The Irish Times view on the Mueller investigation: closing in
No amount of belligerent tweeting, it appears, will make a resilient justice system bend to Donald Trump’s will
In a court in Washington on Tuesday, Gen Michael Flynn was lambasted by a federal judge, who expressed “disgust” at the three-star general’s attempts to mislead investigators. Photograph: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA
To date, Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating possible links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, has laid criminal charges against dozens of people and three companies. They include one-time Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort; Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer; and former campaign advisers Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos. Several others have been charged arising from separate investigations that sprang from Mueller’s inquiry.
In a court in Washington on Tuesday, another Trump confidante, Gen Michael Flynn, was lambasted by a federal judge, who expressed “disgust” at the general’s attempts to mislead investigators. Flynn, who was forced to step down as Trump’s national security adviser after just 24 days, has pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents about his conversations with the Russian ambassador in the month after Trump’s election. Mueller’s team recommended a non-custodial sentence, but the judge, Emmet Sullivan, made clear that he would consider a prison term when the sentencing hearing resumes next year. “Arguably you sold your country out, the judge told Flynn. “Arguably this undermines everything this flag over here stands for.”
Slowly but surely, the US justice system is closing in on Donald Trump. Flynn is co-operating with Mueller. So too is Cohen. Last week, prosecutors said they believed Trump had conspired with the owner of the National Inquirer and Cohen to break campaign finance laws by paying hush money to two women who said they had affairs with him. And this week it was announced that the Trump Foundation – a charity that appears to have given no money to good causes – is to be wound down after attorney general Barbara Underwood accused it of “functioning as little more than a chequebook to serve Mr Trump’s business and political interests”, and of engaging in “a shocking pattern of illegality”. Trump may have contempt for the rule of law, but no amount of belligerent tweeting, it appears, will make a resilient justice system bend to his will.