Editorials

Special counsel best way to reach bottom of the Trump-Russia connection

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller testifies on Capitol Hill; the Justice Department appointed Mueller as special counsel to oversee investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Former FBI Director Robert Mueller testifies on Capitol Hill; the Justice Department appointed Mueller as special counsel to oversee investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The AP

What will special counsel Robert Mueller find when he cracks open the case of Russia’s involvement in the highest echelons of American politics?

Will the former FBI director find a cover-up in which the newly elected President of the United States tried to get one of his favorite advisers off the FBI’s investigatory hook? Will he confirm that the Russians tried to help Donald Trump defeat Hillary Clinton? Will he discover why the Russians preferred Trump – does he have financial ties to the oligarchs or even President Vladimir Putin? Will Mueller find out why our president blabbed highly classified information to two Russian diplomats in a White House meeting?

We don’t know the scope of Mueller’s mandate, but we’re happy he agreed to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s request.

Rosenstein was careful to say Mueller’s appointment does not indicate any crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted. So the investigation might well serve to clear the president of anything other than being a braggart and blabbermouth. But it is clear that a growing number of Republicans and most Democrats have lost faith in the normal investigatory channels, so this extraordinary step was needed.

Trump’s firing of James Comey – who, as director of the FBI, refused to “go easy” on Trump’s National Security Adviser Michael Flynn – was likely only the next-to-last straw. A day later, Trump bragged to Russians about the quality of the intelligence reports receives and divulged highly classified material to prove his claim.

But long before that, there was ample evidence of Trump cozying up to Vladimir Putin, “a strong leader” in Trump’s words. Both the FBI and the National Security Administration said Russian hackers had broken into Democratic Party servers then spread damaging emails through Wiki-Leaks and planted fake news stories to smear Clinton and others. Some believe members of Trump’s campaign – who had ties to the Kremlin – worked to maximize the impact.

There’s just so much.

What we don’t expect Mueller to find is that President Donald Trump was trying to pass classified intelligence to his Russian guests last week. It’s far more plausible that he was merely bragging. As usual.

Bragging, even when a president divulges secrets, is not against the law. As the president pointed out (in a tweet, naturally), he can share information with whomever he likes – including Russian spymasters. What he can’t do is impede an FBI investigation.

Trump admitted that Comey’s firing had more to do with the Flynn probe than Comey’s performance, so we’re still anxious to hear from Comey in a public setting.

Each new revelation made Democrats angrier and Republicans more concerned. Those concerns are spreading nationwide. Wednesday stock markets tumbled, which many analysts tied to Trump’s troubles. And more trouble is sure to follow.

That’s because this president can’t seem to help himself. He clearly needs someone to hold his hand during meetings with foreign dignitaries just as he needs to learn to hold his own tongue.

This probe will move slowly and we must all have patience. And though some people despise this president, they shouldn’t assume any guilt or wrongdoing. Because in America, everyone deserves the same fair treatments. Including presidents.

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