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What Mueller Has and What He’s Missing

Some Russians somewhere may have somehow meddled in the 2016 presidential election. But what Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller really has to answer, some 16 months after the voting, is whether Donald Trump knowingly worked with a foreign government to get elected in return for some quid pro quoRussiagate. So where’s the proverbial beef?

On February 22, Mueller handed down a 32-count indictment [1], following a similar one [2] in October, that charged Paul Manafort and Richard Gates with financial crimes going back eight years or more, all related to work in Ukraine, none related to Russiagate. A day after the indictment, Gates pled [3] guilty to financial conspiracy and lying to the FBI about a meeting five years ago. Manafort’s case is more complex: no trial date has been set, and it will likely take a year [4] or more to conclude once started.

Two weeks ago, Mueller dropped a multi-part indictment [5] against 13 Russian citizens connected with a so-called troll farm. The indictment alleges the group bought Facebook and Twitter ads, planned small rallies, and otherwise “meddled” in the U.S. election. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein made clear there was no allegation in the indictment that any American, including on the Trump campaign, “was a knowing participant in the alleged unlawful activity.”

Even if some connection to the Kremlin can be shown (it hasn’t been and since Mueller will never take this case to court—his defendants all live in Russia—it’s unlikely it ever will be), this “meddling” has no link to Trump or Russiagate. In fact, the social media campaign started when the U.S. was considering war in the Ukraine years before Trump announced his candidacy, and about half of its modest [6] ad buys took place after [7] the election was over. The troll farm itself was not much of a secret; the New York Times profiled [8] the place in 2015.

change_me

Mueller has also charged former Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn with a non-material lie. (The FBI already knew the truth from surveillance: Flynn stepped into a perjury trap set up by Mueller. The likely sentence will be a fine.) Flynn initially pled guilty, though he’s understood to be reconsidering [9] and may withdraw that plea. Flynn’s lie and the other accusations against him center on his work as an unregistered [10] foreign agent [11] for Turkey.

Flynn also admitted that he lied to the FBI about a conversation with the Russian ambassador, which was surveilled by the NSA and later leaked [12] from the Obama White House. Critics claim the conversation is a violation of the Logan Act, a law that has never been successfully prosecuted [13]. Soon after the FBI interview in which Flynn falsely denied the conversation, Sally Yates, an Obama-era holdover serving as acting attorney general, warned [10] the Trump White House that Russia could blackmail Flynn over having lied. Ironically, some say Mueller is essentially blackmailing Flynn using that same lie, holding out a lighter sentence if Flynn tells all.

Another of the Mueller team’s accomplishments is the guilty plea [14] of George Papadopoulos, who White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders described [14] as “a volunteer member of an advisory council that literally met one time.” Papadopoulos pled guilty to lying [15] to the FBI about a meeting with Maltese professor Joseph Mifsud, another perjury trap of Mueller’s based on intelligence data. The professor said the Russians had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in “thousands of emails.” But no dirt and no emails were ever handed over.

So here’s what Mueller has: evidence of unrelated-to-Trump financial crimes by Paul Manafort and others, based mostly from FISA surveillance on Manafort dating back to 2014 [16]. The FBI’s earlier investigation was dropped for lack of evidence, and it appears Mueller revived it now in part so the information could be repurposed to press Manafort to testify. The role pervasive surveillance has played in setting perjury traps to manufacture indictments to pressure people to testify against others has been grossly underreported. We’ll see more of it, unfortunately, a new tool of justice in a surveillance state.

Flynn and Papadopoulos are currently charged with relatively minor offenses whose connections to Russiagate are tenuous. Flynn’s contact with the Russian ambassador can be seen as a lot of uncomplimentary things, but it does not appear to have been a crime. With Papadopoulos there may be a conspiracy charge in there with some shady lawyering, but little more. Further offstage, Carter Page, a key actor in the Steele [17] dossier and the subject [18] of FISA warrants, has not been charged with anything.

Here’s what Mueller is missing. The full force of the U.S. intelligence community has been looking for evidence of Russian government (not just “some Russians”) interference in the election for 18 months (the recently released Schiff memo [18] reveals five Trump campaign officials were under investigation as of September 2016, including Flynn), with the aim of finding proof of Trump’s collusion with Russia in the same caper for about a year. It is reasonable to conclude they do not have definitive intelligence, no tape of a Team Trump official cutting a deal with a Russian spy. The same goes for the Steele dossier [17] and its salacious accusations [19]. If a tape existed or if there was proof the dossier was true, we’d watching impeachment hearings.

What’s left is the battle cry of Trump’s opponents since Election Day: “Just you wait.” They exhibit a scary, gleeful certainty that Trump worked with the Russians, because how else could he have won?

But so far the booked charges against Flynn and Papadopoulos and the guilty pleas of others point towards relatively minor sentences to bargain over—assuming they have game-changing information to share in the first place. These are process crimes, not ones of turpitude. Manafort says he’ll go to court and defend himself, lips sealed.

It’s not enough. Mueller is charged with nothing less than proving the president knowingly worked with a foreign government, receiving help in the election in return for some quid pro quo, an act that can be demonstrated so clearly to the American people as to overturn an election probably a full two years after it was decided.

Given the stakes—a Kremlin-controlled man in the Oval Office—you’d think every person in government would be on this 24/7 to save the nation, not a relatively small staff of prosecutors leisurely filing indictments that so far have little to do with their core charge in the hope that someone will join their felony hunt and testify to crimes that may not have been committed.

A limping-to-the-finish line conclusion to Mueller’s work just ahead of the midterms alleging Trump technically obstructed justice, or a “conspiracy to commit something” charge without a finding of an underlying crime, will risk tearing the nation apart. Mueller holds a lot in his hands, and he needs soon to produce the conclusive report to Congress he was charged to write. Until then, absent evidence, skepticism remains a healthy stance.

Peter Van Buren, a 24-year State Department veteran, is the author of We Meant Well [20]: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People and Hooper’s War [21]: A Novel of WWII Japan. He Tweets @WeMeantWell. [22]

93 Comments (Open | Close)

93 Comments To "What Mueller Has and What He’s Missing"

#1 Comment By Stephen On February 28, 2018 @ 11:59 pm

I had my photo taken once with Russian pianist Olga Kern. I better destroy the evidence before Mueller finds me. She was clearly sent here by Putin to undermine the American Way of Life through insidious Russian piano concertos. You know how those commies are.

“Russiagate” is far beyond parody at this point.

#2 Comment By Kenneth Almquist On March 1, 2018 @ 5:27 am

“The FBI already knew the truth from surveillance: Flynn stepped into a perjury trap set up by Mueller.”

Where is the evidence of a perjury trap?

A perjury trap occurs when a witness is questioned purely for the purpose of charging the witness with perjury, rather than to learn information relevant to an investigation. Suppose the Mueller team wanted to know about all of the meetings between Flynn and Russian government officials, but when they asked Flynn about this, Flynn lied. Mueller’s team knew that Flynn was lying because they knew Flynn had met at least twice with Kislyak, so they filed perjury charges based on the meetings that they could prove had occurred. If that’s what happened, there was no perjury trap.

To substantiate the accusation that Mueller set a perjury trap, you have to show that Mueller was not interested in any potential meetings with Russian government officials other than the two meetings with Kislyak that he already knew about. You do not argue that Mueller had no interest in the meetings with Kislyak; you state that Mueller already knew about those meetings. But if those meetings were relevant to the investigation, why wouldn’t other possible meetings with Russian officials that the Mueller investigation didn’t know about be equally relevant?

I’d add that Flynn pleaded guilty, which he wouldn’t be if there was actually a perjury trap.

#3 Comment By bozhidar balkas On March 1, 2018 @ 10:33 am

Thirteen wolfich’s almost devoured the whole Bull?

#4 Comment By jsinton On March 1, 2018 @ 10:43 am

I’ll probably vote GOP this year for the first time in 34 years. The faux left will never understand.

#5 Comment By Sid Finster On March 1, 2018 @ 11:14 am

“Just you wait!” is a classic argument from ignorance.

“Just because there is no evidence to prove that Trump is in fact Mickey Mouse just means we need to look harder! In the meantime we can safely assume that Trump has big round black ears and a tail!”

#6 Comment By Sid Finster On March 1, 2018 @ 11:16 am

@Kenneth Almquist: lots of people plead guilty to crimes that they did not commit, because the consequences of not taking the plea are too severe (even if they win at trial) relatively to the deal offered.

[23]

#7 Comment By Egypt Steve On March 1, 2018 @ 12:06 pm

There’s a fool-proof method for avoiding perjury traps.

It’s called “Don’t commit perjury.”

Works every time.

#8 Comment By One Guy On March 1, 2018 @ 2:47 pm

Interesting. Van Buren repeatedly mocks those who say we should wait. Why doesn’t he want to wait and see? Sentence first, verdict afterwards?

#9 Comment By MM On March 1, 2018 @ 3:21 pm

Egypt Steve: “There’s a fool-proof method for avoiding perjury traps.”

I don’t think AG Holder and Secretary Clinton ever heard of that method, since they perjured themselves before Congress and faced no legal consequences…

#10 Comment By E On March 1, 2018 @ 4:41 pm

Egypt

There’s a fool-proof method for avoiding perjury traps.

It’s called “Don’t commit perjury.”

Works every time.

A better one: say I don’t recall.

#11 Comment By E On March 1, 2018 @ 4:42 pm

Egypt Steve
There’s a fool-proof method for avoiding perjury traps.

It’s called “Don’t commit perjury.”

Works every time.

A better one: say I don’t recall

#12 Comment By Sandra On March 1, 2018 @ 5:56 pm

I no longer equate Conservatives with Republicans because Republicans long ago veered away from conservatism. I don’t think Conservatives are democrats and I don’t think they are liberal. But there are many here that think any views that don’t agree with theirs are by definition liberal because they deviate from the standard Republican fare.

#13 Comment By IvyMike On March 1, 2018 @ 7:59 pm

Somewhere a somewhat plump and apple cheeked young woman waits breathless for Mueller to wander close enough to detect that little blob of DNA Trump left on her favorite red dress…

#14 Comment By Jason Holt On March 2, 2018 @ 3:27 am

The claim that Mueller has had more than ample time to complete an investigation of this magnitude with so many potential coconspirators is a sophomoric argument at best; at worst it is nothing short of a willful acceptance of a treasonous puppet of Putin as the occupant of the highest office of our land, indeed, the most powerful person in the world (save the engineer of his ascension, the Russian master to whom our Commander In Chief may now answer). Those who would demand an end to an investigation so critic for the assurance of our continued democracy before it has reached a natural conclusion do so for the sake of what? If Trump is innocent don’t we want it proven sufficiently to quiet his dissenters. If he is not have we become a nation where political tribalism is so deeply entrenched as to inspire blind loyalty to a president and a party that would barter the soul of our democracy for their time in power?

Mueller has been entrusted with the monumental task of heading an investigation that must determine either the relative innocence of a sitting president or, if he does discover collusion or other crimes that would compromise or place at question the loyalty of the president to America above all other nations, the evidence of such a finding must be indisputable and sufficiently convincing to overcome the biases of the aforementioned political tribalism, at least for the more rational of the party that has chosen to abandon principle and follow a demagogue. This would be no easy task, but to fall short of building a case that is amply definitive in its conclusion would serve only to further divide a nation that is already so divided in its political ideologies that a finding with conclusions based on evidence which may be overly subjective to interpretation may result in nothing short of a current day civil war.
So please, let’s be patient. Grant Mueller the time to discover what he needs to be abundantly clear in his finding so that whatever he determines has occurred between Trump and Russia, we might be spared of the consequences of a rushed indefinite conclusion.

#15 Comment By JeffK On March 2, 2018 @ 7:25 am

In the early hours this morning, before the sun rose, Trump is rant tweeting nonsense about Alec Baldwin. This was after he announced tariffs that were against the advice of many in his cabinet, surprised his staff, and drove the market down about 500 points, with more to follow I’m sure.

As Mueller closes in, Trumps insane (yes, insane) rantings and actions keep getting more and more bizarre. Yet the loyalists claim nothing is wrong, this is just Trump being Trump, and Mueller needs to wrap up the investigation and move on.

When will this insanity end? When will The Republicans stand up to this man baby and take him out?

Tom Steyer is absolutely correct. Time to impeach this looney tune and fact the music from the base. The longer they wait the more motivated the non-Trump voters will be to replace them en mass (even in supposedly ‘safe’ Republican districts).

Republicans, you created, nurtured, elected, indulged and pampered this hot mess of tweeting insanity. Own your mistake and get him out asap. Or will you only act after a stock market collapse or a belligerent act of war against one of the neocons favorite targets?

#16 Comment By Robert Hancock On March 2, 2018 @ 7:51 am

I believe Obama should, by the standards of the Trump/Russia investigation, be charged with child molestation. ‘What!’ you cry, ‘There’s no evidence of that!’. My answer? ‘Just wait’. The evidence of Trump/Russia collusion is about equal to the evidence Obama is a child molester. The Democrats must have been dancing in the aisles when Sessions recused himself, and literally handed them on a platter the tools to undermine Trump’s presidency and save themselves from jail-time for their deeds in the FBI and DOJ to obtain FISA warrants to spy on Trump, from weaponizing the IRS, from deeds in Uranium-one, and on and on

#17 Comment By MM On March 2, 2018 @ 10:20 am

Jeff K: “Republicans, you created, nurtured, elected, indulged and pampered this hot mess of tweeting insanity.”

Actually, he received less than 50% of the primary vote, including many registered Democrats and independents in open primary states.

And for decades, the Democratic Party, particularly the New York crowd, accepted cash from this guy without question, knowing his proclivities and tendencies.

So no, Trump created himself, marketed himself, and played whichever side of the political spectrum he needed to, to get where he is.

#18 Comment By JeffK On March 2, 2018 @ 11:17 am

Ahhh. MM. Glad to see you refuse to own the Cheeto Messiah you Republicans so joyously elected. But continue to deflect with “And for decades, the Democratic Party, particularly the New York crowd, accepted cash from this guy without question, knowing his proclivities and tendencies”. Is that all you have?

Trump bragged that he gave to both political parties. So what? The Republican voters stood in awe of his remarkable debating skills while he bested 16 Republican candidates. And they cheered him on as he spewed juvenile insults and stupid slogans. Meanwhile, with a few notable exceptions, thoughtful Republicans with integrity folded and disappeared.

So now, you own him. Either show some courage and integrity and get him out now and accept the election beating you are going to take in November when the MAGA crowd stays home, or leave him in and accept the election beating you are going to take in November when the blue wave sweeps through.

If you are going to take a beating you should at least take it with some level of dignity. Or you can choose to continue to grovel at the feet of your false prophet.

BTW he won the election while losing by over 3 million votes. So it certainly wasn’t The Democrats that elected him.

#19 Comment By MM On March 2, 2018 @ 11:43 am

Jeff K: “Own your mistake and get him out asap.”

I still don’t know who you’re talking to.

Anyway, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the sheer number of voters in the 2016 general election, estimated to be at least 1 million in various states, who voted for Obama in 2012, Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primaries, and then Trump for President.

Is there anything you’d like to say to those voters, sir?

#20 Comment By Max Charles On March 2, 2018 @ 12:04 pm

Trump does not to special favors for Russia while Democrats fight furiously for the foreign governments that support them. They fight furiously for mass immigration from Latin America, of course, but China also has a keen interest in getting its tentacles onto the U.S.A. via immigration Look north to Canada to see where the Chinese plan has already progressed. And remember, the Chinese government has a lot more money and power.

It’s time for Americans to take a hard look at the hostile Chinese-influenced state that is emerging on their northern border, replacing a peaceful neighbor. The Chinese government has all the money it needs to buy influence in the U.S. as well and it clearly does so, but you have to look north to Canada to see the process occurring in overdrive. The strengthening of Chinese influence in Canada has only accelerated since their mega-stooge Justin Trudeau became Prime Minister in 2015.

China has every interest in destabilizing N. America in order to grab its resources and if it can get Canada and/or the U.S. to lose control of its borders, it will certainly do so. Since Trudeau came to office, enforcement of immigration law has become a joke at best with failed refugee claimants from Haiti and the Middle East crossing the border from the U.S. at will and being turned loose right away as long as they promise to attend a hearing in a few months time. Having a chaotic state full of people who identify mainly with other countries suits China’s interests in every way but the Chinese government also needs to get as many of its own people as possible onto Canadian soil. Even though Canada has not needed an new immigration for at least 30 years, the Chinese government can and does pay the right people to keep the immigration pipeline open. Why wouldn’t they pay politicians to promote unnecessary immigration? Why wouldn’t they pay journalists to demonize any politician who dares to oppose unnecessary immigration? Why wouldn’t they pay union leaders to look the other way as the labour market gets flooded? Why wouldn’t they do all of this in the U.S and buy influence in the universities while they’re at it?

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) constantly warns of politicians accepting favours from the Chinese government. Are we supposed to think that these politicians would not do China’s bidding on immigration matters? Are we supposed to think that the same thing does not happen in the U.S.? China has all the resources that it needs to buy political influence and has been doing so for years.

#21 Comment By MM On March 2, 2018 @ 12:31 pm

Jeff K: “BTW he won the election while losing by over 3 million votes. So it certainly wasn’t The Democrats that elected him.”

I’ll ignore your desperate claim that I am a Republican who voted for President Trump. Wouldn’t have mattered if I did, I live in a Deep Blue state where people are literally beaten in the streets if they’re suspected of supporting the President.

Wrong on both counts, but that really doesn’t matter. I’m pretty sure you voted for the Presidential candidate who was under personal criminal investigation by the FBI during the campaign for compromising U.S. national security and mishandling the highest levels of classified information. Pretty sure I’m correct about that one.

* Still waiting for your response on Obama/Sanders/Trump voters. Note: I’m looking for an intelligent response, not logical fallacies or political equivocation, per your usual conversation style.

#22 Comment By MM On March 2, 2018 @ 12:34 pm

Jeff K: “Is that all you have?”

No, but it’s a start. Hypocrisy is pretty easy to point out.

“So what?”

Evidently, hypocrisy isn’t easy for you to defend, huh, if that’s the best you’ve got?

#23 Comment By JeffK On March 2, 2018 @ 12:38 pm

@MM says:
March 2, 2018 at 11:43 am
“Anyway, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the sheer number of voters in the 2016 general election, estimated to be at least 1 million in various states, who voted for Obama in 2012, Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primaries, and then Trump for President.

Is there anything you’d like to say to those voters, sir?”

Sure. To all that voted for Obama then Trump, or Bernie then Trump, and rolled the dice to take the chance on Trump, are you happy now?

As the policemen down the street (who voted Trump) said to me the other day: “Every day I watch the news I wonder, ‘What did we do?”.

Again, to all thinking Republicans, is this what you voted for?

BTW, I just spent the last hour selling almost every stock in my 401K. I rode the last market crash down to the bottom in 2008, and will not repeat that mistake.

#24 Comment By JeffK On March 2, 2018 @ 12:50 pm

@MM
MM says:
March 2, 2018 at 12:31 pm

“I live in a Deep Blue state where people are literally beaten in the streets if they’re suspected of supporting the President.”

What state? Chechnya? Crimea? Dagestan? Only kidding ( or maybe not).

So what state is it? Please provide a link to a credible source showing people ‘beaten in the streets if suspected of supporting the President’.

I think you are remembering a Trump rally, where The Cheeto Messiah openly called out his Trumpians to beat up protestors.

#25 Comment By MM On March 2, 2018 @ 1:23 pm

Jeff K: “Please provide a link to a credible source showing people ‘beaten in the streets if suspected of supporting the President’.”

You really don’t do your homework. It’s been going on since before the election, and after:

[24]

[25]

[26]

“To all that voted for Obama then Trump, or Bernie then Trump, and rolled the dice to take the chance on Trump, are you happy now?”

Oh, I see. I thought it was only the GOP who “owned” Trump? Fascinating semantic dance you’re performing around here. Sorry, no medals for you in this competition.

Just to correct you on some facts you got wrong: Trump lost the national popular vote, a constitutionally meaningless statistics, by 2.7 million votes.

Another meaningless fun fact: Clinton won the California popular vote by 4.3 million votes. That’s a fantastic consolation prize, but a couple of close battleground states would’ve been a lot better for her…

#26 Comment By Youknowho On March 2, 2018 @ 2:38 pm

@MM

Yes, the Democrats accepted money from him, but did not dream of giving him a government job.

After all, the Catholic Church receives donations from members of Organized Crime. No one assumes them to be Mafia kingpins because of it.

#27 Comment By MM On March 2, 2018 @ 2:48 pm

YKW: “Yes, the Democrats accepted money from him, but did not dream of giving him a government job.”

Yes, because campaign contributions, elected officials, and government decisions have nothing to do with each other, right?

Absolutely gorgeous…

#28 Comment By MM On March 2, 2018 @ 2:59 pm

YKW: “After all, the Catholic Church receives donations from members of Organized Crime. No one assumes them to be Mafia kingpins because of it.”

Heh, this is a joke, right? Neither the primary interest, nor even the secondary interest, of the Democratic Party is ministering to the poor. It’s the single-minded pursuit of political power, like the other major party.

However, there are some similarities to church hierarchy: dishonesty, hypocrisy, hiding things from the public.

Another winner…

#29 Comment By Clifford Story On March 2, 2018 @ 3:35 pm

It’s a lot more likely than not that the Russians did interfere in the 2016 election. But did it make any difference? The R’s don’t need any foreign help in rigging elections — they’ve been doing it, with increasing effectiveness, for years.

Meanwhile, this year, the election story doesn’t seem to have moved the political needle very much. But the D’s are nonetheless ahead in the polls and Donnie is very unpopular. Why is this, if we’re discounting the election scandal? Can it be that Donnie and the R’s are unpopular because of their policies? And if that’s so, isn’t that what the D’s should be talking about, rather than the Russians?

In other words, D’s, concern yourselves with 2018, not 2016.

#30 Comment By JeffK On March 2, 2018 @ 4:08 pm

@MM.
The Democrats responsibility for The Cheeto Messiah starts with an over reliance on identity politics and ends with nominating a terrible candidate. But to allude that The Republicans were innocent bystanders relating to electing Trump is a hoot. They own him, his ‘accomplishments’, his agenda, and his issues now.

And Clifford Story is absolutely right. 2106 Is history. Better to concentrate on policies that positively impact the middle class, voter registration, and efforts to get out the vote (especially for the 50% of eligible voters that stay home).

#31 Comment By Steve Gibson On March 2, 2018 @ 5:16 pm

Mueller and his team has more evidence than you have seen. Speculation about what he has, by anyone is premature. That his team is keeping their work secure before they present it is a sign of their competence. If they were leaking enough to satisfy this argument, their critics would find other reasons to argue that we should stop them and not look at what they will produce.

#32 Comment By blackhorse On March 2, 2018 @ 8:13 pm

Alternate take, from a conservative

[27]

#33 Comment By Kenneth Almquist On March 3, 2018 @ 4:23 am

@ Sid Finster: It’s been a long time since I read the paper you link to, but I don’t recall the paper had any estimates of the number of innocent people who pleaded guilty. The writer’s point was more that we don’t know what the number is, which is unacceptable in a system which is supposed to be designed not to convict innocent people.

My point is that Peter van Buren is accusing Muller of setting a perjury traps, but the supposed victim isn’t making a similar accusation. I was talking about Flynn, but the same holds true for Papadopoulos. This isn’t an absolute proof that no perjury traps were involved, but it is strong evidence. It’s more than enough to dismiss van Buren’s unsubstantiated accusations.

#34 Comment By MM On March 3, 2018 @ 1:30 pm

Jeff K: “Especially for the 50% of eligible voters that stay home.”

In the last presidential election only 45% of eligible voters stayed home, not 50%. This was largely in Deep Red and Deep Blue states where their votes wouldn’t have mattered anyway. For example, California as I mentioned above. There was no incentive for voters to come out and support Trump even if they wanted to, since there was no governor’s race and no GOP candidate allowed on the ballot for the U.S. Senate, thanks to the “Top 2” selection system.

Anyway, you excel at avoiding the factual points I made, so I’ll just ask you one last question regarding the actual topic of this article:

Do you believe that a Presidential candidate and/or his associates who are found to have made false statements to the FBI, and to Congress, and destroyed evidence, and engaged in obstruction of justice should be indicted for those crimes?

Yes? No?

#35 Comment By Peter Van Buren On March 3, 2018 @ 4:39 pm

Kenneth Almquist, I’m almost certain you didn’t read my article. Why on earth is your standard of proof that Flynn say the words “perjury trap” out loud? What happened is clear enough on its face, whether someone calls it a perjury trap or a banana sundae. Is it a hot day even if no one says those words aloud? Yes it is.

#36 Comment By Chris On March 3, 2018 @ 4:48 pm

Whether or not it’s a perjury trap is just semantics in the broader scheme of things. Van Buren’s main point about there being zero proof of Russian collusion is correct.

Max Charles: Such racist drivel. Have you considered that immigrants are human beings and want the best for their new homes, since they live there now?

#37 Comment By StephenKMackSD On March 4, 2018 @ 11:28 am

Kudos to Mr. Van Buren for his dispassionate analysis of the Mueller investigation. A reader need only go to New York Magazine for Andrew Sullivan’s latest screeching hysterics delivered at full volume.
As a person on the actual ‘Left’ I come to AC for Larison and essays like Mr. Van Buren’s. The Political Center of this country is now defined by the alliance between the Neo-Liberals and the Neo-Conservatives: the Clinton Coterie and the execrable Wm. Kristol and his Porcine Spartan fellow travelers. I may not agree with all that Paul Craig Roberts writes but there is no subterfuge, just very welcome candor. And I always read Andrew Bacevich: to call him heroic is no exaggeration!
StephenKMackSD

#38 Comment By JeffK On March 4, 2018 @ 3:55 pm

@MM. My last comment on this post. First. Who cares if it’s 45% that stayed home, and not 50%? A difference without a distinction. Squabbling about the minor difference shows where your priorities lie.

Regarding “false statements to the FBI, and to Congress, and destroyed evidence, and engaged in obstruction of justice”, Sessions reports to Trump. Trump has berated Sessions for not investigating HRC. Maybe there is a reason (lack of evidence?).

Let them use the vast powers of the DOJ to investigate HRC for any crimes she has committed. IF there is REAL evidence of her guilt then the DOJ can try her. If she is guilty she can go to jail, for all I care.

One does wonder, however, why the DOJ has not indicted HRC after being under Session’s control for over a year. But then, you always have BENGHAZI if the DOJ cannot find the evidence to obtain a conviction for the vast litany of offenses you charge.

#39 Comment By MM On March 4, 2018 @ 8:58 pm

Jeff K: ” Maybe there is a reason (lack of evidence?)”

Thanks for continuting to avoid simple yes or not questions.

Here your lack of evidence of false statements to the FBI:

[28]

And false statements to Congress:

[29]

And destruction of evidence:

[30]

You’re either ignorant of the facts and law in this case, or you don’t care about the facts and don’t believe the law should be enforced.

Which is it, sir? Or is this question also too difficult for you to answer?

#40 Comment By Karl On March 5, 2018 @ 9:21 am

Q: What gives the author the right to decide that the clock has run out?

A: Nothing.

Q: Does the author know what evidence Mueller has and is building on?

A: No.

Without any solid foundation the article is just a lot of noise and hot air.

#41 Comment By Peter Van Buren On March 5, 2018 @ 10:55 am

You can’t have it both ways. You can’t claim the Kremlin literally controls Trump’s decisions to make him act against the US and then say, well, we’ll let him stay in office for a year or two longer and keep doing that because Mueller needs to take his time.

#42 Comment By Karl On March 6, 2018 @ 8:23 am

Peter Van Buren: “You can’t have it both ways. You can’t claim the Kremlin literally controls Trump’s decisions to make him act against the US and then say, well, we’ll let him stay in office for a year or two longer and keep doing that because Mueller needs to take his time”

I know of no evidence that Mueller is saying that the Kremlin literally controls Trump’s decisions. If you do, please share. Since he hasn’t made that claim I don’t know the point of your comment.

As far as Trump staying in office for a year or two longer (despite possible crimes), I have a news flash for you. That’s how a country of laws operates. You are innocent until proven guilty. The wheels of justice may turn slowly but they do turn. Surely you don’t think someone left a tape or a document somewhere laying out all of the evidence in one place to make it easy, do you? And, let’s not forget it is more than the possible collusion Mueller’s team is investigating. That is one of multiple areas of focus.

#43 Comment By Karl On March 6, 2018 @ 8:48 am

Peter Van Buren: “You can’t have it both ways. You can’t claim the Kremlin literally controls Trump’s decisions to make him act against the US and then say, well, we’ll let him stay in office for a year or two longer and keep doing that because Mueller needs to take his time.”

I am unaware of any claim made by Mueller that “the Kremlin literally controls Trump’s decisions.” If you know of some evidence of this, please share it. Since Mueller has not made that claim, I don’t understand your comment since it is his investigation we are talking about and he is calling the shots.

As to letting Trump “stay in office for a year or two longer” because “Mueller needs to take his time” I have a news flash for you. This is how a country of laws works. You are innocent until proven guilty.

The wheels of justice may turn slowly but they do turn.