The Mueller investigation picked up steam yesterday as his team indicted thirteen Russians and an American for fraud in meddling with the 2016 Presidential election. The charges specified that the individuals indicted were trying to help Trump (and Sanders and Klein) get elected and trying to damage the candidacy of Clinton. The Russian operation was complex and lengthy, and well explained by the NY Times:
All of this begs the question: Why doesn’t Trump do anything to hinder Russia from continued attacks on our electoral system, and why don’t GOP leaders in Congress do anything about the Russia hacks either?
The indicted Russians will likely never be brought back to America to stand trial, so why did Mueller bother to charge them? Because it accomplishes two important tasks.
One, it signals that the Russian attack on our election wasn’t a hoax or a liberal conspiracy theory, but in fact was an actual operation involving actual people carrying out specific plans across our nation. This makes it much harder for right-wing zealots to pretend Russia did nothing.
Two, it demonstrates that there were actual crimes committed, not just some mean people tweeting mean things. This is critically important. Trump and his enablers like to say that there was ‘no collusion’ and even if there was, collusion isn’t a crime. But conspiracy is a crime, and conspiracy charges need to rest upon underlying crimes. Now we know what some of those crimes were. The Russians used false identities and spent foreign money to influence our election, which is against the law. So if the Trump Team had any coordination with these Russians, they were part of a criminal conspiracy.
Mueller is building, brick by brick, the foundation for any future charges against people who might have helped or coordinated with the Russians, and this is very bad news for the Trump Team. In addition we learned recently that Rick Gates, Trump insider and former partner of the indicted Paul Manafort, has become a cooperating witness for the Mueller probe, which is also potentially devastating news for Manafort and Trump. Gates was in a position to know a lot of what went on in the Trump campaign and transition, as well as the shady dealings Manafort had with the Ukraine.
Yesterdays new indictments show that the Mueller probe has a lot of deep information on the Russian meddling, and likely knows a lot about what went on inside the Trump campaign. As he draws the noose tighter and tighter, and as the revelations become more and more troubling, expect Trump to get increasingly anxious and chaotic. Expect him to say more outrageous things to distract us.
Will the Republicans in Congress stick with him until the bitter end, or will they cut him loose if the criminality gets too close to him? What we know so far about their Russian contacts is damning, and it gives us strong motivation to kick out John Faso and restore congress as a check on Presidential power, instead of the enabling sycophants they have become.