The Russia indictments, why now?

Michael Mukasey, writing in the Wall Street Journal, wonders why the Russia indictments were announced on the eve of the Trump-Putin summit. Mukasey states:

The president was told of the indictments before he traveled. Yet the plain effect of the announcement was to raise further doubts about the wisdom of the meeting—and perhaps to shape its agenda. Neither is the business of the special counsel or anyone else at the Justice Department. . . .

From a law-enforcement standpoint, there was nothing urgent about these indictments. All 12 defendants are in Russia; none [is] likely ever to see the inside of a U.S. courtroom.

It’s worth noting that John Bolton, the president’s national security adviser, said just before the summit commenced that the indictments would be useful to Trump in taking Putin to task for Russia’s interference in the election.

Unfortunately — disgracefully — things apparently didn’t play out that way. After the meeting, Trump placed Putin’s self-serving denials on an equal footing with Mueller’s findings, the findings of our intelligence agencies, and the views of the relevant House and Senate committees, both of which are dominated by the GOP.

Regardless, as Mukasey says, it is not the business of the special counsel to influence U.S. foreign policy and/or domestic politics — whether by creating added pressure on the president to raise topics with a foreign leader, by supplying him with ammunition to use in such talks, or by supplying the president’s political opponents with ammunition to use against the president for holding the talks.

Should we assume that Mueller’s timing was intended to achieve one or more of these objectives? Absent a persuasive alternative explanation, I believe we should. His team is full of partisan Democrats and, in all likelihood, Trump haters.

Mueller has failed to maintain the appearance of political neutrality and therefore is not entitled to the presumption of it.

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