When I first saw the above image on Twitter yesterday I wrote it off as a clever PhotoShop. I mean, look at how unnaturally Mueller’s head sits on that neck. Surely that had to be someone else other than the saintly war hero, Robert Mueller glad-handing with Ukrainian strongman and Paul Manafort client, Viktor Yanukovych. It looks as collusion-y as hell. But no, it wasn’t.
Almost exactly five years ago, Bob Mueller met Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, then a client of Paul Manafort. At the time, the meeting drew little attention—just a Facebook post from the Ukrainian Embassy in the U.S. and a few short write-ups from wire services. But now, the moment has historical significance: It brought together two men who would later (indirectly) face off in a legal battle that’s shaking the White House and its allies. The FBI and Mueller’s spokesman both declined to comment for this story.
The meeting took place in Kyiv. The European Pressphoto Agency snapped a picture of them shaking hands, with Mueller wearing his trademark black suit and muted tie, and Yanukovych grinning.
Ukraine General Newswire reported that the two men discussed counterterror cooperation, which made sense: The pair met about two months after the Boston Marathon bombing.
“I would like to focus on the most important issue for us – the issue of combating terrorism,” Mueller said, according to a Ukrainian Embassy’s Facebook post. “I would like to say thank you for the assistance provided to us after the Boston Marathon.”
Yanukovych sounded pleased with the meeting, according to the Facebook post.
“Ukrainian-American cooperation efficiently develops in many spheres of mutual interest,” he said at the time. “Your visit is very interesting for Ukraine and relations between our law enforcement bodies have established good traditions of cooperation and communication in the course of 20 years. I am confident that there is a potential for further broadening of cooperation.”
I think this is suspicious. It is a textbook definition of collusion. What kind of intelligence sharing deal did Mueller have with Yanukovych and, through him, with the Russians? Who authorized it? What did we give and what did we get? When did the arrangement end? We should do this under oath and then question Yanukovych and compare stories. If they are different we should let a grand jury sort them out.
Under Mueller’s investigation, all that is needed to make you a target is to show that you had some dealing with a random Russian at any time about just about anything and you are in the crosshairs.
All exaggeration aside, there is exactly as much evidence here of wrongdoing as is the case in most of the people Mueller has interviewed. There is more evidence of wrongdoing in this picture than has been presented against Mike Flynn or in any of the wild rumors the FBI has launched against Jeff Sessions.