If Trump Was Going to Be Remotely ‘Cleared,’ Wouldn’t That Have Been Leaked By Now?
When fans of President Donald Trump explain why they are so confident that he will be exonerated of serious crimes in the various federal investigations of him and his 2016 presidential campaign, they usually parrot much of Trump’s nonsense about “Fake News!” and a “witch hunt.” However, there is at least one semi-rational basis on which they conclude that, just as their hero has always told them, there was no “collusion” with Russia, or any other significant criminal activity related to that subject.
Since this investigation has been in the works for so long, their thinking goes, if there was indeed strong evidence implicating Trump directly, or even indirectly, in such matters, we surely would have heard about it by now. There is just no way, especially in Washington, to keep such a huge secret for basically two years, because someone would have leaked it to the press, or someone in Congress.
Now, forgetting for a moment that there already is plenty of compelling evidence (not proof) in the public domain of possible collusion, and that most Trump fans would reflectively label it “Fake News!” if such a conclusion had indeed been leaked, this at least makes some sense. If, like the state-run media, you bizarrely believe that life-long Republican Robert Mueller is on some sort of irrational vendetta against Trump, it is hardly a leap to think that if he had the “goods” against the president that this would have been strategically leaked to create maximum damage long ago.
I happen to strongly believe that the primary reason there have been no such leaks by Mueller of a “collusion conclusion,” or anything else directly accusing Trump of crimes, is that the former Marine is a highly-principled and by-the-book prosecutor who knows it would be extremely unethical to prematurely reveal such information to the public. But thinking about the remarkable lack of leaks from the Mueller team and the other federal agencies prosecuting those very close to Trump, got me to wonder whether the far better question here shouldn’t be asked in exactly the opposite direction.
In short, isn’t the fact that Mueller’s team and the other investigators have never leaked anything close to an indication that Trump will be exonerated in all of this, an incredibly damning indication that he will not be?
Think about it this way. By this point, with the mainstream news media (even some state-run media!) and high-powered Democrats in Congress making it exceedingly clear that Trump is in very real legal trouble, the level of negative speculation about the president has now gone FAR beyond the threshold of where it is hindering his presidency, and even diminishing the trust of many Americans in the office itself.
If Mueller, or the federal office in New York that just implicated Trump in a conspiracy to violate campaign finance laws, knew that in the end of this saga Trump would be “cleared” (as he laughably and desperately claimed he has been), they absolutely would at least be giving the establishment some sort of warning signs that they were grossly overplaying all of this. For them not to do so would be both morally unconscionable, as well as just plain idiotic.
These prosecutors are not dumb people. They know that the flurry of activity involving Michael Flynn, Michael Cohen, and Paul Manafort has created a very strong expectation that there is an extremely incriminating — currently private — puzzle about the president, for which we the public just don’t yet have all the pieces. If, by now, they know those missing pieces still don’t exist, they would be insane to set themselves to look like total morons if, at the end of the investigations, there is nothing substantial against Trump.
To be clear, while a damning leak against a sitting president would be clearly very wrong, an exculpatory “heads up” to even just one key member of Congress to not get out ahead of their skis on this would be perfectly ethical, practically expected under these unique circumstances, and an act of obvious self-preservation. It would also be incredibly easy to do, and yet, quite clearly, nothing of the sort has occurred.
In this case, the silence regarding such a leak, like when you don’t hear anything about a job opening you know is soon closing, is literally deafening, and seemingly quite ominous.
Now, while that would seem to mean that there will be no “exoneration” for Trump, we still don’t know exactly what prosecutors think he is guilty of. I have been continually skeptical that actual “collusion” will ever be proven (which may be why Trump has spent so much energy setting the goalposts right there), but confident that there will be more than just some campaign finance violations, which, given the expectations which have been created, would look awfully puny to most people.
The bottom line is that if that wasn’t going to be the case we almost certainly would have heard about it by now. That we haven’t, speaks volumes.
John Ziegler hosts a weekly podcast focusing on news media issues and is documentary filmmaker. You can follow him on Twitter at @ZigManFreud or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
[Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.