Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Gone Fishin'

The imperturbable Robert Mueller has reportedly convened a grand jury in Washington D.C.  This implies that the Special Counsel's probe is ramping up, not winding down, and that Mueller intends to take the investigation of "any links or coordination" between the Russian government and the Trump campaign wherever it happens to lead him.  His mandate is quite broad, including "any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation," and informed speculation suggests this will include not just the Trump campaign's possible collusion with Russia and obstruction of justice, but also the financial shenanigans of Trump, his family and his campaign team.

Not surprisingly, this isn't sitting well with the malevolent orange shit-gibbon, who smolders, rages and then tweets about witch hunts and fake news, and who has come to realize that he will soon have to make a choice between complying with requests for his financial records and other potentially damning documents and information or fomenting a constitutional crisis.  Luckily, amazingly, some Senate Republicans are proposing legislation that will make it harder for him to remove Mueller and thwart the investigation.  That's critical, because Trump will not go quietly.

Indeed, he and his enablers are doing all they can to throw shade on the investigation -- doing so, as Greg Sargent argues, in a manner that "undermines our democratic norms and processes" by relentlessly sowing doubt on U.S. intelligence agencies and the news media.  They refuse to accept conclusive facts of Russian interference, insisting that it is a Democratic Party fabrication.  They disingenuously disparage Mueller and his staff, contending that they are biased and plagued by conflicts of interest.   And, rather dangerously, they stoke the fears of their volatile base, as Trump did at a rally over the weekend, insisting that the investigation is an effort to “cheat” them out of "out of the leadership [they] want with a fake story that is demeaning to all of us. And most importantly, demeaning to our country."

But Mueller keeps rolling along, undeterred by the madness and by accusations that the investigation is going too far afield and is nothing more than a fishing expedition. 

Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein (Mueller's supervisor) took to the airwaves on Sunday to defend the scope of the Special Counsel's investigation, explaining that it can pursue any crimes that are discovered in the course of the investigation. 

Mueller can thus cast his net widely.  As Jack Shafer colorfully put it:
Once impaneled, any grand jury can sail the seven seas for months or years trawling for big fish, shellfish, pinnipeds, cetaceans—even kelp and algae blooms, should it be so moved. In the event that space travel proves feasible, nothing will stop grand juries from touring the planets on a quest to serve subpoenas. If a portal into the fifth dimension ever makes itself apparent, grand juries will mount expeditions there, too.
Perhaps it is because Trump's poll numbers are cratering.  Or maybe it is because Trump has proven completely inept at helping Republicans pursue their agenda.  Or maybe Republicans believe that Mueller's investigation will lessen their responsibility to undertake a meaningful investigation.  Whatever it is, if Republicans really do protect Mueller from Trump's attempts to undermine him, a lot of fish are going to be caught, and that will include one nasty, bloated orange one.


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