To the extent that current and former aides to Donald Trump can still discern fact from fiction, their lawyers are now advising them to tell the truth when it comes to the Russia probe. Sure, they’ve told some whoppers against all reason on issues ranging from Trump’s inaugural crowd size to James Comey’s firing to Don Jr.’s meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer, but when they sit down with special counsel investigators, their lawyers say it’s time to channel reality. Politico writes:
As special counsel Robert Mueller and congressional investigators prepare to question high-ranking aides — including Hope Hicks, Reince Priebus and Sean Spicer — in the coming weeks, Trump’s long history of demanding his employees’ complete loyalty is being put to the test. […]
Several of the lawyers representing current and former aides told POLITICO they’re actively warning their clients that any bonds connecting them to Trump won’t protect them from criminal charges if federal prosecutors can nail them for perjury, making false statements or obstruction of justice.
“What I always tell clients is you can’t protect anybody. You can only hurt yourself,” said a lawyer representing a client involved in the Russia probe. The attorney added that any overt attempts to protect Trump will raise wider suspicions of a cover-up, making matters “worse for everybody.”
Mueller and his colleagues will be weighing testimony against a wealth of documents, emails and interviews with other staffers and associates, adding an extra layer of tension to the inquiries. People who perjure themselves could face jail time along with prompting new prongs of the investigation. The probe has already expanded out from the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia to include the interplay between Russian operatives and Trump’s family members and the family business, Trump Organization.
In the meantime, Trump himself will be glued to the TV for hints of who’s been naughty and who’s been nice to him during the probe. Just a guess that we might see a little more chaos and a few more departures before these key interviews are over.
Unfortunately for Trump, some former top White House aides who were nonetheless never among Trump’s favorites will have plenty to tell and likely feel no qualms about prioritizing themselves over His Orangeness (think Reince, for instance). That’s what happens when you pit your staff against one another for blood sport. Good thinking, Trump!