A Giuliani-Mueller ceasefire?
A few days after announcing his plan "to negotiate an end to [the special counsel investigation] for the good of the country," Rudy Giuliani began acting in ways that seemed destined to prolong it. For example, he is reported to have met with Robert Mueller to negotiate an "interview" of the president. It's hard to see how the move would induce Mueller to close up shop, rather than hand him excuses to prolong an already protracted mission to impede and impeach the president.
My August 2017 op-ed offered a different approach to negotiating an end to the investigation. The basic idea was a ceasefire of sorts between Mueller and a then-anticipated second investigation into unlawful surveillance and other activities by former Obama administration officials.
With U.S. attorney John Huber now heading up the second probe, and others in the offing, following referrals from the inspector general, the attorney general, and members of Congress, and with the arrival of Giuliani to "negotiate an end," the hypothetical truce warrants renewed consideration.
The deal would look something like this. Mueller would shut down the Russia probe and its progeny without recommending impeachment. At the same time, the DOJ would grant immunity to subjects of the Huber investigations – including such high-profile individuals as James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Loretta Lynch, Hillary Clinton, Barak Obama, and others.
On its face, such a bargain is sure to displease just about everyone – supporters and opponents of the president alike. Nevertheless, it could be acceptable to both pro- and anti-Trump factions if the two sides could agree that the cost of continuing both investigations is greater than the cost of ending both.
There are only two realistic scenarios. Either both investigations continue, or both stop. Mueller won't conclude his probe while Huber's investigation proceeds apace. By the same token, Trump's DOJ presumably won't curtail investigations into unlawful Obamacrat spying even as Mueller pursues fruits of the same poisonous surveillance tree.
The imagined deal would ask Trump-supporters to forfeit justice for suspected political crimes and, in return, get only what the law already requires – an end to an ill begotten special counsel investigation that should never have been instituted. Especially galling is the idea that an immunity deal would amount to paying the proceeds on Peter Strzok's infamous "insurance policy." That is, the ploy to protect Obama and the Deep State by framing the president would have succeeded.
Yet if one passion animates Trump voters more than the oft chanted desire to "lock her up," it's their wrath over Mueller's seemingly endless investigation – what the president aptly calls "a phony cloud." To our unutterable exasperation, the cloud actively obstructs the policies we elected Trump to implement.
The issue is whether dispelling the Mueller cloud, allowing the president more time and energy to Make America Great Again, is of greater value than that of prosecuting alleged crimes of the prior administration.
Enforcement of the law is vital to administering justice and deterring future misdeeds. But dropping charges against a handful of malefactors, even influential ones, will not, in Lincoln's words, determine "whether we shall save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth."
If, on the other hand, Mueller's probe leads to Trump's impeachment, or he continues to harass him, his family, and his administration, or interferes with denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, or jeopardizes national security in the midst of a multiplicity of threats, or thwarts economic recovery, or otherwise negates the will of the electorate and diminishes representative self-governance, then the last best hope, if not utterly lost, may be relegated to indefinite dormancy.
Any criminal convictions of political opponents would then be rued as pyrrhic victories.
If letting the anti-Trump faction save face is what it takes to let Trump save the republic, is immunity not a price worth paying?
Any bargain that precludes the devoutly to be wished impeachment might be a nonstarter. The anti-Trump faction is (or pretends to be) convinced that the 2016 election was illegitimate, tainted by collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. As such, it claims, it's imperative that Trump be dislodged.
But if Obama, Clinton, et al. are in legal jeopardy; if they have direct or indirect influence over Mueller; if their freedom is important to the so-called "resistance," as active organizers, icons, funders, and role models, then the truce might be seen as serving anti-Trump interests too.
For both factions, redirecting energy for political change from the grand jury box to the ballot box could go a long way to stabilize a society that's assumed the posture of a house divided against itself.
Roger Banks is an attorney and opinion writer in the Washington, D.C. area.