It May Be Now Or Never For Mueller
Today may be now or never for Mueller. With the Labor Day weekend beginning the traditional “blackout period” for the DOJ to act in politically-related investigations, today may be Mueller’s last chance to at least publicly pursue any additional indictments in the Russia probe until after the midterms. And whether it’s because of actual sourcing or this approaching deadline or Trump’s unhinged, even for him, rhetoric over the last week, there are indications that some in the media believe that more indictments will be handed down today.
If not, then Mueller’s chance may have ended. Trump has made it plain that he intends to fire Sessions after the election and his replacement will almost assuredly have to promise Trump that he will shut the Mueller investigation down. The firing of Don McGahn and the gutting of the White House Counsel’s office ensures that there is no internal bureaucratic impediment to that plan and his hand-picked replacement will ensure that the office is loyal to Trump and not the Office of the Presidency.
I’ve always been suspect about those reports that McGahn was constantly standing in the way of Trump’s impulsive decisions about firing Sessions, Rosenstein, or Mueller. They often sounded like a good PR spin for a guy who was more intent on filling the judicial system with Federalist Society cronies. Moreover, McGahn oversaw a White House and administration that was improperly vetted and tolerated corruption on a scale we haven’t seen since the Hoover administration.
And the idea that the Republican Congress was restraining Trump is laughable. Trump knows them for what they are, namely cowards. He was only persuaded by the argument that ending the Russia investigation would create an electoral calamity for Republicans in the midterms.
After the upcoming elections, the Congressional GOP will be even more the party of Trump, whatever the results. If the GOP manages to hold the House, Trump will be safe from impeachment. And if the Democrats win the House, he certainly believes that the Senate Republicans will never vote to convict him of impeachment, at least based on what we know now. So he will have nothing to lose by ending the Mueller investigation after the midterms.
I know Mueller is running a proper investigation and shouldn’t take into consideration any political considerations. It is primarily the role of Congress to keep Americans informed of the progress of these investigations through open hearings that don’t jeopardize the legal path that Mueller needs to take. But, under Republican leadership, Congress had abdicated that responsibility, leaving it entirely up to Mueller. Mueller’s team has been pretty expansive in detailing the evidence it has collected in the indictments it has handed down, which provides the bulk of the information we actually know about the investigation.
But the fact that Mueller has been politically “blind” has put him and his work at risk. Because he has not completed his work by the admittedly artificial deadline of the midterm elections, his whole investigation is now under serious threat of being terminated. In addition, that delay has deprived the American people of knowing the full extent of how our electoral system was perverted in 2016, meaning that Americans will go to the polls for two elections in a row without that knowledge. And Americans may never know that if Republicans hold the House and Trump can complete his coverup.