Tag Archives: obstruction of justice

‘Must-see TV’ on tap soon

A major broadcast television network used to hype its programming as “must-see TV.”

I believe Americans interested in the fate and future of our republic will be getting set for their own version of must-see TV. That will be when former special counsel Robert Mueller III swears next Wednesday to tell the truth before two U.S. House of Representatives committees.

He will make an opening statement and then he’ll be asked questions from members of the House Judiciary Committee and then the House Intelligence Committee.

The nation has waited for a long time to hear from the special counsel — who also used to run the FBI — about what he learned during his 22-month investigation into whether Donald Trump colluded with Russians who attacked our 2016 election. It also wants to know about whether the president of the United States obstructed justice, sought to block efforts to get to the truth of what happened.

This ought to be pretty compelling TV for those of us interested in such things. I happen to be one of them.

I want direct questions from the committee members. I do not want to hear speeches. They need to cede the floor to Mueller to the extent they can. They need to let this man tell us what he concluded and how he made those conclusions. Nor do I want Republican committee members to turn the proceeding into a sideshow, which they well could be inclined to do as they seek to discredit a man known to be a longtime public servant of impeccable personal and professional integrity.

I happen to be interested in a couple of areas of inquiry.

  • Did the special counsel’s statement that had there been no evidence of wrong doing he would have said so imply that there was wrong doing? To what extent was there wrong doing on anyone’s part, and that includes the president?
  •  If Donald Trump were not the president of the United States, would the special counsel have indicted him on charges that he obstructed justice?

Mueller has said his 448-page report should stand as his testimony. It could be an exercise in futility if he doesn’t offer much beyond what he has written.

I remain hopeful that we’re going to get a whole lot more light shed on this sordid and seedy endeavor.

Take it away, Mr. Special Counsel.

If I could ask Mueller one question …

I want to look for a moment past the Democratic primary presidential debate that’s coming up. My attention at the moment is riveted on an upcoming appearance by Robert Mueller before the U.S. House Judiciary and Select Intelligence committees.

He is going to make public statements before both panels and then will take questions in private. He is going to talk to the nation about the conclusions he reached regarding Donald Trump’s involvement with Russians who attacked  our electoral system during the 2016 presidential campaign.

He concluded that the president’s campaign did not conspire to collude with the Russians who dug up dirt on Hillary Clinton. He also said that despite evidence of obstruction of justice, he declined to issue a formal complaint against the president; he left that resolution up to Congress. He said in that nine-minute statement he read a few weeks ago that rules and policy prohibited him from indicting a “sitting president.”

I heard this notion come from a former federal prosecutor, but I’ll appropriate it here in this blog. I want the former special counsel to answer this question:

If you were not constrained by Office of Legal Counsel rules and prohibitions against indicting a president, would you have indicted Donald Trump on charges that he obstructed justice?

Mueller can answer such an inquiry any number of ways. If he says “no,” that he wouldn’t have indicted the president, well, that statement would stand on its own.

However, were he to provide an answer that stops short of a flat “no,” he well might say something like this, “I will not respond to a hypothetical circumstance. I deal only with what I know.”

Then again, the former FBI director could answer “yes, I would have issued an indictment.” Suppose, though, he demurs with the “hypothetical” non-answer, that opens the door to supposition that he doesn’t want to reveal his desire — under that circumstance — to file a formal complaint against the president of the United States.

You want high political drama in a congressional hearing room? Robert Mueller’s decision to appear before two key House committees in response to a subpoena is about to deliver it.

I am waiting with bated breath.

Waiting to hear from the former special counsel

I know what I will be doing on the 17th of July.

I will be watching TV as former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III talks to two key congressional committees about that Russia investigation he conducted for 22 months.

Yep. The special counsel, who vowed to be finished talking publicly about it, is going to speak in public, in the open and on the record to the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees.

For those of us with a keen interest in what Mueller concluded, this will be — to borrow a phrase — a “must-see TV” event.

The committees had to subpoena Mueller to talk to them. Mueller agreed. Now, the question will center on how much Mueller will divulge that he hasn’t already done in his 448-page report, which he filed some month ago.

Mueller appeared just recently a few weeks back to declare that he didn’t “exonerate” Donald Trump of obstructing justice, and that he had found reason to clear the president, he “would have said so.” Trump, of course, spun that declaration into something unrecognizable, saying he had been cleared of “collusion” and “obstruction of justice.”

Well, now we will get to hear more from Mueller, the former FBI director, a career prosecutor, a meticulous legal eagle and a man of impeccable integrity. That won’t dissuade, of course, Republican committee pipsqueaks from seeking to discredit this dedicated public servant.

Mueller probably is unhappy about getting the subpoena. However, he knows that he must adhere to it, unlike the president of the United States, who has blocked aides and senior advisers from speaking to congressional inquisitors.

I will look forward to what this man has to say.

Mueller did not ‘clear’ POTUS of obstruction … honest, he didn’t!

Donald J. Trump’s delusion continues to take my breath away.

He said yet again in that remarkable interview with ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos that special counsel Robert Mueller cleared him of colluding with Russians during the 2016 campaign and of obstructing justice.

Hold on! Mr. President, I heard Mueller’s comments. I have read his report. I’ve followed the news.

How can I say this more clearly: Mueller did not “clear” the president of any charges that he obstructed justice. Mueller said with crystal clarity that had he found no evidence of obstruction that he would have “said so.”

He didn’t. He did not absolve Trump of obstructing justice. He said he could not issue an indictment because of Department of Justice rules that say a “sitting president” cannot be indicted.

Is that an “exoneration”? No. It isn’t. It leaves the door wide open for Congress to do whatever it deems necessary to repair the damage done by Trump’s repeated efforts to obstruct the investigation into the Russian involvement in the 2016 election.

And yet …

Trump said repeatedly to Stephanopoulos that Mueller cleared him of collusion and obstruction.

This guy is making me want to scream at the top of my lungs!

But the news actually gets worse. Trump has a path toward winning the public relations battle with those of us who dispute his “exoneration” assertion. He has this enormous platform he can use to keep telling falsehoods that somehow become part of the narrative.

I continue believe the man is delusional in the extreme.

And he’s dangerous.

Trump changes rules of political engagement

Some of the news shows and their pundits I’ve been watching lately are pondering the question: What if Barack Obama had done this?

  • What if the former president had said he trusts North Korean dictator/tyrant/madman Kim Jong Un to do the right thing?
  • What if he had failed to show up at Arlington National Cemetery to honor our war dead on Memorial Day?
  • What if Obama had failed to attend a ceremony at a cemetery in France to honor our fallen heroes in World War II, citing a heavy rainfall as the reason?
  • What if Obama took up for the Russian president and accepted his phony denial that his government interfered in our electoral process?

Republicans in both congressional chambers would be filing impeachment proceedings in a heartbeat. Oh, sure, Democrats would resist.

I ask the question because of Republican resistance to at least launching an “inquiry” into whether a GOP president has obstructed justice. Donald Trump likely committed some sort of crime by seeking to block a Justice Department probe into alleged collusion with Russians who attacked our election in 2016.

Democrats are split. Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants to wait; some of her more fervent partisans want to launch impeachment hearings now. Republicans, meanwhile, are seeking to undermine the findings of the former special counsel.

What if President Obama had done any of this?  I shudder to think what might be the consequence.

AG proving to be a major disappointment

Oh, how I wanted William Barr to be the right remedy for a Justice Department under siege from the president of the United States.

The attorney general took office after a contentious confirmation hearing. It is the AG’s second tour of duty at DOJ. He’s an experienced hand and reportedly a fine lawyer with a steel-trap legal mind.

He has been a disappointment to me. Yes, I am a fervent critic of the guy who nominated William Barr to lead the Justice Department. Donald Trump had savaged Barr’s predecessor as attorney general. Why? Because Jeff Sessions did the right thing by recusing himself from the Russia probe.

Barr stepped in and has — according to his critics — acted more like Trump’s lawyer than the nation’s top law enforcement official.

Now we hear from former FBI director James Comey, another damn good lawyer, who has weighed in with scorching criticism of Barr.

Comey said Barr is “echoing conspiracy theories” about the origins of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s exhaustive investigation into alleged collusion with the Russians. Barr, according to Comey, needs to present facts along with his assertions. “This is what Justice is about,” Comey said via Twitter.

Barr also has been critical of Mueller for declining to conclude whether Donald Trump obstructed justice. But … why? Mueller reiterated this week what he wrote in his lengthy report that he couldn’t indict Trump because of Justice Department policy that prohibits charging a president with a crime. So, he said his team couldn’t exonerate Trump, which to my way of thinking is the same thing as saying that the president committed a crime. That sounds as though Mueller drew a conclusion.

I truly wanted William Barr to step up, to steady the DOJ ship and guide the Justice Department into carrying its role as an impartial administrator of justice.

That doesn’t appear to be happening. Thus, the chaos continues in a federal agency that demands calm, firm and steady leadership.

Why the praise for this lawyer?

Emmet Flood is leaving the White House later this month.

Donald Trump is praising the lawyer he brought aboard to help with his battle against former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians who attacked our electoral process.

The president called Flood a “great friend” who did a great job.

Trump tweeted “no collusion, no obstruction.”

Whoa! Hold on a second, Mr. POTUS.

Mueller has said there was “no collusion.” I get that. We all get it, OK? He did not clear the president of obstruction. How many times do we have to say it? Mueller did not exonerate the president. He said so in his 448-page report. He repeated it in that extraordinary nine-minute spiel this week.

Still, the president keeps harping on a known falsehood.

Here’s the deal, though: The more Donald Trump says it the more it sinks into the thick skulls of those who continue to believe the lies this guy gets away with telling.

Weird.

Which is it? More to come or ‘case closed’?

Maximum frustration has set in.

Robert S. Mueller III stood before the nation and spoke for nine minutes Wednesday, summarizing the contents of his 448-page report that he filed after a 22-month investigation into allegations of “collusion” with Russians who attacked our electoral system in 2016.

What is the takeaway?

Well, if you’re on one side of the great divide, Mueller has “cleared” Donald Trump of everything, that the president’s campaign has been exonerated of collusion and obstruction of justice. Congressional Republicans have declared the case to be closed. White House staffers have said that Mueller has wiped the slate clean, that the president didn’t do a single thing wrong.

If you’re on the other side of that chasm, you heard Mueller say something quite different. You heard him say that the president committed crimes while obstruction the investigation into the collusion matter. Mueller said that he couldn’t bring an indictment  because Justice Department policy banned it. You heard him say it now falls on Congress to take whatever measures it deems necessary.

I heard the second thing. I am one of those who believes what I heard Mueller say as he delivered his nine-minute explainer. He said in precise language that if he and his team could determine that Trump didn’t obstruct justice that they would have “said so.” They didn’t say it. Thus, they have left the door open for Congress to act.

My frustration comes as I listen to the Trump apologists — and for the life of me I don’t understand how they still exist — dismiss the findings, saying that the president is “exonerated.”

Mueller did not clear the president of obstruction!

Must there be an immediate commencement of impeachment proceedings? No. I stand with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who says Congress has more work to do before starting down that dangerous patch.

However, my frustration is sure to build as I continue to hear the Trumpsters defend what I believe is an indefensible series of crimes.

Mueller: Russian attack a clear threat to the U.S.

Robert S. Mueller III made his point this morning with crystal clarity the moment he took his place behind the Justice Department podium.

The Russian attack on our electoral system in 2016 presented a clear and present threat to our government, indeed our way of life.

That is how the former special counsel set up his remarks today in which he declared that his investigation into the Russian attack on our system is officially over.

Mueller didn’t say much more that many of us didn’t already know.

However, he did declare in no uncertain terms that the Russians did what many millions of us have known. They launched a “concerted attack” on our electoral system. They intended to “damage a presidential candidate.” That candidate was not the guy who won the election.

Yet the winning 2016 candidate keeps resisting the notion that Russian interference occurred.

I am going to side with Mueller on this one. He is the former FBI director chosen to lead the investigation into the Russian attack. Mueller is known to be a man of high integrity. His team conducted itself with integrity as well as it sought the truth behind the 2016 election.

Where do we go from here? It all depends on Congress. Mueller made that point, too. While saying he won’t talk to Congress, he did say that Congress has the authority — and the responsibility — to seek remedies to what Mueller said occurred.

Mueller has concluded that Trump has obstructed justice. He reminded us yet again that he could not indict the president, saying that DOJ policy prohibited what he said would be an “unconstitutional act.”

I accept that.

I also endorse wholeheartedly the notion that Russian government goons launched an attack on our electoral system. They sought to help Donald Trump win the 2016 presidential election.

The attack ought to be a major concern for “every American,” as Mueller said today.

Every American. That means you, too, Mr. President.

POTUS can stop declaring ‘no obstruction’

Well, that was a remarkable non-event.

Former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III called a brief press event today to tell the world a few things.

He is closing up his shop and going back to becoming a private citizen. Mueller said he will not talk to Congress, as he has said all he is going to say about the 22-month investigation into whether Donald Trump’s presidential campaign colluded with the Russians who attacked our electoral system in 2016.

Oh, and he said that he did not clear the president of obstruction of justice, leaving the door wide open — still! — for Congress to do whatever it deems necessary to correct whatever ills it deems need correcting.

I want to join the millions of Americans who grateful for the work turned in by the former FBI director. He is, as one of Trump’s lawyers called him, “an American hero.” He is a patriot and a man of impeccable integrity and character.

As for his decision to forgo any congressional testimony, I have ruminated a bit about that and I accept his decision to call it good. The 448-page report he filed at the end of his probe ought to serve as the defining document of what he concluded.

Mueller and his team did not find sufficient evidence that Trump and his campaign conspired to collude with the Russians. He also said that despite evidence of obstruction of justice that he would follow Department of Justice policy and decline to indict a sitting president.

I accept those findings, too.

He also did not “exonerate” the president of obstruction of justice. Do I believe Donald Trump’s hysterical claims of “no collusion, no obstruction”? Or do I accept the more studied and serious analysis from Mueller that had there been grounds for exoneration he would have said so? I’ll go with Mueller. Trump, meanwhile, can yammer, stammer and blather all he wants about there being “no obstruction.”

Mueller has left it clear that the issue of obstruction now rests in the laps of 100 U.S. senators and 435 U.S. House members.

They have more work to do.

As for Mueller’s work, it’s over.

Thank you again, Mr. Special Counsel. You have performed a marvelous public service.