The Special Council Inquisition - Bad For Trump - And All of Us

Robert S. Mueller III
The Trump administration made a huge mistake by not preventing the just announced special council investigation into the alleged, but likely non-existing "Trump-Russia" connections:
The Justice Department appointed a special counsel Wednesday to investigate possible coordination between President Trump’s associates and Russian officials — a clear signal to the White House that federal investigators will aggressively pursue the matter despite the president’s insistence that there was no “collusion’’ with the Kremlin. Robert S. Mueller III, a former prosecutor who served as the FBI director from 2001 to 2013, has agreed to take over the investigation as a special counsel, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein announced. The move marks a concession by the Trump administration to Democratic demands for the investigation to be run independently of the Justice Department. Calls for a special counsel intensified after Trump fired FBI Director James B. Comey last week.

It is weird that the WaPo report above calls this "a concession by the Trump administration to Democratic demands for the investigation". It further states that the White House was not informed about it until it had been made:
The White House did not learn of Rosenstein’s decision until just 30 minutes before the public announcement was made.
Anyway. This is bad and the Trump administration should have pulled all strings to prevent it. Such investigations NEVER stick to their original, limited tasks but extend further and further. The order the Acting Attorney General wrote includes language which allows for nearly unlimited digging in "any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.” It will thereby continue until -inevitably- some dirt will be found that can be blown out of all proportion and lead to prosecutions or impeachment.
Robert S. Mueller is also a bad choice as a special council as he is a former colleague and friend of former FBI director James Comey who Trump recently fired. From 2013:
Both men were rising stars mentored and guided by Eric Holder in the 1990s during Holder’s time in the Justice Department under the Clinton administration.
Mueller, now 68, and Comey, now 52, would become close partners and close allies throughout the years ahead.
Both, Comey and Mueller, were involved in the dramatic hospital scene at the bed of Attorney General Ashcroft to stop Bush's illegal program of spying on U.S. citizens. The program in question stopped for a moment but the spying simply continued under a different legal justification.
The attempts to smear Trump and those around him over foreign connections have entered absurd territory. The lead headline at McClatchy today is a. old news, b. confusing the timeline only to further throw dirt into the direction of Trump:
One of the Trump administration’s first decisions about the fight against the Islamic State was made by Michael Flynn weeks before he was fired – and it conformed to the wishes of Turkey, whose interests, unbeknownst to anyone in Washington, he’d been paid more than $500,000 to represent.
The incoming Trump administration temporarily stopped the Raqqa campaign which the Obama administration had decided would be done with Kurdish forces. This was on January 17, only a few days before the Trump administration took over. The Obama administration itself had deliberated about the issue for over 8 month and its choice was not its preferred option:
Most of the shortcomings outlined by the Trump team were obvious to Obama’s advisers he added. In fact, the senior Obama administration official said, arming the Kurds was Obama’s Plan B, after it became clear that Plan A — using Turkish forces to take Raqqa — would not be feasible.
It is doubtful that Flynn's communication of the decision was influenced by money. Flynn had registered his lobbying under the Lobbying Disclosure Act with the Clerk of the House of Representatives effectively September 15, 2016. According to his later filling (pdf) at the Foreign Agent Registry, his consulting contract with the Turkish owned company had ended three month later, on November 15, 2016. The owner of the company Inovo, which had hired Flynn, is Ekim Alptekin, an ally of the Turkish President Erdogan. (Alptekin's lawyer ones asserted that the company had acted on behalf of Israeli gas interests. The two Israeli gas companies possibly involved both denied any such connection.) Alptekin himself denied any connection to Trump administration decisions and correctly noted that Trump had practically no chance of winning the election at the time Alptekin had hired Flynn who was then just one of many Trump advisors.
There is no reasonable relation between Flynn's lobbying for Turkish interest and the halt of the Raqqa campaign preparations. Attempts to drawn lines between the Turkish lobbying and Russian interests end up as convoluted rumor collections. With the Raqqa halt the Trump administration simply rejected to take responsibility for a military adventure (which had not even started) based on a dubious last-minute Obama decision. It wanted to review the issue and decide after its own assessment.
One has to ask why McClatchy is reporting this now? That Flynn had was lobbying for Alptekin's company was registered in September and first reported in November 2016. The temporary halt of the Raqqa campaign planing was decided on January 17 and reported on February 2 2017. Where then is the "news" value in this May 2017  McClatchy report?
A special council investigation will, of course, jump on such not-news reports like McClatchy's. He will dramatically invite witnesses and leak further rumors to the media - even when the basic facts show that there is nothing to it. Such investigations pursue death by a thousand cuts.
The Democrats, and especially progressives, work against their voters interest when they pursue a Trump impeachment which would let Vice President Pence take the White House:
Pence is a horror—fiscal sadist, misogynist, homophobe, lover of the carceral state.
Pence is way more conservative than Trump. With Republicans in power in Congress he could easily implement all the horrific policies he ever dreamed of.
But the borg and the Democratic leadership are not concerned about that:
Democrats cheered the [special council] announcement as a step forward in resolving the unanswered questions about Russian meddling in last year’s presidential election — and whether the president or anyone at the White House has interfered with the investigation.
Trump believes that better relations with Russia are important for the well-being of the United States, Pence would likely pursue an anti-Russian policy.
That, I believe, is the real issue here. There are no unbeseeming relations between Trump and Russia. Russia had little, if any, influence on the 2016 election. There was no "Russian meddling". But Trump's somewhat more friendly behavior towards Russia, which he campaigned for, is disliked by the-powers-that-are.
We can now expect a very long drawn special council investigation with lots of media leaks and reporting. It will drown out all other important issues. It will likely end badly for Trump and badly for peaceful global power relations.

Posted by b on May 18, 2017 at 07:07 AM | Permalink

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