The media is predictably making a lot of hay out of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s first indictments of the Russian investigation, but they are glossing over the inconvenient fact that very few – if any – of the charges being brought against Paul Manafort and Richard Gates have anything whatsoever to do with Mueller’s supposed scope of inquiry. Astute readers will recall that this investigation was supposed to determine if Donald Trump colluded with the Russians to defeat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. Right? That’s what all of this was about, right? Well, you wouldn’t know it from reading the charges against Manafort, which are mostly related to financial transactions and money laundering that preceded the Trump campaign by four years!
In a column for National Review, former U.S. Attorney Andrew McCarthy, himself no particular fan of Trump, said the indictments were only good news for the White House.
“From President Trump’s perspective, the indictment is a boon from which he can claim that the special counsel has no actionable collusion case,” he wrote. “It appears to reaffirm former FBI director James Comey’s multiple assurances that Trump is not a suspect. And, to the extent it looks like an attempt to play prosecutorial hardball with Manafort, the president can continue to portray himself as the victim of a witch hunt.”
Manafort and Gates plead “not guilty” to the charges on Tuesday, one of which includes the ominous-sounding “conspiracy against the United States.” That’s not the kind of thing that sounds good, but those of you with long memories will recall that Trump fired Manafort last summer when some of his sketchy financial transactions first came to light. How any of this relates to Trump’s supposed collusion with the Kremlin is a puzzle we can’t quite put together, no matter how breathlessly the left reports on this turn of events.
“Mueller’s case, at least in part, seems shaky and overcharged,” wrote McCarthy.
It is beyond obvious what’s going on here. Mueller is hoping that by throwing the book at Manafort, he can flip him and get him to turn on the president and other campaign officials. The former FBI Director is not on the case to put Paul Manafort in prison. He’s after the big fish, and that’s no one other than the President of the United States. He’s under tremendous pressure to land this lunker, and he’s clearly going to stretch his prosecutorial powers as far as they’ll go in an effort to save the day.
Only problem is – if there’s no evidence, there’s no evidence. And if he wants to turn this into a “Let’s dig through every aspect of Trump’s business dealings until we find an un-dotted ‘i’ we can charge him with,” the American people will have plenty to say about this disfigurement of democracy.