Why Do The Investigations Seem To End Too Early?

Something has bothered me since Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Let’s look at the letter appointing him special counsel:

Mueller Letter

  • Robert S. Mueller III is appointed to serve as Special Counsel…

Not Special Prosecutor, as he is often titled. Special Counsel.

  • any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump…

Based on these words, I expected a very different report from Mueller.

Mueller acted more as a prosecutor than an investigator. Perhaps I am getting this wrong; in internet parlance, IANAL, I am not a lawyer.

Mueller prosecuted cases against Paul Manafort and the the Internet Research Agency of St. Petersburg. His investigations supported Michael Cohen’s conviction and Michael Flynn’s guilty plea to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador. There are probably others, but that is not my point. His investigation seems to have been for the purpose of finding prosecutable crimes.

I expected that “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump” would have included a great deal more than what was in the report.

There were a great many contacts between Russians and the Trump campaign, or near misses like Maria Butina, who got cozy with the NRA, which supported Trump. The Russians used hacked files from the Democratic National Committee to help Republicans beyond Trump.

The Republican platform was changed to weaken support for Ukraine; the Mueller report mentions this, but notes that Trump seems to have been unaware of the change. The person who seems to have been responsible for it, J. D. Gordon, also is connected to Carter Page, who has his own Russian connections. And then there is George Papadopoulos, also with Russian connections.

Perhaps some of these Russian connections, like Butina, can be said not to have been connected with the Trump campaign. The hacked files used against other candidates, again not related to the Trump campaign. Although the platform change may not have involved Trump, his campaign certainly was involved with it, and with those other folks with hinky Russian connections. But these were investigated cursorily, if at all.

I don’t understand how Mueller interpreted the charge and why. I would like to know more about that.

It seems to be difficult to report on connections to Russia without being accused of paranoia. Additionally, some popular voices have greatly exaggerated connections to Russia on the basis of inadequate information.

I do not believe Putin is minutely directing a campaign to destroy the United States. He does not work like that. He remains a KGB colonel with access to the power of a state. He is a tactician rather than a strategist. He wants Russia to be recognized as a great power. Russia is in a strange position internationally. Its nuclear arsenal is equivalent to that of the United States, but its economy is about the size of Texas’s, based primarily on extractive industries. A nuclear great power, but not much else.

The way for Russia to be a great power is to lessen the influence of other great powers. Hence a campaign to divide Americans and Europeans, internally and from each other.

The campaign is loosely run – more a matter of “Who will rid me of these turbulent adversaries?” than of detailed planning and late nights in the Kremlin. Thus, multiple Russian actors, backed by multiple oligarchs, show up in the Mueller Report and in other ways.

Trump always has something bad to say about America’s allies, but never about Vladimir Putin and other autocrats. The connections across the Republican Party to Russia are many, as far as we know now, largely through donations. The Dallas Morning News has had major articles on this means of influence (August 2017, December 2017, two in May 2018) . Why haven’t other news outlets joined the investigation? Why isn’t this mentioned as common knowledge when Tucker Carlson sides with Russia over Ukraine?

There are so many stories that need more investigation.

Trump’s history with Russia. 1987 seems to be a turning point. And, of course, the noteless meetings with Vladimir Putin, particularly in Helsinki in July 2018.

Devin Nunes’s midnight run to the White House

Kevin McCarthy’s comment about Putin paying Trump and Dana Rohrabacher. McCarthy received a campaign contribution from Rudy Giuliani’s associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, which he is returning. He is not the only one to receive money from them.

Parnas and Fruman are currently a focus of media attention. Parnas would like to testify to Congress, but there is little reason to believe anything he says until we understand better his connections to Giuliani and Trump and to people like Dmytro Firtash.

Eight Republican members of Congress spent the Fourth of July, 2018, in Moscow. They met with senior Russian officials. They are Richard Shelby (AL), Ron Johnson (WI), John Neely Kennedy (LA), Jerry Moran (KS), Steve Daines (MT), John Hoeven (ND), John Thune (SD) and Rep. Kay Granger (TX). Johnson and Kennedy have been extremely vocal lately in spreading the Russian propaganda meme that Ukraine, not Russia, hacked the campaigns in 2016.

And, oh yes, the US Intelligence Community report of January 2017 said that the Republican campaign was hacked too. We haven’t seen any more about that.

That’s the list I come up with over a day or two of thought. I’ll bet there’s more.

There is a throughline to all this: Russian interference in American politics. It’s a big story, to be sure, but one that we need to hear. Most of it was not covered in the Mueller investigation. The House Intelligence Committee hearings have been on a very small part of it. News organizations are working on parts of it. We need more.


Cross-posted to Balloon Juice