The col­lu­sion of lawyers is fi­nally col­laps­ing

The Washington Times Daily - - COMMENTARY - BY WESLEY PRU­DEN Wesley Pru­den is ed­i­tor in chief emer­i­tus of The Times.

Col­lud­ing, like canoodling, is all the rage. Robert Mueller, like a dog chasing his tail, has been try­ing for more than a year to find ev­i­dence that Pres­i­dent Trump col­luded with Vladimir Putin and the Rus­sians to cook the 2016 elec­tion, which fate, prov­i­dence, for­tune and destiny de­creed prop­erly be­longed to Hil­lary Clin­ton.

So far as any­one beyond his cir­cle of thou­sand-dol­lar-an-hour lawyers know, Mr. Mueller has not come up with any­thing more than a few in­dict­ments of sec­ond- and third-tier aides, helpers, hang­ers-on, and lawyers that a nice girl would not take home to meet the folks.

Now The New York Times re­ports that the FBI col­luded with the Aus­tralian am­bas­sador to the United States, of all un­likely peo­ple, to find some­thing to lend cre­dence to the Rus­sian col­lu­sion. Maybe, the FBI cal­cu­lated, col­lu­sion could be catch­ing. Mr. Mueller has demon­strated that he is not afraid to ven­ture into the tall weeds in pur­suit of Trump vil­lainy (if any).

“Within hours of open­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the Trump campaign’s ties to Rus­sia in the sum­mer of 2016,” The New York Times re­ported this week in a dis­patch both ex­haus­tive and ex­haust­ing, “the FBI dis­patched a pair of agents to Lon­don on a mis­sion so se­cre­tive that all but a hand­ful of of­fi­cials were kept in the dark.

“Their as­sign­ment, which has not been pre­vi­ously re­ported, was to meet the Aus­tralian am­bas­sador, who had ev­i­dence that one of Don­ald J. Trump’s ad­vis­ers knew in ad­vance about Rus­sian med­dling. Af­ter tense de­lib­er­a­tions be­tween [the gov­ern­ments in] Wash­ing­ton and Can­berra, top Aus­tralian of­fi­cials broke with diplo­matic pro­to­col and al­lowed the am­bas­sador, Alexan­der Downey, to sit for an FBI in­ter­view to de­scribe his meet­ing with the campaign ad­viser, Ge­orge Pa­padopou­los.”

This tastes like thin soup, but the prece­dent-break­ing in­ter­view — rare to say the least, be­cause friendly na­tions don’t like to med­dle in each other’s elec­tions, scan­dals and in­ter­nal af­fairs — be­came “the foun­da­tion” for Mr. Mueller’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the long­est-run­ning road show since P.T. Bar­num im­ported the re­mark­able 3 foot 4 inch dwarf Tom Thumb for his Big Top.

This was a re­mark­able in­ter­view. The Aus­tralian gov­ern­ment didn’t want to have any­thing to do with it, it seems clear, and ob­vi­ously agreed to it un­der con­sid­er­able ca­jol­ery. Only a tiny hand­ful of of­fi­cials knew about what the bureau co­de­named “Cross­fire Hur­ri­cane.” The code name was taken from a Rolling Stones lyric, “I was born in a cross­fire hur­ri­cane,” which the news­pa­per ob­serves “was an apt prediction of a po­lit­i­cal storm that con­tin­ues to tear shin­gles off the bureau.” (Jim Comey is a hip dude, all can agree, and has taken a shin­gle or two across his back­side.)

Mr. Comey was, in early Au­gust 2016, try­ing to wrap up the FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Hil­lary Clin­ton’s highly un­usual use of a pri­vate email server be­fore he dis­cov­ered some­thing he could nei­ther ig­nore nor ex­plain away. He would lay out the per­sua­sive case for in­dict­ing Mrs. Clin­ton for her easy and ca­sual care­less­ness with the na­tion’s se­cu­rity se­crets, only to re­treat from his re­spon­si­bil­ity to pass ev­ery­thing on to the at­tor­ney gen­eral, Loretta Lynch, to do some­thing re­spon­si­ble with it. Pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates, un­like pres­i­dents, can be in­dicted (like ham sand­wiches) for high crimes mis­de­meanors.

No­body in the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion wanted to have any­thing to do with that. The idea in high Demo­cratic places was to pro­tect Mrs. Clin­ton at what­ever the cost be­cause she would soon be elected to re­turn to the White House. The FBI was thus de­lighted to move on from pro­tect­ing Hil­lary to mak­ing sure that the Trump can­di­dacy would be ren­dered not just dead, but grave­yard dead, ren­dered a mere foot­note to Novem­ber.

Now there are in­ti­ma­tions that soon Mr. Mueller’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion will be grave­yard dead, too. He has agreed to put his fish­ing pole away and to sharply limit the ques­tions he asks if Pres­i­dent Trump agrees to an in­ter­view. There will be no perp walk, just a re­port by Mr. Mueller, with noth­ing for the Democrats in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives to at­tempt to hang an im­peach­ment in­dict­ment on.

Mr. Trump can say, with more steam than he has had so far, that he was a vic­tim of an FBI where elec­tion-rig­ging has re­placed pur­su­ing crime. “It’s a witch hunt,” he said last month, “and they know that.”

The vil­lain of the piece may turn out to be James Comey, who has him­self presided over the shred­ding of his cred­i­bil­ity and the shat­ter­ing of his rep­u­ta­tion. Robert Mueller has been un­able not only to run the pres­i­dent to ground, but un­able to pro­tect his friend James Comey. The only pos­i­tive in this shabby spec­ta­cle is that the idea of a spe­cial coun­sel/pros­e­cu­tor can be ren­dered grave­yard dead, too. It stin­keth to nearly ev­ery­one.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

James Comey

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