The release of the Robert Comey book and the criminal referral by the Department of Justice Inspector General of the case of Andrew McCabe, the former Deputy Director of the FBI, has drawn new attention to the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and collusion by the Trump campaign. So we found it rather ironic that two other developments suggest that even principal members of the anti-Trump resistance – the Democratic National Committee and The New York Times – are despairing that Special Counsel Robert Mueller will ever develop a case that President Trump and/or his 2016 presidential campaign coordinated with the Russians to defeat Hillary Clinton.
Last Friday the DNC filed a civil lawsuit against the Trump campaign, Russia and Wikileaks charging them with working together to hand the election to Donald Trump. Plainly, if the DNC had confidence that the Mueller probe would turn up a Trump-Russia connection before the 2018 midterm elections, the lawsuit would hardly be needed. The Democrats are desperate to have the collusion issue still alive come November as part of their arsenal to defeat Republicans in the Senate and House and were relying on Mueller. But if it is anticipated that Mueller will come up empty before November, they are likely looking to this high-profile lawsuit to keep the issue before the public.
That this is the DNC’s analysis is supported by the fact that their own books and records will now be fair game to the discovery requests of the defendants in the case. Why then would they compromise their privacy, which is not threatened by Mueller. And this is especially so in light of the fact that the goal of the Mueller investigation would appear to be virtually identical to that of the lawsuit, that is to demonstrate collusion.
To be sure, the evidentiary standard in criminal cases – which doubtless drives the Mueller probe – is much stricter than the standard applied in civil cases. But that disparity is by far outweighed by the risks of the defendants getting substantial access to the DNC files.
And then on Sunday, the New York Times ran an editorial headlined, “Mueller Guides Us Through the Swamp,” and stated upfront:
The special counsel, Robert Mueller, has no yet presented evidence that the Trump campaign conspired with Russians agents to subvert the 206 election. But he has already provided an instructive guide to the swampy world of corporations, law firms and Washington lobbying shops and how a tough prosecutor can bring some measure of justice to bear.
The editorial concludes with: “Mr. Mueller is showing prosecutors a better way to deal with white-collar crime.”
Surely this all is not what some of us innocently thought Mueller’s mission was. But equally to the point, it sounds to us a lot like The Times is bailing on “collusion.”