Much of Mueller's Russia probe is 'media narrative,' ex-federal prosecutor says
Andrew McCarthy thinks special counselor Robert Mueller tipped his hand in his ongoing Russia collusion probe with the recent indictments of three former Trump campaign officials, and he’s convinced many of the signals bode well for the president.
Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, campaign assistant Rick Gates and campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos were all recently indicted in connection with Mueller’s ongoing probe, with Papadopoulos pleading guilty to making a false statement to FBI agents investigating the matter and later striking a deal to cooperate with Mueller’s team.
“The thing I thought was really telling was the case on Papadopoulos, where contrary to Manafort, you have collusion on every page,” McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor and chief assistant U.S. attorney, said during a recent appearance on the "Chicago's Morning Answer" radio show on WIND. "Chicago's Morning Answer" is co-hosted by Dan Proft, a principal in Local Government Information Services, which owns this publication.
“Papadopoulos has been cooperating with Mueller, so you would think this would be the best thing they got on that and what he pleads guilty to is one charge to lying to an FBI agent,” McCarthy said. “In a big case, where prosecutors are trying to prove a big scheme, what you always want is to have a cooperator come in to prove everything. That tells everyone there was a scheme, Mueller doesn’t have him plead to collusion. And the dirty little secret is collusion is not a crime. The problem you got is this is a big media narrative, prosecutors don’t care about collusion.”
As for the charges levied against Manafort, McCarthy said the fact that they don’t have anything at all to do with the 2016 election, Donald Trump or Russia could also be viewed as a cause for relief for the Trump administration.
“They are obviously trying to squeeze Manafort for something on Trump because they don’t have it yet,” he said.
McCarthy said all the uncertainty over how little he thinks the government actually does have in its case could have authorities re-evaluating their case altogether.
“I think they are trying to put together an impeachment case on Trump and not a criminal prosecution,” he said. “I don’t think they got a criminal case, I don’t think they got an impeachment case either.”
According to CNN, the government alleges Papadopoulos “falsely described his interactions with a certain foreign contact who discussed 'dirt' related to emails" related to Trump’s general election rival Hillary Clinton.
In one instance, court records describe an email between Trump campaign officials suggesting they were seriously thinking of acting on Russian invitations to travel there.
In the wake of news of Papadopoulos’ guilty plea, allies close to Trump dismissed him as nothing more than a low-level “coffee boy” who has already shown himself to be a “liar” in his past dealings with the government.
As to Manafort, Trump took to Twitter soon after the charges against him were announced to argue “there was ‘no collusion’ and events mentioned took place long before he came to the campaign.”