Over the past 40 years, the American conservative movement has taken on a lot of unneeded and somewhat useless baggage. Go to any meeting of the vast right wing conspiracy and you will find all sorts of accomplished individuals many of whom run their own organizations. Sometimes the organizations are so intimately connected to the individuals that when the individual dies the organization will fade away. But most have worked hard to ensure their organizations survive beyond them.
There is another cast of character you will also find at these gatherings. These are the men and women who show up to orbit the actual influencers then claim influence for themselves. They pay the membership fees and get to hang out with the powers that be. Occasionally, they luck into seats at the table where they get to influence the direction of the organizations, but typically they are the people in the hallway passing out business cards regaling everyone of their next big project that rarely happens. The conservative power brokers may pass them a few scraps off the board room table while whispering amongst themselves not to get too close.
One of the silver linings of the Mueller investigation is that many of these charlatans, grifters, and conmen are finally getting their comeuppance. During the 2016 Republican primary, roughly 1.2 million candidates sought the nomination. They hired the A teams and the B teams. No one really took Donald Trump seriously as a candidate. But Trump had millions of dollars, high name identification, and Mar-a-Lago. The grifters of the conservative movement knew the doors would not open at the other campaigns, but they could sail into the Trump campaign. The conservative movement had done such a poor job of policing its own that these hangers-on could honestly show they had credible access.
They had the calling cards, the memberships in all the super secret organizations, the books published by the conservative publishers, the rolodex with names, etc. Trump, not having anyone else to turn to at the time, turned to them. Miracle of miracles, Trump won. Over the past two years, a great sorting has taken place where many of those who were on the outside looking in found themselves on the inside, but slowly saw themselves pushed back out.
A friend who works for President Trump told me that early on it was the establishment versus the outsiders, so the outsiders all aligned with each other. But over time, it became clear there were the outsiders from the fringe and the ones who knew what they were doing. Over time, those who knew what they were doing had to align with the establishment oriented figures in the White House and explain to them President Trump’s worldview, while working with the establishment to marginalize and push aside the truly incompetent fringe.
What this alliance of necessity has not done, Bob Mueller is doing. Paul Manafort is off to jail. The man ceased being useful to Republicans a long time ago. Though he was an advisor to both George H. W. Bush and Bob Dole, Manafort wound up making his living with clients out of the country. He was a hired political operative for some of the worst autocrats and dictators on the planet.
Joining him was Rick Gates who has pled guilty in the course of the Mueller investigation. Gates wound up working with Manafort to help a bunch of unsavory foreign despots and is still cooperating with Mueller.
Jerome Corsi and Roger Stone are both also being looked at. Stone had a more successful career in politics than Manafort, with whom he co-founded a lobbying shop in Washington in the eighties. Stone is a self-described “dirty trickster” who mostly faded from Republican politics, but then resurfaced attached to the Trump campaign. The Mueller investigators are apparently looking to see if Stone and Jerome Corsi coordinated dirty tricks with Wikileaks.
Then there is Corsi. The Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross just exposed Corsi’s efforts purportedly on behalf of someone with cancer. Corsi raised money for a man to see a particular doctor who Corsi claimed had cured a family member of cancer. As Ross reported, the doctor, Eliad Mendelsohn, does not appear to exist and “the purported patient, is the registered owner of Mendelsohn Consulting Group, the same clinic Corsi links to on his website boosting Dr. Mendelsohn.”
Beyond the individuals Mueller is hauling into court, there are the defenders of these individuals. Like the men themselves, their defenders have rushed out with gusto making claims about what Mueller will or will not attempt to prove, and then have been shown to have no idea what Mueller is actually up to. The chorus of charlatans is being discredited by Mueller. That is good for the president and good for the conservative movement.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.