Russiagate is "bigger than Watergate"

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The NYT notes Trump's admission that Russiagate is "bigger than Watergate:"

Wow, word seems to be coming out that the Obama FBI "SPIED ON THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN WITH AN EMBEDDED INFORMANT." Andrew McCarthy says, "There's probably no doubt that they had at least one confidential informant in the campaign." If so, this is bigger than Watergate!

-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 17, 2018

The piece observes that "In some sense, many analysts have said, he is right:"

Efforts by a hostile foreign power to influence an American presidential election -- with or without the assistance or knowledge of the winning candidate -- may well be a scandal "bigger than Watergate!"

The F.B.I. and a team of special prosecutors are investigating whether any of Mr. Trump's associates were coordinating with Russia to help Mr. Trump defeat his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. And, since the appointment of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, the investigation has expanded to include inquiries into whether Mr. Trump has attempted to obstruct justice to bring an end to what he regularly calls a witch hunt.

I would suggest, though, that a better term than informant would be witness. There's quite a difference between a candidate spying on an opponent and law enforcement investigating a crime. Nonetheless, as this 538 analysis by Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux mentions, "It's a big day for Robert Mueller and his team:"

One year ago today, Mueller was appointed to lead the special counsel investigation into possible ties between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russian officials. It's a miracle, in some ways, that Mueller has lasted this long. President Trump's relationship with the investigation has grown increasingly adversarial, and at many moments over the course of the past 12 months, it seemed like Mueller's job was in jeopardy.

So this hasn't been an easy year for Mueller, but it's certainly been productive. Since the first indictments came down in the investigation last fall, the special counsel has racked up five guilty pleas and 14 indictments of individuals.1 He also reportedly gave a referral to the U.S. attorney's office for the Southern District of New York that led to a raid on the office, home and hotel room of presidential lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, which has turned into its own separate investigation.

"But the total number of charges doesn't tell the whole story," the piece continues:

To get a sense of where Mueller's investigation might go in its second year, it's worth looking at where the three other highest-profile investigations in modern history -- Watergate, Iran-Contra and Whitewater -- stood a year after a special or independent counsel came on board and how they evolved in the year or two afterward.

These investigations give us three separate models of what Mueller's first year could mean for the rest of his investigation, and they show how foolish it can be to predict the end of a special counsel investigation based on its beginning. Watergate lived up to the dramatic promise of its first year: It ended Nixon's presidency and sent dozens of people to jail. The revelations in the Iran-Contra scandal initially seemed like they might engulf Ronald Reagan, but the scandal began to fizzle when it became clear that Reagan wouldn't be implicated. And Whitewater, which was sleepy at first, eventually resulted in the impeachment of Bill Clinton -- but for reasons that could never have been foreseen after the first year of the investigation.

"As the Russia investigation enters its second year," the NYT concludes, "the most important variable may be how long Mueller can keep his job:"

Watergate, Iran-Contra and Whitewater all had one thing in common: They lasted at least four years. Given the reports that Trump has already twice considered ordering Mueller's removal, it's not clear that the investigation can survive that long -- at least, with Mueller at the helm.

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on May 17, 2018 9:58 AM.

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