Tag Archives: obstruction of justice

Mueller said it … in so many words: Trump obstructed justice

Let me be crystal clear: Robert S. Mueller III told congressional questioners that Donald J. Trump, the nation’s president, obstructed justice.

No, he didn’t say the words: “Donald Trump obstructed justice.”

But he made a couple of key points that need to be reaffirmed. So I will do so.

He said in May that if there were grounds to “exonerate” the president of obstruction of justice in the Russia investigation, “we would have said so.” He didn’t.

Then this past month, in testimony before the U.S. House Judiciary and Intelligence committees, Mueller was asked whether he would indict Trump were he not president. He said “yes” both times.

So, the way I interpret the former special counsel’s findings is that he believes the president obstructed — or sought to obstruct — justice while he was looking for nearly two years into whether the Trump presidential campaign conspired to collude with Russian goons who attacked our electoral system in 2016. He couldn’t prove conspiracy. I accept that finding.

Mueller left the obstruction of justice matter up to Congress.

Therefore … he concluded that Trump obstructed justice.

Is any of this impeachable? It is likely that there are grounds for impeachment somewhere in this mess.

The bigger question facing House members, though, is whether there are sufficient grounds to move congressional Republicans — namely those in the Senate — off their stubborn resistance to doing what they must, which is to impeach the president and then convict him of those deeds in a Senate trial.

If the answer is “no,” then there is no point to impeaching this con artist/clown/carnival barker.

In defense of Robert Mueller III

I feel the need to defend Robert S. Mueller III, although he doesn’t need little ol’ me to stand up for him against critics of his daylong testimony before two congressional committees.

Right-wing critics have said the former special counsel sounded lost, almost feeble, not in charge of the facts, he was hard of hearing.

Left-wing critics have expressed disappointment that Mueller didn’t provide them with the “aha moment” they were expecting.

Let’s get a grip here.

Mueller conducted that lengthy investigation into allegations that the Donald Trump presidential campaign conspired to collude with Russian election hackers. He didn’t find enough evidence of collusion. He also looked into whether Trump obstructed justice.

He said in his report and again on Wednesday that he didn’t clear Trump of obstruction. He said that the president committed crimes. He just couldn’t indict him because he happens to be the president of the United States.

I thought Mueller did precisely what he said he would do. He was a reluctant witness. He said in May that the report would stand as his “testimony” were he summoned to appear before Congress. His delivery this week kept faith with what he declared in May.

I thought the ex-special counsel/former FBI director/career prosecutor/decorated Vietnam War combat Marine behaved with decorum and dignity. I should point out that during the two years of his Russia probe he maintained his stone-cold silence in the face of constant harangues, harassment and hassling from Donald Trump and his sympathizers.

Robert Mueller remains, as one of Trump’s former lawyers once called him, “an American hero.”

So what if he didn’t deliver the impeachment goods? He told us weeks ago we should not expect such a thing.

I shall remind everyone, though, of a critical point that Mueller made. It is that the Russians attacked our electoral system in “sweeping and systematic” fashion and are doing so at this moment in advance of the next presidential election.

The villain here is the president who refuses to acknowledge what the rest of the nation already knows. To that end, I want to thank Robert Mueller for reminding us yet again of the danger that Donald Trump poses to this nation.

Impeachment without conviction: a non-starter

The idea of impeaching Donald John Trump with next to zero hope of obtaining a conviction is to my mind the classic recipe for a non-starter.

That appears to be the calculation that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has made in her reluctance to launch impeachment proceedings against the president of the United States.

I happen to agree with the notion that an impeachment by itself will do nothing constructive for those who believe as many of us do: that they want Donald Trump removed from office. Impeachment is the easy part. Democrats need a simple majority to impeach the president. Conviction is different. Republicans control the Senate, which would need 67 votes to convict the president. Will that happen? Hardly.

The daylong testimony by former special counsel Robert Mueller this week was seen as the “aha” moment for congressional Democrats. It wasn’t. Mueller stuck to his script. He said he wouldn’t speak beyond what his lengthy report concluded about Trump and he was generally faithful to that pledge.

Mueller’s report concluded that his 22-month probe produced insufficient evidence to charge Trump with conspiring to collude with Russian election hackers; nor was he able to indict the president on obstruction of justice, following Office of Legal Counsel rules and guidelines.

Despite all that, Mueller laid it out there: Trump likely committed a crime. That has gotten Democrats slathering over the prospect of impeaching him.

Hold on! What is the point of impeaching the president if the Senate won’t convict him of high crimes and misdemeanors and thus, remove him from office?

I am now believing more strongly than ever — and it pains me to say this — that impeachment is off the table. The only path left is for Trump’s opponents to focus solely on the crimes he committed as a candidate for the office and as president and use the knowledge they have obtained to pound Trump senseless on the 2020 presidential campaign trail.

I wish there was a way to remove the president before the election. I don’t see it developing. The man sickens me at a deeply visceral level. I want him gone. I had hoped that Robert Mueller would have changed minds, that he could have gotten those obsequious Republicans to move off their fawning fealty for Donald Trump.

It ain’t gonna happen.

The time is coming for Democrats to prepare instead for a presidential campaign for the ages.

Whether to impeach or mount anti-Trump election effort

Today I feel one way about impeaching Donald Trump. Tomorrow I might feel differently.

Well, that’s how it goes for me. I cannot settle on a course of action regarding the president of the United States. I believe he is a criminal. I believe he is unfit for office. I believe has obstructed justice … which is an impeachable offense.

Does that mean the House of Representatives should launch an impeachment “inquiry,” let alone actual impeachment proceedings? No.

I now believe — at least that’s my belief today — that the only option now for getting rid of Donald Trump will occur at the next presidential election.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi along with the rest of the House Democratic caucus might have been waiting with bated breath for former special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony this week before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees. They wanted a “gotcha” moment to occur. It did not present itself. Mueller said what many millions of Americans know already, that Trump has obstructed justice.

Committee Republicans did their job. They sought to impugn Mueller’s integrity, his impartiality, his fairness. They didn’t persuade me, but I was not the one whose attention they sought; they sought to energize the Trump base of voters. Mission accomplished.

Congressional Republicans appear to be as dug in as ever against impeaching the president. Democrats appear to be a bit more demoralized today than they were the day before Mueller took his seat before the House panels.

But … an election is coming along. November 2020 will present Trump foes perhaps their final opportunity to rid the nation of the scourge of this president, the guy who doesn’t believe what Mueller — and other intelligence experts have — that the Russians attacked our electoral system in 2016.

Can they make the case? Can they deny Trump the Electoral College victory he covets to take office for a second term as president?

I believe at this moment that is the only viable course available for those of us who want Donald Trump removed from the presidency.

However, that could change. I mean, there’s always another day.

If I were King of the World, I would …

… Go full throttle toward impeaching Donald Trump, 45th president of the United States.

But I’m not. Neither, of course, is Donald Trump, even though he said falsely this week that Article II of the U.S. Constitution allows him to do “anything” he wants.

I listened to a lot of Robert Mueller’s testimony today. Part of it was in my car tuned to National Public Radio. My wife and I drove this morning to Bonham for an appointment and on our way home stopped for a tour of the Sam Rayburn Library and Museum. I was struck by a passage I saw attributed to the late great speaker of the U.S. House, “Mr. Sam,” which was that one should tell the truth always because you never have to “remember what you said.”

Donald Trump hasn’t told the truth a single time since questions arose about the Russian hacking of our election in 2016. He has lied time and time and time again. His lies have piled up on top of each other.

Mueller today told the world that Trump obstructed justice and that Trump lied when he said that the 22-month-long investigation cleared him of obstruction.

Now, is that enough to impeach the president? Yes. Is it enough to convict him of high crimes and misdemeanors? Yes! Not just yes, but hell yes!

However, I don’t run things in Washington, D.C. I am just a chump blogger out here in Trump Country. I also recognize the political realities that are staring House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the face. They are serious, stark and foreboding.

She could call for an impeachment vote in the next 20 minutes and likely could get enough House Democrats to impeach the president. Then what? It goes to the Senate, where Trump would stand trial. Did you hear any Republican House committee members sound as if they would endorse conviction in the Senate? If you did, then you heard something that was lost on me.

I’ve heard enough to impeach Donald Trump. However, conviction is a far more difficult hurdle to clear.

If I were King of the World, I would order the Senate to convict this carnival barker/con man/fraud/presidential imposter.

If only I could.

Waiting for Mueller to answer The Question

House Judiciary and Intelligence committee Democrats are preparing to quiz the former special counsel.

As are committee Republicans, although I am certain their questions will seek to take Robert Mueller III into an entirely different direction.

Mueller will sit before the panels for a good bit of the day tomorrow. He clearly is a reluctant witness. However, I am waiting for him to answer The Question, which well might determine whether the House of Representatives pulls the trigger on impeachment proceedings against Donald John Trump.

It goes something like this: Did the president of the United States commit crimes and would he have been indicted by Mueller’s legal team had he been just a private citizen?

To my mind, a “yes” to either or both of those questions would pave the way for the House to march forward.

Let me toss in another one for good measure: Did you “clear” the president of collusion with Russian hackers or of obstructing justice?

If the president committed a crime, then how in the name of juris prudence does he dodge impeachment and how does the president not be held accountable for his actions as a candidate for office and as the holder of the nation’s highest and most exalted public office?

Sounds simple, right? It ain’t. I get that.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has expressed reluctance about impeachment. She doesn’t want the House to essentially “indict” the president only to have the Senate acquit him in a trial.

That is where Robert Mueller steps up. This is where he is able to educate us all about what he found over the course of his 22-month investigation. Sure, he filed that 448-page report. I haven’t read it. It’s not my job. I have read enough of it, though, to understand what he concluded and why he drew those conclusions.

I do not want House Republicans to get away with tarring this good man’s reputation. Mueller took on this task amid high praise for the career of public service to which he dedicated himself. He is a former FBI director, a combat Marine, a Vietnam War hero, a man of privilege who entered public service.

I don’t know the man, but there is nothing in his background that suggests he is how many Republicans — including Donald Trump — have portrayed him.

Moreover, I want him to answer The Question forthrightly.

Then, depending on what he says, we’ll see the character of our elected representatives revealed fully.

Then and now: Clinton and Trump

First, I’ll stipulate that I agree with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s refusal to proceed with impeaching Donald J. Trump, at least for the time being.

She knows the political consequences can be difficult to overcome if such an event were to occur. The divisions would be deep. An acquittal by the Republican-controlled Senate could be devastating for the country.

Republicans are standing behind the president. They aren’t listening to the evidence that keeps mounting that Trump committed crimes while running for president and while serving as president.

Which brings me to the key point: How is it that Republicans today are so reluctant to proceed with their constitutional duties when two decades ago they were hellbent on impeaching a previous president for a whole lot less than the charges that are piling up against the current one?

In 1998, the GOP-led House impeached President Clinton. The reason was twofold: He lied to a grand jury that asked him about a relationship he had with a White House intern. Clinton took an oath to tell the truth; he reneged on the oath. The GOP said we cannot have a president who is “above the law.” Republicans threw in an obstruction of justice charge for good measure.

The House “manager” of the impeachment proceeding against Clinton was none other than a fresh-faced South Carolinian named Lindsey Graham, who said in effect that the House could impeach the president for damn near any reason it saw fit.

Today, that same Lindsey Graham is now a U.S. senator and he’s saying something dramatically different about Donald Trump. Despite what the special counsel, Robert Mueller III, said that he didn’t “exonerate” the president after his lengthy investigation into collusion with Russian election hackers, Graham keeps insisting that Mueller “cleared” Trump of obstruction of justice.

No. He did nothing of the sort.

Mueller only concluded that he couldn’t indict a sitting president, citing Justice Department policy; he also said such an indictment would be “unconstitutional,” although that terminology baffles me.

There is a huge mountain of evidence that suggests that Trump sought to obstruct justice by getting a former White House counsel to fire Mueller. That he canned FBI director James Comey to stop the FBI”s probe into the “Russia thing.” That he ordered the payment of hush money to a porn actress to keep her quiet about a fling she and Trump had in 2006, even though Trump denies it ever occurred.

I understand Pelosi’s predicament. I agree with her. However, for the life of me I cannot accept the Republicans’ refusal to budge on this president’s conduct when they were so anxious to pull the impeachment trigger on another president.

Oh, wait. Clinton is a Democrat; Trump is a Republican.

Gosh, do you think Republicans are putting their party over what’s good for the nation?

‘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.