Three of the best reporters at the New York Times share a byline on a story that, to the extent it is accurate, reflects the madness of the free-floating Mueller investigation. Mark Mazzetti, David Kirkpatrick, and Maggie Haberman report with a straight face:
George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman, has hovered on the fringes of international diplomacy for three decades. He was a back-channel negotiator with Syria during the Clinton administration, reinvented himself as an adviser to the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates, and last year was a frequent visitor to President Trump’s White House.
Mr. Nader is now a focus of the investigation by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel. In recent weeks, Mr. Mueller’s investigators have questioned Mr. Nader and have pressed witnesses for information about any possible attempts by the Emiratis to buy political influence by directing money to support Mr. Trump during the presidential campaign, according to people with knowledge of the discussions.
The investigators have also asked about Mr. Nader’s role in White House policymaking, those people said, suggesting that the special counsel investigation has broadened beyond Russian election meddling to include Emirati influence on the Trump administration. The focus on Mr. Nader could also prompt an examination of how money from multiple countries has flowed through and influenced Washington during the Trump era.
In a bit of unintentionally comic understatement, they add: “How much this line of inquiry is connected to Mr. Mueller’s original task of investigating contacts between Mr. Trump’s campaign and Russia is unclear.” Drawing on Mike Allen’s Axios post, Monica Showalter suggests how stories like this one might (maybe should) be read.
Implicit in the Times story — whether or not the story itself is accurate — is an important point. It is a point that Andrew McCarthy has made trenchantly over and over. This is not the way it (a duly constituted special counsel investigation) is supposed to work. As established, Mueller’s investigation is fundamentally illegitimate.
JOHN adds: The fact that Mueller has taken his “investigation” so far afield is more confirmation that on the subject he is supposed to be investigating, he has nothing. If Mueller had any integrity, he would conclude his investigation and write a report saying that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians. (I suppose he could remain silent on the collusion between the Clinton campaign and Russians.) But that isn’t Mueller’s way; he is after scalps, obviously, and doesn’t seem to care much whose they are.