A successful cover-up

We still don't know why Trump is so afraid of Putin

Roger Stone.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

This is the editor’s letter in the current issue of The Week magazine.

The Sphinx has spoken. That tells you how perturbed the taciturn Robert Mueller was last week after President Trump commuted crony Roger Stone's prison sentence. Trump's gift of a "Get out of jail free" card was the crowning act in what is one of the most brazen cover-ups in American history — one that ultimately defeated Mueller, the special counsel who ran the Russia investigation. In a defensive Washington Post op-ed, Mueller complained that when a key figure like Stone "lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of the government's efforts to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable." A jury, Mueller noted, had convicted Stone of lying under oath about his many communications with WikiLeaks and the Russian hackers who stole Democratic Party emails. Several witnesses testified that they heard Stone directly telling an excited Trump about future email releases. Recently, in a public plea to Trump to save him from jail, Stone said, "He knows I was under enormous pressure to turn on him. But I didn't." In other words: I've got the goods on you, Mr. President. Where's my reward for not ratting?

He's been rewarded. Had Stone testified truthfully that he served as a conduit between Russian hackers and candidate Trump, Mueller's investigation might have ended very differently. Despite claims that Mueller conducted "a witch hunt," Jeffrey Toobin recently argued in The New Yorker, "his report was, ultimately, a surrender." Mueller didn't dig into Trump's finances and tax returns to find out why he's so fond of Vladimir Putin and Russia. Mueller never demanded that Trump testify, settling for written answers that the special counsel has said contained several falsehoods. That's called perjury. Sooner or later, Trump's financial records will be made public, and perhaps then the mystery will be solved. But the big reveal won't happen until after voters decide whether Trump deserves four more years.

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William Falk

William Falk is editor-in-chief of The Week, and has held that role since the magazine's first issue in 2001. He has previously been a reporter, columnist, and editor at the Gannett Westchester Newspapers and at Newsday, where he was part of two reporting teams that won Pulitzer Prizes.