Robert Mueller has the heart of a Las Vegas hooker and the guile of a New Orleans stripper. Not to push the metaphor too far, he’s skilled at showing a little skin in a cloud of satin and lace, but never quite comes across with what the customer is paying for.
Mr. Mueller, held up by his fellow Blackstones as a model of lawyerly rectitude, teased everyone last week that after testing his prowess to the limit, he had hooked a mighty tuna. His hallelujah chorus in the media celebrated the hundred-pound monster, but overnight it melted into a two-inch goldfish.
The special prosecutor might yet get the last laugh. He may yet land the promised tuna if there’s actually one out there in the briny deep. So far he’s coming up with nothing but net. The Associated Press, which has never been accused of giving Republicans a break, called the arrest “lots of smoke, but no smoking gun.” The “lots of smoke” looked as the new week began as merely a thin tuft of smoke, or more likely a wisp of fog.
The president’s sharpest detractors, agreed CNBC News, among the most fervent of those detractors, have so far been unable to find evidence that the Trump campaign coordinated with, or was even aware of, Russian efforts to swing the 2016 presidential election against Hillary Clinton.
The Democrats figure that since the tuna turned out to be a goldfish, it’s time to resurrect something dead from the recent past. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, whose Senate seat has been getting a little warm, resurrected a notion discarded earlier that Mr. Trump obstructed justice by firing James Comey as director of the FBI. Mr. Comey is best buds with Robert Mueller, who has never given up trying to rehabilitate Mr. Comey from goat to grandee. Only last week Mr. Comey himself took a turn as Bible scholar, attempting to apply a verse from the Book of Amos (5:24) — “But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream” — to Mr. Mueller’s search for a crime. A Bible verse in the hands of a novice can be like a child with a gun.
Alan Dershowitz thinks the idea that the president, by sacking Mr. Comey, obstructed justice is nonsense. Mr. Dershowitz, the distinguished law professor at Harvard, warned Mrs. Feinstein and Democrats who are trying to build a case that the president obstructed justice that they’re wasting their time.
“You cannot charge a president with obstruction of justice for exercising his constitutional power to fire Comey and his constitutional authority to tell the Justice Department who to investigate, who not to investigate. That’s what Thomas Jefferson did, that’s what Lincoln did, that’s what Roosevelt did. We have precedents that clearly establish that.”
The president’s tweets are making trouble for him again. Some Democrats, eager for something, anything, to hang their hats on, argue that Mr. Trump’s tweet on Sunday “suggested” that the president knew former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn lied to the FBI, and that implies obstruction of justice. Or it might only be that these Democrats inferred that that’s what the president did. They should study the difference. A desperate Democrat might infer a lot of fake stuff. To pursue a president for obstruction would ultimately require that “clearly illegal acts” would have to have been committed.
This is what some of Mr. Trump’s pursuers would call mere technicalities in the law. Destroying Donald Trump is of such transcendent purpose, the goal of every right-thinking American, that anything goes. Ask any never-Trumper. What does the Constitution have to do with it, anyway? Six and seven decades of drinking the poison that the Constitution is only “a living document,” subject to reinterpretation to fit any theory of the law, has done great damage.
The Flynn episode might be the needed tutorial in constitutional law. Lawyer and layman alike can learn something useful. Alan Dershowitz thinks Mr. Trump’s lawyers should learn something, too. Legally speaking, he says, Mr. Flynn was “up for sale,” and his “credibility is worthless” since he has been credibly accused of perjury.
“I think the administration is not aggressive enough with [Mr.] Mueller,” Mr. Dershowitz told Laura Ingraham of Fox News last week. “They should be in court challenging what he has been doing. He is going far beyond any possible scope of his investigation.”
The president’s lawyers could be challenging subpoenas, and who are called as witnesses. An investigation, whether called for or not, should be done with a semblance of fairness or it will invite a generation of vipers to do their evil work. If Donald Trump is half as bad as the Democrats say he is, Robert Mueller does not need a railroad to get to where he’s trying to go.
• Wesley Pruden is editor in chief emeritus of The Times.
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