For those who play chess, there is a stratagem known as the poison pawn. Essentially, it’s the pawn that if captured can create a position problem for an opponent or even potential loss of higher value pieces. In the political world, the poison pawn would seem to be to hide a problem or possibly expose one. Here are a couple of possibilities in no particular order.
In watching the unfolding debacle for the Clintons known as Uranium One, it suddenly occurred to me that the Trump-Russian collusion story was really an adaptation of the poison pawn. What was supposed to be hidden? Since I come from a defense background, as bad as Uranium One is, it is infinitely less of a problem than the misuse of classified information by Hillary Clinton. Uranium One can be excused by foolishness or bad judgment. The misuse of classified information is a criminal matter without question. (The focus on Uranium one and even the now debunked Trump dossier appears to be a distraction from the much more serious issue of espionage.)
Let’s assume, on the other hand, that the poison pawn ties to Paul Manafort and is intended to buttress the Russian/Trump collusion story. Manafort worked for the Podesta organization and had ties to Russia. He subsequently became a temporary but significant figure in the Trump campaign. If the poison pawn was intended to expose Trump, then Manafort was used by the Podestas and the Clintons to damage the Trump presidency. (Once the poison pawn was in place, it was necessary to spring the trap – and Special Counsel Mueller has done just that. In an obviously timed political event, Mueller has apparently charged Manafort for some type of tax fraud. What this has to do with Russia is obscure at best but the media will have a field day avoiding the Clinton criminal scandals.)
The problem with the poison pawn is that it is always risky and can backfire. In chess, the risk can be assessed up to a point by looking ahead at the possible combinations of opponent response. In politics, the risks can be much greater because there are unanticipated events and secondary disclosure that can create a massive backfire. Obviously, if the stratagem works then success was worth the risk. If it doesn’t work, then the boomerang effect can be fierce and unrelenting.
The Clintons and many Democrat leaders tried for nearly a year to entrap Trump and now it appears they have entrapped themselves – and they are desperate. Notably, some on the left are already jumping ship because they see the danger. It will be interesting to see if any of this actually results in imprisonment. I don’t hold my breath because the swamp in the District of Columbia is guarded by a bunch of crocodiles and hyenas. However, the preservation of the rule of law is well worth the damage that might be created to some careers.