On Sunday, Donald Trump was so excited about the news that Senate Republicans had declared there was “no direct evidence” that his campaign had colluded with Russia that he swapped back to his favorite form of tweeting — the all-caps declaration of innocence:
Senator Richard Burr, The Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, just announced that after almost two years, more than two hundred interviews, and thousands of documents, they have found NO COLLUSION BETWEEN TRUMP AND RUSSIA! Is anybody really surprised by this?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 10, 2019
The answer to that is, of course, no — nobody is surprised by that conclusion because Republicans still control the Senate and have since before he was elected. Republicans have held power in the investigation the entire time it’s gone on, and no rational person expected that they would produce anything substantially different than what Republicans in the House rushed out at the end of their “investigation” while they still controlled that chamber.
But legal experts disagree on what the findings, announced over the weekend, amount to.
On Tuesday, former US Attorney Chuck Rosenberg told MSNBC’s Katy Tur that celebrations by the President or his legal team would be premature, to say the least:
The nice way to say it is that the Mueller team has authorities, powers, capabilities that the Senate and the House simply don’t have … They can put people in jail. I think we should look to the Mueller team and to the investigations in the Southern District of New York as being far more important than what the Senate is doing.”
But that wasn’t really the most important part. Trump has been thrilling over the word “evidence,” when the operative word, says Rosenberg, is actually “direct.” The legal expert told MSNBC that circumstantial evidence is given the same weight in trials as direct evidence simply because direct evidence is so rare. As one Democratic Senate aide told NBC News, “We were never going to find a contract signed in blood saying, ‘Hey Vlad, we’re going to collude.'”
Rosenberg went on:
A court, a judge, will tell you, and will tell jurors when they instruct them at the end of a trial, that circumstantial evidence and direct evidence are given equal weight … In the dozens and dozens of cases I tried to a jury, only once ever did I have direct evidence of a conspiracy. You almost never see that.”
Watch the exchange here:
So let Trump have his little party — the fact is, Mueller’s report is expected literally any day now, and as Rosenberg says in the clip, only the special counsel and the US Attorneys in New York have the power to put anyone in jail.
Featured image via screen capture