If you relish Trump being cleared of criminal conspiracy, and you have any claim to critical thinking, you also must accept that he’s been lying to you about a national security issue of tectonic significance, to protect his ego and future business interests. He’s been doing Putin’s bidding. Though not technically a crime, it is certainly a betrayal to the country — and to you, his supporters. Sure, you wanted a president who would come in, blow up the place, and be rude to his opponents. Did you want someone who literally would jeopardize our nation’s safety and democracy for selfish financial gain? Trump supporters, I hereby give you permission to admit your mistake of ever backing him. I will not tweet-trash you. I will not give you a derogatory adolescent nickname. I will not sue you. And I will not say, “I told you so.” I will revere you. (scroll down for full article)
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Last Friday at 5:02 p.m., Attorney General William Barr notified Congress, and the world, that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had submitted his report. It comes after a nearly two-year investigation into Russian influence on the 2016 presidential election and possible cooperation within the Trump campaign. It was a one-page letter giving us several important pieces of information: 1) the investigation officially has been concluded, indicating there are no new indictments to come; 2) the report explains “prosecution or declination decisions” reached; 3) the special counsel never was overruled or ordered not to pursue any actions it deemed warranted; and 4) the attorney general anticipates he will be able to report the special counsel’s “principal conclusions as soon as this weekend.”
Last Sunday afternoon, that weekend, Attorney General Barr released his four-page summary/interpretation of the Mueller report. Trump and supporters prematurely have been football spiking and end-zone dancing ever since. You’d think Bob Mueller had nominated Donald for the Nobel Prize. In reality, Bill Barr has helped the president and his posse put a false narrative around the world before the truth can get its boots laced up, which will take several weeks, at least.
According to Barr, the special counsel addressed three primary areas of consideration: collusion with Russians, Russian election interference, and obstruction of justice.
“The Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election. As the report states: ‘[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.’”
Russian Election Interference
“The Special Counsel’s investigation determined that there were two main Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election. The first involved attempts by a Russian organization, the Internet Research Agency (IRA), to conduct disinformation and social media operations in the United States designed to sow social discord, eventually with the aim of interfering with the election. …
“The second element involved the Russian government’s efforts to conduct computer hacking operations designed to gather and disseminate information to influence the election. The Special Counsel found that Russian government actors successfully hacked into computers and obtained emails from persons affiliated with the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party organizations, and publicly disseminated those materials through various intermediaries, including WikiLeaks. Based on these activities, the Special Counsel brought criminal charges against a number of Russian military officers for conspiring to hack into computers in the United States for purposes of influencing the election.”
Obstruction of Justice
“The Special Counsel … did not draw a conclusion — one way or the other — as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction. Instead, for each of the relevant actions investigated, the report sets out evidence on both sides of the question and leaves unresolved what the Special Counsel views as ‘difficult issues’ of law and fact concerning whether the President’s actions and intent could be viewed as obstruction. The Special Counsel states that ‘while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.’”
Emphasis is mine. Let’s take these one at a time.
The Mueller report has spoken on this point: “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
It’s important to note we still don’t have the complete Mueller report. We have only several snippets of quotes — not a single complete sentence — from the special counsel’s own hand. Notice the “[T].” As any student of copy editing and proper quotation notation knows, the brackets mean this “[T]he” was not the first word in the original sentence. The full sentence could have read something like this:
“Even though the president is a lying sack of sh** who has done everything in his power to discredit and poison this investigation, and even though he has taken every opportunity to favor America’s arch enemy Russia and kiss Putin’s a**, and even though Mr. Trump consistently has acted like a guilty man, and even though the Trump campaign had numerous questionable contacts and interactions with Russian operatives though they did not quite rise to the level of provable criminality, and even though everyone in Trump World has lied persistently about all-things Russia, and even though the president himself openly welcomed help from the Russians during the campaign through WikiLeaks and other sources, and even though Donald consistently has denied and discredited unanimous U.S. intelligence findings (to Putin’s delight) that Russia interfered in the 2016 election with the clear intent of putting Trump in office, and even though it now is clear that Mr. Trump was pursuing Russian business opportunities (for which he needed Putin’s blessing) worth hundreds of millions of dollars and lied to the country about that, ‘the investigation did not [legally] establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.’”
Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney, distilled the collusion part of the report to its essence. Just because Trump was not indicted criminally doesn’t mean he didn’t do bad things:
“Mueller did not establish conspiracy. That’s different from saying he found no collusion. … We need to see the full report to understand the facts so we can safeguard elections.”
(McQuade, Barbara, former U.S. attorney for Eastern District of Michigan; Twitter post; 3/27/2019.)
Consider the sentiments of noted professor of international relations David Rothkopf:
“Trump publicly welcomed the support of an enemy, one with whom he had hidden financial ties, that enemy worked to help get him elected and he rewarded them with a defense of their attacks on our democracy and with policy benefits no U.S. president had offered before. …
“Whether there is a legal proof of conspiracy or not, of treason or not, there is plenty of proof therefore of serving an enemy contrary to U.S. interests. That is textbook betrayal, the most egregious high-level example in our history…and it is undeniably traitorous.”
(Rothkopf, David, professor of international relations, author, political scientist, journalist; Twitter post; 3/26/2019.)
Russian Election Interference
For all Trump supporters who have heralded Mueller’s legal exculpation of Trump-Russia conspiracy (though not collusion), you now must accept Barr’s paraphrased Mueller conclusions on the existence of Russian election interference:
“The Special Counsel’s investigation determined that there were two main Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election. The first involved attempts by a Russian organization, the Internet Research Agency (IRA), to conduct disinformation and social media operations. … The second element involved the Russian government’s efforts to conduct [Democratic] computer hacking operations designed to gather and disseminate information to influence the election.”
You can’t have it both ways. You logically cannot praise Mueller’s conclusion that the Trump campaign did not criminally conspire with Russia, then reject his clear conclusion that Russia did indeed play a large role in influencing the election. (Which means Trump might not have won fair and square.)
If you believe Special Counsel Mueller on lack of criminal conspiracy, you must also believe that your president has been baldface lying to you that there was no Russian election interference. Remember, Donald not only called the investigation a “hoax,” he also called the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment of definite Russian election interference a “hoax,” countless times.
If you relish Trump being cleared of criminal conspiracy, and you have any claim to critical thinking, you also must accept that he’s been lying to you about a national security issue of tectonic significance, to protect his ego and future business interests. He’s been doing Putin’s bidding. Though not technically a crime, it is certainly a betrayal to the country — and to you, his supporters. Sure, you wanted a president who would come in, blow up the place, and be rude to his opponents. Did you want someone who literally would jeopardize our nation’s safety and democracy for selfish financial gain?
Trump supporters, I hereby give you permission to admit your mistake of ever backing him. I will not tweet-trash you. I will not give you a derogatory adolescent nickname. I will not sue you. And I will not say, “I told you so.”
I will revere you.
Obstruction of Justice
“[W]hile this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
There’s a vote of confidence.
Those are Robert Mueller’s exact words, though again, not even a full sentence. If you weren’t paying close attention, you might have thought Mueller had cleared Trump totally of obstruction of justice. Here’s Bill Barr’s opinion of what he read into the special counsel’s words:
“After reviewing the Special Counsel’s final report on these issues; consulting with Department officials, including the Office of Legal Counsel; and applying the principles of federal prosecution that guide our charging decisions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and I have concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.”
Many legal experts have a major beef with this. First, they contend Barr’s letter was supposed to be a summary of Mueller’s opinions, not Barr’s. They contend Mueller did not intend for the Justice Department to offer an opinion on obstruction but rather intended for Congress to make the final determination.
Second, these many legal experts point out that Barr has a far-outside-the-legal-mainstream view of presidential obstruction of justice. His view is that a president inherently cannot obstruct justice because they are the boss over everything in the executive branch, with the power to fire FBI directors, attorneys general, and anyone else for any reason he chooses, no matter how corrupt. Furthermore, critics say Barr specifically was chosen by Trump to be attorney general based upon an unsolicited memo Barr wrote to the DOJ shortly after a special counsel was appointed in May 2017. Barr’s memo outlined his far-outside-the-legal-mainstream view, Trump saw it and loved it, then later chose Barr to be his man.
Third, Barr is justifying his no-obstruction determination by saying this:
“[W]e noted that the Special Counsel recognized that ‘the evidence does not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference,’ and that, while not determinative, the absence of such evidence bears upon the President’s intent with respect to obstruction.”
The attorney general is saying since Trump is absolved of the underlying crime (conspiracy), he had no reason to obstruct, therefore, he likely is not guilty of obstruction.
Bill Barr’s Questionable Judgment and Resume
But U.S. legal experts have reminded us that the law clearly states obstruction does not require proof of an underlying crime. Moreover, the president had several other reasons — “corrupt intent” — to kill this investigation: 1) he never was sure Trump World collusion crimes didn’t rise to the level of indictability; 2) his ego could not withstand evidence that he had had illegal help — Russian interference — to win the election (even if he had not helped them); 3) protecting Russia and Putin from the stink of election interference promoted his business interests — we now know Donald was/is intent on building a Moscow Trump Tower and needs Putin’s blessing to do it; and 4) he still wanted to protect his crooked compatriots, e.g., Manafort, Flynn, et al, who did not have the presidential immunity that Trump has.
By the way, Bill Barr’s first claim to fame was as attorney general in the George H. W. Bush administration. Some suspect he played a role in covering up important aspects of the Iran-Contra scandal. We know he played a key role in pushing for and facilitating presidential pardons for the principal Iran-Contra players. Many historians believe these pardons protected President Bush from legal scrutiny into his role (while he was Reagan’s VP) in the illegal plot to trade U.S. arms sales for the release of Iranian-held American hostages. (The arms sales proceeds then went, illegally, to the U.S.-supported Contras, Nicaraguan counter-revolutionaries trying to overthrow their government.)
Did I mention pardons?
Here’s the upshot. If Mueller did intend for Congress to be the final arbiter concerning the president’s obstruction of justice or absence of it, Barr’s opinion has created a false narrative around the issue that will be difficult to overcome if Barr is wrong. Trump World has been able to lie about these findings based upon Barr’s summary. Trump supporters and all casual news consumers already have been influenced falsely about these findings.
Essentially, many people suspect Attorney General William Barr has shaded — intentionally disingenuously — his summary of the Mueller report to favor President Trump, his boss for whom he auditioned for the job. We’ll know for sure when we get the full report from the horse’s mouth.
Did I mention lying about the findings? Check these out:
“No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!”
(Trump, Donald, R-N.Y., U.S. president; Twitter post; 3/24/2019.)
L-I-E. There was plenty of collusion, just not enough to rise to a provable criminal offense. Regarding obstruction of justice: “[W]hile this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
“The Special Counsel did not find any collusion and did not find any obstruction. AG Barr and DAG Rosenstein further determined there was no obstruction. The findings of the Department of Justice are a total and complete exoneration of the President of the United States.”
(Sanders, Sarah, White House press secretary; Twitter post; 3/24/2019.)
B-L-A-T-A-N-T L-I-E. Even Trump didn’t prevaricate this hard. Sarah, in addition to my response to Donald’s lie, the special counsel specifically did NOT say he didn’t find any obstruction. William Barr actually said of the Mueller report, “[F]or each of the relevant actions investigated, the report sets out evidence on both sides of the question [of whether or not the president committed obstruction of justice].”
More than just “doesn’t rise to a crime,” Mueller said he found evidence of obstruction crimes, but he (so far, inexplicably) chose not to make a determination of indictable criminality. Again, many legal experts believe he was leaving this question up to Congress to answer, not Barr.
Actual Special Counsel Report
Attorney General Barr has said his department is expecting to have “a version” of Mueller’s actual report available to Congress and the public within a matter of “weeks, not months.” Ostensibly, certain information will be redacted by law. The question is, What pertinent damning information might be redacted under the guise of law?
For now, presidential impeachment is off the table, though Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, and committee member Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) stand by their declarations that they’ve seen evidence of Trump-Russia collusion. Certainly, the obstruction charges remain open for congressional investigation, though the president has obfuscated them.
But Trump’s obfuscation is business as usual, so it shouldn’t deter House Democrats from performing their constitutional duty of executive branch oversight.
Remember, the president still doesn’t acknowledge there was Russian election interference. (Remember Helsinki.) This has seriously hindered our ability to rally resources and fight it in the future. This is a national security betrayal.
I Leave You With This
George Conway has become well-known for being half of the most politically conflicted marriage in the country. He’s a Washington lawyer who has argued (and won) before the Supreme Court. He was a lifelong Republican who worked with Ann Coulter and Matt Drudge in trying to bring down President Bill Clinton (D-Ark.), helping Paula Jones sue that commander in chief for sexual harassment. Conway supported President Trump early on. As of 2018, however, he’s a registered Independent and fierce Trump critic. He’s married to Kellyanne Conway, counselor (and junkyard guard dog) to the president. In short, Kellyanne is a rabid, no-concern-for-the-truth defender of all-things Trump. George has become Donald’s worst critically thoughtful nightmare. How can they stay together? What’s their secret? What are their reasons? Oh, to hear their pillow talk.
“Mueller, according to Barr, said he ‘ultimately determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment’ regarding obstruction. Reading that statement together with the no-exoneration statement, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that Mueller wrote his report to allow the American people and Congress to decide what to make of the facts. …
“Whether the Mueller report ever sees the light of day, there is one charge that can be resolved now. Americans should expect far more from a president than merely that he not be provably a criminal. … [His] oath requires putting the national interests above his personal interests. Yet virtually from the moment he took office, in his response to the Russia investigation, Trump has done precisely the opposite: [r]elentlessly attacked an attorney general, Mueller, [and] the Justice Department — including suggesting that his own deputy attorney general should go to jail; [l]ied, to the point that his own lawyers wouldn’t dare let him speak to Mueller, lest he commit a crime; [and b]een more concerned about touting his supposedly historic election victory than confronting an attack on our democracy by a hostile foreign power.
“If the charge were unfitness for office, the verdict would already be in: guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”
(Conway, George T., III; “George Conway: Trump Is Guilty — of Being Unfit for Office”; The Washington Post”; 3/26/2019.)
Special Counsel Robert Muller did not investigate President Trump’s aggregate egregious behavior of favoring Russia and Putin since Inauguration Day. The reason for Donald’s persistent obsequious accommodation to a U.S. enemy (likely for financial gain and narcissistic comfort) is still an open question. Bob Mueller has shown, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Trump has lied continuously about the existence of Russian election interference and has fought all efforts to support and fund the fight against it, out of pure self-interest.
The special counsel produced 37 indictments, including one conviction and multiple guilty pleas. He’s rid the swamp of many nasty creatures. Mueller has proved, in detail, that Russia illegally interfered in our 2016 presidential election (likely tipping it to Trump).
What’s not to like? ■
Trump Corruption Chronicles — We Must Never Forget