Pro-and anti-Trump pundits rushed Friday to score points off of special counsel Bob Mueller’s long-expected indictment of Roger Stone, but the reality is that the nation is still left waiting to see what, if anything, Mueller has dug up.
One camp screams that the charges, like the rest of Mueller’s indictments touching on the 2016 election, are for “process crimes” — lying under oath, witness intimidation. As far as the public can tell, the investigation still hasn’t found anything on Team Trump collusion with Moscow.
The other side claims a “collusion” case is becoming visible — because the charges center on Stone’s effort to conceal his central role as a communications link between Trump aides and WikiLeaks, which was then releasing Clinton campaign e-mails.
But none of that is collusion with Russia, nor even a crime: WikiLeaks has First Amendment protection for what it publishes, and media figures have been “colluding” with US politicians since the Washington administration.
Yes, Stone was also in touch with the hacker who supposedly got the e-mails in the first place, Guccifer 2.0 — whom the feds have now firmly ID’d as a Russian agent.
Maybe Mueller has, or thinks he may get, evidence that Stone knew he was serving as a Russian agent by playing go-between. But that’s still a long stretch from even touching President Trump — who kicked Stone off his campaign months before the events in question.
And none of this determined the election’s outcome, since the WikiLeaks e-mails never yielded anything more than embarrassing gossip. The e-mail mess that really hurt Hillary Clinton was entirely American-made — since she belatedly got caught keeping her State Department communications secret from the government she worked for.
The “collusion” probe is in its third year, and (except for unrelated crimes by Paul Manafort and his partner) it still hasn’t exposed anything as outrageous as that.