Mueller's Real Mandate

The Washington D.C. nomenklatura advanced forward last week with its slow-moving coup d’état against America’s constitutionally elected President.

But even after the federal bureaucracy’s further progress toward undoing the 2016 election, I confess to a faint hope that Special Counsel Robert Swan Mueller III -- supposed embodiment of upper class, non-partisan, lawyerly virtue -- might actually conduct a fair, focused and swift inquiry into the matter assigned him. 

In the end, though, the sensible old lawyer’s voice in my head whispers that this hope is more pipedream than prediction of events.   

Here’s the latest state of affairs, no doubt soon to be out of date:

After staffing up during the week preceding last with heavy Democrat contributing lawyers of dubious objectivity, last week Mr. Mueller appeared to abandon, or at least heavily downgrade, the alleged raison d’etre for his office -- investigating the Russia collusion fantasy. Now, per the Washington Post -- always eager to provide a stage for someone leaking ill about the President -- Mr. Mueller will focus on whether the President “obstructed justice” and on the business dealings of the President’s close advisor and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

So already, almost before his army of lawyers has swung into battle, the Special Counsel’s inquiry has metastasized from its original focus -- sleuthing out whether President Trump or his campaign “colluded” with the Russian government during the election -- into entirely new subjects.

Keep in mind the language of Mr. Mueller’s assignment, as articulated on May 17 by Rod Rosenstein: To investigate:

“any links and/or coordination between Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump, and any matters that arose or may arise directly from that investigation.”

The new subjects of Mueller’s inquiry are not only remote from that recent but apparently forgotten assignment, but they begin to sketch the outline of a lawyer who is stocking up on matters of inquiry for a long-haul investigation.

In sum, as each week passed following Mr. Mueller’s May 17 appointment, the man has behaved less like an independent counsel and more like the designated agent for America’s Trump-despising Washington-New York would-be rulers -- like someone who knows he is charged with providing a colorable legal predicate for a long-ago decision by America’s elites to destroy the President and prevent him from serving out the term he was accorded by America’s electorate and Constitution.

As of, today, Monday June 19, 2017, here is where matters stand for the President of the United States:

Though constitutionally and decisively elected to office, President Trump must carry out his duties -- that include sole responsibility for protecting the American homeland in a world where North Korea fires missiles every month and Islamic fanatics commit atrocities on a near daily basis -- while a former FBI Director, unrestrained by budget, personnel, duration of authority, or substantive area of inquiry, deliberately harasses, hounds, and distracts him and his appointed officials while attempting to find something -- after last week, apparently anything -- that could be twisted into a warrant for the President’s impeachment and removal from office.

Mr. Mueller could at least partially rebut the growing belief that he is the agent of those who despise the President, his agenda, and his supporters, by making a clear public statement that reaffirms his commitment to the inquiry he was assigned, and to its speedy completion.  But without such a prompt reaffirmation -- directly from Mr. Mueller -- the belief will harden and become widespread among those who elected President Trump that Mr. Mueller is nothing but the Washington-New York corridor’s designated legal hit man. Were that to occur, the Special Counsel’s findings and recommendations would have no legitimacy; and were Congress to act adverse to the President on them, doing so would plunge the nation into chaos.

How did the American Republic come to this ridiculously self-destructive pass?

In brief summary:

Desperate to deflect blame for his failed efforts after the 2016 election, Clinton campaign Chair John Podesta, risibly and with neither specificity nor evidence, accused President-elect Trump of “colluding” with the Russian government to bring about Trump’s election.  

From the time of Podesta’s tirade right up through today not a shred of evidence has emerged to support the claim of Russian collusion. This gaping void is all the more damning for the “Russia collusion” fantasists, given that Congress has investigated the claim for at least six months and the FBI for over nine months.

Given the ubiquitous atmosphere of anti-Trump leaking in Washington, if any such evidence had been discovered, by Congress or by the FBI, it’s a certainty that by now it would have been leaked and be widely known  

A side question: How many FBI agents spent how much time over the last nine months on this groundless smear, and how many potential Islamic terrorists could those agents have identified and neutralized if they had devoted their energies and skills to that rather more pressing concern? Just wondering.

So, in the total evidentiary vacuum for the “Russia collusion” allegation, how did America move from John Podesta’s non-specific and unsupported claim of such collusion, to Robert Mueller’s appointment to investigate that claim?

Enter, stage left, America’s corporate media.

On a daily basis since the election, the New York Times and Washington Post, followed in lock step by all the corporate television news networks, have breathlessly written and talked about Trump’s “alleged Russia collusion,” on page one or on the nightly “news” --and without any specificity as to what allegedly was done, who the alleged “allegers “are, or evidence to support the charge.

Our corporate media’s performance was an amazing feat of “Journalism,” keeping the “Russia collusion allegation” on page one, and on the nightly news, every day without letup, all the months since the election -- always unsourced as to who was alleging, unspecified as to the conduct alleged, and, of course, without identifying a shred of proof.

But that kind of news story is not evidence, a bright little child might observe.

“Maybe not to you kid, but it was good enough for Rod Rosenstein.”

Because repeated “news” stories in the corporate media about allegations by unnamed persons  … about unspecified conduct … for which there was no evidence, were all Rosenstein had to justify appointing a Special Counsel.

Special Counsel Mueller should not have been appointed at all.

Even in a country whose legal system has been as debased by politics as ours, it’s simple prosecutorial ethics that a massive and in itself damaging investigation into an allegation should be turned loose only when the charges are specific and after at least some evidentiary cause to believe they are true has been adduced.

Both specificity and evidence were completely absent at the time of the Rosenstein appointment.

Now that Mr. Mueller has been improvidently appointed, he has a slender chance to save his own reputation for professional integrity, and the nation from further political disintegration -- by sticking to his assignment and rapidly and fairly concluding his work.

We will soon learn whether he has any interest in such an approach to his duties.

Jared Peterson is a graduate of the Harvard Law School and has been a practicing attorney in California for over forty years.

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