Tag Archives: Russia probe

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.

Trump projects his own ‘ineptitude’ on ex-special counsel

Donald Trump has resorted now to calling former special counsel Robert Mueller “inept.” The president is boasting about Mueller’s supposedly poor performance while testifying before two congressional committees.

What I find hilarious is that the Twitter master in chief would stoop to saying Mueller demonstrated “ineptitude” while explaining why he didn’t “exonerate” Trump of obstruction charges. Mueller also repeated his contention that the Russian hacking of our 2016 presidential election should concern “every American.”

Mueller’s performance, while it didn’t deliver the explosive moment some had hoped would occur, was far from how Trump has described it.

Indeed, for this presidential buffoon to criticize Mueller — a former FBI director, career prosecutor and decorated Vietnam War combat Marine — is laughable on its face.

Oh, well. I suppose Donald Trump can stand behind the notion that he is president, after all, and no one else holds the office.

So very sad.

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.

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.

Wait for GOP to undermine Mueller while Dems seek the truth

First I will acknowledge my partisan bias. I tilt to the left; I tend to favor Democratic candidates over Republicans; I believe in good government, even if it requires expansive government.

Now, I want to offer a word of caution over what the nation is likely to hear Wednesday when former special counsel Robert Mueller III testifies before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees.

Congressional Democrats are going to seek to pull information out of Mueller that explains what he wrote in that 448-page report he filed about allegations of collusion and obstruction of justice regarding Russian election hackers in 2016.

They are going to get Mueller to answer serious questions about his probe into collusion with the Russians. They want him to purge the notion that his probe “exonerated” Donald Trump of collusion and obstruction of justice. Trump has been saying he was cleared. Mueller’s written report says quite the opposite. The nation needs to hear Mueller say it out loud and clearly, that he did not exonerate Trump of any wrongdoing.

What will be the GOP strategy? They’ll seek to undermine Mueller. Republican lawmakers will try to label Mueller as a Democratic partisan who hired Democratic partisans to join his legal team. They will undercut the former FBI director. They will seek to turn the spotlight away from Trump and turn directly onto Mueller. They will seek to declare that Mueller lacked “sufficient evidence” to level any formal charges, which if you think about it is an admission that he had evidence. Just not enough of it.

I will listen more intently to what the committee Democrats ask of Mueller. Sure, I’ll listen to Republican congressmen and women seek to undermine this man’s impeccable integrity.

I want to learn something and I hope that happens when Robert Mueller finishes talking to the congressional committees … and to the nation.

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?

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.

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.

Worst mistake? Hiring someone who follows the law? Wow!

That was an instructive interview that Donald J. Trump agreed to this past weekend … wouldn’t you say?

“Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd asked the president to reveal his major regret since taking office. Trump said it was a “personnel” matter, specifically his decision to appoint Jeff Sessions to be attorney general.

My jaw dropped.

Todd asked, “Why?” Trump said it was because Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation into alleged collusion with Russian operatives who attacked our electoral system.

Now, let’s ponder this for a moment.

Trump said his biggest mistake was hiring an AG who followed the law by recusing himself from a probe into an activity in which he — the AG — was involved. There was no way Sessions could investigate himself. So, he followed Justice Department policy by pulling away from the investigation, given that he was a key player in the campaign and in the transition to the presidency.

Sessions followed the law. Meanwhile, Trump appears to have no trouble with other Cabinet officials who were forced to resign because of ethical violations. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price quit because of travel violations; Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke resigned over similar accusations; same thing for Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt.

All that’s OK with Trump. Meanwhile, senior adviser Kellyanne Conway is accused of violating the Hatch Act by using her position as an executive branch official to launch partisan attacks against Trump opponents. That’s OK, too!

The president surrounds himself with scumbags and hangers-on and becomes enraged at a Cabinet officer who actually followed the law.

Good grief!

Jeff Sessions was a lousy choice to be AG for a lot of reasons. His decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation, though, was not one of them. He merely revealed an understanding of the law and ethics that Donald Trump does not get.