So far, the absolute worst Mueller news for the White House -- and the absolute best news for its opponents -- is the setting of prosecutorial sights on top D.C. Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta.
Of course, it looks – and for all I know, may be -- bad for the brother and business partner of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman to be somehow associated with the foreign adventures of Paul Manafort. And of course, for the rabid right, there’s no “may be” about it. Whether or not there is any legally actionable fire in any Podesta activity, the smoke is already being sucked into every vortex -- commercial, social, and anti-social – of pro-Trump media, then volumized and blown back out in billows, in the hope of suffocating Democratic (or any other) support for the special counsel’s inquiry. Meanwhile, what Trumpsters are really choking off is the oxygen of their own main argument: the contention that this investigation is a partisan witch hunt launched by Robert Mueller and his pack of “deep staters” who, like their elite masters, just can’t accept that Trump won.
As Fox News and friends keep insisting, neither the charges against Manafort -- nor, presumably, any potential charges against the likes of Podesta -- necessarily touch the Trump campaign, let alone the president himself. The real dynamite is in the hands of the freshly-famous Collusion Kid, George Papadopoulus, and whatever other “proactive cooperators” Mueller and his team may turn. In order to unearth and expose all that evidence in all its glory, the investigation has to continue unfettered, and its ultimate findings have to be believed.
For those purposes, the more Democratic fat cats that get caught up in Mueller’s web, the better.
On a separate but related front: it is obviously ridiculous to equate the pumping of Russian sources for damaging information about one’s domestic political opponent with the soliciting, let alone procurement, of materials illegally obtained by the Russian government for the shared goal of defeating of one’s domestic political opponent. Not too ridiculous, however, for Team Trump to equate away between allegations of Trump campaign collusion with the Russian state and its criminal hacking of DNC e-mails, versus (absurd) DNC funding of the privately, if ickily, obtained document that is “the dossier.” But this false-equivalence-drawing, too, has an enormous silver lining for Democrats and democrats alike. Every time Trumpsters kick and scream at something – even something imaginary -- that Hillary did to help the Russians influence the American election, they discredit their own, unbelievably reckless insistence that the Russians did nothing.
Finally, arriving in tandem with the charges against Manafort, the possibility of trouble for Podesta seems to have sent a shock wave through K Street. Conservative, liberal, or just agnostically greedy, the lobbying denizens of D.C. are now said to be scrambling to get their acts together in terms of registering as agents for foreign entities and so forth. Who knows? Maybe some of them are even thinking twice about raking in really big bucks from really bad guys.
If Tony Podesta engaged in criminal activity, he is a criminal. If he did not, he is a casualty. Either way, in the grander scheme of things, he is a force for the greater good.