The hundreds of published pages from the Special Counsel’s office and the House intelligence committee read like a Le Carré novel.
Washington DC, Dec.8.– The Mueller investigation has been running for 81 weeks and counting. For much of that time it has offered those yet to get over the 2016 election a chance to fantasise about an alternative ending to the Trump presidency, one in which the good guys get the bad guys and justice is served. The market for this is so strong that there is even a podcast dedicated to investigation speculation, called “Mueller, she wrote”. Lawfare, a wonky legal blog, has become so popular that it has a merchandise section selling Lawfare-branded babygrows.
Yet the investigation is widely misunderstood. Many Americans seem to be waiting for a final report from Robert Mueller’s team, at which point something will happen. Both those assumptions are wrong. The report, when it eventually comes, will probably not be made public. And the judgment on what that report means for the president will be political, rather than legal. It will rest on the views of Republicans in Congress. And many of them would rather not think about it.
Interviews with Republican congressmen, staffers and strategists in the wake of the most recent guilty plea from Michael Cohen, the president’s former lawyer and fixer, suggest few have paid it much attention. “I don’t think our members of Congress give a shit about Don Junior, the president’s family, people around the president,” says one. Another likens the party’s situation to the fable of the frog: the water is hotter, but colleagues have adjusted to it. Some quietly calculate that their political futures depend on publicly supporting a president whom they deplore.
Yet the widespread indifference in one party does not mean the special counsel’s investigation is inconsequential. Its seven guilty pleas or convictions are real enough. What has already been revealed, in the hundreds of pages of documents published by the special counsel’s office and the report by the House intelligence committee, is startling. These documents contain a cast of characters that seem drawn from a novel by Eric Ambler or John le Carré ...
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