As a degenerate gambler who covers politics for a living, I feel uniquely qualified to opine on this topic. First, here is the news that led to this colum. Per uber-connected insider Gabriel Sherman in Vanity Fair:
Two sources told me that Trump continues to raise the possibility of a pardon for Manafort, his former campaign chairman. Trump has been clashing with White House counsel Don McGahn, who, sources said, is strongly against granting Manafort a pardon. (A lawyer for McGahn did not respond to a request for comment.) Trump has told people he’s considering bringing in a new lawyer to draft a Manafort pardon, if McGahn won’t do it. “He really at this point does not care,” a former official said. “He would rather fight the battle. He doesn’t want to do anything that would cede executive authority.”
This isn’t the only recent report from Trumplandia indicating that president confused grandpa wants to pardon his former campaign chairman. Per Nancy Cook in Politico late last week:
President Donald Trump’s lawyers and a cadre of informal White House advisers claim they’ve convinced him not to pardon Paul Manafort — but White House officials expect the president to do it anyway.
The president’s characterization of his former campaign chairman as a victim and “brave man” is being read by aides as a signal that Trump wants to use his unilateral authority to issue pardons to absolve Manafort, according to eight current and former administration officials and outside advisers.
“Trump is setting it up. He’s referring to the investigation as a ‘witch hunt’ and saying this never would have happened to an aide to Hillary Clinton,” said one former campaign official.
In fact, I don’t even need to use anonymously sourced reports from Trump’s cadre of advisers. The idiot has practically telegraphed his intentions on Twitter. He’s gone from just screaming about a “witch hunt!” to insinuating that he is going to take some sort of action.
This is happening, folks. President Trump is infatuated with executive power, and the more he uses it (like revoking security clearances or unilaterally giving banks another tax cut without the aid of congress), the more he'll want to use it in the future. He has already issued pardons to seemingly random people like Dinesh D'souza, and plenty of legal experts have speculated that it was a signal to those wrapped up in the Mueller investigation to stay strong and not “flip” on Trump.
So if we are going to live in a lawless hellscape where the president's cronies are untouchable, we may as well try to personally benefit from it, right? Which is why I'd like to direct your attention to what I believe is free money just sitting there on the famed betting site, PaddyPower.com (quick note to our American readers: because we live in a country which is totally cool with Wall Street gambling with your mortgage but not with you putting $5 on the outcome of a football game, this isn't directed at the good 'ol US of A —*wink wink*—but to our readers who live in relatively sane countries who understand that if the economic elites can gamble with our savings, that we should be able to gamble with them too).
You can bet that Trump will pardon Paul Manafort this year at 5 to 1 odds. This means that if you bet $100, you would profit $500. Now, the catch is that it must come in 2018—if Trump pardons Manafort in 2019, well that's a bad beat and you would lose $100. That said, there is plenty of evidence that Trump wants to get this done in 2018, and it comes via his embattled Attorney General, Jeff Sessions. Per Politico:
Republicans on Capitol Hill who have long protected Attorney General Jeff Sessions from the wrath of his own boss increasingly think his time is up.
Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee said Thursday evening that he believes “moves are being made” to oust Sessions after the midterm elections.
“It's apparent that after the midterms, he will make a change and choose someone to do what he wants done,” Corker said in a phone call. “It just feels to me that after the midterms, the president will make the change.” A Republican close to the White House echoed that view.
So to recap: Trump himself said “at some point I may have to get involved” in the Mueller investigation. According to two separate reports citing two and eight anonymous sources respectively, Trump is laying the groundwork to pardon Manafort and will even go over the head of the White House counsel to do it, and Trump has already raised the fact that Manafort was not charged on ten of the 18 counts he faced (the only reason Manafort wasn't found guilty on the other ten counts was thanks to one holdout). On top of all that clearly telegraphed madness, Trump wants to fire his Attorney General as soon as possible, and the only motivation that Trump has given is related to Sessions' recusal over the Mueller investigation.
Manafort will get pardoned. Sessions will be fired. All hell will break loose over this Mueller investigation at some point. It’s harrowing, but it’s an inevitability that we need to start preparing for. President Trump is acting like a cornered animal, and it’s just a matter of time until he lashes out using the most powerful office in the history of mankind, so get your Manafort bets in while you still can, as we all could use a little extra scratch to get through the indisputable failure that is late-stage capitalism.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.