Mueller report: Lessons for all, including former law enforcement

Peter Strzok was right about one thing: It turns out there was no there there.

Although we can’t (yet) see all the gritty details of Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTrump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony Kellyanne Conway: 'I'd like to know' if Mueller read his own report MORE’s highly anticipated Russian collusion report, we do have some answers. Well, we have a summary of some answers in the form of a letter from Attorney General William Barr to Congress.

The result: Fantasies of seeing Trump escorted to the gallows are officially dead. According to Barr, “The Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 US Presidential election.”

According to CNN Law Enforcement Analyst James Gagliano, “Trump… is an intemperate, wholly unconventional, morally suspect, trampler of inviolate norms.” But as Gagliano pointed out, Trump was determined by Special Counsel Robert Mueller to not be the treasonous Manchurian candidate so many feared. And that’s good news for all of us, regardless of party affiliation.

ADVERTISEMENT

Unfortunately, I suspect, based on some of the crawfishing on social media, not all will see it that way. Mueller will be praised today by those who bad-mouthed him yesterday; and bad-mouthed today by those who praised him yesterday. Such waffling suggests at least some political activists desire objective law enforcement serve as a validation of their subjective party loyalties — very revealing sentiment of where we are today as a country.

Even more revealing and worrisome were the innuendos and outright allegations made by liberal-leaning former intelligence officials who suggested they had knowledge of collusion. The allegations began to crescendo with former CIA Director John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanWebb: Questions for Robert Mueller A brief timeline of Trump's clashes with intelligence director Dan Coats Trump critic Brennan praises his Iran decision: I 'applaud' him MORE. In 2018, Brennan wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times “John Brennan: President Trump’s Claims of No Collusion Are Hogwash” in which he suggested his security clearance was revoked by Trump as a way “to try to silence anyone who would dare challenge him [with respect to Russian collusion].”

Following the Mueller report, however, Brennan was quoted on MSNBC as saying, “Well, I don’t know if I received bad information, but I suspected there was more than there actually was.” The problem is that as the former CIA Director he had the ear of millions of people based primarily on the fact that he had perceived insider knowledge.

Select law enforcement and intelligence professionals exercised immense political influence over voters without taking proper care over their words. This was fuel to the fire of division that burns so hot within our country and furthered the perception that law enforcement has become overly politicized.

ADVERTISEMENT

As for the obstruction charge, Mueller claimed the report does not conclude a crime was committed by Trump, but, “…it also does not exonerate him.” I took this, along with the fact that Russian collusion was not proven, to mean that some elements of obstruction likely exist, but Mueller wasn’t prepared to recommend charges based on his inability to prove the conspiracy (collusion), which goes to the necessary intent. The criminal activity of those around Trump was equally insufficient to bring charges against him. Nonetheless, the obstruction charge will be hotly contested and discussed in the coming days, but will likely land right back where it is.

The summary of Mueller’s report should provide comfort to anyone looking for evidence of a thorough and complete investigation. The numbers alone communicate the seriousness with which Mueller handled the matter: 19 lawyers, 40 FBI Agents and other FBI personnel, 2,800 subpoenas, 500 search warrants, 50 pen registers, and 500 witness interviews. One lingering issue surrounds the obvious question of why so many around Trump would lie seemingly to protect the administration from a collusion that was not proven to even exist?

Mueller’s report seems to have finally brought an end to the discussion of Russian collusion, but it has definitely not brought an end to Trump’s legal woes, as evidenced by the ongoing investigations in the Southern District of New York and the New York State AG. But if history has taught us anything, it’s that maybe it’s best for the country to let the investigation take its natural course before opining on guilt or innocence.

There’s still plenty of drama to watch play out. We can only hope the swirling storm of politics hasn’t made the whole thing too muddy for law enforcement to navigate.

Jeff Cortese, a financial crimes manager in the private sector, is the former acting chief of the FBI’s Public Corruption Unit. Before his 11-year career with the bureau, he worked as a dignitary protection agent with the U.S. Capitol Police and served on the security detail for the Speaker of the House. Follow him on Twitter @jeffreycortese.