The fatal flaw of the Democrats case against Trump

Byron York:
It's not unusual to hear House Democrats vow to "get to the bottom" of the Trump-Russia matter — as if the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, with 500 witnesses, 2,800 subpoenas, 500 search-and-seizure warrants, and nearly 300 records of electronic communications, was somehow unable to fully probe allegations that the Trump campaign and Russia conspired to fix the 2016 election.

What really concerns Democrats is that Mueller's investigation, conducted with law enforcement powers that Congress does not have, failed to establish any Trump-Russia conspiracy or coordination. And in doing so, Mueller exposed the fatal flaw of the Trump-Russia matter: It was driven entirely by the conspiracy/coordination allegation, which turned out to be false.

The backdrop of conspiracy and coordination made every Trump-Russia episode, including routine political activities, look sinister. The Trump Tower meeting looked ominous in the context of conspiracy and coordination. Donald Trump's public statements about Russia and Vladimir Putin looked incriminating. Michael Flynn's conversations with the Russian ambassador looked suspicious. And more.

If one believed that Trump and the Russians were conspiring or coordinating to influence the campaign, then any bit of information having anything to do with Russia and the Trump campaign looked portentous. The Russia frenzy became so intense that reputable news organizations published long stories cataloging all known "contacts with Russians" by anyone associated with the Trump campaign.

But it all depended on conspiracy or coordination. And when Mueller was unable to establish that any such conspiracy or coordination actually occurred, suspicious-seeming events could no longer be credibly cast as suspicious. The Trump-Russia bubble deflated.

That left Democrats with the allegation that the president obstructed the investigation. Some hope that will be enough to impeach Trump, but in recent weeks, they have discovered it might be a hard sell. While it is possible to pursue an obstruction allegation without an underlying crime, impeaching the president on that basis could prove politically difficult. So Democrats vow more investigation to "get to the bottom" of the Trump-Russia matter, or perhaps find something else, entirely unrelated to Russia, to pursue against the president.
With no underlying crime, there is no chance that Democrats could sell an obstruction charge against Trump to the Senate or the public.  There is actually a better case that Comey obstructed justice by letting Clinton off the hook for what looks like obvious violations of the espionage act.  That fact probably weighs heavily in the mind of Mueller when he says he will not submit to questioning by Congress, because you can bet Republicans will wonder why he ignored that and Clinton's collusions with Russia to push the discredited Steele dossier.


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