By Frank Bowman
Last week, I had an enjoyable conversation with Politico journalist (and outstanding Mizzou Journalism School alum) Darren Samuelsohn. Darren was kind enough to quote me in an ensuing article about the likely result of Robert Mueller’s investigation. The piece is well worth a read, but the oddest bits to my mind are the quotes from several lawyers representing “clients swept up in the Russia probe.”
These lawyers are said to believe that Robert Mueller is likely to seek an indictment against Mr. Trump, despite the internal Department of Justice prohibition against doing so (that I’ve discussed at length here and here). At least one of them bases his view on what he perceives as the growing “level of confidence” of Mueller’s staff.
I had two contrary reactions to the lawyers’ remarks. On the one hand, they may be the candid intuitive assessments of a couple of people who have the advantage of dealing directly with the Mueller team over time. If so, they’re interesting, though probably not probative of very much. After all, one can be confident about the course of an investigation without having any intention to conclude it with an attempt to do something DOJ policy now bars. On the other hand, these attorneys could be trying to use the media to inflame the already-sensitive Mr. Trump into firing Rosenstein and then Mueller, thus removing pressure from the lawyers’ clients. But that’s way too Machiavellian.
P.S. — I used the word “targets” in the title of this post for the sake of brevity. In DOJ parlance, a “target” is someone against whom prosecutors have substantial evidence and are likely to charge; actually, we don’t know whether these clients are “targets,” “subjects” (persons of interest against whom less evidence has been developed) or merely witnesses.