Special counsel Robert Mueller recently indicted yet another peripheral character in his Trump probe, Russian attorney Natalia V. Veselnitskaya, for alleged money laundering in a matter quite separate from Trump.
Like almost all of Mueller’s indictments of the past 20 months, the charges against Veselnitskaya had nothing to do with his original mandate of finding any possible Trump-Russia collusion. No matter; within minutes, Veselnitskaya’s name was injected into the media cycle as if the fact that she was Russian and connected to the name Mueller was de facto proof that Trump was guilty of something — if not collusion, something worse.
If Mueller was not a special counsel, and if he was not looking for anyone deemed useful to flip to find dirt on Donald Trump, then Veselnitskaya would have been just another daily Washington foreign influence peddler being courted with impunity by her American influence-peddling and often equally suspect counterparts.
To date, in almost every one of his indictments of Americans, Mueller has gone after Trump staffers, often quite minor, for alleged crimes that were either committed well before Mueller began his investigations, or that came as a result of plea bargaining in exchange for providing expected dirt on Trump, or that were the result of government surveillance or the use of government informants, or all of that and more. And all that sensationalism, through leaks and insinuations, was packaged by the media as “bombshells” and “watersheds” and “turning points” ad nauseam for 20 months.