Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Give me a break: one year is long enough for the Mueller investigation?

A version of this was published in the Sky Hi News, June 19-20, 2018

This falls into the give me a break category. The Trump White House launched ,a "wrap it up" campaign; "one year of the Special Counsel  Mueller probe is enough, it has found nothing,  and he works for us" the line goes.The fat lady has not even begun to sing in the last act of  this historical opera and the White House  hopes to shut her up and give her a bad review before the end of the first act.  They must fear the rest of the performance will not be music to their ears. There is much of the performance  plot  they and  we the public do not know yet nor do we know  what other characters have already sung. 

Trump constantly claiming Mueller is on a witch hunt because there is no there there  ignores the witches bagged to date:  20 individuals and three businesses that have either been indicted or admitted guilt and a total of 75 charges ,25 of them against Paul Manafort,  Trump’s former campaign chairman, now in jail for witness tampering. Other.charges  against Manfort  include conspiracy and financial crimes.  59% of Republicans do not know about Mueller's actions per a recent poll.75% of Republicans believe Trump's  slogan that the Mueller probe is a witch hunt, and 53% of all voters think the probe is politically motivated.   .But this is only Act 1 

For the Trump White House to claim Mueller has no proof of collusion, (or obstruction, or financial crimes) is premature and empty propaganda coming  from the White House mouths, to say the least, since no one yet knows what closed lip Mueller knows and he has not made his reports. Nonetheless, Trump continues the attack on the credibility of the FBI, Mueller, and negative press reports: As he said to Leslie Stahl" he bashes to press to discredit negative stories". 

It took three years of Watergate  probes into Richard Nixon's cover up,  four years of Benghazi Congressional  hearings and FBI reports  to fail to pin it on Hillary Clinton,  and three years from Whitewater to Monica Lewinsky's blue dress for these investigations  to play out in the Bill Clinton scandal.. A year seems more than a bit short for these kinds of matters, doesn't it? 

  The Trump White House  mimics the same claim made by Richard Nixon in his State of the Union two years before he was impeached. A year is enough, Nixon  said about the special counsel investigation into Watergate, we turned over all documents, and they have found nothing. The break in occurred in 1971.and after special counsel and Congressional investigations,that  impeachment was begun and Nixon  resigned in 1974. Three years was way too long  for Nixon. 

 Benghazi happened in 2012 and the GOP House and Senate dominated hearings kept the issue alive to skewer Hillary Clinton and never could prove she  herself was at fault. The final report was issued in the summer of 2016. For the GOP then four years was just fine; it kept questions about her character alive.

 Aside from the irony of the Nixon propaganda parallel, the GOP House investigation run by a Trump loyalist, Rep. Devin Nunes,  into the Russian connection was a farce and did not call essential witnesses to testify, concluding there was no there there.

 However, the Senate investigation continues and has found there was there there. In their report May 16, they conclude Russians interfered in 2016 to help Trump's campaign, as the result of their findings into the key meeting in the Trump Tower in June 2016 between  Trump cohorts and a Russian agent regarding emails of Hillary Clinton. The suspicion is that the Trump minions hoped to get the dirt on Clinton in return for lifting sanctions imposed on the Russians for past bad behavior . The quid (offer to provide missing emails)  was there but the quo was not discussed.   Whether or not Trump himself was a part of this  is yet to be seen. He was in the building and may have been receiving  telephone calls.  Was the meeting truly a "nothing burger" or there were other events follow ups ,and  other meetings  that would be evidence of conspiracy? What Mueller knows about any of this we do not know ourselves yet, either.

 In  the   released Senate hearing transcripts regarding the Trump Tower meeting. The angle still unknown is much like Watergate, what did the President know and when did he know about the Trump Tower meeting .We know the meeting  was not about Russian adoption as the Trumpsters claimed, but about  dirt on Clinton's emails.   Donald Trump Jr who organized the meeting  was in emails leading up to the meeting  eager to seek information from foreign governments that would help his father get elected. 

The investigation by Special Counsel Robert  Mueller is about  Trump cohorts, with Trump assured  by Mueller he is  a subject in  the investigation  but not currently  a target of a criminal investigation ,  but  it is Trump and his cohorts that say a year is enough. For Trump to fire Mueller  would also be the ultimate evidence  of obstruction of justice seen as a way to stop the investigation about them  before it was finished. Unfolding now is  Act II,  the maneuvering around whether Donald Trump will ever testify to Mueller in any form about what he knew and when did he know it.


 We have deduced  something about what Mueller is finding  and investigating from all of the texts of the indictments and participants  turning states' witness pleading guilty for lying  about their Russian contacts. Trump's campaign manager Paul Manafort  and his partner have been hit for money laundering and working for a foreign government. Thirteen Russians were indicted for active measures interfering in the 2016 campaign.   While none of the charges so far  yet confirm Trump and his cohorts "colluded" with the Russians, proof of  obstruction of justice and financial crimes are still charges that we know nothing  about what Mueller knows. That those  related areas of investigation are within the scope of Mueller's authority to investigate  were confirmed in  a judge's ruling concerning  Paul Manafort's indictment May 15 and the authorization for the probe by the Department of Justice in a document issued in 2017.

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