I’ve heard a few of my liberal friends argue that if Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigating the Trump campaign and administration is a witch hunt, he’s sure captured a lot of witches (with his indictments).
And perhaps he has – but plenty of witches were caught in the Salem Witch trials too. In fact, it’s a defining characteristic of a witch hunt that there are “witches” being hunted.
When Rod Rosenstein authorized Mueller’s special counsel after the firing of James Comey, it authorized Mueller to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and (ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and (iii) any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. § 600.4(a).”
Dozens have been charged – but none within that criteria, and the American public knows that. If there was any collusion, we would’ve learned about it years ago. According to USA Today:
Amid signs that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference may be near its conclusion, a new USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll finds that trust in Mueller has eroded and half of Americans agree with President Donald Trump’s contention that he has been the victim of a “witch hunt.”
Support for the House of Representatives to seriously consider impeaching the president has dropped since last October by 10 percentage points, to 28 percent.
Twenty-eight percent say they have a lot of trust in former FBI director Mueller’s investigation to be fair and accurate. That’s the lowest level to date and down 5 points since December. In comparison, 30 percent express a lot of trust in Trump’s denials, the highest to date.
Trump reacted to the news earlier today on Twitter:
Wow! A Suffolk/USA Today Poll, just out, states, “50% of Americans AGREE that Robert Mueller’s investigation is a Witch Hunt.” @MSNBC Very few think it is legit! We will soon find out?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 18, 2019
And if you want the full rundown, here’s everyone charged by Mueller so far, and their charges that have nothing to do with collusion:
First charged: October 3, 2017.
Charges: One count of making false statements to the FBI.
Specifics: Made misleading statements to the FBI about his interactions with “an overseas professor” (Joseph Mifsud) who had alleged ties to the Russian government. Mifsud has donated to the Clinton Foundation in the past. No charges relating to actual Russian collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Rick Gates and Paul Manafort
First charged: October 27, 2017, then February 22, 2018.
Charges: Manafort – Found guilty of 8 counts: five tax fraud charges, one charge of hiding foreign bank accounts and two counts of bank fraud. Charges with an additional 16 crimes by New York. Gates – 2 counts: conspiracy against the United States and false statements.
Specifics: All regarding tax evasion and money laundering. Zero charges are related to collusion between the Donald Trump campaign and the Russian government.
First charged: November 30, 2017.
Charges: One count of making false statements to the FBI. Flynn allegedly lied during an interview with two agents.
Specifics: As James Comey confirmed, neither of the FBI agents that Flynn allegedly lied to thought that Flynn was being untruthful. Flynn spoke to a Russian ambassador following the 2016 election, which is standard given Flynn’s former position. Flynn was quizzed on the contents of his conversation with the ambassador, none of which were criminal. The FBI had known this because they surveilled Flynn’s call and knew its exact contents before testing Flynn on how well he could recall it.
First charged: February 2, 2018.
Charges: One count of identity theft.
Specifics: Pinedo operated the website Auction Essistance, which brokered bank account numbers to allow people banned from eBay and PayPal (and similar websites) to return to those websites under a different identity. Pinedo transferred, possessed and used the identities of other people in connection with unlawful activity, according to a statement of the offense. I’m not sure how this could have less to do with Russian collusion.
Alex van der Zwaan
First charged: February 2, 2018.
Charges: Lying to the FBI and Special Counsel about his interactions with Rick Gates and Konstantin Kilimnik (a Ukrainian associate of Manafort).
Specifics: None relating to Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.
Dzheykhun Aslanov, Gleb Vasilchenko, Internet Research Agency LLC, Irina Kaverzina Vladimir Venkov, Anna Bogacheva Maria Bovda Robert Bovda Mikhail Burchik Mikhail Bystrov Aleksandra Krylova Vadim Podkopaev Sergey Polozov Yevgeny Prigozhin Concord Catering, and Concord Management and Consulting LLC
First charged: February 16, 2018
Charges: Multiple charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States and aggravated identity theft. Conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud.
Specifics: Mueller alleges that the Russians indicted “communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump campaign,” with the key word being “unwitting,” as there’s no evidence that the Trump campaign members knew. More specifically, their crimes include “making expenditures in connection with the 2016 U.S. presidential election without proper regulatory disclosure; failing to register as foreign agents carrying out political activities within the United States; and obtaining visas through false and fraudulent statements.”
While they did try to interfere with the U.S. election, there is no evidence of collusion.
First charged: June 8, 2018
Charges: Two counts: obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice.
Specifics: Communicated with Rick Gates and Paul Manafort (who he’d known since 2005), and aided them in laundering money. “Russia” is mentioned in his indictment only when referencing to the country as a location.
Boris Antonov, Dmitriy Badin, Nikolay Kozachek, Aleksey Lukashev, Artem Malyshev, Sergey Morgachev, Viktor Netyksho, Aleksey Potemkin, Ivan Yermakov, Pavel Yershov, Aleksandr Osadchuk, and Anatoliy Kovalev
First charged: August 31, 2018.
Charges: Multiple charges of conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, aggravated identity theft, and conspiracy to launder money.
Specifics: Attempted interference with U.S. election, but not through collusion with the Trump campaign. Also money laundering and identity theft.
W. Samuel Patten
First charged: August 31, 2018
Charges: Violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act
Specifics: Patten failed to register as a foreign agent with the Justice Department when he represented the Ukrainian political party “Opposition Bloc” from 2014 through 2018. He also admitted to laundering a $50,000 donation from Kilmnik to the Trump inauguration committee (there is no evidence to suggest anyone associated with the Trump campaign knew anything of this).