Writing in the Washington Post, conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin said Donald Trump was put on notice on Friday morning when a federal judge sent his former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, to jail, adding that the president would be wise to realize that special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation is not something that he can just tweet away.
According to Rubin, it is likely that the President and Manafort never thought it would reach this point, and that being incarcerated will be a shock to the former campaign manager used to the finer things.
"Going to jail has a way of focusing the mind, as criminal defense lawyers say. To the extent Manafort has not truly accepted the depth of his legal peril, his incarceration might provide a jolt of reality," she wrote. "Plainly, the most important consequence of revoking Manafort’s bail is to increase the chances he will start cooperating with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III."
"Coming at a time when Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen is reportedly facing imminent arrest, the Trump team has good reason to worry that the people who know the most may soon be helping Mueller," she added.
As for Trump himself, Rubin said seeing someone actually going to jail undercuts the president from dismissing the investigation as a "hoax."
"First, it is a reminder that far from a 'hoax' or a waste of time, Manafort is one of 20 indicted individuals (five of whom pled guilty). He was, at a critical time in the race, running the president’s campaign," she suggested. "If he alone is convicted of a raft of serious financial crimes, the investigation would still be meaningful. Trump’s former deputy campaign manager Rick Gates, his former national security adviser Michael Flynn and a former campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos have already pled guilty. That’s an astounding treasure trove of criminals, and one has to believe Mueller isn’t nearly done with his investigation."
She then stated, "Manafort is also a key player in the clearest example of cooperation between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. Manafort, Jared Kushner and Donald Trump Jr. all attended the infamous Trump Tower meeting with Kremlin-linked characters. Trump, he has acknowledged, drafted an explanation of that meeting although he did not attend. Trump’s explanation was false."
"Manafort is the most likely figure to have had other contact with Russian-related figures ... In short, the highest ranked campaign official documented to have met with Russian operatives promising dirt on Hillary Clinton is now in a jail cell." Rubin continued before pointing out what should truly worry Trump the most.
"One has to wonder what conversations, if any, Trump had with potential witnesses and whether he suggested a false version of events that would be helpful to him. We don’t know that such conversations took place, but Trump is not one to hold back in the company of sympathetic listeners," she wrote. " Given Trump’s propensity to say and even believe things that simply are not true, Mueller no doubt has been asking every witness who had contact with Trump what they discussed with Trump and whether he suggested any untrue 'facts.'"
"Witness tampering is a serious crime and there is no argument that such conduct would be permitted for the head of the executive branch, who is charged with implementing the laws," she warned.
You can read the whole piece here.