Robert Mueller’s finish line

Robert Mueller has Donald Trump nailed to the wall on obstruction of justice. We know this because Mueller is now asking Trump to testify, and in these kinds of organized crime-style investigations, the whole case is already in place by the time prosecutors are asking to speak to the kingpin. The request means that Mueller either has enough evidence to nail Trump, or he’s figured out that there’s no case at all, and we know it’s not the latter, so it has to be the former. So now what?

Let’s be clear here: although Mueller has finished the obstruction of justice portion of the Trump-Russia investigation, there is nothing to indicate that he’s finished the other aspects of the probe, ranging from money laundering, to conspiracy against The United States. It’s just that, as we’ve seen in Watergate and other similar investigations, obstruction is simply the quickest and easiest method of taking someone like Trump down.

Mueller surely has every intention of continuing to pursue the Trump-Russia investigation after the obstruction case comes to a head, if he can. But he has to bring one of the cases to a head first, and so here we are. For all the fear mongering and hype we’re currently getting from the mainstream media, it’s fairly clear that even Trump knows he doesn’t have the political muscle to fire Mueller or anyone else involved. He used the Nunes memo to take a desperate swing at firing Rod Rosenstein, but that failed spectacularly.

Donald Trump can’t stop Robert Mueller at this point. It’s too late. Trump is out of ammo, and Mueller is too close to the finish line. The only real question here is what Mueller will specifically do once that finish line is crossed. At this point Mueller is likely only waiting for Trump to formally announce whether or not he’s willing to testify, and if Trump tries to drag that out, Mueller will simply move forward without the interview. He doesn’t need it. Prosecutors never do in these kinds of cases. But there are big questions about what comes next.

Because there is so little legal precedent about what a federal prosecutor can and cannot do to a sitting U.S. President, we don’t know what Robert Mueller will try. We don’t know what the courts will let him get away with trying. If he wants to charge Donald Trump and put him on trial instead of referring the case to Congress for impeachment, the Supreme Court will have to rule whether it’s constitutional. But only Mueller knows how he’s going to approach this endgame. Trump doesn’t, which is why he’s making blind panic moves; he has no idea what’s about to happen to him.

Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report