What Mueller Has, And What He Is Missing

Authored by Peter Van Buren via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Each week brings a new indictment from Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller along with the same question: when will he produce evidence that the president of the United States committed treason?

Because that’s what this is really about; Some Russians somewhere may have meddled in the election. But what Mueller has to answer is whether Trump knowingly worked with a foreign adversarial government to help get himself elected in return for some quid pro quo. Mueller is tasked with proving the president, now in his 13th month in office, purposefully acts against the interests of the United States because of some debt to Russia.

Here’s what Mueller has, and does not have, so far in his case.

Manafort and Gates

Last Friday saw a 32 count indictment charging Paul Manafort and Richard Gates with a variety of money laundering, tax evasion, and wire fraud crimes, going back eight years or more, all related to the men’s work Ukraine. Manafort and Gates were indicted by Mueller on similar charges in October. There’s a lot of money involved, and the details in the indictment don’t look good for Manafort.

A day after the indictment, Gates pled guilty to the very minor charges of participating in a financial conspiracy with Manafort wholly unrealted to Trump, and lying to the FBI about the details of a 2013 meeting. An associate of Gates, Alex van der Zwaan, pled guilty earlier last week to false statements about contacts with Gates regarding Ukraine.

Manafort’s case is complex, no trial date has been set, and it will likely take a year or more to conclude once started. That Mueller filed additional charges last week against Manafort all buts screams he has no cooperation deal, that Manafort hasn’t “flipped” to tell all about his three months running the Trump campaign.

The Great Hope of course is Gates pleading guilty means he will testify against Manafort to pressure him to take a plea deal to testify against a Team Trump principal, all based on the overall assumption there is something to testify about of course. To date, nowhere in any of this is it shown there is any direct connection to Trump, the campaign, the DNC email hack, Wikileaks, the Russian government, Putin, or anything else Russiagate.

The Russian Trolls

Two weeks ago Mueller dropped a multi-part indictment against 13 Russian citizens connected with the so-called troll farm. The indictment alleges the group bought Facebook and Twitter ads, planned small rallies, and otherwise “meddled” in the U.S. election. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein made clear there was no allegation in the indictment any American — including members of the Trump campaign — “was a knowing participant in the alleged unlawful activity.” Rosenstein added “there is no allegation in the indictment that the charged conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election.”

Persons in Russia, even if some connection to the Kremlin can be shown (it hasn’t been and since Mueller will never take this case to court — his defendants all live in Russia — it is unlikely it ever will be) “meddling” have little to do with what Mueller is charged with finding out. There’s no link to Trump or anything else Russiagate. In fact, the social media campaign started years before Trump announced his candidacy, and about half its modest ad buys took place after the election was over. The troll farm itself was not much of a secret; the New York Times did a “look at this internet madness” profile on the place, which operates quite openly from an office in St. Petersburg, back in 2015.

Michael Flynn

Mueller also charged former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn with a non-material lie to the FBI (teh FBI already knew the truth from surveillence, Flynn stepped into a perjury trap set up for him. The likely sentence is a fine.) Flynn initially plead guilty, though is understood to be reconsidering and may withdraw that plea. Flynn’s lies and other accusations centers on his work as an unregistered foreign agent for Turkey, a NATO ally. Prosecutions for failing to register as a foreign agent are rare, and penalties generally light. Washington has played very loose with the Foreign Agents and Registration Act for a long time, as many former members of Congress and executive branch employees make millions working for foreign governments lobbying DC.

Flynn also admitted he lied to the FBI about a conversation with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the transition period. The conversation, though not illegal, was surveilled by the NSA. Leaked information out of the Obama White House suggests the two men talked about outgoing President Obama’s executive order imposing sanctions on Russia in retaliation for its election interference. Flynn asked Russia for restraint in any planned retaliation. Critics claim this is a violation of the Logan Act, a law that has never been successfully prosecuted. Soon after the FBI interview in which Flynn falsely denied the conversation, Sally Yates, an Obama-era holdover serving as acting attorney general, warned the Trump White House Russia could blackmail Flynn over having lied. Ironically, many now believe Mueller is essentially blackmailing Flynn using that same lie, holding out a light sentence if Flynn tells all about Russiagate, again assuming there is anything tell and that Flynn knows it.

George Papadopoulos

Another output from the Mueller team is the guilty plea of George Papadopoulos, who may or may not have been a serious part of the Trump campaign; Sarah Sanders, the White House spokeswoman, explained Papadopoulos’s role as “a volunteer member of an advisory council that literally met one time.”

Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to the relatively minor crime (his likely sentence is a fine) of a non-material lie to the FBI about a meeting he had in London with a Maltese professor named Joseph Mifsud, another perjury trap of Mueller’s based on intelligence data. Mifsud had made a pseudo-reputation for himself jetting around the world bragging about his connections. He supposedly introduced Papadopoulos to two other people with claimed ties to the Russian government, and sought to arrange a meeting between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. The professor said the Russians had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in “thousands of emails.” Much of this information is laced through the so-called Steele dossier paid for by the DNC and used by the FBI to later obtain a FISA warrant on one-time Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page. No meeting took place and no emails or dirt was handed over.

The cast of characters is interesting; one might imagine their credibility testifying at an impeachment hearing. Carter Page has not been charged with anything. He has recently claimed he is near-bankrupt, doesn’t have a lawyer, and has written manifestos comparing himself to Martin Luther King, Jr. Back in 2013, when a Russian agent made a limp try at recruiting Page, he described him as too much of an “idiot” to bother with.

Papadopoulos has in the past made big but empty claims about his connections in Russia and his role in the Trump campaign. A solid characterization, as one analyst put it, is whether the “young adviser was making plans with actual Russian officials or whether he had drifted into a fog of hucksters, tricksters, and pretenders.”

You Got What?

Mueller, as best we know, currently has very little regarding Russiagate. He has what appears to be solid evidence of non-Trump related financial crimes by Paul Manafort and others. Most of that seems to have come from FISA surveillance on Manafort dating back to 2014. The FBI’s investigation at that time was dropped, likely when the U.S. decided against war in the Ukraine, and it appears Mueller went into the files and revived it now that the same information could be repurposed essentially as blackmail against Manafort testifying.

Flynn and Papadopoulos are charged with relatively minor crimes, though the potential to stack other charges against them exists. The connections to Russiagate are, however, tenuous. Flynn’s contact with the Russia ambassador can be seen as a lot of uncomplimentary things, but it does not appear to be a crime. Page and Papadopoulos would be very weak witnesses. There may be a “conspiracy to commit something” charge in there with some shady lawyering, but it seems little more.

What Mueller’s Missing

That’s what Mueller has. Here’s what he is missing.

The full force of the U.S. intelligence community has been aimed at finding evidence of Russian government interference in the 2016 election (still largely undemonstrated) for some 18 months, and the Comey/Mueller team aimed at finding evidence of Trump’s collusion with Russia for about a year.

It is reasonable to conclude they do not have intelligence that would form a smoking gun, no tape of a high-ranking Trump official cutting a deal with a Russian spy.

If such information existed, there would be no need for months of investigation. Same for the Steele dossier, and its salacious accusations. If there was proof any of it was true, we’d be hearing it read aloud during impeachment hearings.

What’s left is the battle cry of Trump opponents since election day: just you wait. The recount will show Hillary won. The Electoral College won’t select Trump. The Emoluments Clause will take Trump down. Or his tax returns. Or the 25th Amendment. Mueller will flip _____. The shoe will drop. Tick tock. And anything that looks like a weak move by Mueller is only an example we don’t yet understand of his keen judicial kung fu.

No one knows the future. But so far the booked charges against Flynn and Papadopoulos, and the guilty pleas of others, point toward minor sentences to bargain over (never mind the possibility of a presidential pardon if it came to that), assuming they have relevant information to share in the first place. Manafort says he’ll go to court an defend himself. Mueller has produced nothing that has touched Trump, nothing connecting any meddling to a deal between Trump and Putin.

The core task is not to prove some Russians, or even the Russian government, meddled in the election. A limping to the finish line conclusion to Mueller’s work just ahead of the midterm elections that Trump somehow technically obstructed justice without a finding of an underlying crime would tear the nation apart. Mueller is charged with nothing less than proving the president knowingly worked with a foreign adversarial government, receiving help in the election in return for some quid pro quo, an act that can be demonstrated so clearly to the American people as to overturn an election well-over a year after it was decided.

It is a very dangerous thing to see the glee so many display hoping Trump will be found to be a Russian agent. That pleasure in hoping the U.S. is controlled by a foreign power because it means Trump will leave office early is not healthy for us. Mueller can fix that, but so far the bar is still seemingly pretty high above him. Given the stakes - a Kremlin-controlled man in the Oval Office - you’d think every person in govt would be on this 24/7 to save the nation, not just a relatively small staff of prosecutors ever-so-slowly filing indictments that so far have little to do with their core charge.

Comments

lester1 Tue, 03/06/2018 - 18:13 Permalink

Mueller is a major swamp creature. He cannot be trusted. Because he is not going after any of Hillary's crimes or any of the obvious corruption by the FBI lying to a FISA court. 

An easy indictment would be against that Christopher Steele guy who created a fake dossier on President Trump to try and influence the election. That is the exact same crime Mueller is trying to charge those Russian trolls!!

 

If I were President Trump I would chip away Mueller by getting rid of that jerk Rod Rosenstein immediately.

just the tip nidaar Tue, 03/06/2018 - 19:11 Permalink

to hang themselves?  like they give a shit?

from the start, this was all about data mining.  when you go into gov't at this level, there is already a file opened on you.  the longer you are at this level, the thicker the file gets.

with trump, there was no file.  so they are tasked with creating one.  this is all about getting something to use against him come 2020.  the dims campaign is going to be based solely on the phrase that "a man running for president is under investigation by a special prosecutor".  that's all they have.  that and free shit for all.  and what border?  and let's send some more manufacturing off shore.

if trump is re-elected, this will go on for another four years.  if trump tries to stop it.  he loses a grandkid.  or two.

In reply to by nidaar

el buitre T-NUTZ Tue, 03/06/2018 - 19:12 Permalink

Stupid clickbait sentence.

"when will he produce evidence that the president of the United States committed treason?"

 

Problem is that a lot of "conservatives" are painting Russia as an enemy, but that Trump is innocent of collusion with the enemy.  Russia has had no desire to be the enemy of the USA, but the Deep State NeoCon psychopaths are pushing them into that position.

Treason may be the only crime defined by the original (unamended) Constitution.

Article III, section3:

Section 3 - Treason Note

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

Since there has been no declaration of war, no American can legally commit treason since the surrender of Japan in August, 1945, which was the last legal war that the US was involved in.

 

 

In reply to by T-NUTZ

BobEore T-NUTZ Tue, 03/06/2018 - 20:22 Permalink

More whistling past the graveyard,

when will he produce evidence that the president of the United States committed treason?

 

with a side order of misdirection. The POTUS with the mostest ever Russo-talmudic mafiya buddies has NOT committed treason. He ... and his appointees... HAVE pursued private interest at the expense of public service of the kind mandated by appointment to elected office. And the whole thing is unraveling live time. 

Yes - there are proven direct ties to the Kremlin -PRYGOZHIN - the meaningless "troll farm," Wagner - Syria - Gazprom - Blood for Oil...

and it has nothing to do with 'influencing elections' - but everything to do with MISUSE OF OFFICE. A condition common to .....

  • puppet POTUSs in thrall to a tiny terror state in the s e Med;
  • puppet Presidents of the Poutinesque kind;
  • pretend Caliphs of the neo-osmanli sort;
  • phony rebbes/imans of the Persian persuasion;

all corrupt cronies dangling on the talmudic kabbalistic klothesline. And it's about to go ballistic. Which is what SYRIAN ENDGAME IS ALL ABOUT.

going down like nine pins... and the fun will start with Flynn. Tevik Arif anybody?

Bueller?

In reply to by T-NUTZ

navy62802 Tue, 03/06/2018 - 18:15 Permalink

I call this the Bill Clinton revenge parade. This is supposed to be his payback for the Whitewater investigation that culminated with the Blewinsky scandal.

Expat Tue, 03/06/2018 - 18:19 Permalink

Nobody but Mueller knows what he has.  But given the number of indictments and all the vermin turning on Trump, I suspect that lots of top heads are set to roll.  Now, taking down the President, even one like Trump, is no small matter.  America let Nixon slide for Watergate and other crimes. 

But a lot of big fish will have to fall on their swords to protect The Donald.  I predict he resigns for health reasons (maybe a nasty flare-up of his bone spur) and retires to playing golf (and limping a bit when the cameras are rolling).  Melania leaves him but he mail orders another hooker from the Ukraine.  Jared and Don Jr. do 10-15 in the Big House, getting assfucked daily by serial killers.  Ivanka learns that orange is NOT her color.

And America gets Mike Pence and half the country commits suicide.

lester1 Expat Tue, 03/06/2018 - 18:22 Permalink

You you are a complete fucking idiot. Seriously, take your liberal crap elsewhere. You living in fantasyland. Show me a shred of evidence that Trump colluded with Russia or did anything illegal...

 

Obama already had illegal NSA surveillance on Trump and found absolutely nothing!

You should be concerned about the NSA illegally spying on Americans because it could happen to you and your liberal friends!

In reply to by Expat

11b40 Expat Tue, 03/06/2018 - 18:55 Permalink

Expat?  Please stay where you are, which sounds like fantasy land.

There will be a lot heads rolling, but they will mostly be donkey heads.  Just wait for the DOJ IG report in the process of wrapping up now.

Then, if things ever start getting hot for Trump, he might just ask about the Awan/Wasserman spy scandal in Congress, and the more than 40 Democrat Congressional offices that were totally compromised for more than a decade - every email,  every committee meeting, every staff directive - every thing on their computers and phones.

That is coming down the pike, too.  This election cycle will be better than the 4th of July!

In reply to by Expat

Sizzurp Tue, 03/06/2018 - 18:23 Permalink

What have they done? They have hobbled the DOJ and distracted the nation away from the serious crimes committed by the Obama administration and HRC.  They always knew there was no Russian collusion, but they hoped to ensnare Trump is something else, like a tax or process crime, perhaps obstruction.  Impeachment was always going to be a tall order. The Russian narrative has effectively hijacked Trump's foreign policy, and so far it's mission accomplished.

lester1 Sizzurp Tue, 03/06/2018 - 18:27 Permalink

I honestly don't think President Trump has been that involved in his companies since about 2005. He was too busy doing Celebrity Apprentice. The guy doesn't even email so there's no paper trail on that either.

 

Statute of of limitations for federal crimes is 5 years. That is why Mueller is coming up with nothing burgers.

In reply to by Sizzurp

Wild E Coyote Tue, 03/06/2018 - 18:32 Permalink

There is no evidence of Trump Russia collusion. 

But there is plenty collusion between Clintons and Russia. 

Mueller is not investigating Russia collusion but he is investigating Trump. All he needs is some evidence that Trump allowed or knows about some meeting with any Russians. 

He already have enough to conclude soon that Trump admin is compromised by Russians and this conclusion will be released at the time of next election.  and the Americans are going to vote for Trump nonetheless.

 

currency Tue, 03/06/2018 - 18:37 Permalink

Muller and his band of Obama/Clinton donor lawyers and Anti Trumper lawyers is a simple waste of US TAX Dollars. Muller is trying to make science fiction into something real? Muller and his band of merry lawyers should all be fired.

Along with Muller being fired Trump should fire the Weasel Rosenstein and for good measure a AG Sessions whose out to lunch and is afraid of his own shadow.

youshallnotkill Tue, 03/06/2018 - 18:38 Permalink

If you by now don't understand, by observing the president's own behavior, that he has warmer feelings for Putin than any traditional US ally, then you don't want, or will ever believe, any evidence Mueller may acquire. 

loveyajimbo Tue, 03/06/2018 - 18:44 Permalink

Title is absurd, even if Trump "colluded" with Russia to win the election (utter horseshit)... it is not anything close to TREASON.

Fire Sessions, and the douchebag Rosenstein... hire Joe DiGenova. 

Jay Sekulow for Special Counsel on all things Clinton, Obama, Comey, Brennan, Clapper and Mueller.

ItsAllBollocks Tue, 03/06/2018 - 19:26 Permalink

no no... as a smoke screen to distract attention from Israel's interference in the white house it's working perfectly. 

Keep taking your medication people, they are winning so it's obviously working. Can't you see it?

Mike Masr Tue, 03/06/2018 - 19:38 Permalink

Mueller has nothing. The deep state owns Mueller and if he does not come up with something to fuck up Trump his head will roll. 

He is a POS deep state owned and controlled scumbag. 

Mueller has a shit load of evidence that Hillary and the DNC colluded with Russians with the GPS Fusion dossier and he buries it under the rug. Not to mention his crooked FBI used the DNC paid for Fusion GPS dossier to get the FISA warrants. The investigation witch hunt was started due to the phony GPS Fusion dossier. 

Deep state owned and controlled.

 

jplbrmo Tue, 03/06/2018 - 21:55 Permalink

I know this has been said before,but i can't resist. It's my belife that all of the big shots involved are guilty of something that the average person would go to prison for in a heartbeat. This is all theater,and the sad thing is how many people in this country buy into it.