Friday, May 12, 2017

May 12, 2017--RussiaGate

Here's where this is headed.

But first a little history--

On June 17, 1972, James McCord was one of five burglars who were caught in the Watergate complex while breaking into and bugging the offices of the Democratic National Committee. Nearly a year later, on March 19, 1973, after being convicted of eight counts of conspiracy, burglary, and wiretapping, the trial judge, "Maximum John" Sirica, who was famous for the severity of his sentences, was prepared to throw the book at McCord, potentially sentencing him to 35 years in federal prison.

Facing decades of incarceration, McCord wrote a letter to the judge in which he confessed that his testimony was perjured and that he would like to correct the record. In effect, he was offering to tell the truth, implicating the other defendants and White House staff who authorized and paid for the break in and then led the attempts to cover up the crime. Including the president, Richard Nixon.

The judge read the letter in open court and, after McCord's recanted testimony, set his sentence at one-to-five years and over the next two years a parade of high level officials, including John Mitchell, the former Attorney General and the two most senior presidential staff, H.R. Halderman and John Ehrlichman were convicted and sent to prison.

The world collapsed around Nixon and he resigned the presidency on August 9, 1974.

James McCord's Letter to Judge Sirica

Now we have RussiaGate, and I suspect we will see the denouement unfold in a similar way. 

A Michael Flynn or a Paul Manafort or even more likely, the lower-level Carter Page, will wind up being indicted, regardless of who becomes the director of the FBI (the investigations will proceed no matter what Donald Trump does to impede them), and one or more of them will be convicted and thus face a Sirica-like sentence.

The threat of a decades' long sentence, as with Watergate, will focus the attention of the new felons and we can subsequently expect to see plea-bargaining--the promise of a reduced sentence for testimony about the higher-ups. Perhaps including the president.

This prospect is why President Trump made what seems to be an impulsive decision to fire FBI director James Comey.

Trump may not know much about history, to quote Sam Cooke's song, but he knows how to survive. We'll see how he does the time and how wonderful the world actually is.

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