Mueller's Probe Widens it's Search ... Again

The Mueller probe is starting to look like a cluster bomb, let fly the various and sundry charges and hope some kill off our targets. Sorry, I mean end the political careers and send them to jail on charges that are paid by fines if they happened in the Obama era. But the Mueller probe has spent $8 million on the investigation and the opposition are looking forward to juicy dividends as a return on the invested (taxpayers’) capital.

Maria Butina was a lobbyist and almost certainly had some close connections to Putin's Kremlin. She came to America to build contacts. That was her job. She was charged this summer under 18 US Code 371.

If two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

If, however, the offense, the commission of which is the object of the conspiracy, is a misdemeanor only, the punishment for such conspiracy shall not exceed the maximum punishment provided for such misdemeanor.

The offense was apparently "acting in the United States as an agent of a foreign government without notifying the Attorney General". So, in essence she has been held in jail for not registering as a foreign agent, even if the charges are laid out using 18 USC 371 to make it a case of conspiracy. Surely section 371 was meant for greater offenses that failing to register.

Diplomacy will likely not be the same in Washington after Mueller is done. The leaks from his team have recently been suggesting that the probe is now looking at charging actors in the Middle East - Turkey and perhaps Qatar - and how they may have attempted to offer assistance to the Trump campaign. It seems to be a result of Flynn's testimony about his lobbying on behalf of Turkey.

This is a mistake and will backfire over the longer term. Will it do immediate political damage to Trump? Yes. Enough to justify impeachment proceedings? The opposition have felt they've had enough for nearly 2 years by all appearances. By criminalizing contacts with less-than-democratic foreign governments, Mueller's team will have to show that they illegally conspired to help Trump win the election. That's a stretch by any measure. And a dumb way to fix the problem. It's self-righteous and unrealistic in a world filled with bad actors. You can retaliate and expel and take other counter measures if real spying is going on. But not like this.

But of more importance longer term, American diplomats and business people are now at far greater risk around the world. And no country has more business people and diplomats spread around every corner of the globe than America does. When you combine this with the arrest in Vancouver of Huawei's Meng Wanzhou, the conflictive divisions of domestic politics are destabilizing international relations to perhaps as great or greater an extent than Trump's bombastic but hard-nosed trade war with China.

Mueller is going to look like a bureaucratic idiot of a wrecking ball when history looks back at his probe, a probe which has turned into the legal equivalent of the Afghanistan War but with more victories (so far): an endless slog that is self-justifying. Will Trump look foolish or worse as well? He already does. But at what cost to America's place in the world?

And Rod Rosenstein? Speculation is he must have broadened Mueller's authority yet again in order for the probe to start hunting in the Middle East for Trump campaign collaborators. Was this necessary? An overly broad mandate was broadened yet again?? Why?

Where will this end?

Posted by Keeley at December 14, 2018 6:39 PM
Comment #435775

The 5th floor of Federal Court House building shut down for a special interview, most likely Trmp and Mueller.

Posted by: ohrealy at December 15, 2018 1:03 PM
Comment #435778

Something is going on with that secret Grand Jury. There are a lot of sealed indictments out there.

The story that blows my mind is the DOJ investigation of Maria Butina. What on earth were those guys at the NRA and the GOP thinking? How did she do that? She must be one of the greatest spies I have ever seen, except for the fact she got caught.

An attractive young Russian woman who just graduated from Georgetown and wanted to hob nob with the hoi polloi should have raised suspicions among conservatives. As usual, no one among the NRA or GOP contacted the FBI. The top people at the NRA apparently believed her story about how Russians desperately craved private gun ownership. Really? How laughably stupid are the top people at the NRA? Or maybe they just wanted to believe, and she possessed some kind of crazy s*xual skills that made it easy for them to clap their hands for Tinkerbelle. Or maybe it was just plain, old fashioned amoral greed. Plenty of that going around! In any case, the NRA leadership went to Moscow and met with the Foreign Minister. Since when does a young graduate student have connections with the Foreign Minister? Hello? Anybody home?

Well, it was probably the money. Someone, somehow funneled an enormous amount of money through anonymous donations to the NRA, and then to Trump. A lot also went to the RNC. Who knows how many people were compromised.

What an amazing spy! It appears she did it on the fly, without formal training. That turned out to be a problem, because when the Feds put her in solitary confinement she caved pretty quickly. Well, it can happen. Some people can’t take it. But still, she successfully infiltrated the top echelons of the NRA and the GOP, and that was an incredible achievement.

She gave up her ‘boyfriend,’ a Republican political operative Paul Erickson, to the Feds. The conservative appears to be a Russian asset or agent. Butina’s handler, a Russian oligarch named Torshin, has disappeared from public view.

If there is one person I want to read about after this whole thing ends, it will be this spy. That was amazing!

Posted by: phx8 at December 15, 2018 4:32 PM
Comment #435779
But the Mueller probe has spent $8 million on the investigation and the opposition are looking forward to juicy dividends as a return on the invested (taxpayers’) capital.

As I said before, the Mueller probe is turning a profit for the government. Tax cheats are paying up and plenty more to come from the Big Cheaters. They could pay for the investigation ten times over just from Wilbur Ross.

Posted by: ohrealy at December 15, 2018 5:07 PM
Comment #435780

Extra for experts: did you know that Betsy McCaughey, famous for her outrageous lies about the Obamacare “death panels,” was married to Wilbur Ross in the late 90’s?

Gonna need a clown car to pack in all the skeazy people that came along with Trump.

Posted by: phx8 at December 15, 2018 6:35 PM
Comment #435826

This report from the U.S. Justice Department states that cost of the Mueller investigation was over $17 Million as of May-2017. Other sources say the cost is over $25 Million.

Posted by: d.a.n at December 17, 2018 5:24 PM
Comment #435827

HHMmmmmm … so where is the proof of collusion between Trump and the Russians?

Just think how much would be found if there was an investigation into all of this and this?

Posted by: d.a.n at December 17, 2018 5:28 PM
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