by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Volume I of the Mueller Report draws three principal conclusions: (a) the Putin regime perceived advantage in a Trump victory and conducted its operations accordingly; (b) there is evidence the Trump campaign hoped to benefit from the publication of negative information about the opponent; and (c) there is no evidence of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russian regime. The first two of these are more in the nature of political assertions than prosecutorial findings. If there is insufficient evidence that a conspiratorial enterprise existed, a prosecutor has no business speculating on motives in a politically provocative manner. Moreover, I do not believe the assertion is borne out by the evidence. …
… As for the conclusion that there was no Trump–Russia conspiracy to commit espionage or violate any other federal criminal law, I believe this had to have been obvious since no later than the end of 2017. In September 2017, the Carter Page FISA warrant lapsed, and it would have been time for the Mueller investigation to seek its reauthorization — which would, in turn, have called for reaffirming Steele’s information. That did not happen. In 2018, Special Counsel Mueller began filing indictments against Russian actors, which did not allege any participation by Americans; in fact, they indicated that Russia preferred to act in stealth and with deniability, which makes perfect sense. I believe the special counsel should have been directed by the deputy attorney general to issue an interim report by late 2017, advising the country that neither the president nor his campaign was under criminal investigation for conspiring with the Kremlin. That would not have prejudiced the investigation’s continuing work on Russia’s interference in the campaign, or on whether the investigation had been obstructed.