OPIOID SERIES:

Mueller will drop midterm Russia bombshells on GOP Congress

This week we learned from the Washington Post, in a story that ran in the Wednesday paper, that special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE plans to release a report about President TrumpDonald John TrumpFlynn to campaign for Montana GOP Senate candidate Trump considering pardon for boxing legend after call from Sylvester Stallone Decline in EPA enforcement won't keep climate bill from coming MORE’s actions while in office discussing the issue of obstruction of justice. It will probably be finished by June or July.

Next week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will testify before a joint hearing of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees on Tuesday and before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday about the improper gathering of personal information from Facebook by Cambridge Analytica from nearly 90 million people, most of them Americans.

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Special counsel Mueller has reportedly asked Cambridge Analytica to provide detailed information about its work for the Trump campaign in 2016 as part of his investigation of Russian attacks against the election.

 

Whatever Mueller’s investigation uncovers, it should be noted that Cambridge Analytica has worked almost exclusively for Republican candidates, including work during the 2014 midterm elections, in its American campaign business.

On a related matter, Mueller will probably soon announce indictments of a number of additional Russians, beyond his previous indictments, for the hacking operation against Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGeorge HW Bush wears 'book socks' to Barbara Bush's funeral to honor her passion for literacy Obamas, Clintons to attend funeral of Barbara Bush Hillary Clinton to fundraise in DC for public charter high school MORE and Democrats. These indictments may or may not include Americans.

Zuckerberg’s testimony to Congress should be viewed in tandem with the Mueller investigation for purposes of the substantive issues surrounding the Russia scandal, and the political impact — especially on Republicans — of the continuing investigations and indictments. 

Regarding The Washington Post story, it was reported that Mueller has informed Trump’s attorneys that the president is, currently, a subject of the investigations, and is not, currently, a target of the investigations.

Some of Trump’s defenders argue that the media, or political opponents of Trump, should simply accept that Mueller has not designated Trump as a target of the investigation, as though this is definitive or exculpatory. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

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MORE FROM BRENT BUDOWSKY

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Assuming The Washington Post story is accurate and Trump is currently — emphasis on "currently" — a subject of the investigation but not a target, one thing is absolutely certain: Trump is, today, under active investigation by Mueller. Period.

The Mueller investigation has drawn no conclusion about whether or not Trump has committed any wrongdoing. End of story. The media should be applauded, not attacked, for covering this story aggressively, until the special counsel renders a final judgment.

Taking all of these events together, the natural course of Mueller’s investigation will be to drop bombshell matters of profound importance about the Russia scandal on the Republican Congress from now through the midterm elections in November.

Mueller’s conclusions about obstruction of justice, which probably will explode into public view by June or July, will rock Congress, especially Republicans running in 2018.

If Mueller does charge that the president committed obstruction of justice, the minute that report becomes public (which it certainly will one way or the other) there will be a huge public firestorm. The issue of impeachment will take center stage.

If he does not directly charge obstruction of justice, the report will almost certainly include negative facts and findings that will put Republicans on the spot while other aspects of the Mueller investigation continue, and more indictments and plea bargains are announced, from now through Election Day.

Mueller, who has sources and information about the Russia scandal that are far beyond anything that has been publicly reported, will be closely following the Zuckerberg testimony next week. 

There is a growing public outrage against the virtual elimination of personal privacy in America. There may well be revelations during the hearings about Facebook’s relationships with Russia and with Cambridge Analytica while Mueller continues to pursue investigations, indictments and plea bargains surrounding these matters.

It would be a disastrous and historic mistake for Republicans to attack the investigators, the investigations and the media in the face of ongoing Russia-related bombshells produced by Mueller’s investigation. Republicans who do so are on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of the facts, the wrong side of the law and the wrong side of the politics.

Mueller is fundamentally investigating a Watergate-type scandal involving crimes committed by a hostile foreign enemy waging a war against American democracy. 

Whatever the coming Mueller bombshells will include, the right and smart move for Republicans as the midterms approach is to stand foursquare on the side of America against this hostile foreign attack. If they do not, the price they will pay at the polls will be catastrophic. 

Brent Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), who was chief deputy majority whip of the U.S. House of Representatives. He holds an LLM in international financial law from the London School of Economics.