Law & Disorder: Time for Mueller to Call It Quits
The successful formula for TV's long-running series Law & Order consisted of the show's first half focused on the police investigation of a crime; the second half followed the prosecution of the crime in court. For the police, at least there was a body for a murder, something stolen in a robbery, or a break-in for a burglary. Assistant District Attorney Jack McCoy and his lawyers didn't get involved until there was a suspect and some compelling reason to prosecute a case.
For Robert Mueller – let's call this real-life sequel Law & Disorder – the special counsel's investigation has gone on for 20 months and expended public funds north of $25 million looking for a crime. Nevertheless, Mr. Mueller has failed to achieve the stated objective of his Department of Justice (DOJ)-directed charter: "to investigate any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump."
Can you imagine Fred Thompson's and Steven Hill's seasoned and politically savvy district attorney characters giving Jack a carte blanche budget and an open-ended fiat to make a case? Or would Jack show a conspicuous lack of prosecutorial curiosity, or ignore the possibility that the "other guys" were actual criminals, even when hard evidence of chicanery and mischief by rogue government and political apparatchiks tells us otherwise?
Mr. Mueller has so far brought charges, and even obtained convictions, against a relative handful of Trump associates, but of those charges, none involves playing a role in a scheme of coordination, conspiracy, or "collusion" with Russians (which alone speaks to the credibility of "collusion" allegations). Meanwhile, Mr. Mueller conveys no interest in interviewing, subpoenaing, or deposing any figures associated with "the dossier," Christopher Steele, the Democrats' campaign, the DOJ, the FBI, or Fusion GPS.
Perceptive political commentator Victor Davis Hanson recently laid out the array of domestic dark forces of American politics that acted against candidate Trump that then led to the creation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. His piece on the American Greatness site explains how the special counsel came to be some seven months after the "ensuing hysteria" of November 9, 2016, when the "impossible" had indeed occurred, and it became necessary to, in his words, "ruin the culprit [President Trump] for her [Hillary Clinton's] defeat and overturn the verdict of the election."
Given a commentary writer's normal confines, Hanson did not delve into the flip-side of the "collusion" allegations – a view from Russia. From the very start, the whole idea of Russia "colluding" with the Trump campaign never made any sense. We've all watched enough Law & Order re-runs to know that Jack and TV's NYPD detectives always tried to establish motive for a crime. Motive goes a long way to explain "who done it" and, more importantly, why. With Russia, Jack and the detectives would be at a loss to make a case against President Trump because there is no persuasive explanation for "collusion" to comport with the facts, events, and reason.
Over the many months of the special counsel's investigation, no one among the many seeking to mortally wound President Trump politically with "collusion" allegations has yet provided the American public a convincing rationale, any substantive corroborating proof or evidence, or even a well spun theory for why the Russians would want a President Trump instead of a President Clinton anyway. For the Russians, what was their "motive," and what did they stand to gain from collusion with Donald Trump?
Russia could have obtained anything it wanted – more easily and at less cost – from a more pliable, soft, globalist President Hillary Clinton. In reality, every autocrat, dictator, and war lord around the world would have wanted a more malleable President Clinton over the nationalistic and assertive President Trump that campaigned on, and then adopted, a more aggressive "America First" leadership approach to foreign and defense policy.
That question becomes extra-compelling, given the Trump administration's more uncompromising U.S. foreign and defense policy vis-à-vis Russia. Russia felt – in the Trump administration's first year – the consequences of a more assertive United States. In November 2017, the U.S. approved the $10.5-billion sale of Patriot anti-missile systems to NATO ally Poland in the face of perceived Russian aggression. In December, the U.S. authorized the transfer of lethal anti-tank weapons to Ukraine to help that nation fight off Russian-backed separatists. U.S. troop presence in Eastern Europe has increased over Obama-era levels to bolster European defenses against Russia, while the U.S. imposed monetary sanctions targeting bad individual Russian actors and companies instead of sanctioning that nation's sovereign debt.
Further, the Trump administration persisted in convincing U.S. NATO allies to increase defense spending. In even more direct confrontations, Russian mercenaries and other pro-Syrian regime forces attacking U.S. troops in Syria were killed, while the U.S. has also opposed Russian president Vladimir Putin's largest geo-economic project, the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Europe, which could generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for Russia.
On the other hand, Russia remembers (likely fondly) secretary of state Hillary Clinton of the Obama administration. There was that inane "reset button" to set the tone. The U.S. obliged the Kremlin by removing missile defense systems from Central Europe. How could Moscow forget the Obama administration's fuzzy line in the sand over Syrian chemical weapons and actions, eventually leading to Russian military intervention in Syria? President Putin surely approved of Mr. Obama's concessions to Iran on the nuclear deal, and it was Mr. Obama who notably told former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev that Vladimir Putin should give him more "space" and that "after my election I have more flexibility." Mr. Putin surveyed the Hillary Clinton of Benghazi infamy. Mrs. Clinton herself "guided" the Clinton Foundation to help arrange the sale of large uranium assets to Russian interests in exchange for donations to the Clinton Foundation.
So why would Russia want a President Trump when actual events suggest that it could achieve its objectives much more easily with a President Clinton in office, whose actions, predilections, and temperament Russia had further observed and benefited from while she was President Obama's secretary of state? In Hillary Clinton, Russia saw a candidate more interested in the globalists' demands from Katowice, Paris, and Davos than tough issues like Middle East proxy wars, Russian adventurism, nuclear proliferation, and the solidarity of the NATO alliance. Albeit speculative, it further stands to reason that Vladimir Putin was just as surprised as CNN to wake up that November Wednesday morning to learn that the "impossible" had indeed happened. Given the pre-election global political and media consensus, a Clinton victory was likely baked into the Kremlin's cakes as well.
Did Russia attempt to interfere with the 2016 election in some shape or form? That answer is almost assuredly "yes," but there was most likely no organized scheme of coordination, conspiracy, or "collusion" with the Trump campaign. It wasn't necessary. Why would Russia do it? Quite simply, to sow (more) discord and acrimony to undermine American government and leadership. For that, Kremlin actors are probably exchanging high fives and fist bumps for the amplified effects.
Is Robert Mueller practicing partisan Beltway politics with its ulterior motives, or does he truly believe that his mandate is so open-ended that it should not be reasonably subject to expectations of results, time limits, or limits to the taxpayers' liability? Neither of those conditions casts Robert Mueller in the role of upright public servant.
For the American public, it is way past time for Robert Mueller to make his case, put his cards on the table, and turn in his homework. At this stage of the game, Jack McCoy would counsel him – you can just picture the cameo scene – that he'd best "go big or go home." But for him to do so, explaining the Russian motive to "collude" with President Trump must be a real head-scratcher.
Chris J. Krisinger (colonel, USAF ret.) writes on governance and national security topics. He lives in Burke, Virginia.