Robert Mueller’s Small Fry

Since Robert S. Mueller has pursued President Trump’s people so aggressively, we need to go back to the letter which appointed him as special prosecutor. It told him to look for signs of coordination between Trump’s campaign supporters and the Russian government. But that’s not all it said. The overarching purpose of Mueller’s appointment was “to ensure a full and thorough investigation of the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.”

The distinction matters. There’s nothing wrong with seeking a rapprochement with the Russians. Sure, I know they’ve been beastly. But those are precisely the kinds of people you want to rein in, and the best way of doing so is by opening up a dialogue with them. There are deals waiting to be made with them, good for them, good for us, good even for the Ukrainians and Syrians.

If thinking like that is a crime, then I have to plead guilty. With my wife and Bob Tyrrell, I helped draft Trump’s major campaign speech on foreign policy, which he delivered at Washington’s Mayflower Hotel on April 27, 2016. In it, we had inserted some language signaling a willingness to reach out to Russia. “We can see how the rapid expansion of NATO to the borders of Russia might have troubled it, how it might have been taken as a threat,” we wrote. That line, perhaps too fawning, didn’t make it into the speech as delivered, and what was substituted was “Some say the Russians won’t be reasonable. I intend to find out.”

So are there foreign policy thought crimes now? Have foreign policy differences been criminalized? That’s what you’d think, reading the Washington Post on Tuesday morning. “Trump Official Urged Russian Outreach,” blared the headline. Well, how bout dat? Cash me outside.

Suppose next that, unlike me, the Trump official tries to broker a meeting with Russian officials, as George Papadopoulos did. But if you want a rapprochement with Russia, just how would you go about doing that, except by taking to Russians? Papadopoulos also wanted the trove of Hillary Clinton emails the Russians supposedly had. These were emails that she had illegally withheld, and that would have gone to the question of Russian interference in the election. Except nothing happened. Papadopoulos was a naïf who believed he was dealing with Putin’s niece when a casual perusal of Wikipedia would have told him that Putin doesn’t have a niece. As a private citizen, Papadopoulos did try to reach out to Russian officials, and in theory that would be a breach of the 1799 Logan Act, but that’s a dead letter. No one has been prosecuted under it, and it’s openly broken by people from both parties. Such as Obama. So they didn’t charge Papadopoulos with that.

So what did they get Papadopoulos for? The crime of talking to the feds without a lawyer at his side. They charged him with the crime of making a false statement about something which, had he told the truth, would not have been a crime. That’s how they nailed Martha Stewart, and that’s the crime to which Papadopoulos pled guilty.

And just what were the lies? Papadopoulos told the FBI that he had met a British academic and “Putin’s niece” before he joined the campaign. It turns out that he met them only after he did so. The FBI says that impeded their investigation, but can anyone explain why it might have made a difference? If you’re looking for coordination, the timing doesn’t matter if the discussions with the foreign nationals were ongoing, as they were.

It stinks. And it especially stinks because everyone knows the only reason the feds bothered with him is that they’ll ask him to rat out someone higher up. They’ll tell him he can avoid jail time if he implicates Trump. We know that he lies when he doesn’t have a reason to do so. What do you think a liar will do under that kind of pressure?

Here was Papadopoulos’ real offense: He didn’t ask to see a lawyer before talking to the FBI. And, failing to do so, he didn’t say “to the best of my recollection” before he said anything to them. But his real offense was his assumption that the FBI was on his side, that he could talk freely to them if his conscience was clear. That’s criminal behavior when the FBI is so deeply politicized and willing to put whomever they want in jail.

And by the way, guess who the FBI director was when they shamefully prosecuted Martha Stewart? One Robert S. Mueller.

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About F. H. Buckley

F.H. Buckley teaches at Scalia Law School. His latest book, "The Republic of Virtue: How We Tried to Ban Corruption, Failed, and What We Can Do About It," will be published in December 2017 by Encounter Books.

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20 responses to “Robert Mueller’s Small Fry”

    • Aye:
      “Deputy Attorney General Ron Rosenstein and Mueller’s right-hand man, Andrew Weissmann, former head of the fraud unit at Obama/Holder’s Justice Department, signed the plea agreement of the Russian businessman embroiled in the Clinton-Uranium One case.”

  1. There all going to jale! In 2020 Trump will LOOSE and Clinton will win by a lanslide! PERSIST & RESIST!

    • Your bad spelling is undermining your passion. Please try harder.

      • this lunatic copies and pastes this comment over and over for multiple days in a row. so its either a troll or a retard, or perhaps a retard troll.

  2. This is Mueller and Comey’s MO. They are inept or corrupt to the point of not getting anyone for any actual crimes they were supposed to be investigating, just process crimes arising from the investigation. Martha Stewart was never charged with the crime they were investigating. When she declared she was innocent, they charged her claiming that she said it to make her stock price go up. So declaring your innocence is a crime now. They also badly botched the anthrax scare investigation hounding an innocent man.

  3. To anyone who insanely claims that Trump is a dictator-wannabe, I point out these two things:

    1 – He meekly obeyed the courts when they not once, not twice, but three times outrageously blocked his travel EO, merely appealing through the established channels;

    2 – He hasn’t summarily shut down the fishing expedition Mueller investigation over anything and anyone under the sun Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

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  4. Charged with lying about something that, had he told the truth, wouldn’t have ben a crime…

    BILL CLINTON IMPEACHMENT, ANYONE???

    Buckley is a partisan joke.

    • Bills’ impeachment was about him directing his government to lie to the courts.

  5. That’s exactly what they are doing. Criminalizing foreign policy “wrong thinkers.” How exactly are we to keep track of when it is and is not okay to reach out to “foreign adversaries” if it is all based on how the political winds happen to be blowing at the time a politically motivated prosecutor wants to make a move?

  6. The real issues here are: (A) How fantastically decadent western society has become. (B) How little the Swamp-inhabitants care for the Constitution, the principle of democracy or good government in the United States. (C) How brilliantly heroic Donald Trump was to take on nearly all the most powerful people in the country – Big Money; its lackeydoms (the political class, the mainstream media, the bureaucracy); its allies, the united screaming voices of Academe and the wild violent Left – how marvellously he fought his campaign as a communicator and counter-punching street-fighter, and (D) how lamentably unprepared he was for office.

    Inasmuch as one of his chief campaign themes was ‘Drain the Swamp!’ he surely should not have expected that the Swamp would consent and comply with its undoing. Exactly the reverse was to be anticipated. He needed to have a separate team of skilful sly machiavels working in parallel to his election-winning group, over the 12-month period October 2015-October 2016, producing in great secresy a step-by-step strategy for wrongfooting all the tricks that would be used against him if he
    did win the election; which program (taking no prisoners, allowing no-one to be appointed who would recuse himself, being harder than iron or adamant) would apply from the moment of victory.

    Instead STRATEGICALLY he relied on winging it, an inapt modus operandi in such a context. He gave Hillary a pass that night of November 8/9; tried to get along with the Establishment (a lost cause before he could start); been childishly nepotistic and unfair in appointing his daughter and son-in-law as his chief advisers (those who voted for Mr Trump never were casting their suffrages for two standard-model New York liberals); and has been mired in half the nets the ‘Resistance’
    (the Swamp) has devised for him.

    The Trump manifesto of policy positions and his ‘Contract with the American Voter’ of October last year were and are magnificent, spot-on excellent; just what is needed. But what I think also is required is someone to run for president in 2020 with the same identical policies, who has a much more more focused personality and a handpicked team, as to appointments and advisers, which one and all ardently agrees with the campaign themes.

  7. 18 USC 1001 is an abomination in a free country and ought to be repealed immediately.

  8. The “investigators” should be thoroughly investigated!

  9. Don’t ever talk to the FBI without a lawyer. You’d be insane to do so.

  10. So why the big surprise re: Foreign Policy differences equals a crime.

    What the hell do you think the Democrats did to Elliot Abrams during the reagan – Bush years.

    Same old script – while the Fat Lady in a Pantsuit gets to tour the talk shows claiming “She wuz robbed”

  11. I don’t trust the FBI and neither should you. Don’t talk to the FBI or local police about anything.

  12. The last sentence says everything that needs to be said about Mueller’s “integrity.”