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The key question to these Republican obstructers is this: Why would you want to stop an investigation that is 1) attempting to ascertain how our 2016 presidential election was attacked and by whom, and 2) producing serious evidence of corruption within our own government?

(scroll down for article)

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“Our administration has provided more than a million documents [to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation]. We’ve fully cooperated in it. And in the interest of the country, I think it’s time to wrap it up.”

(Pence, Mike, R-Ind., U.S. vice president; as cited in Landers, Elizabeth; “Mike Pence Tells Mueller ‘It’s Time to Wrap It Up’”; CNN.com; 5/10/2018.)

“What I think about the Mueller investigation is, they ought to wrap it up. It’s gone on seemingly forever and I don’t know how much more they think they can find out.”

(McConnell, Mitch, R-Ky., U.S. Senate majority leader; as cited in McArdle, Mairead; “Mitch McConnell: Why Can’t Mueller Wrap it Up?”; National Review; 6/15/2018.)

[CHUCK TODD]: “Let me ask you this, you as a Republican senator, would you want to see the Judiciary Committee sort of clean this [the possibility that Don Jr. lied to Congress] up since they’ve gone down this road, or you would say punt? You would tell Senator Grassley, your advice would be, ‘Leave it alone?’”

[SEN. ROB PORTMAN (R-Ohio)]: “Well, I think it’s going to be, you know, a he said and he said issue. So I think it’s probably better that, you know, this goes through the regular [Mueller investigation] process, which is ongoing, Chuck. And I think the Mueller investigation ought to be brought to an end also. I mean, we need to have the facts lead to the right conclusion, and so I support the investigation. I have from the start. But we do need to wrap it up.”

(NBC News’ Meet the Press; 7/29/2018.)

“WRAP – IT – UP! WRAP – IT – UP!”

Why has this chant not become a staple at Trump rallies?

Any of the many Republicans who have uttered the words “Wrap it up,” or some similar sentiment referring to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, are announcing they are in the tank for the president’s propaganda machine. It is an admission of likely Trump campaign criminality, and a disgusting and disgraceful admission that they don’t want to know about any presidential wrongdoing.

The majority of Republicans have lost the ability to feel shame or remorse. They also have lost the ability to look past the next 24 hours. Like Donald, their myopic professional philosophy is to do and say whatever is needed to get through the day, the future (of their party and the country) be damned.

The “Wrap it up” cry of Trump administration and GOP luminaries is essentially obstruction of justice. Whether or not that technically rises to crime status in the legal code is for government prosecutors (and special counsels) to determine. But the fact is these are blatant, coordinated attempts to influence public opinion to impede or end Bob Mueller’s Russia probe.

The key question to these Republican obstructers is this: Why would you want to stop an investigation that is 1) attempting to ascertain how our 2016 presidential election was attacked and by whom, and 2) producing serious evidence of corruption within our own government?

There are two primary comebacks to the wrap-it-up argument. In answer to GOP lamentations that Mueller’s investigation has gone on too long and is dividing the country, compare it to past major government investigations. In answer to Mitch McConnell’s and others’ complaints of, “I don’t know how much more they think they can find out,” examine what Mueller’s team has produced.

[FUN FACT]: The crimes of the perpetrators are dividing our country, not the investigation of those crimes.



Other Investigations

The Watergate investigation lasted 20 months, from May 18, 1973, the day Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox was appointed, through January 1, 1975, the day John Mitchell (President Nixon’s attorney general), John Ehrlichman (counsel to the president), and H. R. Haldeman (White House chief of staff) were convicted of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and perjury. The Watergate affair resulted in 48 convictions or guilty pleas and one presidential resignation.

There were 10 government investigations (six by the House of Representatives) into the 2012 death of American Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens. He was killed when militants attacked the U.S. Special Mission in Benghazi, Libya. The Republican-led House was intent on attaching blame to the Obama administration and specifically Hillary Clinton, secretary of state at the time of the attack. The inquiry by the U.S. House Select Committee on Benghazi, alone, lasted 31 months, from May 8, 2014, through December 7, 2016. It cost $7.8 million. The combined congressional (and other) investigations produced no indictments and no evidence of negligent responsibility attributed to Clinton or the White House for Stevens’ death.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe has been underway for 15 months, since Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed him May 17, 2017 (right after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey because of “this Russia thing”). To date it has produced 32 indictments — five of which have resulted in guilty pleas and cooperation agreements — with more likely. It also has specifically identified 20-plus high-level Russian government officials and military officers who conducted the attack on U.S. democracy, along with detailed accounts of how they did it.

I would think enquiring (GOP) minds wouldn’t not want to know. That’s “sort of a double negative … I think that probably clarifies things pretty good by itself.” (— thanks to Donald Trump)

Virtually all unbiased pundits and legal experts have stated that Mueller’s investigation is still within a reasonable length of time for these types of inquiries. To recap, Watergate lasted 20 months and got 48 convictions or guilty pleas (and one president forced out of office). Benghazi lasted 31 months and got zilch. Mueller has been at it for 15 months and has produced 32 indictments — including five guilty pleas — and a blueprint showing how the Russian Federation did it.

What Mueller Has Produced

Vice President Mike Pence was one of the first to make the wrap-it-up declaration. That was May 10, 2018, a few days before the one-year anniversary of Robert Mueller’s appointment as special counsel. Immediately, GOP politicians and talking heads all got the memo, and the admonitions for the Justice Department and special counsel to “Wrap it up” filled the airwaves. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell jumped onboard in mid-June, reiterating the obligatory “they ought to wrap it up” and wondering aloud “how much more they think they can find out.”

It turns out, quite a lot more.

Since then, Mueller’s team has indicted 12 officers of the GRU (Russia’s military intelligence agency) for U.S. 2016 election interference:

“The allegations came in the latest indictment from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the elections and possible ties to President Donald Trump’s campaign. … The officers worked for a military agency known as ‘GRU,’ which conspired to hack into computers of those working on the elections with the goal of stealing and releasing documents. That includes the DNC, but also computers associated with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee as well as those of volunteers and employees of the Hillary Clinton campaign.

“Starting in June 2016, they released tens of thousands of these documents using online pseudonyms, such as ‘Guccifer 2.0’ and ‘DC Leaks.’ They used a network of computers around the world, a system paid for with cryptocurrency, to conceal their identities. They also broke into the computers of those charged with overseeing elections, including state election officials and secretaries of state, as well as companies in charge of election technology and software.”

(Hendry, Erica R.; “Read Mueller’s Full Indictment Against 12 Russian Officers for Election Interference”; PBS News Hour; 7/13/2018.)

Wow. We almost wrapped it up too soon.

Since Pence’s and McConnell’s calls to “Wrap it up,” Maria Butina, a suspected Russian operative, was indicted July 17, 2018, for conspiracy against the United States and failing to register as a Russian agent:

“A grand jury has formally indicted Russian national Maria Butina on two charges. … She is alleged to have tried to infiltrate U.S. political organizations on behalf of a high-ranking Russian official [Alexander Torshin, an oligarch close to Putin] over several years. At one point during the presidential campaign, she and [Torshin] tried unsuccessfully to broker a meeting between Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. … Butina [was funded by and] ‘continued to act under the direction and control of the RUSSIAN OFFICIAL for the purpose of advancing the interests of the Russian Federation after she entered the United States.’”

(Burnham, Julia Kimani; “Grand Jury Indicts Russian National Maria Butina”; CBSNews.com; 7/17/2018.)

Maria Butina has since been found to have significant ties to the NRA, been cohabitating with GOP operative Paul Erickson, offered sex to another Republican in return for organizational access, and sought GOP help in efforts to build a secret line of communication back to the Kremlin.

Whoa! Darn good thing we didn’t wrap it up.

Even since Sen. Rob Portman’s (R-Ohio) call last Sunday on Meet the Press to wrap it up, we’ve seen jury selection and opening statements in the trial of Paul Manafort. This guy is facing an effective life sentence for the massive (alleged) corruption he has been involved in. He was Trump’s campaign chair for four months, including during the GOP convention, until he was forced to resign because of his close, suspicious ties to Russian oligarchs. Manafort is the guy suspected of mysteriously getting part of the Republican platform changed, during the convention, to language much more favorable to Putin.

“Bank fraud. Tax evasion. Conspiracy. The charges Paul Manafort faces in a federal courthouse in Alexandria, Va., are largely unremarkable for a white-collar criminal case. Yet Manafort’s case is anything but normal — starting with the fact that it is scheduled to go to trial at all. President Trump’s former campaign chairman is the first person to stand trial on charges brought by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. …

“In the months leading up to the trial, Manafort’s attorneys have worked hard to limit the political dimension of the case. … Prosecutors, however, argued that ‘the Trump campaign is relevant and inextricably intertwined’ with one of the bank fraud and conspiracy charges brought against [the defendant]. … According to the filing, Manafort fraudulently obtained two loans totaling $16 million from a financial institution. The loan applications were approved by a senior executive who sought Manafort’s help in securing a position advising the Trump campaign.”

(Fawcett, Eliza; “Paul Manafort’s Trial Begins: the Charges Don’t Involve Politics; the Trial Can’t Avoid It”; Los Angeles Times; 7/31/2018.)

The Closer Mueller Gets, the Louder They Yell

Robert Mueller is closing in on the White House. It’s always been a given that the special counsel’s knowledge of criminal conduct is six months or so ahead of media reports. But the Trump administration is ahead of us — because the (alleged) guilty parties know what they did. They know something big is about to come out, but they might not be sure what it is.

So they have intensified the volume and inanity (therefore, confusion) of their media defense. Rudy Giuliani, Donald’s television lawyer, has started to say things like, “even if the president did collude, it’s not a crime.” For almost two years, Trump has been insisting there is “no collusion.” There are enough TV clips of him saying this to edit together a 20-minute rap parody without ever repeating any one clip. But now, even the Donald has taken this just-in-case tack:

“Collusion is not a crime, but that doesn’t matter because there was No Collusion (except by Crooked Hillary and the Democrats)!”

(Trump, Donald, R-N.Y., U.S. president; Twitter post; 7/31/2018.)

Giuliani now says the president never attended the Don Jr. Trump Tower meeting with the Russians — but nobody has ever alleged that. Rudy has alluded to the existence of another “strategy” meeting two days before Don Jr.’s meeting. He denies that Donald ever attended that meeting, too. But we didn’t even know about that meeting, let alone that Trump might have been in attendance.

My second-grade teacher, Mrs. Lane, often told her students how she knows which kid on the playground did something wrong: It’s the one that volunteers a hearty, “I didn’t do it,” though she never asked him.

Things are coming to a boil. Bob Mueller has subpoenaed Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg. Weisselberg is also Trump Foundation treasurer and Donald’s personal accountant — Allen does the boss’ taxes.

Former Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen now says he’s ready to testify that Donald knew about and approved in advance Don Jr.’s Trump Tower meeting with the Russians.

We learned the president had found out his former National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, was under FBI investigation — just before Trump cleared the room and privately pressured FBI Director James Comey to lay off Flynn. This is contrary to the White House defense that Trump did not know Flynn was under investigation.

And this all happened just this past week.

Donald Trump is scared. Recent developments, including the start of Paul Manafort’s first trial, have prompted The Donald to tweet two drastic messages, both of which are likely illegal, according to legal experts:

“This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further. Bob Mueller is totally conflicted, and his 17 Angry Democrats that are doing his dirty work are a disgrace to USA!”

“Looking back on history, who was treated worse, Alfonse Capone, legendary mob boss, killer and ‘Public Enemy Number One,’ or Paul Manafort, political operative & Reagan/Dole darling, now serving solitary confinement – although convicted of nothing? Where is the Russian Collusion?”

(Trump, Donald, R-N.Y., U.S. president; Twitter posts; 8/1/2018.)

Many legal experts believe this first tweet constitutes obstruction of justice. Giuliani and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders say this message was simply a suggestion, or an “opinion.” Experts say it could be construed as an order.

Regarding the Al Capone reference, legal authorities say it is completely improper, if not illegal, to try to influence an ongoing criminal trial, especially one that is directly connected to the president himself. It’s also more evidence of criminal intent to impede Mueller’s investigation.

But Rudy Giuliani has a novel take on these and other controversial Trump tweets: If the sentiments are public, they can’t be obstruction of justice.

I’m told Rudy used to be a good lawyer. ■

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Trump Corruption Chronicles — We Must Never Forget