Yesterday, Robert Mueller doubled the number of indictments against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his business associate Rick Gates to 32, including tax and bank fraud. There was some suspicion in legal circles that the original indictments, which included some alleged prosecutorial overreach, were mostly pressure tactics to get the two to cut a deal to testify against Trump or his family or close associates. But Manafort is fighting the charges and a rumored deal with Gates might have fallen through, so maybe this is to up the pressure on the two to cut a deal and testify.
Manafort was with the Trump campaign for a very brief period, and none of the indictments have anything to do with Trump, the election or Russian collusion. They relate to questionable business practices in their consulting for Ukraine long before Trump even ran for President. Say, here’s a wild idea: Maybe they don’t want to testify about the Trump campaign colluding with Russia because there wasn’t any collusion that they know of? Would that even make a difference to Mueller’s team? How many charges will Mueller pull out of their old business records before they finally crack and agree to testify about something that never happened?
Mueller is walking a tightrope here: he keeps charging peripheral people with the type of indictments that illustrate why legal expert say we have so many laws that everyone violates 10 before lunch without even knowing about it (and if you have a ham sandwich for lunch, a wily prosecutor could also get that ham sandwich indicted.) This gives his endless, expensive investigation the appearance of making progress and rooting out evildoers without actually accomplishing much of anything, other than landing a string of minnows. The anti-Trump media keep assuring us he’s tightening the noose and he’ll indict Trump any day now, but even Joe Scarborough now admits the odds of that are “next to zero.”
Of course, if Mueller really did want to indict some big-name government and political figures, he could, using the exact same infractions he’s cited to indict all these nobodies so far, such as that baker’s dozen Russian troll farm pranksters who will never even be extradited. But if he did put the hammer down on household names who tried to influence the election by colluding with Russia, lying to investigators and destroying evidence to obstruct justice, then you’d start seeing defendants such as Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin, Christopher Steele, Loretta Lynch and the list might even reach all the way to Barack Obama. We can’t have that. Victor Davis Hanson explains in greater detail:
And so, the digging into Paul Manafort’s distant past business deals and Jared Kushner’s post-election loan applications continues forever at taxpayer expense, while the “Trump colluded with Russia to rig the election” narrative staggers on like a punchdrunk boxer, still on its shaky feet, but even its biggest fans are finally starting to file out of the arena in disappointment.
Here’s Mueller’s current scorecard. Indictments: 19 people and three Russian companies.
Indictments that have anything remotely to do with Trump’s campaign colluding with Russia to affect the 2016 election: Still zero.
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