What is Mueller up to?

Dear President Trump,

Are you breathing a sigh of relief tonight? Seems like, for now, you dodged a bullet with Mueller’s team having said: “BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the special counsel’s office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s congressional testimony are not accurate.” The Justice Department is apparently interpreting this to mean that the BuzzFeed article is “almost entirely incorrect.”

The Justice Department may be right, but I think it’s worth parsing the statement carefully and pondering what might have motivated Mueller to issue it.

With regards to the statement, it does seem pretty bubble bursting for millions of us that Mueller said BuzzFeed’s description of statements to the special counsel’s office and the characterization of the documents and materials are not accurate. However, to use the phrase “not accurate” without qualifying it with something like “completely,” or a synonym thereof, leaves open the possibility that it’s really just some tiny details that are not accurate.

Then there’s Mueller’s motive for issuing this statement. It is (remotely) possible that BuzzFeed really did get it wrong and Mueller is setting the record straight. Obviously, this is what you’d like to be true and it’s the narrative you’ll push as long as you can. Another possibility, however, is that Mueller is pissed that someone leaked the information and he’s making clear to any other would-be leakers that he will disavow whatever they say. Similarly, he may be pissed that BuzzFeed published leaked information, possibly compromising the investigation, and he’s letting news outlets know that if they do this, they will be hung out to dry.

Obviously you have a much better idea than I do of which way this cookie is going to crumble because you are Individual #1 and know whether you told Cohen to lie about your Moscow Trump Tower aspirations. Personally, I’ll be shocked if it turns out you didn’t tell Cohen to lie since this lie would have been mission critical; you desperately need the American people to stay in the dark about your financial ties with Russia. So, is this disavowal by Mueller real or is it part of the chess game? The answer can’t come soon enough.

May we be safe while all this maneuvering plays out.
May we be willing to be patient about this, but not the government shut-down.
May we not make ourselves sick with worry that you are might slip by.
May Cohen make it to his 2/7/19 date with Congress.

Tracy Simpson

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