The power of Mueller's facts

The special counsel is busy marshalling his facts. They will speak for themselves.

President Trump and Robert Mueller.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Win McNamee/Getty Images, Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images, Digital Vision ii/Alamy Stock Photo)

A weird syllogism attends to the Russia investigation today, one that is now being ardently pushed by President Trump's defenders. It holds that because the crimes that Trump may have committed are insuperable from the decisions a president may legally make — akin to decisions that a CEO makes about personnel choices inside her company — if there is at least a plausible reason beyond criminality that the president might have made a choice, he must be given the benefit of the doubt. A crime is not committed unless, this weird theory goes, the House impeaches and the Senate convicts based on a bill of charges that they themselves write. That is, the crime becomes a crime only after the accused has been charged with a crime. Before — and in the absence of a congressional trial — the president can do whatever he wants.

This theory is as unsettling as it is dubious, but a weak, compliant Congress, and the lack of a full accounting from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, might mean that, by the time this chapter in history closes, the president will have established the right to immunize himself and future presidents from scrutiny.

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Marc Ambinder

Marc Ambinder is's editor-at-large. He is the author, with D.B. Grady, of The Command and Deep State: Inside the Government Secrecy Industry. Marc is also a contributing editor for The Atlantic and GQ. Formerly, he served as White House correspondent for National Journal, chief political consultant for CBS News, and politics editor at The Atlantic. Marc is a 2001 graduate of Harvard. He is married to Michael Park, a corporate strategy consultant, and lives in Los Angeles.