The revelations of the past week in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s sentencing documents pertaining to Trump personal lawyer and confidant Michael Cohen and Trump’s chief national security advisor Michael Flynn signal a huge escalation of the probe into the President’s collusion with Russia in the 2016 presidential election and since, and it’s still only the proverbial tip of the iceberg.
Soon after the heavily redacted Flynn statement was released Tuesday night, a CNN analyst struck the right tone. He noted that Mueller’s call for Flynn to get no jail for having lied to the FBI earlier, because of the depth of his cooperation with the investigation over the course of 19 extensive interviews in the last year.
The long and short is this: This week makes it clearer that Mueller’s investigation is apparently following the textbook M.O. of strategies developed for successful federal investigations and prosecutions of mob organizations under the 1970 Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. It is standard RICO M.O. to turn those in mob organizations below their top levels to gather the information needed to successfully prosecute the leadership. In a case as important as this one, the scope and breadth of the investigation is a major challenge, but Mueller is apparently handling it methodologically and with extreme skill because it goes to the highest level of not just a mob organization, but of the governments of the U.S. and Russia.
So, in this case the extraordinary announcement that Mueller feels Flynn should serve no jail time, due to the level of his cooperation and the value of the information he’s provided, could not be a more sure signal that Mueller’s has his target in his sights, and that it is a person, or persons, higher up the chain of command than Flynn himself. This leaves only the closest inner circle of Trump, the vice president and, of course, the kingpin, Trump himself. To the FBI and the U.S. intelligence community, Trump’s ties to organized crime have been known for decades. They’ve always seen him as a mob tool, of both the older U.S. mob and Russian mobsters, hardened criminals in their homeland who came by the thousands into the U.S. under the pretext of the “Detente” of the early 1970s to pick up the franchises of a lot of older U.S. mob groups that were being dismantled under the new at that time RICO law.
So, there’s never been any doubt about Trump’s criminal involvements and inclinations in their minds. Special Counsel Mueller’s role has been simply to prove them all beyond a reasonable doubt. In this context, Flynn’s testimony, according to Mueller, provided very significant and useful information, and given Flynn’s long career as a military and intelligence community professional, he was uniquely trained and qualified to observe and report nuances of interconnections of Trump, his family and organization and outside groups such as the Russians in ways that a non-professional would not. “Turning” Flynn into a critical witness for the Mueller team has been perhaps the most significant development in the entire investigation. It began with his first FBI interview only five days after Trump was inaugurated.
Flynn’s ties to Russia were already under suspicion when that first interview occurred, not the least because he was named in the infamous “Steele Dossier” as an active participant in a high-level meeting in Moscow of Russia-sympathizing fringe American political figures, inclusive of right-wing ones, the Green Party’s Jill Stein and the Lyndon LaRouche organization. All went on to play roles, if marginal, promoting Trump in the 2016 election, although their efforts were dwarfed by the scale of the direct Russian interference through American social media and the hacking of American electoral systems to a level yet to be fully explored or appreciated.
The “Steele Dossier,” an insider intelligence report prepared in advance of the 2016 presidential election, revealed major ties of Trump to Russia and Russia’s intentions to skew the 2016 U.S. presidential election. No relevant information in that Steele Dossier has been disproven to this day.
Nicholas Benton may be emailed at [email protected].