Tag Archives: Robert Mueller

Mueller set to stand on the world’s center stage

Robert S. Mueller III only thought he was heading back into private life after completing his 22-month-long investigation into whether Donald Trump’s presidential campaign colluded with Russian election hackers.

He turned his report in to the Department of Justice, then headed for the tall grass. Mueller came out of proverbial “hiding” to deliver a nine-minute statement on what he concluded.

Now he’s heading back to the world’s center stage. The former special counsel is going to speak to two U.S. House of Representatives committees — Judiciary and Intelligence. He will tell committee members what his 448-page report says.

Now, though, we’re hearing from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, who says Mueller is going to produce “substantial evidence” that Trump committed crimes while running for president and while serving in the office. Nadler said on “Fox News Sunday” that Mueller’s report already has unveiled such evidence.

Mueller will get a chance on Wednesday to tell the world what he’s put in writing.

OK, so no we must wonder: Is this the game changer? Is this moment when the bulb will light up in the skulls of recalcitrant Republicans who have given the president a pass on what Democrats have been yammering all along: that Donald Trump is a criminal and should be removed from office?

I don’t know about you, but I am not going to hold my breath that such an event will occur. It goes back to that weird vise grip that Trump has clamped on the Republican Party, on GOP members of Congress and on that base of supporters who continue to cheer for their political hero.

The show will commence early Wednesday. All the broadcast TV networks are going live with it, along with a number of cable TV outlets. I presume they’ll let Mueller’s words speak for themselves, leaving it to the president himself to label the coverage as “fake news.” I wonder, too, if Trump is going to tell millions of Americans that they didn’t really see and hear what they saw and heard.

Is this going to be Robert Mueller’s last act before actually retiring and returning to the weeds? Hah! Not a chance.

Still, the TV viewing promises to be riveting.

‘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.

Electoral attack is no laughing matter, Mr. POTUS

Mr. President, you need to understand something that I am utterly certain is beyond your level of understanding … but I’ll offer it anyway.

You must understand that an attack on our electoral system is an attack on the very framework of our representative democracy. Therefore, for you to seemingly joke and kid with the perpetrator of the 2016 attack on our presidential election — your tyrant/pal Vlad Putin — is so far beyond the pale that it defies logic at any level.

You sat there next to Putin and when asked by a reporter whether you have warned him against meddling in our election, you seemed to take it less than seriously. I understand you said you told him to stop meddling and when Putin heard the translation, the killer grinned, as you did.

Funny stuff, Mr. President? Actually, it’s about as serious as it gets.

I am one American who is horrified at your cavalier attitude toward this Russian meddling. Special counsel Robert Mueller said the attack was so pervasive, so systematic, so thorough that it should concern “every American.” Hey, that means you, too, Mr. President.

I watched that interview you had with Bill O’Reilly in which the Fox News anchor said that “Putin’s a killer.” Your response was hideous and horrifying in the extreme. You then sought to suggest that the country you were seeking to govern also had committed atrocities on a par with what Putin has done.

This demonstration you put on in Osaka at the G20 meeting this week, joking and grinning with Vlad about Russian interference in our sacrosanct electoral system only goes to illustrate what many of us believe about you.

It is that you don’t give a damn about the country you were elected to govern.

Forgive me for repeating myself, but I want you out of the Oval Office at the earliest possible moment. You are presenting and clear and present danger to the United States of America.

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.

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.