Mueller's "McGuffin"

May 14, 2018

Many of us have long suspected that “Russian collusion” was the Mueller investigation’s version of the “McGuffin.” That was Alfred Hitchcock’s term for a plot device that was meaningless in itself, but it kept the narrative rolling, like a “secret formula” or “hidden treasure” that all the characters were fighting over. Close observers long ago started to suspect that the “Russian collusion” claims were about as genuine as the Maltese Falcon, but they provided a McGuffin to distract Trump’s attention, hinder his agenda and entrap his staffers into unrelated charges. Many Democrats are still hoping that they will bring down the big guy before the end credits finally roll.

That kind of suspension of disbelief might work for a two-hour movie, but Mueller’s probe is well into year two, and the plot twists are getting silly enough to make Michael Bay roll his eyes. For instance, in an attempt to keep audience interest from waning (and to prove that “Russian collusion” wasn’t a total McGuffin), Mueller issued indictments against some Russian individuals and three Russian companies for conspiring to meddle in the 2016 election.

He must’ve thought this was a safe move, since there was no way the defendants would ever come to America to face the charges. Except one of the companies, Concord Management and Consulting, did demand its day in court. That threw Mueller’s team for a loop: they probably assumed that a press conference was all the prosecuting they’d ever have to do. The company’s attorneys showed up in court, demanding their right of discovery, to see all the evidence Mueller had allegedly compiled (which, if he actually has any, might expose valuable intelligence sources to a Russian-owned company – and who’d be helping out Russia then, hmm?)

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Mueller’s team scrambled for any cover, requesting a delay on the laughable grounds that the defendants hadn’t been properly served. The judge saw through that: the defendant’s attorneys were right there in front of him, ready to start trial; why delay weeks while they were served with papers to come to court? But if you thought that was as laughably unprofessional as this investigation could get, oh, ye of little faith.

Last week, the judge asked one of Concord’s attorneys if they also represented a third company listed in Mueller’s indictment: Concord Catering. He replied no, because during the period when the government claims that company was part of a Russian conspiracy, it didn’t even exist yet. He said if anyone can prove it did exist at the time, then they’d probably represent them; but it appeared that the charges were an example of the proverbial prosecutor who has so much unchecked power that he could indict a ham sandwich.

But it goes even beyond that. Mueller managed to indict a catering company before it came into existence and was even able to make the ham sandwich.

If this were a movie, I would have walked out of it a long time ago. Could someone in Congress or the Justice Department please take mercy on the audience and yell, “Cut”?