Russian collusion investigation lacks due process

Link: Russian collusion investigation lacks due process

In early 2017, the first accusations of Donald Trump’s election campaign colluding with the Russian government were reported by the mainstream media. In May 2017, democratic nominee for president Hillary Clinton cited it as one reason she lost the election.

That same month Robert Mueller was appointed to investigate whether this alleged collusion ever really took place. And here we are, over one year later, with no evidence – at least no public smoking gun – of Russian collusion.

So far, the public information we have stemming from the Mueller investigation has revolved around a pay off to adult film star Stormy Daniels, who last I checked is not an ally of Vladimir Putin.

Looking back at how this process evolved and brought us to the situation we are currently in, it can be summarized as follows: an accusation was made, a prosecutor was hired, multiple high ranking officials from both political parties have said there is no evidence of collusion, yet the investigation continues. Not only does it continue, but the prosecutor somehow has the license to obtain any and all evidence about any possible crime Trump committed. It is unclear what exactly is being investigated.

This isn’t how criminal prosecutions should be conducted. We don’t accuse someone of a gut feeling or a hunch, and then proceed to investigate them to manufacture another crime when the initial accusation comes up short.

The American system calls for an accusation based on probable cause and a subsequent investigation limited to the exact crime the defendant is being charged with.

The appointment of special counsel Mueller should not have taken place until after a Congressional investigation took place and enough evidence was obtained. Prosecutors should be hired once the specific charges are established with enough evidence for the case to continue. Without this process, law enforcement has no checks.

This is exactly the case. Appearing on Fox News Monday night, Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., one of the leading advocates of the Mueller probe and a politician with high-level security access, evaded the question of whether a judge signed off on a warrant allowing the wiretapping of a Trump phone conversation by the Obama Administration during the campaign, citing confidentiality.

But this cannot be confidential. The question of whether a judge found probable cause to issue a warrant for an investigation of Russian collusion is as straightforward as can be. If the answer remains “confidential,” then it sets a dangerous precedent. It is the equivalent of police showing up at your house saying they have a warrant but not showing it because it is “confidential.”

Another example of law enforcement running amok with no checks is the uncovering of the Stormy Daniels payment, a transaction that has nothing to do with the alleged Russian collusion. Regardless of whether or not this payment was illegal, its uncovering through this probe exposes the fundamental problem with an investigation that has an unlimited scope: instead of finding evidence for a particular crime someone is accused of, it finds a crime for anything and everything that comes up.

The bottom line in this Mueller probe is that criminal accusations, investigations and prosecutions should never be politically motivated. Rather, they should be driven by evidence-based, probable-cause accusations followed by subsequent investigations for that particular crime. In the Trump-Mueller probe, we have the former.

It does not matter whether or not one agrees with the Trump administration’s politics. The fact of the matter is that a person – on American soil – is being investigated because a group of congressmen wants him prosecuted.

This Russian collusion investigation is a test for our criminal justice system. If evidence or probable cause is not necessary to investigate the president of the United States, one can only imagine how easily any American can have a target placed on his back and prosecuted without the due process rights he is entitled to by our Constitution.

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