The source of this information is unnamed, but my first thought on reading it was ‘Wow, Adam Schiff works fast!’ Whoever is behind this, it seems intended to reassure a lot of nervous progressives, who have been blissfully wedded to the collusion narrative for more than a year, that they can keep hope alive. According to the source, Mueller has definitely not finished his investigation into the Trump campaign and possible collusion with Russia:
Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his prosecutors have not concluded their investigation into whether President Donald Trump or any of his associates helped Russia interfere in the 2016 election, according to a person with knowledge of the probe.Friday’s indictment of a St. Petersburg-based “troll farm” and 13 Russian nationals should be seen as a limited slice of a comprehensive investigation, the person said. Mueller’s work is expected to continue for months and also includes examining potential obstruction of justice by Trump, said the person, who requested anonymity to discuss an investigation that is largely confidential.
Of course, it’s possible this could all be true and accurate, but in the context of this afternoon’s news, it’s hard to miss the sense this was intended as a signal to the true believers out there. And given that a) Adam Schiff leaks like a sieve and b) collusion is his jam, he really does seem like a possible source for this story.
When news of the indictment broke this afternoon there was a mad scramble to get to the bottom line. Was this bad news for Trump? Or, on the contrary, did it suggest there was no evidence of collusion after all. Particularly concerning to many on the left was the statement that Trump campaign contacts with the Russian influence campaign had been “unwitting.” That sounded a little bit too much like the collusion calliope music winding down. Greg Sargent at the Washington Post interviewed a white-collar crime expert who argued that, with regard to collusion, we still didn’t know anything.
There’s some confusion around this point. The indictment says that some of the defendants “communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump campaign.” At a presser just now, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein reiterated this, claiming that “there’s no allegation in this indictment” that any American was aware of the alleged crimes. (Emphasis mine.)
But Eliason tells me that we simply cannot know yet what this means. It could very well mean that Mueller has not, or will not, find any evidence of U.S. persons knowingly conspiring with these efforts. Or, Eliason says, it could mean there’s more to come.
“What remains unanswered is whether they had U.S. help,” Eliason tells me, adding that the language in the indictment “doesn’t mean the only people involved are these unwitting ones.”
In short, just because not everyone was colluding doesn’t mean no one was colluding. That’s cause for hope, I guess, but it seems pretty slim. Fortunately, the unnamed source (whose name might rhyme with Madam Cliff) has come forward and talked to Bloomberg to put minds at ease. Hooray!
Boom. Toldja that possibility wasn't foreclosed: https://t.co/VG6vaH3ZO8 https://t.co/28mDDDtD6g
— Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) February 16, 2018
Honestly, I think Greg Sargent (and others) make a fair but extremely obvious point: We don’t know what else Mueller has. And because we don’t know it’s probably not wise to draw absolute conclusions about what today’s indictment means. That said, not knowing really does mean not knowing. It doesn’t mean proof of collusion is coming next or is waiting just around the corner. Even Bloomberg’s anonymous source seems to be trying to move the goalposts a little toward obstruction of justice.
But let’s face it, most on the left won’t care if the collusion story goes up in flames so long as Mueller hits Trump with something. We’ll have to wait a while longer to see if their hopes pan out.