Tag Archives: Robert Mueller

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.

What does John Dean know about all of this?

John Dean was a key player in the previous great constitutional crisis facing the United States of America.

He served as White House counsel during the Nixon administration. He went before the Senate Watergate Committee and declared there was a “cancer growing” on the presidency. The nation got all worked up over that testimony.

Dean eventually would be convicted of crimes and would serve time in prison for his role in covering up the Watergate scandal.

So what does the House Judiciary Committee, which plans this week to open more hearings on the current crisis? It’s going to summon John Dean to testify about what he knows about Robert Mueller’s findings on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

That’s it! A former Watergate-related criminal is going to talk to us about an investigation into which he has next to zero personal knowledge.

Robert Mueller concluded his probe into alleged collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russians who hacked into our electoral system. He said Trump didn’t “conspire” to collude; he left the door open on matters relating to obstruction of justice.

Dean has expressed dismay at Mueller’s findings. He has emerged as a Trump critic. So, on that score I’m on his side.

Still, my questions remain: What does John Dean bring to this matter? What unique expertise does he have? What is the Judiciary Committee going to hear from Dean that it hasn’t already heard from other peanut-gallery spectators?

Here’s a thought: Forget about Dean and bring Mueller himself to Capitol Hill.

Two Trumps made the trip to Europe

Well, the world got a good look this week at two men who serve in one body as the president of the United States.

What the world cannot shake, though, is the appearance of the “real Donald Trump,” who spoke over the other Donald Trump posing as president.

I will acknowledge the obvious. The “fake” Trump did a good job of articulating our immense national pride over the heroism displayed 75 years ago this week on the Normandy coastline in France. American, British and Canadian men stormed ashore to take back a continent living under the tyranny of the Nazi conquerors.

The Trump who posed as president spoke eloquently about the heroism of that operation and the victory those men achieved.

Yeah, I have heard the criticism of those who said that Trump merely was reading someone else’s words, that he doesn’t actually believe them. I’ll just say that he isn’t the first president who has read a speech penned by speechwriters, nor will he be the final president. Ronald Reagan’s marvelous “Boys of Pointe du Hoc” speech in 1984 was the work largely of Peggy Noonan, although Noonan seeks to give President Reagan much credit for adding his own rhetoric to that address.

However, juxtaposed with the Trump posing as president was the “real Donald Trump,” the man who sat before those thousands of graves marking the final resting place for fallen American heroes.

That version of Trump took the occasion to blast House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as a “disaster,” as a “nasty” politician and someone who cannot be trusted. He then blasted the daylights out of a former Vietnam War combat Marine, former special counsel Robert Mueller, as a “fool.”

If he had any semblance of understanding of the solemnity of the moment, of the place and of the event they were commemorating, that version of Donald Trump would have declined to answer the highly charged political question fired at him by the Fox News commentator.

But … he lacks all of that.

And that version of Donald Trump is the one that millions of Americans are talking about today.

Sad.

Here is what POTUS could have said

I am among the last people on Earth who Donald Trump would ask for advice, but I’ll offer a bit of unsolicited advice anyway.

Trump sat this week in front of rows of graves at Normandy, the site of the epic World War II invasion and battle that sealed the doom of the Third Reich. Fox News interviewer Laura Ingraham asked him some questions about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former special counsel Robert Mueller.

Ingraham was looking to push Trump’s hot button. He took the bait. He swallowed it whole and proceeded to dishonor the men buried behind him by offering a blistering partisan critique of Mueller and Pelosi. He said Mueller “made a fool of himself,” and called Pelosi a “disaster.”

Had the president asked me how to handle such a loaded set of questions, I would have counseled he say the following:

That’s a good question, Laura. However, I am not going to answer it now. Not here. Not in the presence of the men buried behind me.

I came to Normandy to honor the heroism of our brave fighting men and their comrades from Great Britain, Canada, France and many other nations involved in that great war.

I am going to speak very soon at a ceremony attended by some of the men who survived that horrible conflict on the beaches here. I don’t want to sully that event with a partisan commentary on matters back at home. 

It’s been said that “politics ends at the water’s edge.” A great Republican senator, Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan, offered that bit of wisdom. I intend to follow it here.

Now, if you want to ask me about the commemoration we are offering here, I’ll be glad to answer that.

Politics? Let’s wait until we get home. OK?

The president didn’t say that. If only he could understand the solemnity of the moment and appreciate the sacrifice of the men who died in defense of our way of life.

POTUS manages to trample on his own high moment

Donald J. Trump is not without some political skill.

He did, after all, manage to win a presidential election when every pundit in America was predicting his defeat in 2016.

The president also is quite good on a more dubious level. When given a chance to shine, to speak with high-minded rhetoric on behalf of the nation — he manages to trample all over his own moment of statesmanship.

Trump went to France this week to honor the memory of those who died during the D-Day invasion of Europe on June 6,1944, 75 years ago. He delivered a glorious speech to the crowd at Normandy. He said the young men who stormed the beach to liberate a continent were the greatest people “who will ever live.”

But only moments before delivering those remarks, Trump managed to tape an interview with the Fox News Channel. There he was, sitting before a cemetery filled with the headstones of fallen Allied warriors.

That backdrop was the perfect antithesis to what came out of his mouth. Donald Trump managed to call former special counsel Robert Mueller — a former Marine who was wounded in combat during the Vietnam War, who received the Bronze Star for valor in combat — a “fool.” He said Mueller “made a fool of himself” with his report detailing the conclusions he reached regarding the 22-month investigation into alleged collusion with Russians who attacked our electoral system.

While speaking to Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham, Trump also managed to call House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a “disaster.”

My point is this: Presidents don’t normally resort to that kind of partisan bickering while in the midst of representing our nation on the worldwide stage. They damn sure don’t do such things while commemorating monumentally historic events such as the D-Day invasion, an event that many historians describe as the decisive battle of World War II.

Presidents are supposed to recognize the solemnity of these events and behave accordingly.

Donald Trump doesn’t play by those rules. He doesn’t play by any of the normal conventions associated with his high and exalted office.

His base adores him for the crassness he exhibits.

It sickens the rest of us.

Unable to find constitutional reference to POTUS indictment

It’s been three days since Robert S. Mueller III issued his extraordinary statement about why he reached certain conclusions about Donald Trump’s alleged collusion and obstruction of justice.

I want to focus briefly on a particular point that the former special counsel made in his nine-minute recitation before the nation.

It’s the part where he said that he and his legal team looking into the Russian attack on our electoral process in 2016 could not indict the president because of a Department of Justice policy that prohibits indicting a sitting president.

Then he said such an indictment would violate the U.S. Constitution.

I believe my eyebrows raised just a bit the moment I heard Mueller make that assertion.

I have a copy of the nation’s governing document on my desk. I have been poring over it. I have looked through Article I, which lays out congressional authority and through Article II, which spells out presidential authority. I have looked through all the other original articles in the Constitution, all the way to Article VII.

I cannot find a single reference that protects the president of the United States from indictment. I cannot locate anything at all that speaks even tangentially about the issue.

I am not going to quibble and quarrel with Robert Mueller, a fine lawyer and a former FBI director. He’s a great man with impeccable integrity. I honor the work he did while compiling his report to the nation and I certainly honor his decades of public service.

Moreover, I understand how DOJ policy could prohibit an indictment. However, a policy is much less binding than anything codified in the U.S. Constitution. Policies can be rescinded. Agencies that enact policies can change them. The Constitution is a different sort of creature. To amend anything, you need a bill to come out of Congress and you then need a super-majority of states to ratify the law.

So I am asking: Can anyone find a constitutional reference that declares that presidents cannot be indicted?

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.

Will the ex-Marine be cowed by Congress? Hah!

Now comes the D.C. chatter about congressional Republicans wanting to take a bite out of former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

Mueller has finished his investigation into whether the Donald Trump presidential campaign “colluded” with Russians who attacked our electoral system. He and his legal team wrote a 448-page report; he turned it in to Department of Justice; Mueller remained silent until this week.

Then he spoke for nine minutes and said he had quit the DOJ, is returning to private life and said that his staff could not exonerate Donald Trump of allegations that he has obstructed justice.

Now we hear that GOP members of relevant congressional committees want to subject Mueller to harsh questions.

Let me think about this. I believe the ex-special counsel has declared that Trump has committed a crime by obstructing justice. He said he couldn’t indict the president because DOJ policy prohibits a sitting president from being charged with a crime.

Oh, but now some members of the right-wing Freedom Caucus — such as Reps. Jim Jordan, Mark Meadows and Devin Nunes — want to eviscerate the former FBI director. They want to question his motives. They want to cast aspersions on his credibility, integrity, perhaps even his love of country.

Hmm. Well, I am one American who believes in Robert Mueller. I honor his decades of public service — starting with his enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps and his combat service in the Vietnam War.

I also am quite certain that this combat veteran is not going to be cowed or intimidated by some grandstanding politicians who intend to make names for themselves.

Those who know Robert Mueller have signed off on his impeccable integrity and his commitment to conducting a meticulous investigation. He has served the nation well.

I heard his nine-minute soliloquy this week. I understand what he said. He has said in terms that ring with crystal clarity that had he and his team been able to clear Donald Trump of obstruction of justice that they would have done so.

Congress, it’s now up to you.

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.