The QAnon apocalypse that was slated for December 5 may have been a fantasy, but December 7 is going to be a genuinely busy day for Robert Mueller and many others connected to the Trump–Russia investigation.
Mueller’s team is due in federal court Friday to explain the details about how Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort broke his plea agreement and why the government believes Manafort should not receive any benefit from that deal when calculating his sentencing. When the special counsel announced last week that Manafort was in breach of the agreement through repeatedly lying to investigators Mueller’s team also hinted that Manafort may end up facing additional charges. Considering that Manafort has maintained his joint defense agreement and has been passing along every question he was asked (and every lie he provided) to Trump, it seems likely that at least some of the Manafort info will be revealed in open court.
Cohen and Manafort passed each other going in opposite directions at the special counsel deal door. While Manafort was busy breaking his agreement, Cohen was desperate to make one. Friday is also the day when Mueller’s office is expected to file a memo with recommendations for Cohen’s sentencing—something similar to the documents that dropped earlier in the week concerning Michael Flynn. These documents will give more hints as to the extent of Cohen’s cooperation, the areas on which he provided testimony, and just how valuable the special counsel believes Cohen’s statements to be in regard to the larger investigation. However, it’s also entirely possible that the giant black marker of redaction will cover much of this memo, leaving everyone to play the same guessing games about Cohen as they have with Flynn.
This isn’t actually a day for Comey to talk to Mueller—who, no matter how many times Trump says it, are not pals. Instead, the former FBI director will appear before two congressional committees after being dragooned by Republicans into this special “one last chance to curry favor with Trump by being seen yelling at Comey” event. Comey initially fought this appearance because Republicans want it behind closed doors and previous appearances have resulted in—we’re looking at you, Devin Nunes—highly tailored leaks that have been twisted to bolster Trump or run down the investigation. Republicans finally agreed to release the transcripts of Comey’s appearance “as soon as possible.” Which likely means not very soon. But start your leak clocks now.
Unfortunately, the Pence news isn’t so much news as speculation. So don’t expect to see Mother’s boy in court today, or hold your breath for that indictment. However, multiple sources are suggesting that today’s Manafort appearance might also point some fingers in the direction of Indiana’s most-secretly-hoping-for-a-Trump-impeachment son. Most of this fervor seems to boil down to the pressure that Manafort applied to get Pence on the Trump ticket. As CBS reported, Trump had several other names on his list, including Chris Christie, but Manafort shoved Pence to the front of the line. Manafort arranged for a “mechanical problem” with Trump’s campaign plane that forced him to spend some time with Pence.
What had previously been reported as a “lucky break” by the New York Times was actually a swift political maneuver devised by the now fired campaign manager. Set on changing Trump’s mind, he concocted a story that Trump’s plane had mechanical problems, forcing the soon-to-be Republican nominee to stay the night in Indianapolis for breakfast with the Pence family on Wednesday morning.
Yeah. But why? Why would Paul Manafort, lobbyist to international criminals and the go-to man for arranging fake anti-America protests, take an interest in America’s Most Bland? There’s some hope that today’s information might provide a few clues.
While all these folks are spending times at the courthouse wondering how long they’re going to spend in jail, they might look for a fuming figure heading the other way. This is the day that Trump adviser Papadopoulos is slated to leave federal prison after serving his brief sentence for lying to investigators. If it seemed like the shortest sixty days ever—it was just two weeks. Apparently, he’s been a good boy. In jail.
In any case, locate your popcorn now and stay tuned. It’s going to be a busy day.