- - Thursday, August 23, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The wheels of justice known for grinding slowly and exceedingly fine, are grinding molasses and marshmallows. Paul Manafort’s trial is in the books, moving from the front page to the truss ads. To be sure, the conviction of Donald Trump’s one-time campaign manager was more than a nothing-burger. He faces the rest of his life in a striped suit. But neither was it “the trial of a century.” In short order, former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen skipped the courtroom drama and copped a plea. He’s a clotheshorse with expensive tastes and he might look good in stripes, and not even have to pay for them. Robert Mueller, who was expected to tame tigers and lions, has only put the cat out again. Democratic media predictions notwithstanding, the sun came up again this morning and Donald Trump is still president, and Hillary Clinton is still in the kitchen, baking cookies and trying to get the wifely hang of preserving the summer’s string beans, squash and peaches.

The federal jury in Virginia that found Mr. Manafort guilty on eight counts of tax fraud, bank fraud and failing to file required documents on foreign bank accounts might yet earn him decades in prison, but none of it was about collusion with Russians to cook an American election. Michael Cohen is no doubt a mighty Blackstone in dealing in pimps and hookers and paying off bimbos on the make, but Robert Mueller risks being exposed as a lawyer who deals mostly in excuses at a thousand dollars an hour.

Politics is not a pastime for children, and those concerned for their health usually stick to safer forms of recreation, like skydiving and taming tigers. Mr. Manafort, a long-time Washington bigfoot, surely understood the risks of the game as he played it. But he couldn’t have foreseen that signing on to work for the Donald would so dramatically shift the odds. Who would have guessed that Mr. Mueller would have such a taste for luxuriating in the rank bodily fluids in the soiled laundry of his colleagues at the bar?

There’s a larger lesson in the Mueller thrashing of a few unlucky Trump cronies. It’s whether the forces Barack Obama set in motion could succeed in tearing down a nation conceived through divine Providence — Ronald Reagan’s “city on a hill” — and be replaced by a socialist sanctuary unmoored from its roots in American exceptionalism.

Obama backers like Peter Strzok, the cashiered FBI agent, thought his determination to be on “the right side of history” entitled him to do anything to keep Donald Trump from interfering with the project of the “progressives.” Like-minded confederates “weaponized” the unverifiable “intelligence” in the so-called “dirty dossier,” paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign to win approval of a secret court for domestic spying.

The special counsel’s mandate was written narrowly — he swore to focus solely on links, if any, between the Russian government and the Trump campaign, and “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.” A net so wide as to catch anything resulting from the Russia collusion probe could have snared Moby Dick. Hillary Clinton, the great Democratic whale in a pants suit, wriggled through that bloophole with ease. Mr. Mueller has declined to open a line of investigation to look into allegations that it was the trickery of her campaign that set in motion the entire post-election snipe hunt.

That’s why congressional Republicans have mounted their own probe of events leading up to court approval of surveillance of the Trump campaign. A key player was Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, who is said to have been a confidential conduit between dirty dossier author Christopher Steele and certain corrupt FBI officials. Mr. Ohr could pull back the curtain on mischief Mr. Mueller has so far ignored when he testifies before closed doors of the House Government Oversight and Judiciary committees next week.

Mr. Mueller spends wasted time admiring the scalps nailed to his office wall, but the American public is considerably less impressed. Without a reckoning of the Clinton campaign as thorough as Mr. Mueller’s inspection of the president’s low-life aides, there won’t be a reckoning for the ideologues who would sabotage a duly elected president to preserve their goal of that left-wing transformation of the nation written in the Almighty’s stars.

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