Yesterday's New York magazine had the best summary of the state of the Trump-Russia collusion investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller yet written. It was contained in a single paragraph buried deep in an article with no other surprises so you have to look for it. Yet despite having to wade through material which basically tells us what we already know about that investigation, that one paragraph is so stunning in its revelation amid an otherwise routine summary of what Mueller is possibly up to, that it hits the reader like a hard slap across the face.
Before reaching that revelatory paragraph, New York magazine correspondent Cristian Farias reminds us that it is quite extraordinary that a private citizen, Paul Manafort, was secretly surveilled twice via FISA warrants. Uh, yeah, it was stunning and it also confirms that President Donald Trump was almost certainly right in his claim that Trump Tower was wiretapped. However, we have known this for over a week.
Farias also lets us know that it would probably be wise for other possible targets of the Mueller investigation to obtain lawyers even if they have nothing to hide. Yup, good advice but just as one is about to doze off from this story seeming to go nowhere, Farias suddenly stuns us with this shocking paragraph that gets right to the heart of the matter:
One individual who is familiar with an aspect of the Mueller inquiry but asked to not be named told New York that, unlike other federal probes that he’s seen in action, where prosecutors build their cases from clear allegations, this one feels different. “This is a backward investigation,” the individual said. “You don’t have a crime. You’re searching. And so you’re not really sure exactly what you’re searching for. So you start asking around and you see what comes up. And you start creating a paradigm and you see what else comes up and figure out at some point whether or not there’s a crime.”
Got that? This is a "backward investigation" where "you don't have a crime" so "you're searching." Oh, and you aren't "really sure what you're searching for" so you just "start asking around and see what comes up." In fact you have to figure out "whether or not there is a crime."
Does this "backward investigation" not sound exactly like a perfect description of a fishing expedition? Every correspondent covering the Mueller investigation should print out that revelatory paragraph from New York magazine, laminate it, and carry it around at all times as a reminder as to what this Mueller investigation is all about...a fishing expedition.