Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Mueller’s charge: A search for justice, or a fishing excursion?

Back in May, the Department of Justice announced that Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein had appointed a special counsel “to oversee the previously-confirmed FBI investigation of Russian government efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election and related matters.”

Rosenstein said he had “determined that it is in the public interest for me to exercise my authority and appoint a special counsel to assume responsibility for this matter,” adding that his decision “is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted. ... What I have determined is that based upon the unique circumstances, the public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command.”

Rosenstein chose former Department of Justice official and former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, III, a man roundly praised by Democrats and Republicans alike. Supportive comments included that he has impeccable credentials, and the knowledge and ability to do the right thing.

However, over recent months some inconvenient truths have arisen.

A special counsel’s or special prosecutor’s job is to investigate known crimes. As Rosenstein said, no actual crime has been identified. Therefore, the Russian involvement in the election that has commanded the attention of the media and Democrats for more than a year is not a criminal case. It is a counter-intelligence case, which does not require a special counsel.

As Mueller began recruiting his team of lawyers to assist in the investigation, it was noted that some of the early ones were donors to Democrat candidates. And to date, as reported by The Washington Post, of the 14 names confirmed by the special counsel’s office, seven of them have “donated a total of $60,787.77 to [Hillary] Clinton and other party candidates.”

William Barr, Attorney General in the George H.W. Bush administration, told the Post, "In my view, prosecutors who make political contributions are identifying fairly strongly with a political party." Can this investigation be objective?

The order creating the special counsel ostensibly is for investigating Russian election involvement. However, it effectively has no limits. Having found nothing pursuable in the Russian intrigue, which was the reason for appointing a special counsel, Mueller has moved on to other topics. He is now looking into matters involving Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. If/when that one runs its course, another empty space awaits, like President Donald Trump’s business dealings years ago.

It is not unlike bringing a construction company executive to an empty field without a plan to follow, and saying, “build something.” There is no definite end to this process, unless someone somewhere can be indicted, or be persuaded to confess to something.

Critics say that Mueller’s job, and that of prosecutors generally, is to find a crime, and then to find a perpetrator, and it apparently is of little importance what the crime is, or who is responsible for it. Remember the investigation of Bill and Hillary Clinton in the Whitewater matter? It ended up being the Monica Lewinski matter. The two were barely related, if at all.

Prosecutors are known for “flipping” witnesses, pressuring them with prosecution for something – anything – to persuade them to tattle on someone – anyone – in order to avoid prosecution. A prosecutor’s job is, after all, to prosecute. No indictment in this matter indicates a failed investigation. Who wants that on their record?

Recently, Mueller impaneled a grand jury, and some think see that as an indication that Mueller is hot on the trail of criminal activity. And that is certainly a distinct possibility. However, another argument says grand juries are routine tools in such investigations, and assist in subpoenaing witnesses and aiding the investigation. Time will tell.

Be that as it may, conservative talk show host Mark Levin, who is a lawyer and president of the Landmark Legal Foundation, has a more threatening scenario. Calling it a “coup,” he said “Let me tell you what's going on here: they want to drag Donald Jr. in front of a grand jury and everybody else who was in that meeting – all eight of them – and see if they can find any contradictions in their testimony." Since there was no crime involved, Levin said the purpose is to “see if they can get somebody on a 'lie.' Perjury."

And now some suggest that Mueller is in breach of the rules and should resign.

The Daily Caller reported that Rep. Trent Franks, R-AZ, said, “Robert Mueller is in ‘clear violation’ of federal law prohibiting a special counsel from having a conflict of interest and therefore must immediately resign as special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation.”

Franks, a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee, said Mueller’s reported friendship with former FBI director James Comey, who first worked under Mueller, leaked information to the press to encourage the appointment of a special counsel. That presents a clear conflict of interest, defined by federal law as: “a personal relationship with any person substantially involved in the conduct that is the subject of the investigation or prosecution.”

At best we have a bunch of Republicans being investigated by a bunch of Democrats. What could possibly go wrong?


Whitesnake said...

I am laughing my arse off. ................. What a world we live in.

James Shott said...

Hey, Steve!

I hope it doesn't turn from odd/funny to tragic, which it definitely has the potential to do.