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Mueller needs to find a way to interview the AP source

Mueller

So what’s next for supposedly independent investigation conducted by former FBI director Robert Mueller? It’s possible that he won’t have much time to finish the supposedly independent investigation, because his name is surfacing as a candidate for the suddenly vacant position of Attorney General.

Assuming Mueller continues with his current assignment, Thursday’ Associated Press report makes one of Mueller’s tasks clear: He needs to interview whoever it is who claims to have sent the video to the league office.

Sure, the knee-jerk reaction will be that the AP will protect its source zealously. But based on the source’s justification for authorizing the AP to update its two-week-old story to include the allegation that the video was sent to NFL security director Jeff Miller, the source apparently has a strong interest in seeing the truth emerge.

“Since the NFLPA and NFL have launched separate investigations into the league and the Ravens’ handling of Ray Rice’s case, I want to make a few things clear,” the source said. “No one from the NFL ever asked me for the inside-elevator video. I mailed it anonymously to Jeff Miller because he’s their head of security. I attached a note saying: ‘Ray Rice elevator video. You have to see it. It’s terrible.’ I provided a number for a disposable cellphone and asked for confirmation that it was received. I knew there was a possibility Mr. Miller may not get the video, but I hoped it would land in the right hands.”

If the source hopes that the truth will be uncovered, the source should want to participate in the official process of uncovering the truth.

So Mueller should contact Rob Maadi of the AP with a simple request: “Tell the source I’ll protect his or her anonymity completely and entirely. I just need to be able to sit down with the source, talk to the source, fill in some of the gaps, frame questions that should be asked of Jeff Miller and others in the league office, and assess the source’s overall credibility.”

For reasons identical to why the NFL should have demanded to see the elevator video, Mueller needs to demand to explore the validity of the claim that the elevator video had been sent to the NFL. To make that happen, Mueller needs to make a reasonable case to the AP for getting access to the source. If the source declines to cooperate despite Mueller’s reasonable case for talking to the source, then the source and the report should be disregarded as not credible. If the source agrees to cooperate, then only Mueller can decide whether the source or Miller is telling the truth.

And here’s where the appearance of independence would have served the investigative process well. If Mueller doesn’t aggressively and creatively attempt to get access to the AP source or if Mueller gets access and dismisses the source’s story as not credible, the media and the public will be inclined to believe that Mueller’s decision to accept Miller’s version over the source’s version was influenced at some level by the ties between Mueller’s firm and the NFL.

Of course, there’s another potential solution to this. The source can step out from the shadows and tell the story, with a name, face, and voice attached to it. With law enforcement looking very bad for how the Rice case was prosecuted, the person who is trying to disseminate truth under the cover of secrecy needs to seriously consider standing up publicly and blowing the whistle.

In the end, that person could end up being the only hero to emerge from this mess.