On May 17, 2017 Robert S. Mueller III embarked on a journey that would change the course of American politics forever. That was the day acting Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein appointed him to serve as Special Counsel, to investigate whether Donald J. Trump and any individuals associated with his presidential campaign had links with and/or coordinated with the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
Mr. Mueller knew exactly the task that lay ahead, the perils and insidious implications of such an investigation. The public, however, did not. As the investigation progressed and former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates, former Trump aide George Papadopoulos, Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen and Trump’s longtime friend and adviser Roger Stone were indicted, the thirst for judicial revenge among the public grew.
The amount of news reports indicating conspiracy between Russia and the Trump campaign was such that many people wondered: “Why aren’t indictments for Trump and his family being filed? What more is needed?” and “If we the public know about this and media is reporting on it, how come Mueller, who knows far more than we do, is not indicting these people?” The answer to the first question is “incontrovertible evidence”. The answer to the second is still uncertain. The only thing we know for sure is that justice is not revenge. Justice, by its definition, is about what is just, not about one’s own thirst for revenge. Truth? Takes time.
Mr. Mueller has been widely successful in his investigation: six people connected to Trump have been charged with crimes that range from financial fraud to lying to the FBI and lying to Congress. Five of them have been convicted or pleaded guilty. A detail often forgotten, 28 others face charges as well. Of those, twenty-six are Russians.
Last night, after almost two years of investigation, Special Counsel Robert Mueller submitted his report to Attorney General William Barr. And it was as if many people following the investigation and its development suddenly forgot all that happened, and reverted to a state of chaos and despair, because they were told Mueller “isn’t going to file any further indictments, sealed or unsealed.”
There is a fundamental lack of understanding, as well as a dangerous penchant to let personal emotions overtake everything, that drives the above-mentioned sentiments. For starters, while many media outlets tried to claim otherwise, no one knows whether the “no further indictments” claim means there are no sealed indictments awaiting. Mr. Mueller referred cases to a number of others, from the Southern District of New York to the Eastern District of Virginia. In fact, Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal – who served as Attorney General of Connecticut from 1991 to 2011-- plainly answered a question on the existence of sealed indictments last night, by stating there is a “strong possibility” that Trump’s family could be indicted by other entities based on the work of Mueller.
Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, himself a former prosecutor and the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, echoed Blumenthal’s sentiment, by saying he thinks it is “possible, in fact probable that there will be other indictments coming from other offices”, following Mueller’s work. Mainstream media has been beating the “the investigation is over, Mueller is done” drums since last night, and viewers and readers, without stopping to think, have reacted to that narrative. One problem with it: it’s inaccurate.
Mr. Mueller isn’t going anywhere. Roger Stone is yet to be sentenced. The 26 Russians Robert Mueller indicted are going to face justice. Jerome Corsi is also going to face justice, his victory claims don’t change the reality of the judicial system. These cases, among many, all require Mueller’s presence and cooperation. There are at least a dozen investigations open, that stem from evidence he uncovered, avenues he opened and witnesses he interviewed. Mr. Mueller set in motion a chain of judicial events that will take a many months to fully unfold. Truth? Takes time.
The public very quickly forgot the Manafort case lesson. After Judge Ellis in Virginia blessed the former Trump campaign manager with an incredibly lenient 47-month jail sentence, cries of “It’s all a shame! No one’s going to pay!” and “We’re all doomed!” echoed all around social media. Reminded that there were sealed indictments awaiting Manafort in New York, as had been reported even by mainstream media, most didn’t listen, and just kept screaming. And then, after Judge Jackson in DC added another 43 months to Manafort’s sentence, the Manhattan District Attorney unsealed sixteen charges against Manafort. At that point, and only then, people were forced to admit they were wrong to have a reaction based solely on their emotions, and more importantly, it became apparent that justice does indeed still work. It may just take more than one prosecutor to do the job. Truth? Takes time.
The same that happened with Manafort is happening with the Mueller report now, with one distinct difference, that makes the outcry and unjustified desperation worse: no one knows what’s in Robert Mueller’s report yet. And the public may very well have to wait many weeks before finding out any essential details. Courts are at work. Prosecutors are at work, sealed indictments are awaiting, because they were filed in various jurisdictions long before Mr. Mueller delivered his findings to Barr. Manafort is not the only one for whom sealed indictments may seal their fate. Reports on mainstream media about Trump’s son Don Jr. being aware he was “going to be indicted”, for example, have been floating for weeks. No report indicated that it was only going to be Mueller to indict him. In fact, with the possibility of a pardon from his father looming, state charges were always the only alternative guaranteeing justice would be served, one way or the other. As happened with Manafort.
Good investigators go wherever the facts may lead. Robert Mueller excels at his job. He is also a skilled prosecutor who knows which routes better serve the purpose of making sure criminals pay for their wrongdoing. It is highly improbable, if not impossible, that he didn’t evaluate all the elements at his disposal extremely carefully. Robert Mueller is not a man who would leave anything to chance. Whatever his findings are, he is going to stick around for quite a while to help with the ongoing investigations, and we can be confident he chose the best possible route to ensure justice is served. It may not be immediately, but it will be. America owes Mueller a huge amount of gratitude for his service, no matter what. Truth takes time.