The conspiracy theorists are hungry, and Robert Mueller owes them dinner. His pantry is apparently barren of groceries, and he has spent nearly $7 million of the grocery money. So far he has only served up a cheese plate. We deserve a little red meat soon.
Ham, ram, lamb, bull, beef or bear, just something raw and red. Indicting Paul Manafort satisfied growling tummies for a brief season. So why not indict him again? But you have to wonder what all those K Street lawyers are doing with their time at $500 an hour.
Mr. Mueller, whose neck is getting warm from the hot breath of impatient skeptics, is expected to repeat a few indictments soon, “brought back by popular demand,” intended to “grind down” Mr. Manafort and one or two others indicted earlier. Everyone expected the heavy artillery that Mr. Mueller is said to be a master of, and so far his regiment of sharpshooters has marched up to the creek to attack only a few muddy beer bottles with BB guns.
A “superseding indictment” would replace the original indictment against Mr. Manafort, for money laundering, making false statements and other things related to his lobbying business. But nothing, so far as anyone can tell, connected to Russians and the 2016 election.
Jonathan Turley, who manufactures lawyers at the George Washington University Law School in Washington, is one of the beagles who expects some of these “superseding indictments” soon.
“There was much in the narrative of the indictment that referenced crimes not charged,” Prof. Turley tells the Daily Beast, an Internet news website. “Prosecutors will often issue a superseding indictment as the grand jury continues its work. There’s also a tactical reason for this, that superseding indictments tend to grind defendants a bit more over time.”
The Daily Beast “hints” that Mr. Mueller is preparing to charge Mr. Manafort with more tax-related crimes. He has an account with a foreign bank — hardly unheard of among lobbyists, lawyers, and honest traders with business abroad — and the Daily Beast reports that he did not “check a box” on tax forms disclosing it.
One former prosecutor from the Justice Department, not further identified, says Mr. Mueller gave Mr. Manafort what lawyers call “a speaking indictment,” which intentionally includes more information than necessary.
“It’s a way of dirtying up a defendant without actually having to prove the conduct,” the former prosecutor tells the Daily Beast. “I think, in fairness to them [and prosecutors always want to be fair to agents of the state], they probably rushed it because they didn’t want to wait for the tax division approval on those tax counts.”
This lack of red meat is trying the stamina and patience of many who devoutly believe that Donald Trump colluded with the Russians to inflict maximum pain on Miss Hillary.
“Two months ago,” reports Rowan Scarborough in The Washington Times, “Rep. Adam Schiff of California, who is leading the House Democrats inquisition of President Trump, said it ‘still remains to be seen’ whether the Trump colluded with Russia in its interference in the 2016 election.” Deprived of red meat, he’s now singing the same verses of the old song we’ve all heard before.
“We do know this,” Mr. Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence tells CNN, which has an appetite for old news (and expected any day now to resume reporting the story of the Malayan airliner still missing in the Indian Ocean), “the Russians offered help, the Trump campaign accepted help. The Russians gave help and the president made full use of that help, and that is pretty damning, whether it’s proof beyond a reasonable doubt of conspiracy or not.”
Who needs proof, just indict someone again, this time for mopery. Mr. Schiff was quick to embrace the infamous Russia-Trump dossier about the Donald’s naughty deeds with an expensive hooker in Moscow, written by a onetime British spy and paid for by the Democratic Party desperate for something to rescue Hillary’s foundering presidential campaign. The erstwhile spy promised evidence of Trump campaign collusion with the Russian government, but delivered only “evidence” of collusion, widely discredited, with a hooker. The FBI swallowed the story, but no one else did.
Robert Mueller’s soup gets thinner and thinner, and the meter keeps ticking. He’s got the client that every law-school student dreams of, and Mr. Mueller is said to think he can keep his investigation going for “weeks, months, even years.”
Mr. Mueller is said by his friends to be a good and decent man. Decency demands no more canapes, no more artichoke appetizers or deviled quail’s eggs. Everybody’s ready for the standing rib roast, if he finds one.
• Wesley Pruden is editor in chief emeritus of The Times.
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