The redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s detailed “Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election” is most significant for what it reveals about his team’s findings on collusion and obstruction. But the former FBI Director also chose to address an absurd conflict-of-interest allegation that Trump made shortly after Mueller’s appointment and has since included in his tantrums, succeeding in shutting it down for good.
In July 2017, Trump alleged that Mueller had a conflict of interest because of something that happened with his membership at Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia back in 2011. Trump claimed that when Mueller decided to end his family’s club membership, he argued bitterly about fees and this supposed altercation is disqualifying. Although Mueller’s representative promptly denied there was a dispute, according to The Washington Post, Trump did not drop it. A year later, in the middle of an anti-Mueller tweetstorm, Trump alluded to the imaginary conflict, insisting they “had a very nasty & contentious business relationship.”
Mueller dedicated the 529th footnote of his report to dismissing the Commander-in-Chief’s flawed attack on his credibility as Special Counsel by doing what Trump hates most: stating the facts. Mueller simply related that his family found “that we are unable to make full use of the Club” and “inquired whether we would be entitled to a refund of a portion of our initial membership fee,” which they paid back in 1994. Two weeks later, the club’s controller replied that the Mueller family would be “‘placed on a waitlist to be refunded on a first resigned / first refunded basis’ in accordance with the club’s legal documents.” According to the footnote, the “Muellers have not had further contact with the club,” let alone what Trump calls a “very nasty & contentious business relationship.”
The Mueller report also reveals that the only person who thought this conflict of interest was worth pursuing appears to be Donald Trump. On page 81, Mueller reports that Steve Bannon, who served as Trump’s chief strategist at the time, testified that he “told the President that the golf course dispute did not rise to the level of a conflict” and warned Trump that “claiming one was ‘ridiculous and petty.’”
Donald Trump, whose programming does not allow him to learn from his mistakes, is still at it this morning, tweeting about the “highly conflicted Bob Mueller.” But deep down Trump must know that his lame conflict-of-interest argument over Mueller’s golf membership is obviously not the hole-in-one he has led us to believe it was. And, by the way, neither is the Mueller report.