The whirlwind of activity by juries and prosecutors over the last few days might make you think that a whole bunch of stuff is about to happen. Also, the severity of what has happened may make you think that Trump has suffered a major blow, that deeply nefarious actions have been finally exposed and we are now on our way to a resolution.
Neither of these things is true, and I’ll be happy to explain why.
Caveat: I may be totally wrong about all of this, but when I add things up I get this particular story.
First, note that it simply isn’t true that Trump has finally been implicated in a deeply troubling and nefarious plot. Misappropriation of money in a campaign is a big deal, but it isn’t nearly as big a deal as other things he is accused of doing. It may be the case that Trump directly conspired with a foreign power to take the presidency away from the American people, in order to serve that foreign power’s interests. That is a LOT worse than illegally spending hush money to cover up an affair. It may be that Trump and his family have attempted, perhaps somewhat successfully, to profit in the multi-billion dollar range, from overseas deals in several countries. That’s not quite as bad as letting a foreign power take over the country, but it is deeply craven nonetheless. Less illegal but worse than almost anything, Trump is serving masters in industry, for reasons not entirely clear, and setting the US and the world back a decade, sometimes up to three decades, in our advancement in important areas of the environment, international relations, and so on.
He had extramarital sex with some women and tried to hide it. So did some of our greatest presidents, I suspect. I’m not impressed. We ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
On the other point, the sudden escalation. Some of this is coincidence, likely, but there may be a good reason that several moves have suddenly been made in this massive multi-player chess game. August is almost over, and the carriage turns into a pumpkin at midnight on September 5th.
There is a general election on November 6th. The US Justice Department has a tradition of avoiding taking actions of their own that could influence elections for 60 days before an election. The fact that FBI Director Comey broke that rule in 2016, and that this caused major problems, is reason to expect the US Justice Department to be stricter than ever about this.
I strongly suspect there will be little initiation of anything from both federal and state level agencies until after the election. Judges do what judges do, so the Manafort trial will proceed, and prosecutors in Virginia are on a tight time table to decide if they will re-try Manafort on the ten counts that mistrialed. So stuff is going to happen. But, that large collection of shoes yet to drop is going to be held in abeyance for a couple of months. Prosecutors may hope we’ve seen enough action to know they are out there doing their jobs, and they can more comfortably hold off for now.
And, of course, the press will continue to act, and who the heck knows what kind of “October Surprise” Giuliani and the likes of Devin Nunes will try to cook up. Fortunately, the competency of the stalwart Trumpists in the Republican Congress is fairly limited, so that may be more of a popcorn seller than an actual meaningful event.
I could be wrong, but in my view, we are going to have a fairly quite September and October along this particular front. Then, of course ….