Well, this is something you don’t see every day. The news that Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller has empaneled a grand jury in Washington DC to deal with the Trump-Russia investigation was a cold water shock to the system. And it fundamentally changes all that comes after it.
One can only imagine that Mueller had the courtesy to tip the Trump defense team that this was coming, since the defense team immediately put out a statement stating that there was no reason to believe that the Prez himself was under investigation. Man, talk about whistling past a graveyard at midnight. But there is something here that I don’t want to get lost in the general uproar over this stunning announcement.
This announcement can only mean one thing. That the investigation has progressed to a point where Mueller has spread his wings wide. I say this for one simple reason. There were already two federal grand juries empaneled, one to look into the shenanigans of Michael Flynn, and another dealing specifically with the machinations of Paul Manafort. Mueller folded both of those proceedings into his investigation umbrella months ago. If Mueller were simply planning to indict either one of them, there was no reason for him to empanel a fresh grand jury, he could simply start presenting evidence on them to the grand juries that were already empaneled.
So, if it doesn’t figure to be about Manafort or Flynn, although both of them could certainly be called to testify, whom is the focus of this new grand jury? I will not speculate here about the subject or subjects, since I have no idea, but common sense says that the entire arc and trajectory of this investigation has changed, for better or worse. This can no longer be about campaign staff like Manafort and Flynn because there were already processes in place to deal with them. And it really can’t be about idjits like Carter Page and Roger Stone since it would be anticlimactic to make this grand announcement for such small fry. Thanks to the ever present and ever more damaging leaks in the White Colander, one can only assume that the investigation has entered the sacred realm of the west wing.
If I were Trump’s defense team, I would plead with John Kelly to sedate His Lowness until his smart phone can be permanently confiscated. It has been great fun ridiculing Trump’s oafish trampling on every red line that his lawyers have tried to draw, but that was when it dealt with somebody else’s problems. We have now at least conceivably entered a phase where this kind of activity is not only a problem for his lawyers, he could literally be fucking with his Presidency, his already tarnished legacy, and even possibly his freedom 140 characters at a time.
I will now indulge in a purely personal aside. I would love nothing more than for Robert Mueller to come out of this grand jury with an indictment against Trump himself, and not for the reason you think. If Trump can happen once, someone like him can happen again. If Trump is indicted, his lawyers will immediately cite the 1970’s DOJ ruling that a sitting President cannot be indicted. Let them. It is high time that the Supreme Court actually put some skin in the game and rule on such a basic constitutional issue. Is it really true that the only recourse the nation as a whole has for a criminal President is the purely political solution of impeachment? Or are we in fact a nation of laws, where all, and I mean all men are created equal, and a certain position or title is no sanctuary from the responsibility of your actions? This case would not at its core be about Trump, he simply forced its inception. This case would be about any one man is above the law, that the rules and norms the rest of us are saddled with do not apply to him or her. It’s well past time we actually had a definitive answer to that question. It didn’t happen after Watergate because Nixon was never indicted. We need for this to be clarified once and for all.