Chris Honoré: Collecting, then connecting the dots
So Robert Mueller and crew continue to collect dots and then painstakingly connect them. The data takes the investigators ever closer to the Oval Office and grows increasingly complex at a rate that is all but impossible to keep up with.
Meanwhile, Trump’s response to Putin/Russia continues to be passive to the point of obsequiousness, prompting the unsettling question: why? Russia defines what it means to be a bad actor on the world stage. It continues to attack western democracies, including our own (2016 election), using troll farms and cyber platforms. It has penetrated our power grid, putting its thumb on the “off switch,” brazenly saying, “Here’s what we can do.”
Russia hired hundreds of mercenaries in Syria and attacked our troops. Its footprint is evident in the poisoning of a Russian double agent and his daughter living in England. A nerve agent was used, so lethal that it put them and first responders and passersby in intensive care. Our intelligence agencies are in emphatic agreement that Russia will once again interfere in our coming election using skill sets honed during our 2016 election.
And yet the president has done nothing other than delay Congress’ mandated sanctions against Russia, remain all but silent regarding Britain’s response to the poisonings, and thus far fail to form an inter-agency/military task force. What he has done is call Putin to congratulate him on his sham election victory and suggest that they meet sooner than later.
Again, the question is: why?
The answer to that question, while perpetually elusive, may be forthcoming in the months ahead. But there is also a conundrum that is inherent in the special counsel’s investigation.
What if Team Mueller’s report reveals a massive case of obstruction of justice by Trump, et al.? What if he lays out an irrefutable case that Trump’s campaign conspired with Russia, the intent being to tilt the election toward Trump? What if Mueller presents evidence showing that the Trump organization has engaged in money laundering with Russia-sanctioned banks and oligarchs? What if the special counsel demonstrates that Trump/Kushner have used U.S. foreign policy as a bargaining chip in a desperate search for cash to keep their real estate investments afloat, specifically Jared Kushner’s 666 Fifth Ave. high-rise? What if Mueller shows that Trump and family have violated the emoluments clause of our Constitution, using the office of the presidency to enrich themselves? And finally, what if Mueller takes what his prima facie case to Congress, meaning the Republican-controlled House of Representatives where articles of impeachment will be considered. Or not. Recall that the Intelligence Committee in the House has already shut down its investigation declaring that there is no evidence of any “collusion” between the Trump campaign/administration and Russia.
My prediction is that Mueller’s report will never leave the House; it certainly won’t reach the Senate for a vote.
Keep in mind that completing the investigation is predicated on Trump not fabricating a cause to fire Mueller (as he did James Comey) and shut down or severely truncate the remnants of the investigation. After all, Trump has consistently referred to the spiderwebbing investigation as a “witch-hunt” by the FBI and the Justice Department.
In keeping with this point of view, Trump asked Fox News legal analyst Joseph diGenova to join his team (John Dowd, his personal attorney, just resigned). Unequivocally, diGenova has stated that the FBI and the Justice Department have conspired to bring down this administration.
Know that a conspiratorial mindset, expressed by an experienced (and seemingly rational) attorney such as diGenova, has been a lane that Trump has traveled in for years. He embraced the conspiracy that Obama was not born in America and therefore an illegitimate president and said in countless interviews that he had sent his “people” to Hawaii where they had discovered some shocking facts (never to materialize) but no birth certificate.
It’s not a stretch to imagine Trump stepping forward and angrily telling his base that the Mueller investigation conclusions were “rigged by the deep state,” echoing diGenova’s statement. What happens after that will be a harrowing stress test for our democracy.
Chris Honoré is a Daily Tidings columnist.