Opinion: Robert Mueller is going to be a very busy man

(AP)

Congratulations, President Trump. It took you all of 118 days in office before your antics forced the appointment of a special counsel into alleged serious misdeeds by yourself and your administration. That’s a record that will never be broken, or so we should hope.

And make no mistake, this was entirely Trump’s doing. Set aside questions about the underlying facts and allegations, which cut right to the core of our democratic system. The only reason that we now have a special counsel investigating the relationship between the Trump campaign and the Russians is because Trump fired FBI Director James Comey eight days ago in a clumsy attempt to make this all go away. He brought this entirely on himself.

It also didn’t help that Trump initially tried to blame Comey’s firing on deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, falsely claiming that he had acted on Rosenstein’s recommendation. You might say that the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel is Rosenstein’s way of returning the favor.

So now we’ll watch and see. Already, congressional Republicans who had repeatedly and publicly dismissed the need for a special counsel are rushing to applaud the move, eager to get on the right side of history. The official line out of the White House was also supportive, with Trump quoted as saying that “I look forward to this matter concluding quickly.”

On Twitter, his true feelings came out:

So much whining. So much whining that we’re going to get sick of all the whining.

Rosenstein’s decision to name a special counsel tells us nothing about ultimate guilt or innocence, but it does tell us that the investigation is nowhere close to concluding and that FBI officials take it very seriously. In fact, it is growing more complex and difficult with every passing news cycle.

Consider the latest on Michael Flynn. According to the New York Times, the Trump transition team knew full well that Flynn was under federal investigation when it appointed him to serve as national security adviser. Flynn had admitted to transition officials that he had secretly served as a high-paid lobbyist for Turkey, and Flynn’s lawyers had met with transition team lawyers to discuss the case.

The timing of Flynn’s Turkey contract makes it even more extraordinary. From August to November of 2016 — during the heart of the presidential campaign, while he served as Trump’s top foreign-policy aide — Flynn had accepted $530,000 to lobby for Turkey. Yet somehow, the transition team still considered Flynn trustworthy enough to appoint him to the most sensitive post in our national security apparatus?

But wait, it gets deeper.

Who headed the Trump transition team? Vice President Mike Pence headed the Trump transition team. In March, when knowledge of Flynn’s lucrative lobbying contract finally became public, Pence professed shock and dismay at the discovery.

“Hearing that story today is the first I’ve heard of it,” Pence told Fox News on March 18. “The first I heard of it, and it is an affirmation of the president’s decision to ask for Gen. Flynn’s resignation.”

One of two things must be true: Either the head of the Trump transition team was kept in total darkness about an ongoing criminal investigation into one of its top job candidates, or Pence was straight-up lying.

But wait, it gets deeper still.

Ten days before Trump’s inauguration, the Obama administration went to Flynn to get his approval for a military operation against ISIS in its Syrian stronghold of Raqqa. According to the McClatchy News Service, “Obama’s national security team had decided to ask for Trump’s sign-off, since the plan would all but certainly be executed after Trump had become president.”

Under the plan, Syrian Kurds would lead the assault on Raqqa, and Turkey strongly opposed giving its Kurdish enemies such a prominent role. So Flynn, the man who had just taken half a million dollars from Turkey, squelched the idea. According to McClatchy, “Trump eventually would approve the Raqqa plan, but not until weeks after Flynn had been fired.”

Ah, but wait, it gets deeper.

In his response to the appointment of a special counsel, Trump has reiterated his claim that “there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity.” Throughout the campaign, and both before and after the inauguration, his team had used identical language to deny that it had had any secret contacts with Russian officials.

“It never happened,” Trump’s longtime spokesperson Hope Hicks said pointblank in November. “There was no communication between the campaign and any foreign entity.”

Yet here’s what Reuters is reporting this morning:

“Michael Flynn and other advisers to Donald Trump’s campaign were in contact with Russian officials and others with Kremlin ties in at least 18 calls and emails during the last seven months of the 2016 presidential race, current and former U.S. officials familiar with the exchanges told Reuters.

The previously undisclosed interactions form part of the record now being reviewed by FBI and congressional investigators probing Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election and contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

Six of the previously undisclosed contacts described to Reuters were phone calls between Sergei Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the United States, and Trump advisers, including Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser, three current and former officials said.”

Given that history, we now know why Trump didn’t move to fire Flynn for another 18 days after the warning from acting Attorney General Sally Yates. What Yates and her team saw as an alarming illicit outreach by Flynn was in fact the mere continuation of a longstanding arrangement between the Trump team and the Russians.

It’s important to note, as does Reuters, that none of those 18 previously undisclosed contacts constitute evidence of actual collusion. I continue to doubt that such evidence will be uncovered, but we’ll see. That’s why we need a nonpartisan, independent investigation.

However, the main reason that I doubt we’ll find such evidence is that actual collusion was completely unnecessary. Both the Trump campaign and the Putin regime understood quite well that they were on parallel tracks toward the same goal, which was Trump’s election, and thus no coordination was needed. That interpretation is bolstered by the revelations from Reuters, which reports:

Conversations between Flynn and Kislyak accelerated after the Nov. 8 vote as the two discussed establishing a back channel for communication between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin that could bypass the U.S. national security bureaucracy, which both sides considered hostile to improved relations, four current U.S. officials said.

Putin must have been licking his chops at such a possibility. In Trump, he had an American neophyte with a long history of pro-Russian and pro-Putin statements, a man who had publicly dismissed NATO as obsolete and wanted to lift sanctions against Russia. Trump’s top foreign policy adviser was a man who himself had taken $40,000 from Russia. His campaign manager also had strong financial ties to Russia. It didn’t take KGB training to know that such a man would be far preferable to Russian interests than Hillary Clinton.

And if Putin could then lure that naive president into separating himself from U.S. national security experts, like a calf cut off from the herd, he would be easy pickings for Russian wolves. As we saw in the recent Oval Office meeting between Trump and top Russian officials, that dream is still very much alive.

Yes, Mr. Mueller is going to be a very busy man.

 

Reader Comments 0

1514 comments
Paul Bo Morehead
Paul Bo Morehead

It's awesome, now all the criminal libs can be outed and then prosecuted!!!!!

Pat Smith
Pat Smith

BECAUSE dummies it will show no collusion...

Peachs
Peachs

Dummies who reconize Trump lies when the truth is available and pretty well does this stuff to himself..

ayman7766
ayman7766

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Steven Knight
Steven Knight

I don't understand why this has to be partisan - if Trump supporters are right, the special counsel will exonerate the administration. If Trump detractors are right, many people in the administration will probably be thrown out, Trump may be impeached, and some might even end up in jail. Americans deserve to know the truth, and we will be better off with a decisive outcome either way. This exercise will hopefully curtail the deeply unproductive partisan rancor that has become typical of our government under the baby boomers.

Tori Ottolino
Tori Ottolino

Wait until the investigation finds out what the last administration was up to with Russia. After all we all heard the words coming out of Obama's mouth when speaking to a Russian official. That is if people were paying attention.

rimsky
rimsky

Our goal is to make Trump as detested and distrusted

+++

Hey Vet you did that to Hillary for the last 25 years.

Now it is our turn to villify Trump to the extent the very mention of his name make people vomit whatever they ate tthe week before.

Peachs
Peachs

Please lock her up! So we can talk about 2017 and the cancer the Republican Party has put on this country in this president they ran and they vetted, this is on you!

scooderpup
scooderpup

The eight year witch hunt against Hillary by highly partisan republicans got........wait for it. Nothing! They couldn't find anything to indict her for! Keep Watching not that dirty old men channel alternative facts channel and you will continue to be lied to.

Citizen-of-the-World
Citizen-of-the-World

Trump said in his presser that the reason he fired Comey was because "he was not popular with a lot of people." 


Trump is not popular with a lot of people, either, so he's just handed us a rationale for getting rid of him, too. 

BuckeyeGa
BuckeyeGa

@FIGMO2 seems like there is an issue with the sheetz being posted

Peachs
Peachs

The allusion here is this country agrees with Trump! And if we did this or that differently we would've won the election. The system not this country is broken. This country is thinking very clearly it's leaders are the ones that are screwed up,!

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

Over at the FoxNews bubble world, from F#cker Carlson:


 Yes, Pres. Trump is unpredictable and there's a sense of confusion at the White House. But the left is dangerous, wants to remove Trump from office by any means necessary, is increasingly violent and subscribes to identity politics and tribalism.


Yeah, our guy is a monster but, um, Nasty Pelosi! Chuck Jewmer!

Peachs
Peachs

No one else has ever been treated so unfair! How do you think the huge majority of this country feels that have had Congress and the presidentsy stolen from them by gerrymandering and electoral colleges.

Deplorable Veteran
Deplorable Veteran

Mainstream News

Our goal is to make Trump as detested and distrusted as we are ...

Citizen-of-the-World
Citizen-of-the-World

It might not be fair to compare Trump to Hitler, but it's certainly fair to compare Trump's followers to Hitler's. Many say outright that they will follow him no matter what. 

rimsky
rimsky

@Citizen-of-the-World might not be fair to compare Trump to Hitler

After the 5th ave comment, and his liking for nazi and skin heads , I will say he is comparable to Hitler.  But that is me.

Fl0ydLiberal
Fl0ydLiberal

Trump prefers to nominate people with no pertinent experience for high level positions. Another clear example is Joe Lieberman to head the FBI. Cripple it with ignorance mixed with arrogance.

Citizen-of-the-World
Citizen-of-the-World

@Fl0ydLiberal I was wondering if Joe had some Senate experience that might qualify him, but you're saying, no? This follows Trump's model all the way? I guess when you are not up to your job, you don't want to surround yourself with people who are up to theirs. 

rimsky
rimsky

@Fl0ydLiberal Heard in NPR this morning that Weasel Joe is not a serious candidate.

Peachs
Peachs

No one can be smarter than him which sets a very low bar of entry.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

@Visual_Cortex 

Wonder how y'all Handel supports would take it if Ossoff did something similarly clumsy? 

The same. 

That was my point in bringing it for honested to review.

Do you know anyone who enjoys being mocked, VC?

Trump supporters didn't/don't enjoy it. Neither do residents of San Francisco.

Human nature...never discount it! 


Peachs
Peachs

Improve yourself then or stop telling us how you have values.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

@Peachs

Directed at me, Peachs?

Unlike you, I never doubted that Trump supporters have values. I just saw them as different from the dem establishment's.

HECK! If you had read the article from LATimes, residents of San Francisco had complaints about liberal government too. 

Peachs
Peachs

You have found traction in encouraging a pride of commonality and hopeless perpetual fear. People seeking better lives leave these dead end streets and move to the city. You have gamed that system to reward your left behind losers and to penalize the population that seeks economic improvement. And then somehow blame that on the opposition.

Peachs
Peachs

Hot air we give you Congress, The Supreme Court, excutive, everything sept popular vote! And what do you do with it? Nothing.

BuckeyeGa
BuckeyeGa

@Peachs That is a point that is being lost in recent news.. The Republicans has the power in Washington but no one can tell

Peachs
Peachs

And they still whine about it! No one has been treated more unfair! What else can we do for you?

honested
honested

Days Of Failure #120 has begun with the complete denial of looming disaster gripping 1/3 of the electorate.

Sensible Americans would to well to ensure never being in a leaking boat with those people.