This is rich. Robert Mueller now says that if he turns over evidence to the lawyers of defendants he has charged with crimes, the documents might find their way to foreign intelligence services. Mueller is right, especially when the defendants are Russians with close ties to Vladimir Putin and the Russian government.
The problem is of Mueller’s creation. When he indicted three business entities and 13 individuals in February, he knew it was unlikely they would ever show up in the United States to face trial. The indictments were nice window dressing because they had to do with actual Russian meddling in the 2016 election, unlike the rest of the investigation.
The only problem is that one of the defendants, a firm called Concord Management and Consulting LLC, had its American attorneys show up to enter a not guilty plea. That makes Concord a real defendant entitled to the evidence that the prosecution plans to use against it.
Concord’s moniker may sound Western, but the firm appears to be owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin, who the Associated Press once dubbed “Putin’s chef.” Prigozhin is connected to two other firms also charged by Mueller with conducting internet trolling operations in the United States during the campaign.
Mueller might have just as well indicted the Kremlin, which most certainly has an interest in the evidence against Concord, the methods Mueller used to obtain it, and his sources. Of course, Mueller’s real target is not anyone in Russia, but Donald Trump, necessitating increasingly fierce and reckless tactics that could have very damaging consequences.
Consider the raids on the office, home and hotel room of Michael Cohen, the president’s personal attorney. Government agents seized a trove of documents, which were presumably compiled and maintained with the belief they were protected by attorney/client privilege.
Paying off porn stars is nowhere near enough reason, nor is a fanciful interpretation of campaign finance law, sufficient to pierce the privilege. Because the client was Donald Trump, Mueller’s defenders do not care about the precedent he has set. If the president’s rights can be so wantonly ignored, future prosecutors will likely go for the same jugular.
Imagine if Bill Clinton’s presidency had followed Trump’s. What if independent counsel Kenneth Starr had raided the possessions of David Kendall, the Clintons’ personal attorney in matters like Whitewater and the Monica Lewinsky scandal? Kendall is the keeper of a lot of secrets. He represents Hillary to this day.
It did not take long for Cohen’s personal bank documents to end up in the hands of Michael Avenatti, the attorney for Stormy Daniels, who released them to the media. Of course, Mueller’s office would deny that it had anything to do with it, but these confidential records almost certainly came from a law enforcement source.
Avenatti may be the deepest of bottom feeders, but that apparently did not bother the leaker, nor did it preclude Avenatti from appearing more than 100 times on CNN and MSNBC. Avenatti may be only slightly less venal than Stormy’s first attorney, Keith Davidson, who negotiated the original non-disclosure agreement with Cohen.
In 2012, Davidson allegedly approached Hulk Hogan’s attorney offering to “sell” the originals of the now-famous Gawker sex tapes. The wrestler’s attorney agreed to meet Davidson, but also invited the FBI who reportedly taped everything from a next-door hotel room. For unknown reasons, the government never prosecuted the case. It is out of this crucible of sleaze and extortion that the anti-Trump campaign now feeds.
Of course, Trump’s relationship with Stormy, whatever it may have been, does not speak well to the company he keeps, but Donald Trump never claimed to be anyone but Donald Trump. Sixty million people voted for him anyway. Robert Mueller, however, is not who he claims to be.
Many people can never think of Donald Trump as a victim, even as each new piece of evidence comes together about the plot to stop him. The participants in the operation to lure Trump into a Russian collusion trap knew all along what they had done. They just did not expect Hillary to lose. Once she did, there was no going back.
Peter Flaherty is chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.