by Ralph Scharnau
On May 17, 2017, Robert Mueller was appointed as special counsel to investigate possible Russian interference in U.S. elections and related matters. Since then, President Trump and some GOP state and congressional officials have expressed unhappiness with the Mueller probe.
Mueller himself is a registered Republican. Born into a wealthy New England family, his elite education included prep school, a Bachelor of Arts from Princeton, a Master of Arts from New York University, and a law degree from the University of Virginia. After a stint as a decorated Marine Corps combat officer, Mueller developed a strong penchant for public sector law with an emphasis on prosecution.
Mueller heads the ongoing investigation of Russian involvement in the 2016 election and possible coordination with Trump’s presidential campaign. Mueller’s reputation rests on his methodical and thorough examination of his sources. Mueller has not yet released the final results of his legal team’s findings. Apparently Mueller has not interviewed Trump or any other high-ranking GOP officials or Trump’s business associates.
Some observers contend that the public record already provides evidence of a torrent of indictments, plea deals, and legal maneuvers. Criminal charges include the indictments of at least 25 Russians accused of interfering in the 2016 presidential election, either through spreading misinformation on social media or hacking email accounts of prominent Democrats and releasing them online.
Meanwhile, the President refers to the Mueller investigation as a “hoax,” a “scam,” and, his favorite, a “witch hunt.” In mid-May tweets, the President attacked Mueller’s probe as “disgusting, illegal and unwarranted.” The President denies any personal wrong-doing, and he dismisses the notion of collusion with the Russians in the 2016 elections as a partisan Democratic Party ploy.
Trump has asserted that he could run the investigation better than Mueller’s team. Trump also claimed that he has the legal right to end Mueller’s investigation. And he even argues that he can pardon himself.
The investigation remains a cloud over the White House, fueling speculation about criminal charges against the president, the politicization of federal investigators, illegal wiretapping and, of course, Russian collusion. It will truly be difficult to predict how Trump handles the Mueller probe. This comes, in part at least, from Trump’s giving evidence-free or contradictory interviews to the press and his remarks at rallies.
Yet there already exists enough evidence in the public record that Mueller has discovered examples of conspiracy and obstruction of justice, of money laundering and bank fraud, of false statements and perjury. The Mueller story can be linked to law, politics, and morality. Since taking office, Trump has repeatedly tried to exert control over the Mueller committee. He has also labeled the investigation a “rigged witch hunt.” He recently called for an end to the investigation, citing lack of support among Republicans and the general public, soaring costs, and another example of the extreme partisanship of Democratic lawmakers.
Mueller has granted no interviews or conducted any news conferences during his time as special counsel. How the investigation will end, remains a matter of speculation. He could write a short confidential summary of his findings to the U. S. Attorney General or he could simply end the probe because he believes there is no verifiable evidence of criminal activity.
While the Mueller probe no longer receives front-page coverage, it still calls attention to the President. Donald Trump’s twitter account pumps out a steady stream of vitriol and gutter language that serves as an inflection point for American values and our justice system.