“It Does Because It Does”

The dishonesty of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s case against ex- and brief-Trump Campaign Manager is made manifest in the opening questions Eastern District of Virginia Federal Judge TS Ellis III and Michael Dreeben’s (arguing for the Mueller side) answers.

Ellis noted

Apparently, if I look at the indictment, none of that information has anything to do with links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of Donald Trump. That seems to me to be obvious because they all long predate any contact or any affiliation of this defendant with the campaign.

Then, after a long soliloquy regarding the rationale for a prosecutor indicting a lesser player on lesser charges in order to squeeze that player into extruding information on a larger player, Ellis asked,

Where am I wrong in that regard?

Dreeben: The issue before you is Manafort’s motion to dismiss the charges.

Ellis: Yes, now answer my question.

Dreeben: “our investigatory scope does cover the activities [of the indictment]”

Ellis: Answer my question.

Dreeben: “the authorization for the special counsel to investigate matters is described generally in the appointment order on May”

Ellis: Yes, I have that letter.  Answer my question.  How does that letter include the indictment?

Dreeben: “So the authorization order permits….”

Ellis: “You’re running away from my question again. You know, I’m focused on the indictment that is here.”

Dreeben: “Well, Your Honor, we are the Justice Department.”

And there it is.  Mueller’s team flatly refused to explain how indictments related to 13-year-old events in Ukraine are tied in to an investigation of the relationship between the Trump campaign and Russia, choosing instead to be deliberately evasive.  Here, by the way, are the public parts of the Mueller Special Counsel Authorization Letter (my title for the thing), as quoted by Ellis:

Sub-paragraph b(i):

any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump.

Sub-paragraph b(ii):

any matters that arose or may arise directly from the [Mueller] investigation.

Nothing in there about any allegedly nefarious activities in Ukraine.  “Arose or may arise” from the Mueller investigation means exactly that.  Stuff from outside the investigation—the Manafort money laundering charges, for instance—aren’t part of the investigation.  And so Dreeben’s implication that Ellis should just sit down and shut up: “We are the Justice Department.”

Which only emphasizes the Special Counsel’s team’s evasions.

The transcript can be read here.

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