Earlier this summer, after a period of daily coverage of events following the appointment of Robert Mueller as Special Counsel, I mentioned to my wife that there would be a period of silence and little coming out about the investigation before they would start announcing indictments or any follow-on action. That’s seems to have happened today, with the initial announcement of indictments against Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, and and an admittance of guilt by George Papadopoulos.
I do not have much to offer at this time. And there are a lot of good reads out there to provide better explanations and insight (I recommend Vox). But, I can tell you that this is only the beginning. They are not leading with their strongest, toughest cases, but rather the ones that were easy to collect evidence and be confident of guilt. More will follow. Carter Page, Michael Flynn, Donald Trump, Jr., have all been of interest thus far. And they are certainly more important catches.
The fact that members of the U.S. federal government and private advisors to the President are encouraging him to resist and fight back is also discouraging (see Steve Bannon’s reported comments tonight – not that I expected anything different). Of course we should, as Americans, expect that the President and his or her administration will support the pursuit of justice, even to the extent that it is aimed at their own inner circles. Yet, that is not going to come to fruition in this administration. Thus, it is all the more important that a Congress made up of members who espouse courage and values will perform the proper “checking and balancing” that the founding Federalists had in mind. No, this is not just talking about impeachment. This can include, however, ensuring enough pressure is on the President to, for instance, not fire Robert Mueller. Or, that the President understands that his allies in Congress will not support him if his administration does not respect and adhere to the investigation’s possible future indictments of administration officials. Or that members of Congress who are of the President’s party will publicly outline their continued and strong support in Mueller’s team and its investigation. These are examples of how “checking and balancing” can actually work in this case.
The last thought I have is that the extent of the money laundering is disgusting and disappointing, but I think that too many people in this country do not see it as truly wrong. It seems too accepted in the pursuit of continued financial gain to convince oneself that it is suitable and encouraged to conduct the types of activities outlined in the indictments of Manafort and Gates. Yet, I fear it is a case of “it’s only wrong if you’re caught.”