What Mueller Told Trump's Legal Team Doesn't Mean Anything
The Washington Post reports that last month, Robert Mueller reached out to the Trump legal team to offer an update on the investigation:
Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III informed President Trump’s attorneys last month that he is continuing to investigate the president but does not consider him a criminal target at this point, according to three people familiar with the discussions.
Having completed three years at a top-tier law school, let me decipher that statement for you: It doesn’t mean sh*t.
I mean: It does mean that Trump is definitely under investigation, which is why Trump is not on Twitter bragging about this report. Recall that he basically fired James Comey because Comey refused to publicly announced that Trump was not under investigation (and before firing Comey, Trump was not officially under investigation).
It also does not mean that Mueller has no evidence or a weak case against the President. In truth, Mueller may believe — as many do — that a sitting President cannot be indicted, and therefore, it is not technically possible to make Trump a target of a “criminal” investigation. In this scenario, Mueller collects the evidence (hence the investigation), and it is up to Congress to decide whether the evidence warrants impeachment, which is not technically a “criminal” matter. Telling the President that he is not a “target” could be Mueller’s way of baiting Trump into testifying.
Moreover, as Alan Dershowitz and a lot of Trump Republicans like to remind us, “collusion” is not a “crime,” but it very much could be an impeachable offense. Additionally, Mueller probably wouldn’t make Donald Trump a “target” of a criminal investigation for obstruction of justice until Donald Trump spoke to him on the record, something that Trump’s attorneys obviously do not want Trump to do (reportedly, the disagreement over whether Trump should testify is the reason why John Dowd was fired. Trump wants to testify; Dowd did not think it wise).
In the Post’s article, Mueller also stated that he is planning to release a report on Trump’s conduct, and if there is no misconduct, there’d be very little reason for a report. Congress will likely decide how to proceed based on that report, which itself could remain confidential. Ultimately, it will be up to Rod Rosenstein to decide whether to release the report.
There is also another possibility: That Bob Mueller believes Trump committed no crimes or engaged in any impeachable activities. The evidence of which we know seems to suggest otherwise, but we should at least prepare for that possibility. The Constitution gives the President broad latitude and a lot of discretion, and even where it concerns firing James Comedy, threatening to fire Jeff Sessions, or directing Don McGahn to fire Mueller, the special counsel could theoretically rule that those actions are within the discretionary powers of the President. That seems unlikely considering that Mueller has brought charges for something as simple as lying to the FBI, but I suppose it is not out of the realm of possibility.
In short: I wouldn’t interpret that report to mean anything except that Donald Trump is definitely under investigation.
As for Jared Kushner? Well …