I don't have anything of actual substance to add to the news yesterday of Robert Mueller turning in his report and there being no further indictments. All I can add is some of what I said to several friends who needed talking down from ceilings that Trump, Don Jr. and Jared weren't packing up for prison.
The main thing is that Robert Mueller wasn't tasked with indicting people, but doing an investigation and turning in a report. Before drawing any conclusions, it's best to wait for the report. I have zero idea what will be in it, but I do know that "not having any further indictments" does not mean it won't necessarily be a scathing report. After all, we know that there are already six guilty verdicts and 37 indictments, so it isn't that Robert Mueller looked and didn't find anything.
We also know that many of the guilty verdicts were about lying to Congress. And most people don't tend to lie under oath unless there's something they feel they have to lie about.
Further, the fact that Trump wasn't indicted is meaningless -- because it has always been near certain that Robert Mueller would feel that Justice Department policy is such that he can't indict a sitting president. And for all we know the report says exactly that, explaining why Trump wasn't indicted and would have been otherwise. For that matter, he may be named as an unindicted co-conspirator. Maybe not -- but no one should get ahead of themselves in any direction.
There's something else to consider. The word is that there will be no further indictments. But -- importantly -- that doesn't mean that there aren't others (perhaps Don Jr. and Jared Kushner) who have already been indicted, but they are sealed. I don't necessarily think that's the case, but I don't remotely dismiss it as a real and serious possibility.
And importantly, Robert Mueller is a stickler for details and rules, and it may be that he felt that issue relating to others -- whether Trump, Don Jr., Jared, perhaps even Ivanka, and more -- didn't fall under his narrow directive, and he passed off their cases to the Southern District of New York. We have no indication at the moment that he did...but we do know for certain that he's done it in other instances.
And that's the larger reality. The Mueller investigation has been the centerpiece, in part because it stood alone. But it is no longer alone, and other investigations are just as real, with penalties just as great. They could be the SDNY, the District Attorney of New York City, the Attorney General of New York, the House Intel Committee, the House Justice Committee, the House Oversight Committee, the House Financial Services Committee...or any other number of Congressional investigations -- House or Senate -- or other state investigations that are actively occurring, or may occur in the future.
And as much as some friends were moaning in angst that "the Mueller Investigation is the Big One," while that's true there is also another reality. For two years Trump and his circle have been trying to undercut that investigation as being a Witch Hunt and partisan and illegal and a Witch Hunt and unfair and a Witch Hunt. By not indicting Trump, Don Jr., and Jared (assuming that's the case, rather than their being sealed indictments), Mueller has taken that whine away -- he didn't indict any of those three, so it must be fair. Yet there are nine guilty verdicts from it and 37 indictments. (And as I said, for all I know, perhaps some unindicted co-conspirators thrown in for good measure.) So, all those will now have to be looked at from that light.
In the meantime, the SDNY investigations, the NYC., and NY state investigations have not been slammed for two years as Witch Hunts -- let alone slammed at all for unfairness. And while Trump and his gang will certainly try to paint the House committee investigations as partisan, they have not be called "Witch Hunts" and ultimately it is the hard evidence and documentation that comes from them that will speak loudest over time.
I have zero doubt that the 30% on the far right will try to smear all the other investigations. But I gave up being concerned about what this unmoving 30% does. The group that matters most are those in the middle -- Independents, moderate Republicans and Democrats who voted for Trump in 2016. And you don't have to sway them all. You only have to shift 3-5% of the electorate to turn a close race into a rout. (Consider: starting with a 51-49 vote by only three points turns it into 54-46.)
And that is what is still at profound risk for Trump and the cohorts from ALL these other many investigations -- and that's without us hearing yet what Mueller has to say in his report, which has already produced nine guilty verdicts and 37 indictments. So far.
Yes, I would have dearly preferred to see indictments by Mueller for Don Jr,, Jared Kushner, Ivanka, another others -- and Trump himself. But on the assumption that there aren't sealed indictments for them, the actual realty of this all with Mueller was tasked with one thing: to hold an investigation and deliver a report. Indictments are the most-pronounced physical and visceral manifestations of that, but even they are secondary to the report. And to reach conclusions before the report is known is profoundly premature. Because, at the very least, we know for 100% certain that Mueller has found very real crimes already, so that report stands ready for everyone to see how much deeper it may go.
And further, as absolutely important as the Mueller Report is, it's the SDNY investigation that likely poses the greatest threat to Trump and his circle. Not to mention all the other investigations.
I have absolutely no idea what the Mueller Report holds -- or what any of the great-many other investigations will uncover. I only know this one thing for certain: This is not the end, and anyone who thinks it is, especially those breathing a sigh of relief, is only fooling themselves.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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