The news is now pouring out.
There is now the story -- from an interview on "Fox News" no less! -- that only one juror held out on 10 counts against Paul Manafort. Every other juror agreed on all 18 felony counts. And even that one hold-out juror agreed with the eight felonies. Noteworthy as this is for what it says about that trial -- and the possibility of the government retrying the 10 counts -- it most especially bodes Really Badly for Manafort in the upcoming September 17th trial, which by all reports the evidence is even worse for Manafort. And has a different judge. And a Washington D.C. jury. And impacts Trump even more.
But there are other, much smaller stories that came out of the Michael Cohen plea deal that didn't get much attention which are significant. One is that New York state is looking into the Trump Organization, since that is apparently who made the illegal reimbursement to Cohen, which puts all the company officers at risk -- Trump himself and his three oldest children. And being a state matter, presidential pardons don't cover it, Further, there was a tiny item in the plea deal about Trump Organization payment for tech services -- which some analysts are wondering if that could be about Cambridge Analytica, which is related to Russia efforts of manipulation on Facebook.
And then came the report in the Wall Street Journal about David Pecker -- chairman of American Media, the publisher of the National Enquirer -- apparently flipping on the hush money payments and when Trump knew.
But this story, which may be the biggest of all, is even worse for Trump. That's because this morning there's a story in Vanity Fair that Pecker -- one of Trump's longest and closest allies -- not only cooperating with Mueller, but he has been granted immunity! And so too has Dylan Howard, the company's chief content officer. The takeaway quote from the article that they use as the headline (!!) is from a Trump friend, “Holy shit, I thought Pecker would be the last one to turn!” Absolutely HORRIBLE news for Trump. You can read it here.
This Pecker story (and sorry, but could there be a better name for all this about Trump and sexual affairs with porn actresses and Playboy models...) is so significant because it could possible signal the beginning of the end. That could be because I suspect there are a lot people around Trump who are looking desperately for cover as an excuse to cut ties. And not just Manafort and Cohen guilty convictions, and Cohen flipping, but the publisher of the National Enquirer getting immunity to turn on Trump are all profoundly great cover for those looking for it. Indeed, in the end, that's one of the major things that I suspect will do him in. The "There is NO WAY that I am going to prison for Donald freaking Trump" gambit. The dam hasn’t broken yet, but they better find a little Dutch boy quick to try and plug the hole…
Related to all this, you may have seen the new poll that Beto O’Rourke only four points behind Ted Cruz in their race for U.S. Senate in Texas. But I think the race is even closer than that poll shows. That's because the poll was just of “registered voters.” Not even “likely voters.” And readers here know my long-held mantra about the critical importance of enthusiasm and get-out-the-vote in the mid-term election. “Registered voters” is valid to look at since it gives a general indication of the status, but for specifics it dances on the edge of almost meaningless. Four points for registered voters alone is probably within the margin of error -- but when it comes to likely voters and the enthusiasm of Democrats and growing reticence of middle-of-the road Republican voters (wand even die-hard Trump supporters ho won't even have Trump on the ballot), it's a very big problem for Republicans and the Cruz campaign.
Similarly, there is the story about Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA 50) getting indicted. The thing is, even that story goes deeper. I looked into that race. It turns out, he won his last campaign in 2016 by 35 points. That's about as safe a GOP seat as you have. As of June, however, his lead for the mid-terms was only 9 points. And that’s from June, before all these guilty convictions and Hunter's own indictment. So, that means Republicans have to put time and money into saving that seat. When you’re at a point where Republicans have to put time and money into saving DUNCAN HUNTER’S SEAT (!!!), whether or not they’re able to, they are in serious and very deep trouble.
If you see a little Dutch boy wandering around, you know why...
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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