Diary

The State of the Mueller Investigation

FILE - In this April 21, 2016 file photo, attorney and former FBI Director Robert Mueller, right, arrives for a court hearing at the Phillip Burton Federal Building in San Francisco. Mueller has been overseeing settlement talks with Volkswagen, the U.S. government and private lawyers. Mueller is being honored with an award from West Point. The U.S. Military Academy’s Association of Graduates will present the Thayer Award to Mueller on Thursday evening, Oct. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

FILE - In this April 21, 2016 file photo, attorney and former FBI Director Robert Mueller, right, arrives for a court hearing at the Phillip Burton Federal Building in San Francisco. Mueller has been overseeing settlement talks with Volkswagen, the U.S. government and private lawyers. Mueller is being honored with an award from West Point. The U.S. Military Academy’s Association of Graduates will present the Thayer Award to Mueller on Thursday evening, Oct. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

As independent counsel Robert Mueller continues his investigation into God knows what since it has strayed far outside what most people thought it was or should be about, we should take a breather and look at what we know thus far.  Supposedly about collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia based primarily upon favorable comments made by Trump towards Putin during the campaign, it would appear that at this point the most this investigation has been able to ascertain is that Michael Flynn was likely on the payroll of Turkey and he failed to disclose this, and the another more obvious fact- Paul Manfort was/is a sleazy character who deals with other sleazy characters.

Of course, all of this was brought about when Trump fired FBI Director and equally sleazeball Jim Comey.  Ignore the fact that the FBI Director serves at the pleasure of the President and other than that you are left with the fact that Trump’s timing of the firing is the only thing that was mishandled.  It is something that should have been done much earlier given Comey’s bungling of the investigation into Hillary’s private e-mail server.  Steve Bannon described the firing as a politically stupid action and he may be correct since it triggered the Justice Department (after Comey released notes to a third party who he knew would release them to the media) to appoint Mueller.

We know that Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from anything “Russia” because he failed to mention that he had met with the then Russian ambassador to the United States.  Lost in translation was that Sessions was a sitting Senator at the time, that foreign ambassadors regularly meet with sitting Senators and one meeting was an off-hand meeting during the RNC convention in Cleveland.

This entire “investigation” stems from the belief that Putin and Russia wanted Trump to win the election.  The immature among us believe this was because Trump made these flattering comments about Putin during the campaign.  If anyone really believes that foreign leaders, especially one like Putin, inserts themselves into foreign elections because of such comments then they lack a basic understanding of geopolitics.

The big smoking gun is apparently a meeting in Trump Tower between Manafort, Donald, Jr., a Russian lawyer and some interpreters and third parties.  The reason for that meeting was an e-mail describing that someone from Russia had dirt on Hillary Clinton.  The real reason, it turns out, was that the Russian lawyer was lobbying against the Magnitsky Act.  We have learned that Manafort’s own notes from that meeting confirm this fact.  To wit: Trump, Jr. got duped into a lobbying effort.  Oh, the humanity!

We learned that on his way back to the US from Europe, Trump himself narrated a letter in response to the revelation of this meeting.  We also learned that Mueller is now investigating the drafting of a presidential letter that was to be used by Donald, Jr.  This is a sad turn in an investigation, but one the detractors hold out as proof of some cover-up of some kind against something we’re not even sure of anymore.

The fact is that every big revelation about collusion, every so-called smoking gun has been a huge dud.  Every time we are told that something is about to bring down Trump, we are left still waiting.  About six weeks ago, we were told that a former Russian financial “associate” was about to make a statement so damaging that many in the Trump orbit and even Trump himself would not be able to wiggle out of under the best of circumstances.  Those comments were made not only on anti-Trump conspiracy websites, but echoed on these very pages.  That revelation was supposed to occur three weeks ago.  We are still waiting.

And so it goes with every great revelation and smoking gun.  While a scandal erupts over the use of charter flights that cost the government about $3 million, the bigger scandal will be the price tag of the Mueller investigation.  In the end, we are likely to find the obvious: that Mike Flynn failed to disclose something on a financial disclosure form and Manafort is guilty of some financial crime like money laundering.  This could have been achieved for pennies on the dollar without Mueller.

For anyone who believes this investigation will bring down Trump himself, they are seriously deluded to the point of being nothing short of a mini-Maxine Waters parrot.  There are very, very few people- even the most pro-Trump supporter- who do not believe that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.  The sane people realize the reason they did so and it has nothing to do with Putin preferring Trump over Clinton.  To this writer, that belief is the most mind-boggling exhibit of someone having absolutely no understanding of geopolitics and Russia’s demonstrated role in election interference throughout the world, not just the United States.

Besides the waste of money on this investigation with Mueller’s phalanx of Democratic Party hacks so-called “A” team, the bigger question, best expressed by one parent in the room (Marco Rubio), is what we are going to do to thwart future efforts by Russia and other foreign countries from interfering in our elections?  Given the more than ample evidence that proves, for example, that Russia funnels money to environmental groups to block fracking projects, what are we going to do to stop them or any country from interfering in important policy debates?  Given the fact that Russia controls 25% of domestic uranium mining thanks, in part, to Clinton’s approval, when will that be investigated?  Given the more than ample evidence that the Clinton campaign was involved with operatives of the Ukrainian government, when will that come under Congressional scrutiny?  Oh, that’s right…she didn’t win so no harm, no foul.

There are a myriad of reasons to be suspicious of Donald Trump and none of them involve the words “Russia” or “Putin.”  This writer voted for neither Trump nor Clinton preferring instead to cast a vote using the write-in option.  I did so under two assumptions: Hillary Clinton would be a terrible President, and Donald Trump would be (1) a terrible President, (2) was not a conservative, and (3) was not a Republican.  I have no skin in this game other than neutral commonsense and a basic understanding of geopolitics and Russian strategies that can be learned with the click of a Google search.

We have heard that where there is smoke there is fire, but that is not necessarily true.  Sometimes there is just a smoke machine and that smoke machine can be traced back to the Kremlin.  This investigation with so many dead ends and rabbit holes, and too many people willing to pursue those dead ends and jump down those holes, is playing so much beyond Putin’s original designs.  At some point, we have to ask those who pursue these things: Is it Trump, or they, who are the true dupes of Vladimir Putin?