could be in the soup as well–First Son-in-Law Jared Kushner. MSNBC’s Ari Melber noted that Kushner’s seat may have gotten a few degrees hotter with the release of the Flynn sentencing memo.
Melber reminded the audience that Flynn and Kushner worked very closely on Russia matters during the transition. In one of many potential red flags, when word got out that of a United Nations vote to impose sanctions on Russia, Kushner told Flynn to discuss the vote with the Kremlin. Seeing that the Observer is owned by a trust in Kushner’s name, Schindler’s article can only be described as a warning to Kushner.
But it’s an equally loud warning to Trump–as loud as the memos themselves were. Schindler believes there is mounting evidence that Trump “has most likely committed crimes”–most seriously, “conspiring with a hostile power to boost his 2016 campaign (including seeking financial gain from that unfriendly foreign country).” For this, Schindler believes Trump faces “punishments never visited on any American president”–up to and including life behind bars.
As Schindler sees it, Trump’s only chance of avoiding the indignity of dying behind bars is to “rapidly come to some sort of an agreement” with Mueller. If these memos are any indication, Mueller is likely to drive a very hard bargain. And that bargain will become harder with every day that Trump doesn’t come to his senses and realize he has a limited amount of time to make a life decision.
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