Chicago is in the news again, and—as usual—not for good reasons. In a break from the murder and mayhem, this time it’s Cook County prosecutors in the headlines with their dismissal of all charges against Jussie Smollett. Citing his record of community service and deeming that he had already suffered enough, State’s Attorney Kim Foxx decided to keep the ten grand Smollett had posted for bail and call it even, letting him off with a slap on the wrist for faking a hate crime and chewing up valuable police resources for two weeks while cops investigated his bogus claims.
That made me remember Michael Flynn, a man who had actually spent a lifetime in service to his country, first as a career Army officer and then briefly as President Trump’s first National Security Adviser—until accusations of improper contacts with Russian officials forced his resignation, and later made him a target of Robert Mueller’s probe into potential collusion during the 2016 election. Even though FBI agents initially concluded that Flynn had been honest with them while being questioned, Mueller’s office eventually slapped him with a charge of lying to investigators in order to up the pressure on him to offer damaging information on his former boss. Later on, after being driven to bankruptcy paying for his legal defense, he pleaded guilty to save his family from losing what little they had left. Broken and ruined, it was all he could offer them.
What a stark contrast. In Smollett’s case, the evidence of his guilt is overwhelming—and yet because he’s a minor celebrity who has given a few hours of his time to charitable endeavors, the system lets him off the hook for a serious offense that did real, tangible harm. With Flynn, on the other hand, a man who spent decades serving his country gets railroaded for a victimless crime and has his entire life destroyed.
All of which leads to a common refrain among some conservatives, as espoused by David French yesterday in National Review:
DOJ leaders — and Robert Mueller — deserve our thanks. In a time of (justified) collapsing public trust in American institutions, our best available evidence indicates that they responded to a challenging moment with integrity and resolve. It is a relief to say, with a high degree of confidence, that in the Mueller investigation our system worked.
Respectfully, I must disagree. Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions only recused himself from the investigation under pressure from Congressional Democrats, who used the flimsiest of pretexts to suggest he couldn’t be impartial. Subsequently, Rod Rosenstein appointed a special counsel to look into collusion—which isn’t even a crime. While this would certainly be within the purview of Congress to investigate—and impeach, if evidence of collusion is found—it is beyond the scope of the special counsel statute.
In other words, the Mueller investigation was illegitimate from the get-go—an undermining of the system for purely political ends.
So if the system really worked, Michael Flynn wouldn’t have been cornered into pleading guilty to a crime he didn’t commit. If the system really worked, Barack Obama’s Justice Department wouldn’t have gotten away with using Hillary Clinton-funded opposition research to get warrants so they could spy on a rival presidential campaign. If the system really worked, James Comey, James Clapper and John Brennan would all be in jail for lying under oath and leaking classified information.
And if the really system worked, justice in our nation’s capital wouldn’t be contingent upon whether or not you have a D next to your name.
Russia collusion was a hoax hatched by Hillary’s campaign in the hours after her loss as an explanation for her defeat, then eagerly taken up at the highest echelons of Washington power to cover up their own abuses leading up to the election. In perpetuating this hoax, the institutions that we depend upon to dispense justice fairly and enforce the nation’s laws became throughly corrupted. That the special counsel came to the correct conclusion in spite of that may be reason for relief—but it’s hardly what I would call cause for celebration.
Because if the system had truly worked, none of this would have happened in the first place.