Mueller Is Losing Flynn, so He Indicts Russians
With former national security adviser Michael Flynn's guilty plea likely to be set aside, the indictments announced yesterday by Deputy A.G. Rod Rosenstein, in tenor, scope, and timing, are a desperate attempt by Mueller to save his crumbling collusion investigation from complete failure.
"There is no allegation in this indictment that any American had any knowledge."
"[There is] no allegation in the indictment of any effect on the outcome of the election." –Rod Rosenstein
June 23, 2013. President Obama announces the appointment of James Comey to succeed Robert Mueller as head of the FBI.
There are some easily seen exigencies in the Mueller indictments of 13 Russians late Friday afternoon.
Why release the indictments on a Friday afternoon? Friday is the traditional day in politics to announce something you want people to pay little attention to and quickly forget. This is doubly true when it is a holiday weekend. Monday is Presidents' Day.
Friday afternoon at the beginning of a three-day weekend is probably one of the worst times to release something big, something that could shake to its core the very foundation of the Trump administration, because most Americans will pay little attention to this beyond reading the headlines – at least until Tuesday, when they return to work.
The timing was deliberately chosen to ensure that most Americans would be greatly aware of the fact that Mueller had made indictments in "Russiagate," and that these indictments were of Russians, no less, and that there were many, thirteen in all. Wow, that's almost a dozen.
According to plan, Mueller is counting on most Americans having little information beyond that. By Tuesday, I'm sure Mueller hopes many will have lost interest in the content of said indictments because in this world of instant everything, the extent of the allegations will be old news, and many will have already formed their ultimate opinion and thus won't care about the nitty-gritty.
Why indict Russians, whom you can never bring to justice because there is no extradition treaty between the United States and Russia?
The crimes alleged and the people indicted are immaterial to it all. In fact, it's better for Mueller that none of those charged will ever see a day in court. Fake identities on Facebook and Twitter and organizing rallies (mostly for Trump but also for Hillary) are not Earth-shattering crimes, and fake Facebook and Twitter accounts are not exactly rare.
It's not as if Russia hasn't always meddled in our elections. Didn't Barack Obama try to meddle in Israel's election a few years ago? Maybe Mueller should indict him – or maybe the Israelis should.
Oh, and let's not forget: they also spent $100,000 on political advertising on Facebook and Twitter. Please, give me a break – a hundred grand? The coffee budget for the Clinton campaign was probably a lot more than that. Are we supposed to believe that a hundred grand tipped a multibillion-dollar election?
Maybe Mueller should have indicted every American who has ever used a fake identity on Facebook and Twitter for political purposes. Maybe Mueller should mobilize the Army and arrest everyone wearing a mask to hide his identity at an Antifa rally, done for political purposes and to raise money anonymously.
Why now, why this, and why them?
Mueller needed Russians. The MSM will salivate in onanistic glee, while your basic low-information citizen will hear the word "Russian" and assume that it proves Trump guilty. After all, it's been in the news for some time that this investigation is about Trump's collusion with the Russians to steal the election.
Most importantly, he needed as many indictments of Russians as he could get, and he needed them now for two reasons. Reason one is that the indictments will give the media a basis to argue that the investigation is not the "witch hunt" it has increasingly been looking like, and reason two is that he is about to lose his prize: Flynn's guilty plea.
Michael Flynn, Trump's national security adviser for a hot minute, copped a plea for lying to the FBI. Judge Rudolf Contreras of the FISC (the court that accepted from the Obama administration the Steele dossier as evidence supporting the issuance of a FISA warrant to spy on members of the Trump campaign) accepted Flynn's guilty plea. Six days later, Contreras was recused from the case.
The new judge is Judge Emmet G. Sullivan. His first order directed Mueller to release to Flynn's lawyers any exculpatory evidence in Mueller's possession. He also ordered that "if the government has identified any information which is favorable to the defendant but which the government believes not to be material, the government shall submit such information to the Court for in camera review."
In other words, any evidence Mueller feels is not material or contains classified information and therefore should not be released, must be provided to Judge Sullivan for him to make the determination as to what can and cannot be released – no hiding behind the magic of withholding evidence or prosecutor-determined redaction.
Andrew McCarthy, the former assistant United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, who is famous for trying the "Blind Sheik," Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, in the first World Trade Center bombing, noted, "Sullivan's order supersedes the plea agreement and imposes on the special counsel the obligation to reveal any and all evidence suggesting that Flynn is innocent of the charge to which he has admitted guilt."
You see, Judge Sullivan was the judge in the Ted Stevens case. Do you remember him? He was the 85-year-old Republican senator from Alaska whose conviction for corruption was set aside by Judge Sullivan because the prosecution withheld exculpatory information. The prosecutors falsely charged and convicted a sitting U.S. senator who they knew was innocent. It is believed that because of Stevens's October conviction, he lost his November re-election bid to Democratic challenger Mark Begich.
Judge Sullivan angrily stated at the time when he set aside the conviction a month later that "[i]n nearly 25 years on the bench, I've never seen anything approaching the mishandling and misconduct that I've seen in this case."
Judge Sullivan also appointed an independent counsel to investigate misconduct by the government prosecutors.
Judge Sullivan is a man of honor. Many once thought Mueller was as well. Sullivan is not about to let prosecutors railroad another defendant in his court by withholding evidence.
Mueller's no dope; he knows that his Flynn guilty plea is going to fly away. After all, who would know better that if he can't withhold or redact, he has no case?
He is also aware that without Flynn's guilty plea and without these new indictments seeming to be more than they are but also bounteous in nature, his entire investigation will fold like the house of cards it is. Lies and innuendo can get you only so far.
There you have it: meaningless indictments, for mostly meaningless and insignificant crimes to shore up a meaningless investigation about to take a big hit when Flynn's prior guilty plea becomes meaningless.