After 22 months, 37 indictments and 7 guilty pleas and / or convictions, the Russia investigation has finally come to a close. Special Counsel Robert Mueller submitted his report to Attorney General William Barr this afternoon without handing down any further indictments. The only two questions that beg to be answered are what will be in the report and how much of it will we see?
As to question number one, it’s clear that Mueller and the Southern District of New York have uncovered a vast conspiracy by Russia to interfere with this country’s elections; and that interference is still going on even as we speak. To what extent Trump and / or his campaign were involved only the special counsel knows.
Based on Cadet Bone Spur’s recent meltdowns on Twitter, I’d say the report will be damning. Even if a case for collusion can’t be directly made – seriously, I always thought that was a tough row to hoe – there is more than enough evidence of obstruction of justice and, depending on what was discovered in the financial records, money laundering. I firmly believe it’s the latter that most concerns Trump and his whole crime family. If the extent of his corporation’s financial corruption were ever made public, his whole crooked empire would collapse. Face it, next to Trump, Gotti was Father Flanagan.
Unfortunately, none of it may ever see the light of day, and that’s because of two Department of Justice rules that, according to many legal experts, will shield this president, not only from criminal prosecution, but from any public disclosure of his wrong doings. I’ll explain.
Back in October of 2000, the DOJ issued a memorandum that read in pertinent part, “The indictment or criminal prosecution of a sitting President would unconstitutionally undermine the capacity of the executive branch to perform its constitutionally assigned functions.” So, based on that memorandum, Trump cannot be indicted while in office for his high crimes and misdemeanors. The only entity that could deal with him would be the Congress through impeachment, and as I’ve already said, without a conviction in the Senate, an impeachment in the House is meaningless.
But the bad news doesn’t end there. Turns out there’s a long-standing policy at the DOJ that prohibits the department from naming anyone in a criminal investigation that hasn’t been indicted. Title 9-11.130 of the Criminal Code says, again in pertinent part, “In the absence of some significant justification, federal prosecutors generally should not identify unindicted co-conspirators in conspiracy indictments.” It goes on to add that “In any indictment where an allegation that the defendant conspired with ‘another person or persons known’ is insufficient, some other generic reference should be used, such as ‘Employee 1’ or ‘Company 2’.” This is what the SDNY did in the Michael Cohen indictment. It referred to Trump as Individual 1, the co-conspirator. P.S., the SDNY is still conducting its investigation into Trump and his organization. That means that Junior and Kushner aren’t out of the woods yet. Stay tuned.
So, to sum up: Trump can’t be indicted because he’s a sitting president, AND because he can’t be indicted, he can’t be named – at least not directly – in Mueller’s report for any alleged malfeasance. Beautiful. This is what they refer to as circular reasoning. Now that I think about it, maybe Trump was right: he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it; at least while he’s still in office.
And that, my friends, might be the only good news we get out of this whole messy affair. Trump has left enough bread crumbs to start his own bakery. Maybe Mueller can’t indict him or include his name in his report to Barr, and maybe the SDNY also can’t indict him for the very same reason. But that prohibition expires the second he becomes a private citizen. Right about the time the next Democratic president repeats the words from Chief Justice John Roberts, “So help me God,” an indictment with Trump’s name on it will be served upon his personal attorney. You can bet the ranch on that.
Bottom line, whether he answers for his crimes now or in two years, he WILL answer for them. He may think he’s above the law, but he really isn’t. He can no more outrun 240 years of jurisprudence than he can stop lying.