After Mueller: The other Trump investigations
With Robert Mueller’s work now complete, said Greg Sargent in The Washington Post, some analysts are suggesting we have entered “a post-Mueller” political world, in which Donald Trump’s presidency is no longer burdened by investigations. “The reality is quite different.” While Trump has been cleared of criminal conspiracy with Russia, the Mueller probe and its many spin-offs have produced ample evidence of “Trump’s corruption,” which Congress and various federal prosecutors are already investigating. Rather than “drain the swamp,” Trump has filled it with unethical cronies and a stunning number of potential scandals. Among them: the president’s never-released tax returns; his insistence on issuing security clearances to son-in-law Jared Kushner despite objections by intelligence and White House officials; and the practice of foreign governments and corporate officials seeking Trump’s favor by spending lavishly at his hotels and golf courses. Rep. Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, has also vowed to dig into Trump’s murky financial dealings with Russian oligarchs and the huge loans he received from Deutsche Bank, said Russell Berman in The Atlantic. And connoisseurs of irony will surely enjoy seeing Congress investigate why Ivanka Trump, Kushner, and other Trump aides transacted government business using Hillary Clinton–style private email accounts.
Congressional Democrats aren’t Trump’s only problem, said Abigail Abrams in Time.com. Federal prosecutors in Washington, D.C., have scheduled a trial of longtime adviser Roger Stone later this year on charges of perjury and witness tampering. Former Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos is suing Trump for defamation after he denied sexually harassing her. That case will likely require a deposition from Trump, which could be a “field of landmines” for our post-truth president. After Mueller, the “prosecutorial center of gravity” shifts to the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York (SDNY), said Ben Protess in The New York Times. Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen has already pleaded guilty there to committing campaign finance violations at Trump’s direction. The SDNY has also subpoenaed the records of Trump’s inaugural committee, to determine whether its record $106.7 million in contributions came from any foreigners or brought favors in return. New York state prosecutors, meanwhile, are digging into the finances of the Trump Organization, and what they call “a shocking pattern of illegality” by Trump’s charitable foundation.
The president “may not be in the complete legal clear,” said Tiana Lowe in WashingtonExaminer.com, but Trump can at least “breathe easy” about the prospect of impeachment. The blizzard of ongoing investigations—including Democratic “oversight” designed to hamper Trump’s political agenda—may embarrass Trump and cause him financial pain. But a sitting president can’t be indicted, and after Mueller there is “nothing else on the table” that has the potential to end his presidency.
“Taking impeachment out of the equation is a good thing for Democrats,” said Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post. Senate Republicans would never vote to remove Trump from office anyway. Far better to conduct dogged but fair investigations into Trump’s “possible financial crimes,” conflicts of interest, and “other abuses of power,” and then let voters decide in 2020 if they really want four more years of incompetence and indecency. Trump can’t be indicted as long as he is in office, said The Economist in an editorial, but he could face prosecution for his “forest of scandals” if he loses in 2020. If voters return him to the ranks of the private citizenry, our colorful 45th president “will exit, pursued by lawyers.” ■