February 17, 2018

What Donald Trump could learn from how Mueller handled the Gamino famly

Vanity Fair, December 2017- For over a year, stretching from 1990 to 1991, 10 South was the forbidding home of the triumvirate that still ruled the Gambino crime family as they awaited trial—John Gotti, Frank Locascio, and Sammy Gravano. But in the first days of October 1991, a cunning plan began to take shape to covertly transfer Sammy the Bull, in the pre-dawn hours, from his inhospitable cell.

Today, nearly three eventful decades later, what makes this Great Escape more than just a faded episode from yesteryear’s gangland chronicles, but rather relevant and even instructive, is the identity of the man who ultimately had to sign off on the operation: then U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division Robert Mueller. This is, of course, the same hard-driving crime fighter who, as special counsel, is presently leading the federal investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. For months, Mueller has been working his way up the Trump food chain, beginning with a guilty plea by campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, and, more recently, a 12-count indictment against former campaign manager Paul Manafort. (Manafort has pleaded not guilty.) On Friday, after meetings to discuss a deal, the president’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, walked into a federal courtroom in Washington, D.C., and pleaded guilty in an arrangement that reportedly includes his testimony against more campaign officials, possibly including Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and the president himself.

It is, one person close the administration recently observed, a “classic Gambino-style roll-up.” To understand how Mueller might now proceed, to get a sense of the compromises he’d be willing to make to bag the larger prosecutorial targets in his sights, it’s eye-opening to go back to the deal he cut with Sammy the Bull.

What happened

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