Andrew C. McCarthy:
Robert Mueller’s sprawling special-counsel investigation is playing hardball.
It was not enough to get a search warrant to ransack the Virginia home of Paul Manafort, even as the former Trump campaign chairman was cooperating with congressional investigators. Mueller’s bad-asses persuaded a judge to give them permission to pick the door lock. That way, they could break into the premises in the wee hours, while Manafort and his wife were in bed sleeping. They proceeded to secure the premises — of a man they are reportedly investigating for tax and financial crimes, not gang murders and Mafia hits — by drawing their guns on the stunned couple, apparently to check their pajamas for weapons.
Mueller’s probe more resembles an empire, with 17 prosecutors retained on the public dime. So . . . what exactly is the crime of the century that requires five times the number of lawyers the Justice Department customarily assigns to crimes of the century? No one can say. The growing firm is clearly scorching the earth, scrutinizing over a decade of Manafort’s shady business dealings, determined to pluck out some white-collar felony or another that they can use to squeeze him.
You are forgiven if you can recall only vaguely that supposition about Trump-campaign collusion in Russian espionage against the 2016 election was the actual explanation for Mueller’s appointment as special counsel. To the extent there was any explanation, that is. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, a Trump appointee, did not comply with the regulations requiring a description of the crimes Trump’s Justice Department is too conflicted to investigate, purportedly necessitating a quasi-independent special counsel.
The way it’s supposed to work, the Justice Department learns of a crime, so it assigns a prosecutor. To the contrary, this Justice Department assigned a prosecutor — make that: 17 hyper-aggressive prosecutors — and unleashed them to hunt for whatever crime they could find.
If you sense that this cuts against the presumption of innocence, you’re onto something. Because of that presumption, coupled with such other constitutional rights as the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable police searches, prosecutors are supposed to be measured in the use of their awesome powers, to employ only as much compulsion as seems appropriate under the circumstances. You don’t get a search warrant when a subpoena will do; if you have to get a warrant, you don’t do a covert pre-dawn entry when ringing the bell in the daytime will easily get you in the door.
In various places, our law reflects this common sense. For example, in applying for a wiretap authorization, besides describing the precise crime it suspects, the Justice Department must satisfy the judge that less intrusive techniques for obtaining evidence of similar quality have been attempted, or would be certain to fail if tried. (See section 2518(b) and (c) of the federal penal code.) The point is to instruct investigators that they must exercise restraint. The prosecutorial privilege to act “under color of law” comes with the duty to respect the rights the law guarantees.
Law enforcement is hard and sometimes dangerous work. Thus, there is leeway for officials to make errors in judgment. Without that leeway, they would be too paralyzed to do their jobs, and there would be no rule of law. But when prosecutors and investigators go way overboard just because they can, it is not law enforcement. It is abuse of law-enforcement power in order to intimidate.
There is no other way to interpret the brass-knuckles treatment of Manafort, a subject in a non-violent-crime investigation who is represented by counsel and was cooperating with Congress at the time Mueller’s Gang of 17 chose to break into his home. Did they really think they couldn’t have gotten the stuff they carted out of Manafort’s residence by calling up his well-regarded lawyers and asking for it? After he had already surrendered 300 pages of documents to investigative committees?
Besides scaring the bejesus out of him with the search warrant, prosecutors reportedly also told Manafort that they intend to indict him. Must mean they have a case, right? So, if Manafort is such a threat to obstruct justice that they needed to break into his home and grab the evidence before he could destroy it, then why hasn’t he been arrested yet? I mean, how could Mueller responsibly allow so dangerous a criminal to walk the streets?
I’m betting he’s not in cuffs because the point of this over-the-top exercise was not to investigate Manafort; it was to demonstrate to Manafort’s very concentrated mind how miserable the prosecutors can make his life if he doesn’t wave the white flag, pronto, and give them whatever he’s got on Donald Trump — which, by the way, had better be something.
This has no semblance of a legitimate investigation and when compared to the intentional bungling of the Hillary investigations, it is sickening.
The left simply loves being able to say, even inaccurately, that “Trump is under investigation”. And THAT is what it is all about.
maybe it is time for Mueller to leave. currently, he has exceeded the perimeters of the investigation set forth by the President. he is another domorat whore. So when does the President stat investigating hilary, obama the radicalized muslin terrorist and lynch/holter.
That’s the beauty of this bogus, endless, political witch-hunt, fishing expedition “investigation”… as long as it is ongoing, any investigations into the activities of those promoting the phony investigation will be propagandized as “retaliation” and “obstruction”.