We are a nation of laws. President Donald Trump and all those around him who have not yet been named in an indictment have the presumption of innocence. As do those who have been arrested and not plead guilty. But what has unfolded today is the working of a very meticulous and seasoned prosecutor who is sending an unambiguous message. This is real. And a lot more is out there. The shockwaves coursing through Washington and the world are only beginning.
Make no mistake, Bob Mueller almost assuredly knows a lot more than he has let on. He also knows how to unfold a prosecution, to turn up the heat, send shots across bows, and build a case up the ladder. The fact that he started with such big names is telling. The hints at other knowledge, and other people, in the indictment is a serious clue that many more shoes are likely to drop. The plea deal that was off the radar suggests there are names and actions that the public has yet to give scrutiny, but the Mueller team has been hard at work ferreting out.
In Watergate, there was a growing sense of pressure. But the crime itself was rather contained. Here the crimes are allegedly widespread and strike at the very heart of our democratic institutions. There is a strong suggestion that there were active agents for the Russian government working inside the highest echelons of the Trump campaign. Let that sink in for a moment.
One thing to keep in mind is that the best prosecutors, a distinction with which Mueller is often credited, have a sense of timing and drama. But it is not only for public consumption. It is to uncover the deepest crimes committed and to bring those who perpetrated those crimes to justice.
Will Manafort flip? Will others? Who else does he have goods on? Are there other witnesses or people of interest cooperating? Somewhere in the bowls of Mueller’s offices, his team are putting these pieces together.
This is likely but the first act of play unlike any seen before in our nation’s history.