As I was reading about the trial of Paul Manafort, this statement stood out to me: “The Manafort charges do not relate to allegations of Russian meddling or collusion with Trump figures in the 2016 campaign, but rather focus on allegations that Manafort cheated on his taxes and engaged in other fraudulent activity.”
I was reminded of my young days in Florida when we frequently saw fishermen using cast nets. They would stand in a boat or on a dock holding the center of a large round net with weights along its outer edge and skillfully cast the net into an area they thought fish might be schooling. Then, as they retrieved the net by pulling the center cord, those weights would scrape the bottom and multiple lines tied to the edge of the net would draw the large, circle together capturing any creature with the misfortune to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
This is a pretty apt comparison to Robert Mueller’s investigation of President Trump and I fear it may become the new normal. For every incoming president, the opposition party can simply bring some trumped-up charge so that a special prosecutor can be empowered to cast his investigative net over the entire administration, its campaign, and everyone in any way involved with the president. Then, just as a fisherman examines his catch and decides what to keep and what to discard, the investigator is free to scrutinize everyone in his net for any potential offense.
The special prosecutor wields a power that is virtually unfettered and doesn’t even need to stick to the original allegation which initiated the investigation. He is welcome to kick down doors, photograph closets, turn over every stone, and use a microscope or probe looking for any hint of any past misconduct.
Who among us could survive that kind of scrutiny of every aspect of our lives over the years and be found faultless? The answer is no one! The Bible tells us “There is none good. No, not one” (Romans 3:10). Jesus invited those who were prepared to stone the woman caught in adultery, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” No one was willing to launch their stone at her for obvious reasons.
Left-leaning internet commenters gleefully point out that dozens of Trump associates have been indicted in the Mueller investigation. They say this shows clearly that there is evidence of Russian collusion and President Trump must be running scared. But the majority of those indictments have nothing to do with collusion. Those indicted were just swept up in the investigative fishing net. In fact, in Paul Manafort’s case, the charges stem from activities as far back as 2004, well before anyone but the writers of the Back to the Future movie franchise could have predicted Donald Trump would ever be president.
If this is the way of the future, our nation will be shackled as each new president is forced to operate under a pall of suspicion. Future qualified candidates may refuse to run for president because they wouldn’t want to subject all their known associates to the next special prosecutor’s fishing net.
Beware the net of special prosecutors who are empowered and motivated by partisan politics.