Did you see this coming? I didn’t. Not today. Not right now. I’ve spent weeks pointing out that Special Counsel Robert Mueller was about to make his biggest moves in the Trump-Russia investigation, while acknowledging that I wasn’t quite sure how he’d approach. The next visible dot on the map was obviously Mueller’s indictment or charges against Donald Trump for obstruction of justice. But I was not expecting him to make a detour today by indicting the Russians for conspiring to rig the election in Trump’s favor.
What a brilliant move. Nevermind how many or few of these Russian nationals can even be hunted down overseas, extradited, and put on trial for the crimes they’ve just been charged with. But while some of these Russians will surely rush in to cut plea deals just to play it safe, that’s not the important part here. These indictments today were against Trump’s presidency.
Mueller is days or weeks away from moving against Trump for obstruction of justice. We know this because a few weeks ago, Mueller informed the Trump team that he wanted to interview Trump about the obstruction within a few weeks. Whether Trump grants the interview or not, it means that the obstruction investigation is now essentially complete. Mueller has what he needs. Now comes the tricky part, where Mueller has to decide whether to try to indict a sitting U.S. President for the first time in history, or whether to try to force impeachment proceedings in Congress, or some other strategy in these unprecedented waters.
So what did Robert Mueller do? He decided to knock Donald Trump to his knees politically, just before moving in on him. Now everyone in America knows that Trump’s presidency is indeed nothing more than a Russian plot against the United States, and that Trump is an illegitimate president. Trump is wounded, weakened, lying in a political ditch. Mueller couldn’t have set a better stage for himself as he prepares to take Trump down.