New information is flowing from Washington every day about the investigation being performed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into President Trump, his administration, and his campaign. Specifically, it seems that Mueller is intent on looking into whether the President obstructed justice by firing FBI Director James Comey after he refused to stop the investigation into Michael Flynn’s ties to Russia. Flynn, of course, is the embattled former National Security Adviser to Trump, who only served a few months in office before being forced to resign over lying about contacts with the Russian government during the election.
And that’s just the first stop down the rabbit hole.
That investigation, once simply looking at ties to Russia, is now looking at obstruction charges. This week, Mueller will begin interviews with Dan Coats, former Senator and now director of national intelligence. They will also be talking to current NSA chief Mike Rogers and his former deputy, Richard Ledgett. All three are appearing voluntarily and may be able to invoke executive privilege, so it is uncertain what may come of these initial conversations.
One major indicator of where this investigation is headed involves the staff Mueller is bringing on board. Several of his new team members are experts in money laundering. Trump and his associates, including his family, have been put to task for financial ties to Russia, and that nation is well known for its laundering practices. These are experts in tracing those kinds of transactions.
Another gauge of how serious this investigation may become is who else is lawyering up besides just the investigator. Reports have surfaced that Vice President Mike Pence has retained outside counsel to deal with any fallout that drifts his way. Trump himself hired a private attorney just a month ago, and that lawyer has been responding to each announcement coming out of the Mueller investigation.
Of course, the President’s only response are tweets. In one, he calls the process a witch hunt. In another he alludes to it being a phony story, and the fact that the obstruction investigation has only come since there is nothing on Russian collusion. That has yet to be proven.
Regardless of collusion, the President’s firing of Comey in an attempt to end the Flynn investigation has become the current issue. The President seems to have both admitted and denied that being the case through his Twitter feed and in an interview with Lester Holt on NBC News. And from all accounts, it appears that the President was not necessarily under investigation until he tried to quash the former one, an irony in itself that proves the old adage, “It’s not the crime, it’s the coverup.”
One anonymous White House official was quoted as saying, “The President did this to himself.”
If Mueller is indeed pursuing a money-laundering and obstruction case against President Trump or any of his associates, the American people would appear to be supportive of it. A recent poll conducted by the Associated Press and the University of Chicago showed that 61% of American adults polled believe President Trump “has tried to impede or obstruct the investigation into whether his campaign had ties to Russia.” In that poll, only 31% believed him to be innocent.
Ultimately, where this rabbit hole ends no one can predict. Kenneth Starr’s special investigation into President Clinton started looking at a land deal in Arkansas and ended up impeaching a president for misrepresenting a sexual encounter. The Watergate investigation took 14 months and started 6 years into Nixon’s presidency. This is month six for President Trump.