- - Monday, October 2, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Robert Mueller is nothing if not relentless. Impatient with a fishing expedition that relies on slippery prey to swim into his net, the special counsel now dreams of besieging anyone at the White House who has so much as watched an episode of a television drama about Soviet spies in Washington. Scalps have to be taken because that’s what special counsels, i.e., special prosecutors, do.

Mr. Mueller was commissioned to investigate the Trump campaign’s ties, if any, to Russians. That investigation seems to be what drillers looking for oil call “a dry hole.” Mr. Mueller has so far spent millions, giving employment to every lawyer in town without a client, and he has to come up with something, and soon. That’s why his investigation is ranging so far afield.

Foreign meddling in American elections, by the Russians or anyone else, is seriously grave business. Mr. Mueller has focused his guns on one of Donald Trump’s early campaign managers, Paul Manafort. No one, despite several investigations, has yet demonstrated that there is anything on Mr. Trump himself. Mr. Mueller sent his agents to raid Mr. Manafort’s home in Alexandria, in suburban Virginia, before dawn, reminiscent of an episode of “Cops.” A forensic team spent 10 hours extracting every shred of evidence of wrongdoing, collecting everything from grocery receipts to tax records, looking for something, anything, to prove the president was in cahoots with Vladimir Putin to save the world from Hillary Clinton.

Mr. Mueller could have collected the “evidence,” such as it might be, by subpoenaing any and all documents. This might have deprived a grand jury of a dramatic search for the big ham sandwich which prosecutors traditionally use to get an indictment when the prosecution doesn’t have anything else. Mr. Mueller, according to several press accounts, has told Mr. Manafort that he will be indicted. He’s apparently still looking for a crime.

Federal agents have been intercepting Mr. Manafort’s telephone conversations on and off for the past three years, all to render him a pariah. He has challenged the special counsel to release the transcripts of his telephone conversations. That he hasn’t already been sent up the river suggests the G-men have been using him as bait for larger game, the game being a man with a golden mane.

Mr. Mueller has smothered President Trump’s colleagues with demands for records of virtually every conversation the president has had regarding the investigation of one-time National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, and the firing of Mr. Mueller’s friend, James Comey, the former director of the FBI whom the president sacked for not doing his duty. Mr. Mueller’s investigators want records in 13 categories of documents that touch on the ties, if any, between the Trump campaign and Russians. Who knew there could be so many crisscrossing trails of communication even when everyone on the planet is linked to everyone else by just six degrees of separation.

So far there’s no public evidence that Mr. Mueller has subpoenaed the archives of Ancestry.com to see whether the president’s ancestors, Scottish peat bog farmers, were linked to Russian branches in a fashion similar to the royal ties between the Windsors and Romanovs. If so, that could explain everything. Mr. Mueller might very well eventually build a case — against whom it is not yet clear — because he’s living in a big-game hunter’s wildest dream, a priceless target with few limits. He has to bag someone, and soon.

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