The Three Russia Investigations
Helping make sense of Mueller, Trump, and the FBI
After Robert Mueller’s investigation handed down indictments against 13 Russian agents accusing them of “impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful governmental functions of the United States by dishonest means in order to enable the [them] to interfere with U.S. political and electoral processes, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election,” President Trump tweeted the following:
The above is just one of Trump’s numerous tweets in response to the indictments, but this one highlights something interesting.
The President of the United States does not understand that Russia’s election interference is important. He is only focused on “collusion.”
So, in order to clear things up for Mr. Trump and anyone else who might be confused: these are the three things that Robert Mueller is looking into.
It’s not out of line to say that “Trump is ignoring the worst attack on America since 9/11.” Al Qaeda may have killed more Americans, but the country was united after those attacks. Today it stands divided. What Bin Laden failed to do with four hijacked jetliners, the Russians have accomplished with Facebook ads and Twitter Bots.
Mueller’s indictments show that Russia’s attack started out by encouraging extremism in the United States but morphed, over time, into a full-throated support of the Trump campaign. That may all very well have happened entirely on its own. If it did, while Mr. Trump’s election would be permanently marked with an asterisk in American political history, he would at least be an unwilling pawn in Russia’s game.
But what if he wasn’t unwilling? What if the Trump campaign worked with a powerful foreign antagonist because, for a moment, the goals of the campaign and the goals of the Russian government happened to align? That would be collusion.
And if collusion happened — either at the top or bottom of the Trump campaign — who knew what and when? When the Trump transition team brought on people like Papadopoulos, Flynn, Manafort, and Gates, it brought people with close ties to foreign governments into the inner sanctum of the executive branch. If Trump or his close staff used their power to shield these people from investigation or criminal charges, that is itself a crime.
A Constitutional Crisis
This could all come to a head very, very fast. Politico reports “Conservatives urge Trump to grant pardons in Russia probe.”
Trump can absolutely do this. The President’s power to pardon is unlimited.
But, if he does, it’s as good as admitting that a cover-up or collusion happened. Legally, accepting a Presidential Pardon is an admission of guilt. But more concerning is the cost of that pardon to the rest of Mueller’s investigation. Trump’s obsession with collusion and cover-up charges notwithstanding, Mueller is charged not just with investigating Trump but with investigating a foreign intelligence attack on the United States.
If Trump would cripple that investigation to protect his own people, well, we have a word for that: treason.
Tell Congress What You Think
Ultimately only Congress has the power to hold the President accountable to his duties to the nation. You can tell Congress what you think about Russia, the threat of Trump’s pardons, or any other issue by texting RESIST to 50409. Or, if SMS isn’t your style, you can contact your government by talking to Resistbot on Facebook Messenger, Telegram, or Twitter.