For those who enjoy parsing the actual laws rather than indulging in partisan fantasies about collusion and impeachment, National Review has an excellent article by former US Attorney Andrew C. McCarthy. He analyzed the alleged list of 49 questions Robert Mueller wants to ask President Trump. His verdict: Trump should decline to talk to him and Mueller should just stand down.
McCarthy believes that judging from the questions he allegedly wants to ask, Mueller has found no evidence of any real crimes and is now trying to force Trump to reveal what his thoughts, attitudes and intentions were when he was making executive decisions that he clearly had the Constitutional authority to make, in hopes of finding a way to charge him for something he says in the testimony, like wanting to obstruct an investigation that was never actually obstructed in any way. As McCarthy notes, Mueller has a habit of turning witness interviews into false statement prosecutions. In short, he’s trying to spin something out of nothing, or at least not enough of anything to justify continuing to distract America’s Chief Executive over, and he needs to wrap it up and let the President get back to governing.
That’s the layman’s nutshell version; you can find all the legal reasoning and explanations of such exotic terms as “pretextual appointment,” “executive prerogatives” and “corrupt motive theory” at the link. Happy reading!
Another legal term that’s not in McCarthy’s article but that you might be hearing a lot in the future is “fruit of a poisoned tree.” It means that you can’t convict someone based on evidence that was obtained illegally, such as through an illegal arrest, unreasonable search or coercive interrogation. The first place you might hear it is from the lawyers for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who is facing multiple charges for alleged financial improprieties based on materials seized in a mob boss-style raid on his home, based on unrelated claims that he colluded with Russia on the election, which apparently came from an unproven Trump oppo research dossier that the FBI reportedly neglected to mention was paid for by the Clinton campaign when getting a warrant from the FISA court judges. That tree poisoned enough for you?
For months, Mueller’s team has been stonewalling Manafort’s attorneys’ requests for discovery to see any evidence that he had contacts with Russian intelligence agents. They say they’ve now been told there are no materials responsive to their request. In other words, there is no evidence that Manafort ever spoke to any Russians, despite government leaks suggesting that he did, which were used to create a false narrative to justify a special counsel. They say if this proves true, then Manafort never should have been under investigation, the counsel should never have been appointed, and the search never should have happened, so the evidence is tainted and the charges should be dismissed. There’s a suggestion that the investigators might have evidence they haven’t released yet, but it seems odd that they are refusing to release it to the defendant’s attorneys, as required by law.
Then again, in the probes of both Trump and Hillary, we’ve seen that some top federal law enforcement officials view laws the way Lewis Carroll’s Humpty-Dumpty viewed words:
“’When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.’”