Now that it's all over, and President Trump has been broadly vindicated, some are questioning whether Robert Mueller's intensive investigation can truly be trusted as the final word on this years-long controversy. It can be, and it must be. The Special Counsel's findings represent the definitive resolution to this seemingly-endless saga. Nobody is perfect, including Mueller -- I'd have preferred a more politically balanced team of attorneys working underneath him, for instance. But when high-stakes partisan wars break out, we must rely on trusted referees to seek and adjudicate the truth. Robert Mueller is as good as it gets on that front. He marshaled enormous resources, turned over every relevant rock he could think of, and concluded that nobody on the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government's 2016 treachery. Here's a look at how he investigated his way to that verdict, after taking he reins in May 2017:
Length of probe: 675 days.
Cost of probe: $25,215,853.00.
Number of attorneys: 19.
Number of FBI personnel: Approximately 40.
Subpoenas issued: Approximately 2,800.
Search warrants obtained: Approximately 500.
Witnesses interviewed: Approximately 500.
Foreign governments contacted for evidence: 13.
One of the most impressive elements of Mueller's probe is the degree to which it didn't leak -- especially in a town and era that's been dominated by sieve-like leaking. Mueller's team spoke in court and through court documents and other law enforcement actions, making exceedingly rare press statements. Part of the way this discipline was enforced was through a daily ritual of handing over smart phones:
Operating in secrecy in a nondescript glass-and-concrete office, the team of prosecutors and investigators since May 2017 has unearthed secrets...To protect those secrets from prying ears, the whole of the office suite in southwest Washington has been designated a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF), U.S. spy speak for an area that has restrictions to ensure secret information stays secure. One common restriction in SCIFs is to keep out smartphones and other electronic devices, which can be turned into covert listening devices or spy cameras. Visitors also have been required to turn these over before entering. The restrictions, while not surprising given the team was investigating whether a hostile foreign power tried to help Trump win the 2016 election and whether his campaign conspired in the effort, have not been previously reported.
And while I think Mueller could have mitigated some pro-Trump criticism by hiring more Republican-leaning lawyers, he exercised his best judgment and clearly assembled a group that could be trusted. Based on how things shook out in the end, it's arguably even better news for Trump that he was effectively exonerated by a group that he repeatedly referred to as "angry Democrats." The Democratic Party now must make a decision whether or not to accept Mueller's determinations and finally recognize the president's legitimacy, or forge ahead with endless investigations of their own. Does a single soul other than Adam Schiff himself, and the dwindling army of Russiagate Truthers, believe that Congressional Democrats can get to the bottom of the Russia matter in a way that Mueller could not? Please. And do they believe there's a public appetite for even more of this? Even harder hit than the Democrats in Congress are the Democrats who populate the mainstream news and entertainment media. They've been positively obsessed with this story, casting Mueller as a saintly figure, grind his way toward a national salvation. These were not minor storylines. They were ubiquitous and unending. Just a tiny handful of reminders of what we've been subjected to:
Mueller: Nope. pic.twitter.com/D71sSEQkHC— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) March 25, 2019
This has aged well. https://t.co/1Nh7mWVtwF— Brit Hume (@brithume) March 24, 2019
John Brennan has a lot to answer for—going before the American public for months, cloaked with CIA authority and openly suggesting he’s got secret info, and repeatedly turning in performances like this. pic.twitter.com/EziCxy9FVQ— Terry Moran (@TerryMoran) March 25, 2019
A major magazine even published a cover story musing that Trump may have been a Russian asset as far back as the 1980's. And on and on it went. The RNC attempted to quantify some of Mueller's press coverage in this snapshot:
- The New York Times wrote 1,156 stories mentioning the Mueller investigation, 644 more stories than about the renegotiation of NAFTA.
- CNN wrote 1,965 stories mentioning the Mueller investigation, 906 more stories than the Trump admin’s successful implementation of middle class tax cuts.
- MSNBC wrote 4,202 stories mentioning the Mueller investigation, 4,061 more stories than about the war against ISIS.
It really was an obsession. Yes, the existence of the probe constituted big news, but the volume and tone of coverage told the real story. Many, many journalists wanted Trump to be guilty, and it showed. As I mentioned earlier, even some lefties cannot deny that glaring reality. I'll leave you with a prominent Harvard Law professor trying to keep the faith, urging Democrats to continue looking into whether Trump is, in fact, compromised by the Kremlin -- even if there were no collusion or obstruction. Just wild:
This laser-like focus by @RepAdamSchiff on whether Trump is NOW COMPROMISED — even if there was no prior collusion with Russia and has been no post-election criminal obstruction — is all the more important in light of AG Barr’s summary of Mueller’s report. https://t.co/PpBJe6GlgH— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) March 24, 2019