Coins have two sides. So do most decisions evaluating risk. Look before you leap, but he who hesitates is lost. People who drive instead of fly because they think flying is dangerous haven’t looked at the other side of the coin: statistics clearly show that flying is much safer than driving.
And so it is with Robert Mueller’s investigation into connections between the Trump campaign and efforts Russia made to interfere in the 2016 election.
The country wants, or should want, to find out if impeachable offenses were committed. Even Trump supporters should not condone impeachable behavior. It is surely not necessary to find a crime — the violation of a specific statute — in order to impeach the president. Wouldn’t his attempting to get, or actually accepting, Russian “assistance” in winning the election, coupled with an effort to hide it, be an impeachable offense, even if not technically a crime or treason?
The suspicion that President Trump may have engaged in such activities may be justification enough for the current investigation. But investigations, including this one, are not cost-free. This investigation, ongoing and ongoing, casts doubts every day on the president’s legitimacy and, by extension, on the acts he and his administration take.
The country should be willing to pay some cost for the investigation, but not, surely, any cost. Not the cost of paralyzing the president in dealing with an immediate threat from, say, North Korea. Or the economy.
The left sees it differently. Their goal is precisely to paralyze Mr. Trump. The left has even given a name to its obstructionism: they call themselves “The Resistance.” If there were not even gossamer hints of penumbras formed by emanations of suggestions that something had been amiss during the campaign, the left would still be claiming treason or fraud. Some of them call regularly for Mr. Trump’s impeachment. Rep. Maxine Waters, California Democrat, has even called for Vice President Pence’s impeachment.
The Resistance needs to be reminded that Robert Mueller’s investigation is not like the Starr investigation into President Clinton’s behavior. Everyone, even Democrats, knew Mr. Clinton was lying about Monica Lewinsky — and everyone was right. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (Opportunist — NY) has now admitted as much. She has said that Mr. Clinton should have resigned during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. “Things have changed today,” she said. Oh, please.
What has changed is that the Clintons no longer have potential power and so there is no downside to Ms. Gillibrand’s pushing them off the platform into the path of an oncoming Washington, D.C. metro train — assuming it’s running. For Democrats it’s now safe to be anti-Clinton. And that makes being anti-Trump look (vaguely, somehow) nonpartisan.
But there is a downside to Mueller’s investigation, at least in the view of people who care how the country is governed: how the American eagle flies in all its glory. The investigation calls everything Mr. Trump does into question. The unending innuendoes from the left-wing press cast a pall over all the actions of the administration — from NATO to the tax cut, deregulation, Obamacare, and most perilously, North Korea. That may warm the hearts of lefties in Congress and the media, but it is not good for America.
It is, therefore, time to call the question. Robert Mueller, appointed on May 17, 2017, needs to produce evidence that foul deeds were done or close the investigation. That, unfortunately, is not likely. He is an honorable man, if flawed — flawed for insufficient attention to how the perceived bias of some of his investigative attorneys would taint his findings. But he is likely to drive on forever until he finds something.
Forever is too long for the country.
If after 13 months Mr. Mueller hasn’t found anything substantial, he should close up shop. Yes, that means some impeachable behavior by Mr. Trump might go undiscovered. But rational people will understand that such behavior is not likely to have occurred if Mr. Mueller hasn’t been able to find it after 13 months of searching.
After 13 months, it will be fair to say that the risk that Mr. Trump engaged in impeachable behavior is not as great as the risk to the country of continuing the investigation.
Therefore: The Republicans in the House and Senate should send a letter to President Trump requesting that he notify Special Counsel Robert Mueller of his intent to close the investigation on June 30, 2018. That will give Mr. Mueller a sense of urgency to find impeachable behavior — i.e., acts committed by the president, not just routine illegalities committed by staff and associates (lying to the FBI, money laundering, failing to disclose lobbying activities) that he has revealed so far.
Mr. Mueller’s writ is not to collect injustices. There is a country to govern.
And flying is still safer than driving.
• Daniel Oliver is chairman of the board of the Education and Research Institute and a director of Citizens for the Republic.