Robert S. Mueller III has indicted 33 individuals and three companies. He obtained convictions on eight counts against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, obtained cooperation from former national security adviser Michael Flynn and pierced Trump’s inner circle by enlisting the assistance of Michael Cohen and Allen Weisselberg. He has operated without fanfare or leaks. His court filings have repeatedly surprised onlookers, reminding us we know a fraction of what Mueller and his prosecutors have uncovered.
While President Trump has railed and threatened and blustered, fired an FBI director and an attorney general, Mueller has kept his head down and his investigation moving steadily forward.
We expect him to produce a report in 2019, but he has already begun to lay out the facts in a series of legal filings including the sentencing memos for Flynn and Cohen. By spinning off the campaign finance crimes involving Cohen to the Southern District of New York, he further insulated his investigation from political interference.
In performing his duties with such professionalism and ruthless efficiency, he reminds us that no matter what blather Trump, Rudolph W. Giuliani and the Fox News propagandists spew, facts and the law matter. Mueller, his prosecutorial team and the courts prove week after week that the rule of law, while battered, hasn’t been demolished under Trump.
Much has been made of declines in public approval of Mueller’s performance. However, voters in one poll after another say they trust him more than Trump, whom they think lies — a lot. Large majorities of Americans now believe Trump has engaged in wrongdoing and that Russia did interfere with the 2016 election. Trump’s increasingly hysterical attacks on the investigation are increasingly ineffective. Mueller’s results demonstrate this is no “witch hunt.”
Mueller, it has been said for months, is wrapping things up or tying up loose ends. I wouldn’t bank on it. Roger Stone, Donald Trump Jr. and others who testified before Congress are likely to find themselves in legal peril in 2019. We won’t know what charges, if any, Mueller will bring against any of them and what cooperation they will offer (or what will be revealed in possible trials). Anyone who thinks he knows when this will end is making stuff up.
For nearly two years, we’ve seen an administration more incompetent, dishonest and lawless than any in our lifetime (including Richard M. Nixon’s). Watching Mueller operate with unparalleled competence, honesty and respect for the law should reassure us that American democracy remains battered but not broken.
For all of this we can say, well done, Mr. Mueller, and godspeed.