Like Moses coming down from Mt Sinai with the 10 Commandments, Mueller showed up at the podium on the 7th floor of the Department of Justice and spoke to America. He spoke for about 10 minutes and gave us his directives. But they need a bit of interpretation because when Mueller speaks, he does so elliptically, with the cautious formality and restraint of a law professor. He is also trying to avoid falling into the “Comey” trap of maligning a president he cannot indict. He doesn’t do “PR speak”, but our country has become accustomed to short, pithy explicit comments.
So I will be Mueller’s translator.
Here we go.
- Listen up, people! we were attacked by the Russians and it was a big friggin deal. Get going to prevent this from happening again in 2020! Stop twiddling your thumbs! Didn’t you read my report!? Oh, nevermind. No one reads anymore.
- Stop wondering why I did not indict Trump. I couldn’t indict a sitting president because of the DOJ Rule. I couldn’t even malign the jerk (since doing that would be unfair because the president could not defend himself in court and get the taint resolved.) It was only because of that DOJ opinion that I did not indict Trump. He isn’t innocent, but he gets a pass because he is a sitting president. NO ONE from the DOJ should be assessing guilt or innocence. So, stop listening to Bill Barr, who is part of Trump’s PR team, when Barr says no harm no foul. There was harm. There is foul.
- And, hey, would you please read the Report I wrote? The “written work speaks for itself”. It’s all in there. I laid out the evidence and the witnesses, you guys. All you need to do is get those witnesses to testify before the House Judiciary Committee to prove up obstruction of justice. How hard could that be? Nike, Just Do It!
- Since there is no way to indict a sitting president, the Constitution tells us the way to deal with a president who committed crimes is to have an impeachment proceeding. I was trying to refer this whole mess to you guys in the House. Don’t you understand that’s what I was doing?! I organized it all, wrapped it up and tied it with a bow. Come on! Do your damn job!
- When Barr tells you that I did not do MY job by not coming to a conclusion based on the evidence we accumulated and when he says that is what the Justice Department is supposed to do and is charged with doing, Barr is stabbing me in the back. He is “conveniently forgetting” about the DOJ Rule that kept me and everyone else on my team from indicting a sitting president. Liar liar pants on fire, Bill Barr.
- When Barr tells you that there has to be an underlying crime to have obstruction of justice (you cannot charge a stand-alone obstruction of justice) and Trump could not have obstructed since there was no finding of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign to work with the Russians, he is being Trump’s Roy Cohn and lying about the law. I know I talk like a professor, but stay with me here. We could not find a “handshake” between the Trump campaign and the Russian government (criminal conspiracy beyond a reasonable doubt), but we found a ton of interaction and there was coordination and collusion. Trump and Barr are trying to con you into thinking there’s nothing there. Don’t be fooled. It’s there. But more to the point, you can have stand alone obstruction of justice charges. I wrote up about 10 of them. Read my Report, damn it!
- Trump is lying about impeachment hearings being a “do over”. That’s wrong. Impeachment is the next step. I threw the ball to you, Congress. Do your job.
- Yeah, I thanked Barr for making the report “largely public”, but he kept a lot of redactions in there too. I actually think Barr is a rotten skunk. Only I am too honorable to say that.
- You don’t need me to come testify. Please don’t make me. I’d like to ride off into the sunset and get away from this craziness. I will only say all the things in the Report and nothing more. The Report is my testimony. The Report speaks for itself. Just haul in the witnesses and get the show on the road, you guys. You’re going to run out of time if you don’t get a move on.
After Mueller spoke, Trump said, “insufficient evidence” means a “person is innocent.” Nothing new here.
Nope. Not so.
First, the evidence is not insufficient especially given the huge stinkin’ pile of evidence of obstruction in Volume 2. And Trump is not innocent. He is guilty. Close to 1000 former federal prosecutors have signed a letter that if this evidence is sufficient to indict and would be a strong case. But presidents get special rules. The only way a president pays the price while in office is by being impeached. That’s what Mueller thinks our Constitution tells us.
If Trump is not impeached, sure, he could be indicted once he leaves office. But if he is not impeached, we have failed to put a check on a man who is clearly corrupt, abusing power and obstructing justice. He is defying the power of Congress. You think he is bad now? If he is not impeached he will be unstoppable. If Trump can get away with anything and can abuse his power right and left and as long as he stays in office, never paying the price for it, we will no longer have a democracy. He will be a dictator.
And if anyone wondered why AG Barr allowed Mueller this opportunity to speak from the podium at DOJ to tell America that Trump is likely to be found guilty and the House should line up the witnesses and get going on an impeachment inquiry (cause that is what he just said) it is because in this world turned upside down, impeachment is supposedly going to help Trump win in 2020 by riling up his base. The Republicans and Barr think it would be a great gift to Trump for the House to start impeachment right away. Trump could play the victim card which he does so well.
I wouldn’t be so sure the GOP is right about this idea. If the truth comes out and the American people get educated with witness after witness, who’s to say which Americans are gonna be more riled up? Trump’s cult base or the rest of the law abiding country who has to pay taxes and follow laws?
Justin Amash, who is the only Republican so far who is brave enough to tell the truth about what he read in the Report and how damning it is for Trump, made the case for impeachment to his constituents in a townhall in Michigan and was cheered by a packed crowd. He even got a few standing ovations. I assume some of those people in the audience were Republicans cheering Justin Amash when he said a president should not lie and should be held to a higher standard. Maybe the 35% of the electorate who are Trump diehards will never leave him, but they DO NOT MATTER. They will not decide the next election. The “Trump triers” in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania WILL. But above all, to keep our democracy, I have come to the conclusion that have to start the process of impeaching Trump by opening an impeachment inquiry. We can’t be afraid of the “i” word.
Mueller came down from Mount Sinai today with some commandments. What he really did was deliver a swift kick in the pants to Congress to get going on an impeachment investigation.