Indictments as Theater

The Mueller investigation has come up with twelve indictments against Russian intelligence agents. Impressive! Not.

There is a saying that: “district attorneys now have so much influence on grand juries that ‘by and large’ they could get them to ‘indict a ham sandwich.’” The comment is attributed to a New York State Court of Appeals Judge Sol Wachler.

A Wall Street Journal article indicates that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe has done just that. A former Trump political adviser Roger Stone suggested that by bringing charges against a Russian catering company with links to Russian President Vladimir Putin, “Mr. Mueller has, indeed, indicted a ham sandwich.”

I have appeared before State and Federal Grand Juries over a period of thirty years. A Grand Jury indictment means that there is enough information to justify an arrest (probable cause).  There is a gap, sometimes insurmountable between that and beyond a reasonable doubt, the standard for conviction. Add to that the fact that those indicted are fugitives and liable to remain so, an indictment loses some of its shine. It is unlikely that the quality of information will ever see the light of day. Mueller knows this. A cynic has to wonder, is he playing the Grand Jury by obtaining indictments to create the appearance of progress?

My personal experience has shown that Grand Juries are very much the prosecutor’s animal. When I appeared before them, I would wear a “Rush Limbaugh” tie. Garrish doesn’t begin to describe it. I would offer up my testimony under the close supervision of the Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA). At the end of the presentation, the AUSA would give the jurors the opportunity to ask questions. On at least four occasions the only question I fielded was, “Where’d you get that tie?” I guess you can say my sartorial splendor has been the object of four separate Grand Jury investigations.

Mr. Rosenstein call me when you are able to report convictions on these indictments, otherwise go away.