Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff / Flickr Trump Pentagon leaders honor 9 11...
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff / Flickr

It shouldn’t be a surprise, but the folks around our only president weren’t ready when Friday’s news hit, just as they aren’t ready for anything else that pops up as they stumble and fumble around trying to run the Executive Branch:

The White House has been anticipating for months that special counsel Robert Mueller would eventually file criminal charges in his Russia investigation. But President Donald Trump, his lawyers and senior administration officials were all caught off guard by the news.

Two of Trump’s top lawyers were traveling out of town when the first report broke Friday night that a federal grand jury had approved the first indictment in the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. One of Trump’s personal attorneys, Ty Cobb, was relaxing on his deck in South Carolina, while the entire team was still working to confirm the veracity of the CNN report over the weekend.

Those working with the White House on this apparently are just as in the dark as the rest of us about who might be charged, although speculation focuses on Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn. However, there’s also a case for expecting action against one of their relatives, or someone with another connection to the case.

Several attorneys who said they were in touch with the Manafort and Flynn lawyers said they had not been notified of any matter related to an indictment — which is customary in a white-collar criminal investigation — leading them to believe it wasn’t either of those two former high-ranking Trump aides. …

The attorneys close to the case also said they wouldn’t be surprised if the charges were targeting Flynn or Manafort family members, or a longtime accountant or lawyer.

As others have noted, putting that kind of legal pressure on a relative can get the person you really want to flip. Both men have relatives in legal crosshairs.

Meanwhile, as we approach the one-year mark of this so-called presidency, this development will give White House staffers even more of a reason to jump ship and try to salvage some kind of a career afterward. And it’s going to get really noisy as those who’ve cast their lot with Trump feverishly scream about anything else they can possibly think of. Personally, I’m looking forward to Fox News rage-tweeting about Obama and Hillary substituting Sharia law for Christmas, or that they’ve hijacked Santa’s sled to drop nuclear bombs on Puerto Rico. That’s entertainment!

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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