Robert Mueller spoke publicly for the first time in two years. Some observers were disappointed that he only reiterated certain points made in his written report. Some observers were disappointed that his voice was pitched higher than many expected. But once his nine-minute statement sank in, it became powerful in what was said and not said. Donald is right about one thing: “Nothing changes from the Mueller Report.” Trump is still guilty of massive collusion (over 140 mostly unexplained contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia) and at least a half-dozen instances of provable-beyond-a-reasonable-doubt obstruction of justice. And Russia still interfered in our election, in sweeping and systematic fashion, to help Donald win by 78,000 votes total — about 0.5% or less — in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. (scroll down for full article)
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“[I]f we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”
(Mueller, Robert, special counsel for Russia investigation; live media statement; Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.; 5/29/2019.)
Gee, Mr. Mueller, that’s still a little unclear. So what you’re really saying is this?:
“Nothing changes from the Mueller Report. There was insufficient evidence and therefore, in our Country, a person is innocent. The case is closed! Thank you.”
(Trump, Donald, R-N.Y., U.S. president; Twitter post; 5/29/2019.)
“Thank you.” The president is so polite. So thoughtful.
Robert Mueller spoke publicly, Wednesday, for the first time in two years, since he was appointed special counsel. Some observers were disappointed that he only reiterated certain points made in his written report. Some observers were disappointed that he indicated he did not want to give congressional testimony, that his report was his testimony. Some observers were disappointed that his voice was pitched higher than many expected. But once his nine-minute statement sank in, it became powerful in what was said and not said.
Donald is right about one thing: “Nothing changes from the Mueller Report.” Trump is still guilty of massive collusion (over 140 mostly unexplained contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia) even though the evidence for proof of conspiracy beyond a reasonable doubt fell a comb-over hair short. (This is my last use of this self-determined clever turn of a phrase, I promise.) Trump is still guilty of possibly 12 but at least a half-dozen instances of provable-beyond-a-reasonable-doubt obstruction of justice. Russia still interfered in our election, in sweeping and systematic fashion, to help Donald win by 78,000 votes total — about 0.5% or less — in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. (He still lost by almost 3 million votes total in the 50 states.)
Here Are the Key Points Special Counsel Mueller Made Clear With His Public Statement
— The special counsel’s office has closed up shop as of Wednesday, and Mueller is reverting to private citizen.
— The Mueller report does not say what President Trump and Attorney General Barr have said it says.
— Attorney General Barr has lied blatantly, to Congress and the American people.
— Dog Bites Man: President Trump has lied blatantly to the American people.
— Charging the president with a crime was never an option, per the DOJ Office of Legal Counsel guidelines, in place for some 40 years. All the special counsel could do was lay out and “preserve” the evidence, without determining criminality.
— The Mueller team tried its damnedest to clear Trump of obstruction of justice; it was unable to.
— Since the Justice Department (of which Mueller was part) cannot charge a sitting president with any crime, there is only one entity that can: the House of Representatives.
— Mueller wanted his report’s executive summaries released immediately. Barr declined.
— All U.S. citizens should read the Mueller report; that’s where the facts are.
— Russia systematically interfered in our elections, and all Americans should be extremely concerned.
The following are other nuggets from Bob Mueller’s public statement May 29, 2019.
AG Barr Lied About Collusion and Conspiracy
“The first volume of the report details numerous efforts emanating from Russia to influence the election. This volume includes a discussion of the Trump campaign’s response to this activity, as well as our conclusion that there was insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy.”
(Ibid.; Mueller; 5/29/2019.)
The first volume’s “discussion of the Trump campaign’s response to this activity” established that Donald enthusiastically welcomed and encouraged all election influence help the Russian’s were anxious to offer. (The standard response in the pre-Trump era would have been to alert the FBI to any attempted campaign contacts by citizens of a foreign country, especially an adversary.)
Attorney General Barr lied twice about the conspiracy conclusion. First he said the report found “no collusion.” But Mueller specifically said his team didn’t investigate in terms of collusion, only conspiracy. (Barr intentionally misused the word collusion to please Trump.) The special counsel said collusion has no legal meaning. But any thinking person who read the report can see there was tons of it. Second, Mueller said, “there was insufficient evidence to establish a conspiracy.” Barr said in his press conference the day the report was released that there was “no evidence of conspiracy.”
AG Barr Lied About the Obstruction Evidence
“We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime [of obstruction]. The introduction to Volume Two of our report explains that decision. It explains that under long-standing department policy [i.e., the OLC opinion], a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. That is unconstitutional. … Charging the president with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider.”
(Ibid.; Mueller; 5/29/2019.)
This is in direct contradiction to Barr’s statement that Mueller simply didn’t find enough evidence to charge Trump with obstruction of justice, and that if Mueller had found enough, he would have said so. Barr blatantly lied to reporters last month: “We specifically asked [Mueller] about the OLC opinion and whether or not he was taking a position that he would have found a crime but for the existence of the OLC opinion. And he made very clear several times that that was not his position.”
AG Barr Lied About Who Decides Obstruction
“[T]he [OLC] opinion explicitly permits the investigation of a sitting president because it is important to preserve evidence while memories are fresh and documents available. Among other things, that evidence could be used if there were co-conspirators who could be charged now.”
(Ibid.; Mueller; 5/29/2019.)
Also “among other things,” the preserved evidence could be used by a prosecutor after the president has left office — or by Congress to impeach a sitting president.
“[T]he [OLC] opinion says that the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.”
(Ibid.; Mueller; 5/29/2019.)
Again, Barr blatantly lied in a letter to Congress when he said, “The special counsel’s decision to describe the facts of his obstruction investigation without reaching any legal conclusions leaves it to the attorney general to determine whether the conduct described in the report constitutes a crime.” Barr later tried again to snooker Congress (in person this time): “I am told that [Mueller’s] reaction … was that it was my prerogative as attorney general to make that decision [to determine criminality].” Conveniently, Barr found the evidence — the overwhelming evidence — constitutes no crime.
The special counsel confirmed it for all to hear: The OLC opinion clearly states that neither Mueller, Barr, nor anyone else at the DOJ can charge a sitting president. This only can be done through “a process other than the criminal justice system,” which can only mean Congress.
Barr flat-out lied when he said Mueller could not be leaving the question of presidential obstruction guilt to Congress. Barr said to a Senate committee, “Special Counsel Mueller did not indicate that his purpose was to leave the decision to Congress; I hope that was not his view, since we don’t convene grand juries and conduct criminal investigations for that purpose.” He said this in direct opposition to what he knew the OLC opinion states. He said it implying this was just like any other case.
Special Counsel Mueller Is Consistent
“We concluded that we would not reach a determination one way or the other about whether the president committed a crime. That is the office’s final position. And we will not comment on any other conclusions or hypotheticals about the president.”
(Ibid.; Mueller; 5/29/2019.)
Barr is still averring that Mueller should have determined whether or not the obstruction evidence establishes that the president committed crimes. OK, AG Barr, you’re the boss — order the special counsel to do just that. Of course Barr won’t because he knows what the determination would be, i.e., devastating to Trump.
“We will not comment on any other conclusions or hypotheticals about the president” is a clear reference to the approximately 1,000 former federal prosecutors of all political persuasions who have signed a letter saying the evidence would have led them to charge Trump with obstruction of justice — and they would have expected convictions — were he not a sitting president.
But Mueller decided he could not say this out of fairness because the president could not be charged, therefore would have no forum (a court trial) to attempt to clear his name. This is also why Mueller did not make a direct referral to Congress, though he made it clear several times that if there were to be a remedy, Congress was it. In essence, he said Congress is the only entity that can process the evidence Mueller’s office produced and draw a legal conclusion of criminality or not.
AG Barr Lied About Mueller’s Summaries and in His Own Summary
“At one point in time, I requested that certain portions of the report be released. The attorney general preferred to make that — preferred to make the entire report public all at once. And we appreciate that the attorney general made the report largely public. And I certainly do not question the attorney general’s good faith in that decision.”
(Ibid.; Mueller; 5/29/2019.)
We know about the letters and phone calls between Mueller and Barr in the weeks after the report was submitted and accompanied by Barr’s blatantly misleading public “summary.” Mueller was incensed that Barr didn’t release the executive summaries from the report rather than Barr’s own summary. But Barr lied to Congress in saying he had no idea why Mueller’s team might have been dissatisfied with Barr’s conclusions.
Barr also lied in saying there were no parts of the report that were ready for immediate release, before a review was performed to apply redactions. In fact, Mueller prepared the report’s executive summaries just for that purpose.
Here is an instance of Mueller communicating by what he did not say. He did not say he doesn’t “question the attorney general’s good faith” on the issue of Barr’s summary and the withholding of the executive summaries.
Mueller Wants Us to Read His Report Rather Than Be Fed Conclusions by Trump and Barr
“I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments, that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election. And that allegation deserves the attention of every American.”
(Ibid.; Mueller; 5/29/2019.)
To translate this Mueller-speak: The president has lied and equivocated continuously about Russia’s interference to help him win the 2016 election. It was a dangerous attack on our democracy, and it will happen again if our government doesn’t take it seriously and put precautions in place. Also, every American should read my report. The truth is there for the reading.
Oh, and by the way, we couldn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there was conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia. But — they met mysteriously over 140 times. And Donald clearly welcomed and encouraged all help the Russians were willing to offer.
Where We Stand
“The ball is in our court, Congress.”
(Amash, Justin, R-Mich., U.S. representative, first Republican legislator to call for impeachment; Twitter post; 5/29/2019.)
Conventional wisdom says that Mueller’s statement now puts mounting, irresistible pressure on Congress to begin impeachment hearings. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has been holding off for as long as she can to ensure Democrats do not look overeager. She also knows she needs to bring more of the public onboard with the idea (which means educating them). One or two more sitting GOP House representatives or senators wouldn’t hurt, either.
Congress is in Memorial Day recess for another week or two. Conventional wisdom also says that something’s going to break when they all get back together. There is a growing number of representatives — currently about 40-50 Democrats and one Republican — in the House publicly supporting the beginning of impeachment hearings. Heck, it’s the Republican that has made the clearest, strongest case. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) got a standing O’ at his Tuesday town hall in Grand Rapids. About 750 of his constituents cheered Amash when he said the country cannot allow a corrupt, wannabe tyrant to get away with his crimes.
What do you call one GOP congressman and 750 cheering Republican constituents at a pro-Trump-impeachment rally? A good start. I do agree with Pelosi that it’s imperative somehow to make more Americans aware of the situation. Bob Mueller made a rare public appearance, in part, to emphasize that Americans need to read his report and care about this stuff.
Spread the Gospel
A while back, an evangelical Christian co-worker gave me a brand new Bible, one of those modern-English versions for newcomers. I graciously accepted though I’m not the religious type. He told me he and his wife occasionally buy 10 Bibles to give away as part of their efforts to spread the gospel.
I perused the mighty tome and picked up on some of the cooler principles like love your neighbor, don’t rush to evil, don’t cause others to sin, don’t bare false witness, welcome the stranger. So yesterday, I decided to do the same with the Mueller report. I bought a few hard copies from Amazon. They’re only about $7. And I’m going to start giving them away to co-workers and friends — to spread the Mueller gospel — though they might not be the political type.
I’m hoping they pick up on some of the cooler points like Russia attacked us and they’re still doing it; Trump welcomed and encouraged Putin’s help, while consistently (still) denying Russia’s involvement; Donald committed multiple criminal acts of obstruction of justice, but he was not indicted only because of DOJ rules; you know, stuff like that. One more cool point: Mueller investigated the “sitting president because it is important to preserve evidence while memories are fresh and documents available” (for when Trump leaves office).
Oh, and Mueller has put the ball in Congress’ court because “the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system [i.e., Congress] to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.”
Breaking News: Dog Bites Man
“President Trump on Thursday attacked Robert S. Mueller III as ‘totally conflicted’ and ‘a true never-Trumper’ and claimed that the special counsel would have brought charges against him if he had any evidence. … Trump told reporters that [Mueller] … is friendly with former F.B.I. director James B. Comey, whom Trump fired in 2017. ‘He loves Comey,’ Trump claimed. ‘Whether it’s love or a deep like, he was conflicted.’ Associates of the two men have said they had a close professional relationship but did not socialize. Trump also cited a ‘business dispute’ with Mueller on which he did not elaborate. …
“Trump caused a kerfuffle earlier in the morning after seeming to acknowledge for the first time that Russia had helped him in 2016 [he said the quiet part loud]. ‘Russia, Russia, Russia! That’s all you heard at the beginning of this Witch Hunt Hoax,’ Trump wrote on Twitter. ‘And now Russia has disappeared because I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected. It was a crime that didn’t exist.’ …
“In tweets late Wednesday and early Thursday, Rudolph W. Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney … said Mueller’s public statement ‘was halting and stumbling which demonstrated why he doesn’t want to testify’ to Congress about his report. ‘But still the same conclusion: no case,’ Giuliani wrote. ‘Mueller proved he was as biased as his staff.’”
(Wagner, John & Zapotosky, Matt; “Trump Attacks Mueller, Says He Would Have Brought Charges if He Had Evidence of a Crime”; The Washington Post; 5/30/2019.)
Brilliant, Rudy — Mr. “Halting and Stumbling,” himself. ■
Trump Corruption Chronicles — We Must Never Forget
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