April 4, 2018

Quick Hit: Mueller has nothing, but you wouldn't know it

The Mueller investigation apparently doesn't currently hold the president as a criminal  target of it's investigation.  The media hasn't really mentioned that much. In fact, the Washington Post which reported it yesterday, are holding out hope that he could still become a target.

Nevertheless, there are some important considerations as Johnathan Turley at The Hill points out:
That Mueller does not believe there is “substantial evidence linking [Trump] to the commission of a crime” would seem to merit some, albeit grudging, recognition. However, there has been a disturbing lack of objectivity in the coverage of this investigation from the start. Throughout it, some of us have cautioned that the criminal case against Trump was far weaker than media suggested. Fired FBI Director James Comey himself told Congress that Trump was not a target of his investigation. Indeed, Trump was reportedly upset with Comey largely because Comey would not say that publicly.

When Trump fired Comey, I supported the call for a special counsel, and I still support Mueller in completing his investigation. However, the case of criminal conduct by Trump has not materially improved over the last year. Last October, Mueller brought the first indictments against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy, Richard Gates. Notably, none of the indictments were linked to the campaign, let alone Trump. When that obvious point was raised, we were told that it meant nothing and Mueller was likely holding back the really damaging indictments while pressuring Trump aides. Commentators continue to announce “bombshell” disclosures against Trump on a daily basis, with experts alleging clear cases for treason to obstruction to witness tampering and other crimes.
But time and again, evidence continued to indicate that chances of president trump becoming a target were evaporating.
Then, in November, came the disclosure of plea agreements with former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos. However, these pleas were for making individual false statements to federal investigators. Neither the charges nor the narratives in the filings tied Trump or his campaign to any criminal act. Later indictments involving lawyer Alex van der Zwaan and internet operator Richard Pinedo involved a false statement and a single count of identity fraud, again unrelated to Trump or his campaign. Nevertheless, commentators insisted Mueller was just laying the groundwork for his major filing.

In February, Mueller handed down indictments of 13 Russian nationals and three Russian organizations for election-related crimes, from hacking to identity fraud. Not only did these charges not implicate Trump or his campaign, but the filing expressly stated that no one in the Trump campaign knowingly engaged Russians in these efforts. Now, Mueller reportedly has said he does not consider Trump a “target” of the criminal investigation. Looking at each of the prior filings, the disclosure would seem consistent with a lack of compelling evidence of a crime by Trump. Indeed, it would indicate Trump’s status has not changed from when Comey told Congress that Trump was not a target.
And yet, the mainstream media continues to be purveyors of self-deluded Trump-prosecution porn:
Still, some analysts immediately denied that Mueller’s disclosure was anything but bad news for Trump. On CNN, legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin insisted that “being a ‘subject’ is a very serious thing” and a “very significant designation” because it is clear “the FBI is investigating the president.”
The only outstanding question is when will Mueller wrap up his investigation.
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