Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller is practicing the old Washington shell game of bait and switch.
Hired to probe the charge of collusion between Trump and Russia, he is now pivoting to try to make a case for obstruction of justice — an obstruction which never would have happened if false news and leaks had not stampeded Trump into appointing a special prosecutor.
This pivot is the traditional last refuge of special prosecutors. Having failed to find evidence of what he was hired to investigate, he is following in the footsteps of special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who was hired to investigate the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame and ended up only indicting Cheney aide Scooter Libby for lying to his investigators.
Mueller’s intention to interview President Trump is really a Hail Mary pass to try to trip up the president into making technically false or imprecise statements to give him a case against him.
In six months of investigation, he has not found any evidence — not an iota — of collusion between President Trump and Russia in the election of 2016.
So now he is determined to cast the actions of President Trump in taking over the criminal justice system and appointing his own people as obstruction of justice, as if the president had no other priority.
The fact that the president might have priorities other than letting Mueller investigate seems to have escaped him.
National security, homeland protection and reducing crime all compete for the president’s attention and impel his management decisions, but all Mueller can see is how Trump is affecting his investigation — an investigation into a crime that was never either committed or contemplated.
Meanwhile, incoming FBI director Christopher Wray is moving steadily if slowly to change the culture at the FBI.
By replacing General Counsel James Baker with Dana Boente, the U.S. attorney for Eastern Virginia, he is potentially opening the window to let in fresh air.
And by appointing Zachary Harrison, his colleague in private law practice, to replace James Rybicki as chief of staff, he is moving to put his own stamp on the Bureau.
Trump has been urging Wray to move faster as evidence of FBI bias against his presidency piles up.
He has pressed Wray to fire Andrew McCabe, the deputy director whose wife ran as a Democrat for the Virginia legislature and was funded by the Clinton machine.
But McCabe is determined to hold on until his scheduled retirement in March to get his full pension.
Overall the FBI scandal is overtaking the Mueller investigation and sidelining the special prosecutor for a good reason: There is real malfeasance at the FBI and the charge of collusion with Russia is just an illusion.
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