Special counsel Robert Mueller is more than a year and five months into his investigation into whether President Donald Trump “colluded” in some illegal fashion with Russian President Vladimir Putin (or any other Russians). But Mueller has yet to reveal what he has—or hasn’t—concluded.
On the other hand, there’s now an impressive body of public evidence to address another facet of this international controversy: collusion against Trump.
Evidence on this matter has trickled out slowly over the course of about two years. It has come in the form of sworn testimony from witnesses interviewed by Congress, information revealed by the Justice Department’s inspector general, government documents and text messages, and court files.
Taken together in context, the evidence points to two important findings. First, U.S. government insiders, colluding with numerous foreign citizens and governments, conspired to interfere in the 2016 election. Second, after the election, these figures conspired to undermine, oust, and perhaps even frame Trump and some of his associates.
Highlights of ‘Collusion Against Trump’ EvidenceHere are a few highlights among the hundreds of bits of supporting information:
There were orchestrated leaks of anti-Trump information and allegations to the press, including by ex-FBI Director James Comey and some of his colleagues, friends, and acquaintances.
Wittes wrote that his vision of an “insurance policy” against Trump would rely on a “Coalition of All Democratic Forces” to challenge and obstruct Trump, using the courts as a “tool” and Congress as “a partner or tool.” He even mentioned names of people he said had agreed to help with the plan and evoked possible impeachment—two weeks before Trump was elected.
The U.S. Intelligence Community allegedly engaged in questionable surveillance practices and politically motivated “unmaskings” of U.S. citizens, including Trump associates Steve Bannon, George Papadopoulos, Jared Kushner, Carter Page, and Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. Obama administration officials taking part in these activities included national security adviser Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, CIA Director John Brennan, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
Unprosecuted Alleged CrimesAs the evidence has been revealed, numerous crimes have been alleged against officials related to the controversies. Some have been officially referred to the Justice Department (DOJ) for prosecution. However, to date, no public prosecutions have been announced.
Examples include the following:
FBI officials have provided conflicting information about Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe reportedly told Congress that two agents who interviewed Flynn didn’t think he’d lied.
While reviewing text messages of FBI agents involved in questionable behavior, the DOJ’s inspector general (IG) caught a senior FBI official violating federal regulations by taking gifts from a member of the media. The IG says the official then lied about the interactions. The IG referred the case for prosecution, but said the Justice Department “declined” to prosecute the case against one of its own.
Justice Department and FBI shakeupsAs allegations of impropriety have mounted against top officials at the DOJ and FBI, there’s been an atmosphere of disruption and chaos within the agencies. Since January 2017, there have been at least 22 high-level personnel changes.
Removed from Mueller team: Lisa Page, FBI attorney
Who Investigates the Investigators?In the end, all of this highlights a scenario that may be unique, at least in terms of scope, in modern U.S. history.
When some at the top levels of our government intelligence and law enforcement agencies are accused of malfeasance or crimes, they have the power to choose not to investigate or prosecute themselves. They can launch investigations into their political enemies and claim obstruction if the enemies try to stop them, and they can withhold key information from the elected body that has oversight power over them: Congress.
A great deal of time and public money has been spent looking into Trump and his associates. We’ll soon know the results of the Mueller probe. But how can the public rest assured that the other side of the coin is receiving appropriate scrutiny?