Guess what history-nuts? Tomorrow is the IDES OF MARCH! Spoooooooky.
If you're not caught up to Ancient Rome in your textbook, March 15th is the ominous day on which Julius Caesar was stabbed to death by his colleagues in 44 BC. His buddies conspired to kill him because they were afraid he was becoming a tyrant, and his assassination marked the end of the Roman Republic and the start of the Roman Empire.
Cool fact. Is this relevant to me?
Cut to: #TrumpRussia. While there will (probably) be no literal ""front-stabbing" going on, many of Trump's closest confidants have turned on him in the course of the Mueller investigation. Here's the cast of Trump's Shakespearean tragedy:
A trailblazer, Flynn was Trump's first National Security Adviser and the first snitch. He pleaded guilty in December to lying to the FBI about his contact with Russian officials. Flynn has a long history of sketchball dealings with foreign governments, and there'd been questions about his conversations with Russian diplomats for months. When he neglected to disclose income from Russia and Turkey-linked entities after being appointed National Security Advisor, potentially violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act, the rumor mill went into overdrive. Notably, after pleading guilty Flynn got off really easy - in his plea deal with Mueller he's expected to serve at most six months in prison and pay only a $9,500 fine. This likely means he gave up the goods on people higher on the food chain. Hmm....
Georgie P was one of the five members of Trump's national-security advisory team and also pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contact with Russian individuals. What's sticky about him (aside from his hair) is the fact that he was able to get into the administration at all with his complete lack of experience. He was 2009 college graduate who worked as an energy lawyer and briefly as an adviser to Ben Carson's presidential campaign, but THAT'S ALL. Papa Dapa was passed information by a Russian professor who had "dirt" on Hillary Clinton in the form of (completely traceable, easy to get a hold of) emails. He was also introduced to a women who was supposedly Putin's niece. Papa then sent emails to his superiors on the campaign regarding these meetings. His backstabbing nature is noteworthy as it directly ties the administration to Russia. Also noteworthy in it's blatant stupidity.
On October 27th 2017, Mueller indicted Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business associate and senior Trump aide Rick Gates on charges of conspiracy against the United States for their work with pro-Russian parties in Ukraine. Initially Gates pleaded not guilty, but in February of this year he changed his mind and pleaded guilty to making millions of dollars lobbying for Russian in Ukraine and attempting to hide the money he earned there. He also admitted he lied about the details of a 2013 meeting that Manafort had with a pro-Russian member of Congress. This turn on Trump is notable, as Gates was around for the most significant periods of the campaign and even acted as a liaison between the campaign and the Republican National Committee. Testimony from Gates could give the investigation a first-person account of all the criminal conduct claimed in Mueller's indictment.
</strong>So those are the people who have already made plea deals with bossman Robert Mueller. Are there any flight risks?</strong>
Paulie, Trump's second campaign chair, has had a rough couple of months what with the FBI raiding his home and the constant barrage of indictments and all. Through it all, he's maintained his claims of innocence which is...bold? In 2004, Manafort began a decade-long relationship with the pro-Russia Ukrainian politician Viktor Yanukovych, helping his pro-Russia, anti-NATO party gain power in Eastern Ukraine. Manafort ultimately resigned from the Trump campaign because investigators in Ukraine found secret ledgers listing more than $12 million in off-the-books payments to Manafort from Yanukovych's Party of Regions. Manafort's lawyer claims Manafort did not receive "any such cash payments," but that's almost besides the point because he's been linked to a laundry list of sketchball operators in Eastern Europe. He also specifically sought out Trump's ear, sending Trump unsolicited emails with advice on how to run a campaign before being brought on. (He's literally been quoted as saying, "I really need to get to" Trump.) Probably the most important piece of information that Manafort has is what went on in that June 8th, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between representatives of the Trump campaign and Russian individuals offering damaging information on Hillary Clinton. Currently, Manafort is on house arrest with a bail set at $10 million dollars. If ever there was pressure on a man to spill the beans...this is it.
The Kush is Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor who led the campaign's digital-operations during the election. Kushner was in charge of running targeted ads on social media with the intention of decreasing voter turnout for Clinton voters. This is something Mueller is very interested in investigating, since the strategy closely aligns with the one the Russians used. Kushner also attended the June 9th, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower. Kushner also, as the head of Kushner Companies, has received major loans from at least one company with extensive ties to Russia. He's had a bad go of it recently, being accused of a whole host of immoral, illegal, and incompetent activity by reports in the Intercept, people familiar with the Mueller probe, and others. Officials in four nations - United Arab Emirates, China, Mexico and Israel - have also said that they see Kushner as "manipulable" through his business interests.
The Mueller investigation's key question is "whether Mr. Trump or his aides coordinated with the Russian government's efforts to disrupt the 2016 election." Though it has not been answered yet, things are looking worse and worse for Trump. With three pleas already and Manafort barely holding on to a thread, Russia's presence in the 2016 election is getting harder and harder to ignore.
If we're lucky, this will be an exciting month, though hopefully less bloody than Caesar's final March. Beware the Ides of March!