The special prosecutor is running amuck, but why doesn’t Trump just pull the plug?

Evidence is mounting that Robert Muller isn’t investigating Russia ties to the Trump campaign, he’s just investigating everyone close to Trump.

Illegal searches, false claims, and a very expensive operation are leading many to ask for Trump to pull the plug and fire Mueller.

And while Congress and the special prosecutor have refused to release their budget, some of these numbers have come to light.

USA Today reports:

“Congress is spending millions of dollars on investigations of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, but it’s impossible to tell from public reports exactly how much the probes are costing taxpayers — and the committees running the investigation refuse to talk about it.

The Senate intelligence committee received an extra $1.2 million earlier this year for its investigation and added two employees to help its existing staff with the Russia probes

According to a congressional aide who was not authorized to speak about the subject publicly. The House intelligence committee also added two new lawyers with a combined annual salary of $290,000, expense reports show.

The congressional investigations are only a portion of the cost to taxpayers of the ongoing Russia saga.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is running a criminal investigation out of the Justice Department for which there is little public accounting of the costs, and there is no telling how much the White House legal office is spending to respond to inquiries arising from the investigations.”

The President appointed Mueller, and he can fire him too.  This editorial makes a good case as to why this probe should end.

The Week reports:

After months of getting themselves worked up about hearings featuring a hero once accused of rigging the election for Donald Trump and Don Jr.’s inability to sniff out Nigerian prince emails, spectators of the Russia game have finally gotten what they wanted: indictments.

Unfortunately, the indictments of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business partner Richard Gates have nothing whatever to do with “collusion,” however broadly defined.

Politically speaking, we have learned nothing except what we already knew: namely, that a shady businessman who briefly worked for the Trump campaign is, in fact, a very shady businessman indeed, one who has just pled not guilty to failing to register as a foreign agent on behalf of the Ukrainian puppet government and not declaring all of his income derived from his essentially pro-Kremlin lobbying.

Millions of dollars have been spent.  An illegal search of a private citizen was conducted and resulted in an indictment of a former campaign official with some bad business practices.

What has not appeared is any indication that Trump worked with the Russians.

Dot connectors will, of course, continue to connect dots. It could be that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is hoping to secure testimony from Manafort or Gates that will give him the dirt he needs to bring more appropriate charges.

It could be that he already has that information and is just waiting for goodness knows what occasion. At the very least, obsessives will say, the hiring of Manafort indicates — these comments almost write themselves — a very serious lack of judgment on Trump’s part.

You don’t say? The man whose idea of a feel-good national unity speech following an act of domestic terrorism was to suggest a degree of moral equivalence between the KKK and its opponents has horrible instincts, often fails to think things through, is a bad judge of character, etc.? Gosh.

Even George Papadopoulos’ guilty plea is no smoking gun. The former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign admits that he lied about email exchanges with a shadowy figure known as “the professor” who had promised Russian “dirt” on Clinton.

But as far as we can tell, his communications with Dr. Dirt went nowhere. Papadopoulos also made vague references in his emails to “meetings” with Russian officials that probably did not end up taking place, which seems important only if you ignore the fact that presidential candidates, especially after securing their parties’ nominations, routinely meet with foreign leaders, even heads of state.

The most significant thing about Monday’s Mueller bonanza is that it reminds us what is wrong with these hysterical wide-ranging special prosecutor investigations that take place in public.

If you ask enough people enough questions about enough topics, sooner or later you’re going to catch somebody in a lie. Monday’s revelations don’t in themselves mean anything other than that Jeff Sessions’ Justice Department is keeping Mueller on a very long leash.

It needs to be shortened. The purpose of the investigation is to determine whether the presidential campaign of Donald Trump knowingly colluded with the Russian government in the hope of altering the outcome of the 2016 election, not to see whether any person even loosely connected with the former could be found guilty of any crime, including perjury.

Many people don’t realize it is a felony to give false information to the federal government.  Even an honest mistake is still a felony.

The resignation of Tony Podesta from the prominent lobbying group he founded in the wake of Manafort’s indictment suggests that we are getting very far afield indeed.

There are many problems with the Mueller probe, not least its show-boating obsession with keeping its business in the newspapers, but the biggest one is that its parameters were never well defined. What would count as actual collusion?

Idle language is thrown around about people having “ties” to Russia or being “Kremlin-connected.” How do you define “Kremlin-connected”? What would be the broad equivalent in the United States from Russia’s perspective? A former congressman? Anyone who does business on K Street having a meeting?

Defense contractors? Given the country’s autocratic structure, there are very few living Russian nationals of any wealth or distinction who are not “Kremlin-connected.”

If it’s not going away, the least we could do is broaden the investigation’s scope. Why not appoint another special prosecutor to investigate British meddling in our sacrosanct democratic process?

The facts are there in plain sight. A former member of Her Majesty’s Secret Intelligence Service collaborated with a presidential campaign in an attempt to alter the outcome of the 2016 election. So did a former member of the British Parliament, who peddled disgusting conspiracy theories on Twitter and even attempted to collude with the Clinton campaign on advertising strategy.

This is an interesting point.  More and more information has come out on the Clinton campaign’s attempt to put together a dirt dossier on Trump, built primarily on paid testimony assembled by a former official of the British Intelligence service.

The speaker of the British House of Commons attempted to discredit Clinton’s opponent. Should we see whether the Right Hon. John Bercow has ever emailed anyone who has ever in any capacity ever been in contact with anyone in the Obama White House? Hillary Clinton thinks we are in the midst of a “new Cold War.” Are we also in the throes of a rebooted War of 1812?

The real lesson of the Russia non-story is that globalization, the great theme of the 2016 election, is more pervasive than any of us wants to acknowledge. No one who works in consulting or lobbying or finance is lacking in ties with Russia.

Our press corps is largely made up of enthusiastic children. These 20- and 30-somethings who have never read a book were raised to excel in “critical thinking,” but they are amusingly bad at it.

Anyone can write a decontextualized story about a person or a group having “ties” to any malicious foreign power because having “ties” is what it means to exist somewhere in the sinuous continuum of depersonalized financial accretion that is late capitalism.

In 2017, everybody is working for somebody, somewhere.