In “What is to be done?” I set forth the possibility that President Trump might shut down his entanglement in the Mueller probe (the Mueller Switch Project) by pardoning its criminal targets so far: Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, and the Dutch lawyer. He could do so with the explanation that Mueller’s probe has come up dry on its supposed predicate of Russian collusion with the Trump presidential campaign. Rush Limbaugh argued the pardon option in “If you want to end this, Mr. President, start pardoning.”
As President Trump has said repeatedly, there was “no collusion.” Thus the never-ending detours of the Mueller probe. In this scenario President Trump would leave Mueller free to write up the results of his investigation into Russian interference in the presidential campaign and even the evidence of alleged collusion, if any. I have assumed the veracity of the president’s claim of “no collusion” from the outset. If it weren’t true, we would have heard about the facts that make it out by now and we haven’t.
If Mueller is interested in Russian interference in the election, it is exceedingly strange that his probe has left the Clinton campaign untouched. So far as we know, it has failed to take the allegedly hacked DNC servers into custody and search them. Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference appears to be frustratingly partial.
What about Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen? According to this McClatchy story, he may be wrapped into the collusion investigation as well. I seriously doubt it, but I don’t know.
Andrew McCarthy takes the criminal investigation of Cohen in the Southern District of New York to be the case that threatens Trump. McCarthy elaborates on the twists and turns in the case in his column “The real investigation.” Today’s New York Times story is a useful companion to McCarthy’s column.
Cohen’s case complicates the pardon scenario but Trump could still employ it. If he were to to do so, I think it should be sooner rather than later. It would create a furor, but the furor might be tamped down somewhat before the midterm elections. Let’s get it over with.
Mulling this over a bit further, I have one final thought. If President Trump were to take up the pardon solution, I think he would be well advised to include Hillary Clinton and the entire Clinton circle in the pardons. He could explain that he is trying to put the controversies arising from the past election behind us for the good of the country. It might make him look magnanimous and would have the additional advantage of driving them and their friends absolutely nuts.
UPDATE: Michael Cohen comments on the McClatchy story via Twitter (below).
Bad reporting, bad information and bad story by same reporter Peter Stone @McClatchyDC. No matter how many times or ways they write it, I have never been to Prague. I was in LA with my son. Proven! https://t.co/ra7nwjUA0X
— Michael Cohen (@MichaelCohen212) April 14, 2018