Trump-Russia Odds: What’s Next After Manafort Indictment?

Photo credit: Marco Verch (Flickr) CC License

Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel made its first significant move on Monday, indicting former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business partner Rick Gates. Both Manafort and Gates have been indicted for a number of charges, including conspiracy against the United States, money laundering, failing to register as a foreign agent, and making false statements.

None of the charges relate directly to the Trump-Russia investigation, but this is likely a sign of more to come. The Special Counsel also revealed that George Papadopoulos, a former member of Trump’s foreign-policy advisory panel, pleaded guilty to making false statements regarding his contacts with the Russian government.

Of course, Trump has dismissed the indictments and deflected to Hillary Clinton.

With the investigation heating up, it’s only a matter of time until the Special Counsel issues another round of indictments. What’s in store for both Trump and Mueller? 

Odds Trump fires Robert Mueller in 2017: 5/1

After Trump fired James Comey and then openly admitted to doing so because of the Russia investigation, we definitely can’t rule out a Mueller firing. Trump could go full-Nixon and “Saturday Night Massacre” his way out of the investigation, but that didn’t prove a wise move by Tricky Dick, which Trump likely knows.

Firing Mueller could be what finally turns the Republicans against Trump. If that happens, we can start counting down the days for the Trump Administration. Firing Comey arguably made matters worse for Trump, so he’ll only fire Mueller as a last resort.

Odds to be indicted next by the Special Council

Michael Flynn: 4/1

Carter Page: 11/2

Donald Trump Jr.: 9/1

Jared Kushner: 9/1

Ivanka Trump: 25/1

Steve Bannon: 50/1

Hillary Clinton: 250/1

Michael Flynn and Carter Page are the two names that stand out.

Much like Manafort, Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser, failed to register as a foreign agent. And much like Papadopoulos, he allegedly lied to FBI agents about his contact with Russians. When it was leaked that the Special Counsel would be making a move on Wednesday, Manafort and Flynn were the two names that immediately sprang to mind.

Carter Page will testify before a House intelligence committee panel on Thursday. This comes after Page claimed he would not appear before the Senate Intelligence Panel and would plead the Fifth. He’s been under investigation for some time and could well be next on the chopping block.

Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner were present with Manafort when they met with a Kremlin-connected lawyer. Now that the walls are closing in on Manafort, he could throw the President’s son and son-in-law under the bus in order to save himself.

And then, of course, there’s Hillary Clinton. When news broke of the indictments and Papadopolous’ guilty plea, conservative media outlets chose to focus on Clinton’s business dealings and rehashed the email scandal. But to the dismay of the pro-Trump media, the real focus isn’t on Clinton.

Odds Trump is impeached by the end of 2018: 4/1

There have been a few Republicans willing to publicly criticize Donald Trump, but broadly speaking, the GOP stands firmly behind the President. With a Republican-controlled House and Senate, it’s extremely unlikely that Trump will be impeached any time soon.

That could all change if the Dems do well in the midterms or if the Special Council uncovers something that directly implicates Trump in the Russia investigation, but neither of those are imminent and, until then, it would require something extraordinary to Congress to impeach.

Odds Trump completes his first term: 9/11

His approval rating has been below 50% since the inauguration; the Special Counsel investigation seems to be moving along quite steadily; and there’s a decent chance the Democrats will reclaim the House in 2018. All this points to an early exit for Donald Trump.

However, keep in mind that only six Presidents (Harrison, Taylor, Garfield, Harding, Kennedy, and Ford) have served for less than one full term. 

Odds Trump issues another pardon in 2017: 3/2

Whatever charges the Special Council chooses to pursue and whomever they decide to target, Donald Trump still has one — uh — trump card. The constitution allows the President “to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.”

In order to stop Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, and George Papadopoulos from squealing, the President could issue a flurry of pardons to anyone caught up in the investigation. But Trump has already distanced himself from Manafort and dismissed Papadopoulos as a “low level volunteer.” Pardoning anyone charged by the Special Council would be a terrible look for Trump. Yet if pushed to the edge, he’ll do all he can to derail the investigation if he truly has something to hide.

Odds Trump’s approval rating dips below 30% in a Gallup poll by November 5th: 4/1

In recent months, Trump’s approval rating has hovered around the mid to high thirties. The last Gallup survey (Oct. 29-31) found Trump polling at 35%, almost a record low. As news about the indictments and guilty plea sink in, his numbers could tumble further south. However, Trump seems to have found a floor at around 35%. Unless something truly groundbreaking is uncovered by the investigation, it doesn’t look like his base is going to abandon him.

Odds on Paul Manafort’s next endeavor

Prison: 7/13

Starts a home improvement show while under house arrest: 15/1

Becomes a brand ambassador for Russian Standard Vodka: 20/1

Writes a book entitled, “How to win friends & influence elections”: 30/1

Runs for Prime Minister of Ukraine: 50/1

His days of lobbying for dictators, mass killers, and exiled Presidents wanted for high treason are over, but Paul Manafort a few options to consider as he prepares for his next chapter. It was revealed that Manafort spent millions on homes, rugs, and clothes. Now that he’s under house arrest, he finally has the time to turn his house into a home. The $1 million in rugs that he now owns should complement his ankle monitor nicely.

Or perhaps he’ll move to Russia or the Ukraine once this all blows over. He’s got a lot of connections to fall back on. But more likely than not, he’ll spend his next chapter behind bars.