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From Consortium News
By Ray McGovern and *Bill Binney
After a year of investigating whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has, in effect, admitted that he has hit a dry well. He is under strong pressure to keep the charade going until the November elections, however, so he and his high-priced legal brain-trust have devised a new tactic.
One would think they could come up with something less transparent. After all, Mueller was FBI Director from 2001 to 2013 and knows where the bodies are buried, so to speak. But it does not appear likely that he is going to get his man this time. So, rather than throw in the towel, he is making a college try at cajoling President Donald Trump into helping him out.
Today's New York Times print-edition lede by Michael S. Schmidt, "Questions for President Show Depth of Inquiry Into Russian Meddling," bespeaks an embarrassingly desperate attempt to get President Donald Trump to incriminate himself. And, given Trump's temperament and his dismissive attitude toward his legal advisers, the President might just rise to the bait.
Schmidt reports that Mueller's high-powered legal team has prepared over four dozen questions for Trump "on an exhaustive array of subjects." Assuming the Times is correct and the questions indeed are Mueller's, an earlier electronic Times headline would seem more to the point: "Mueller Has Dozens of Inquiries for Trump in Broad Quest on Russia Ties and Obstruction." Not depth, as in the earlier headline, but breadth. Deep dry well already dug. A "broad quest," yep, now that could be the ticket! The questions leaked to the Times betoken a very wide quest, indeed, stopping just short of the proverbial, "When did you stop beating your wife?" Or, in Trump's case, "What discussions did you have with Stormy Daniels during your dalliance with her?" Schmidt reports that "the open-ended queries appear to be an attempt to penetrate the president's thinking, to get at the motivation behind some of his most combative Twitter posts and to examine his relationships with his family and his closest advisers."
Here's one "open-ended" query as described by the Times: "[W]hat happened during Mr. Trump's 2013 visit to Moscow." That's the trip about which an opposition-research investigator working for the Clinton campaign (through a cut-out) came up with the scurrilous "pee-tape" story about Trump consorting with prostitutes.
Also included in the "exhaustive array of subjects" are questions like this: "What discussions did you have with Reince Priebus in July 2017 about obtaining the Sessions resignation? With whom did you discuss it?" In an attempt to put some gravitas behind this question, the Times explains that "Mr. Priebus, who was Mr. Trump's chief of staff, has said he raced out of the White House after Mr. Sessions and implored him not to resign. Mr. Mueller has interviewed Mr. Priebus and would be able to compare his answers with those of Mr. Trump." Aha! Might this be a clue to Mueller's approach? Something informally called The Flynn-Papadopoulos Playbook for Dummies? What if the President's recollection does not exactly match that of Priebus? A gotcha moment? Perjury.
But does anyone really care if recollections don't square on such trivia? Never before has it been clearer that the Mueller investigation is 90 percent charade. Often, lawyers are not very good at the game. This is no exception.
Theater of the Absurd
Mueller knows better than anyone, where and how to find the dirt on the Trump campaign, collusion with Russia, or anything else. That he has been able to come up with so little -- and is trying to get some help from the President himself -- speaks volumes.
Mueller does not need to send his team off on a "broad quest" with "open-ended" queries on an "exhaustive array of subjects." If there were any tangible evidence of Trump campaign-Russia collusion, Mueller would almost certainly have known where to look and, in today's world of blanket surveillance, would have found it by now. It beggars belief that he would have failed, in the course of his year-old investigation, to use all the levers at his disposal -- the levers Edward Snowden called "turnkey tyranny" -- to "get the goods" on Trump.
Here's what the "mainstream" media keeps from most Americans: The National Security Agency (NSA) collects everything: all email, telephone calls, texts, faxes -- everything, and stores it in giant databases. OK; we know that boggles the mind, but the technical capability is available, and the policy is to "collect it all." All is collected and stored in vast warehouses. (The tools to properly analyze/evaluate this flood of information do not match the miraculous state of the art of collection, so the haystack keeps growing and the needles get harder and harder to find. But that is another story.)
How did collection go on steroids? You've heard it a thousand times -- "After 9/11 everything changed." In short, when Vice President Dick Cheney told NSA Director and Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden to disregard the Fourth Amendment, Hayden saluted sharply.