Monday, November 04, 2019

First Notes From A Failed Investigation

In June, Susan Glassman of The New Yorker noted that Donald Trump had told

George Stephanopoulos that he would welcome foreign interference in an election and probably wouldn’t bother to tell the F.B.I. about any outside governments bringing him dirt on his opponent. On Thursday, he doubled down on this position, arguing, in effect, that accepting help from Vladimir Putin would be no different from dining with the Queen of England and the “Prince of Whales,” as he put it in a tweet. Trump, instead of proclaiming “no collusion,” now seemed to be announcing that he is pro-collusion. It didn’t take long for commentators to wonder about his strategy here as much as about his poor spelling: Does the President actually want Congress to impeach him?

No, he doesn't want to run a campaign as an impeached President. But Trump's remarks that week did prepare the public and the media for a time when more information about Robert Mueller's (poor and aborted) investigation would emerge.

That time has begun to come, now that a judge has responded to a suit by CNN and Buzzfeed News by ordering release of notes, on a monthly basis for several years. from the Special Counsel's office. CNN reports

"[Rick] Gates recalled a time on the campaign aircraft when candidate Trump said, 'get the emails.' [Michael] Flynn said he could use his intelligence sources to obtain the emails," investigators wrote in a summary of Gates' April 2018 interview with Mueller's team. Flynn was a foreign policy adviser on the campaign and became Trump's first national security adviser.

"Flynn had the most Russia contacts of anyone on the campaign and was in the best position to ask for the emails if they were out there," the investigators also wrote about Gates' interview.
Gates described in an interview with Mueller investigators last year how several close advisers to Trump, Trump's family members and Trump himself considered how to get the stolen documents and pushed the effort, according to investigators' summary.

Neither Bannon nor Gates knew whether Russians were the foreign nationals who had stolen the emails. But instead of stating "alert the FBI" or at least "stay clear of these people," Donald Trump reportedly implored "get the emails."

That's not stunning news coming from a guy whose contempt for his own country is exceeded only by an incomparable narcissism. Still, far more attention is warranted than it has received since its release on Saturday.  A notable exception is the Philadelphia Inquirer's Will Bunch, who explains

Gates’ disclosure to investigators was a key insight into the state of mind of a campaign that was willing and eager to work with electronic thieves — even with powerful foreign adversaries like Russia, if need be — to win a presidential election. Yet that critical information was buried in Mueller’s 440-page report and ignored by the media in a moment that was supposed to tell the American public everything we needed to know about what the president knew and when he knew it, regarding Russia’s election hacking.

"Never send a Marine to do a hitman's job," Steve Bannon is reputed to have told author Michale Wolff, and Robert Mueller is nothing if not a Marine who pulled his punches in deference to the Attorney General and, when testifying to a Senate committee, decided mum's the word.

It was terrible dereliction of duty for a Special Counsel and veteran prosecutor, as further releases of his committee's work will reveal. Both his ultimate failure and the overdue information  will, however, be largely ignored, as the lobster fails to notice the water boiling around him in the pot.  Wisely, four months ago President Trump, while avoiding the word "collusion," began preparing the country for understanding the collusion he was engaged in.

Since then, we have learned that the President attempted to bribe Ukraine, and he won't be able to avoid impeachment. But he probably will be able to sidestep conviction in the Senate because when the faucet produces no gush of water but only a drip, drip, drip, insufficient attention is paid to the criminality of the man behind the curtain

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