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No Magic Bullet for Trump/Russia Investigation

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Matt Welch | March 2, 2019

Holster the toy cannons, people. Cancel those refresher courses on the 25th Amendment.

For all the fireworks, grubby details and rageaholic outbursts at Michael Cohen's Capitol Hill public testimony Wednesday, it took just 11 short words from the felonious fixer's opening statement to ensure that our long national nightmare will not, in fact, soon end: "Mr. Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress."

So concludes last month's momentarily tantalizing notion — originally reported by BuzzFeed, unprecedentedly disputed by the office of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III — that President Trump "personally instructed" his thuggish capo to perjure himself. Some in Mueller's carol-singing fan club had convinced themselves that his legalistic rebuttal of the story still left plenty of room for Cohen to deliver a knockout blow if he was ever allowed to testify in public.

Though you would go broke betting on the moral principles of congressional Republicans, if Cohen had the goods on the president suborning perjury it would have put even the most craven of GOP senators in a pickle in the event of an impeachment trial. Crudely coloring outside the lines during a campaign is one thing, knowingly committing a real crime as president would probably trigger a House vote.

Well, so much for that trigger. Like every previous "huge, if true" magic bullet that seemed like a promising derailer for the Trump presidency — former........

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