Remember the good old days of the "Russia investigation?"

While having coffee this morning, I found myself listening to the crew on CNN as they gushed over “the twelve days of Mueller.” While liberal bias at CNN is roughly as surprising as your dog stealing an unattended slice of pizza, this particular display was especially nauseating. The reference to the Twelve Days of Christmas was the perfect vehicle to demonstrate how the left views the recent revelations from the Mueller investigation as a series of gifts, and CNN is thrilled to participate in the unwrapping ceremony.

There’s one phrase from that coverage which truly sticks out, at least if you’ve been paying attention. Everyone is now talking about “the Mueller investigation.” Some of us are old enough to remember when it was called “the Russia investigation.” Do you recall that? Oh, those heady days when the target on the horizon was the possibility that the President (or at least some members of his campaign staff) had been in collusion with agents of Vladimir Putin to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails, crack into voting machines and/or do anything else possible to help Trump steal the election from the rightful winner and pull the wool over the eyes of the nation.

More than a year later, as Robert Mueller edges closer and closer to the closing number in this sideshow, what’s been delivered? Trump’s campaign tended to hire some greedy men who turned out to be tax scofflaws in their careers prior to joining the campaign. And having corned them with the possibility of serious jail time, most were willing to talk out of school about the President.

The only thing resembling a silver bullet aimed at Trump himself is the item Allahpundit wrote about last night. The payments to the porn star and the Playboy model. Assuming those can be nailed down as a campaign finance violation (more on that shortly), the Democrats and their allies in the press have declared these items to be the final “gotcha” moment which will lead to impeachment and possibly prison for Donald Trump once he leaves office.

Pardon my saying, but this entire story arc is absurd. I find myself agreeing with Rich Lowry (not exactly a fan of Trump’s), writing at Politico, who seems to view this entire episode in presidential history as a bad dime store novel with the final chapter torn out.

After two years of obsession with Russia, including speculation in respectable quarters that Trump might have been a Russian spy going back to 1987, there is a sense of delight in the press and among Democrats in nailing the president on something completely different.

As of yet, instead of a dastardly scheme to participate with the Russians in the hacking of Democratic emails to subvert the election, prosecutors have uncovered a dastardly scheme to try to keep from the voters — as if they weren’t aware — that Trump is a womanizer with low scruples.

So whatever happened to Russia? Manafort was doing some pre-campaign deals with the Ukrainians, which is close but doesn’t fit into the original narrative. We did wind up with one spy (excuse me… unregistered foreign agent) who landed a single meeting with some campaign staffers. Other than that she seemed to be more interested in infiltrating the NRA than the White House.

Aside from all that we have the two hush money payments to the President’s alleged paramours. If Mueller had at least turned up some illegal campaign contributions from Russia that might be something. Or even if the porn start had a Russian sounding name. Instead, we’re left with this pitiful tale of marital infidelity and nondisclosure agreements meant to keep the story from the eyes of the public and the ears of his wife.

That brings us back to the fanciful idea that those two payments might be grounds for impeachment and imprisonment, as Democrats and their cable news partners seem to fervently hope. This is, as Lowry described it, “a Democratic revenge fantasy.” He goes on to quote someone who should know a thing or two about campaign finance laws, namely Bradley Smith, former chairman of the Federal Election Commission and head of the Institute for Free Speech.

Smith notes that in order for these hush money payments to be held as a federal crime under campaign finance laws, prosecutors would need to be able to show that the payments constituted an “obligation or expense of a person that would not exist irrespective of the candidate’s election campaign.” A defense attorney with even a modicum of talent would be ready to point out that the hush money payments were just as legitimately intended to keep Melania Trump in the dark regarding the tawdry affairs. There’s also Trump’s history of using such nondisclosure agreements to keep things rolling his way.

One last question for the Democrats and our friendly CNN anchors comes to mind. The payments in question add up to a few hundred thousand dollars. Where was the talk of impeachment and prison when Barack Obama’s campaign was found to have taken in literally millions in forbidden donations and wound up paying a fine to the FEC larger than the checks sent to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal? The sound of crickets fills the air.

Still looking forward to the Twelve Days of Mueller? Perhaps there’s still some big surprise coming that nobody has forseen, but at the moment I’d say you should be prepared in case there’s a lump of coal in your stocking.

David Strom 7:01 PM on September 24, 2022