So... we have Paul Manafort and Rick Gates being indicted. And George Papadopoulos pleading guilty to lying to the FBI. Discuss! Several things leap out to me. First, how disciplined the Mueller team has been. The Papdopoulos plea came almost a month ago and took everybody by surprise. No leak whatsoever. And apparently he's been cooperating with Mueller for 3 months now! And seemingly no one (including those in TrumpWorld) knew about that. Impressive discipline there. The Trump White House is the leakiest that anyone has ever seen, but that's on him. There are few to no leaks coming from Mueller. Now... on that cooperation from Papadopoulos. The plea deal itself describes him as a cooperating witness. Ruh-roh, Ronald. Some are suggesting he may even have been wearing a wire in recent months and talking to his old colleagues. We don't know that yet, but if so... rouble ruh-roh. So now, of course, Trump & Co. are trying to minimize this by claiming Papadopoulos was super-low-level, practically a “coffee boy” (as someone called him)… heck, they barely know the guy. Really? Do you normally tout the “coffee boy” as one of your top foreign policy advisors and an “excellent guy” as Trump did to the Washington Post in the Spring of 2016 about Papadopoulos? Does the “coffee boy” normally sit at the table along with you (and Jeff Sessions!) at what you yourself tweet out as a “National Security Meeting?” Trump: Aide at center of Russia probe 'proven to be a liar' (Don’t you wish at the presser where Sanders tried to say he was merely a “volunteer” that someone had said “Yeah. And now he’s volunteering information.”) Oh, and by the way, “In his plea filing, Papadopolous admitted that he told Trump and other top campaign national security officials during that meeting, that he had made contact with intermediaries for Russia who said they could set up a meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.” So he told everyone at that meeting, including Trump and Sessions, that he had been in contact with intermediaries for the Russian government. He also had been promised “dirt” on Clinton by the Russians by April of 2016, in the form of hacked and stolen emails. The timing is significant because the public didn’t know about any hacking until June. But TrumpWorld did. There are numerous emails between Papadopoulos and SENIOR officials in the Trump campaign (so-named by the plea deal) in which he mentions these hacked emails, dated before this became common knowledge. Meaning that TrumpWorld officials knew that Russia had hacked the emails and was offering them up to the Trump campaign in an effort to meddle with our election and help one side, and did not alert the FBI about it (which would have been, you know, the non-treasonous thing to do). The Mueller team is playing this by the book and not yet naming the “senior officials” in the campaign who were on the receiving end of Papadopoulos’s emails. So we don’t yet know exactly who they are. But Robert Mueller does. Rriple ruh-roh. Moreover, as serious as this is, one of Muller’s deputies described it this way: “The criminal justice interest being vindicated here is there's a large-scale ongoing investigation of which this case is a small part," Aaron Zelinsky of the special counsel's office said during Papadopoulos' October 5 plea agreement hearing, records of which were unsealed Monday.” In other words, Papadopoulos is only a small part of something larger that Mueller is putting together. Ruadruple ruh-roh. Perhaps it’s no surprise that Trump’s sycophants at Fox and elsewhere are barely trying to claim “no collusion” any more (though Trump himself is, amazingly, still claiming so in tweets), and pivoting to a). Trump may have colluded but Hillary colluded more!!! (Based on a uranium deal agreed to by a different branch of government than hers, but hey, she was Secretary of State at the time, so… collusion!) and/or b). Trump may have colluded but that’s not illegal! In point of law, often it’s not. But as a matter for impeachment (if Democrats win in 2018)… absolutely it could be grounds for that. And now to Manafort and Gates. Their thing is kind of the opposite: doesn’t really speak to collusion in 2016, but represents considerable legal jeopardy for them. We’re talking 10-15 years in jail here. It seems Mueller is more interested in leaning on them for past misdeeds and trying to get one or both of them to “flip” and volunteer what THEY know in return for a lighter sentence. Whether that happens or not is anyone’s guess. (Though it would be nice on a whole different level to see guys like this face justice for a change.) But both their indictments and the unsealing of Papadopoulos’s guilty plea – and the fact that they happened on the same day - are clearly a message from Mueller to others that they might want to cooperate too, lest they become the next indictment headline. Discuss!