May 19, 2017

OH NOES: After Mueller, Trump Critics Worry: Maybe There’s No Scandal.

Eli Lake is right: The DOJ’s appointment of widely-respected former prosecutor Robert Mueller to lead the special inquiry into the Trump campaign’s potential collusion with Russia is a reprieve for a Trump Administration in crisis—a reprieve that it will almost certainly squander, but a reprieve nonetheless.

How do we know? Because the responses from Trump’s most dogged critics on the Russia question betray a kind of anxiety about the Mueller appointment—an anxiety that the no-nonsense law enforcement wise man will lower the temperature in Washington without actually uncovering enough damaging material to bring down the President.

Take, for example, Josh Marshall declaring that while he has confidence in Mueller to identify and expose any criminal activities undertaken by Trump or his associates, he won’t be able to prosecute the real Trump-Russia wrongdoing: a labyrinthian “conspiracy” which may not even involve any illegal behavior. . . .

Since the summer before the election, Trump’s critics have been suggesting or sometimes stating outright that Russia is involved with a criminal conspiracy that reaches to the highest levels of Trump’s inner circle. But now that an unimpeachable bulldog prosecutor has been named to probe these very allegations, the critics seem to be trying to move the goalposts.

Well, we know from the book Shattered that the Trump/Russia thing was cooked up to explain Hillary’s loss to the true believers. “Hillary declined to take responsibility for her own loss. Hillary kept pointing her finger at Comey and Russia. That strategy had been set within twenty-four hours of her concession speech. For a couple of hours [Hillary and her aides] went over the script they would pitch to the press and the public. Already, Russian hacking was the centerpiece of the argument.”

But will the Clinton Foundation’s dealings with the Russians — and with Saudi Arabia, and with the Gulf States — get similar attention? Why not?