Further to my observations on Deep State dinner theatre, the "Russia investigation" show goes on, undeterred by the lack of any evidence of actual crime: The more obvious the absence of any crime to investigate, the bigger the investigation gets. As I've said before, in Hitchcockian terms, this is a thriller without a MacGuffin: instead, it's one big MacNuffin - unless you count the "collusion" between government bureaucracies and the Hillary campaign in surveilling their political opposition before the election, or FBI honcho Jim Leaky leaking material to The New York Times to get his buddy Bob Mueller appointed as "Special Counsel".
That last one worked - notwithstanding calls for a Special Counsel to investigate the Special Counsel over his ties to the FBI Director who wanted the Special Counsel. This is a very Washington creature-feature: the Blob feasts on nothing. So at the Deep State dinner theatre Mr Mueller is now casting an army of extras. With the usual money-no-object lavishness of the world's premier five-star swamp, the Special Counsel has appointed, to date, 14 lawyers to his "investigation", "with more still to come". In a fascinating column, my old colleague Andrew McCarthy puts this prosecutorial football squad in perspective:
Andy was the lead counsel in the prosecution of the Blind Sheikh for the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. It led to a nine-month trial of twelve defendants. The Government somehow managed to pull that off with three prosecutors plus an appellate lawyer.
A couple of years before that, Andy was on the "Pizza Connection" Mafia case - a 17-month trial of 22 defendants. In that one, he was the junior member among five government lawyers, and many of his peers thought the size of the prosecution team was "excessive".
But McCarthy's column contains an even more sobering context for Bob and his Fantastic Fourteen:
Does it seem strange to anyone else that, by comparison, the president of the United States has managed to get—count 'em—three appointees confirmed to Justice Department positions in five months?
So in one month Mueller has managed to put five times as many people on the DoJ payroll as Trump has since January.
As has been noticed, no matter how many lawyers Mueller hires, he only seems to know bigtime Hillary donors. If he wraps the investigation up in time, the Special Counsel can change his title to Special Bundler for the Clinton 2020 campaign. But, even if they weren't so ostentatiously partisan, the whole money-no-object profligacy sums up dysfunctional Washington at its most repulsive.
Recently I had occasion to speak with an FBI agent myself in connection with a matter rather closer to home for me than the Kremlin. After a couple of hours of going over all the details, I leaned back in my chair and said, "What do you think's really going on here?" And the G-Man, who was actually a G-Woman, replied that, in her experience, you could investigate someone for two or three years and never know the answer to that question. So you nail them on mail fraud. And we all had a good laugh and went on our merry way.
But I confess I feel a little queasy about that. If you investigate someone long enough, you may not get the goods on them, but you'll certainly get some goods. And so much of American justice seems to involve designating the guy you're gonna get, and then figuring out afterwards what it is you can get him on - Al Capone for tax evasion being merely the most celebrated example thereof. But there are a zillion lesser examples and Jim Comey has made his own famous contribution to the pantheon: He got Martha Stewart banged up in the Big House for lying to the FBI in a matter for which there was no underlying crime.
Incidentally, why is it a crime for Americans to lie to the FBI but not for the FBI to lie to Americans? As when Comey testified - just a month ago - that Huma Abedin had forwarded hundreds of thousands of emails to the laptop of her sex-fiend husband. Like so much Comey grandstanding, it was a great story - but it wasn't true:
The problem: Much of what Comey said about this was inaccurate. Now the FBI is trying to figure out what to do about it.
If Martha Stewart or Scooter Libby had done that, "what to do about it" would be easy: They'd be headed to the slammer. But, when the FBI Director makes false statements under oath in a matter for which he is giving expert, prepared testimony, he gets to skate.
This "Russia investigation" is now in its Martha Stewart phase: Fifteen lawyers are not going on a two-year fishing expedition in order to hold a press conference and say they came up empty. Somewhere along the way someone will misremember something and the fifteen synchronized fishers will leap in the air and pounce: Ah-ha!
But, until that point, what the hell are these fifteen guys doing every day? This bloated pseudo-investigation is the very embodiment of Washington dysfunction: The less there is, the fewer real American lives it has any connection to, the further it recedes in the rear-view mirror, the more the Swamp is invested in it. They've already been on it for a year, and, if there were any "collusion", it would have been leaked months ago: If Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, the "Russia investigation" is a nullity wrapped in an absence inside a void, now shimmering in the black hole of the billable hours of fifteen lawyers and the expense accounts of a hundred FBI agents.
But tally-ho! The Great MacNuffin Hunt goes on - because in the Swamp all the most luxurious gravy trains are rear-view only. Putin must be laughing his head off. For the next three years they'll be so busy investigating the 2016 election, they won't even notice he's already moved on to stealing the 2020 election...
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