Impeachment is Warranted but What’s the Rush?

Elizabeth Warren has called for an impeachment of president Trump to begin immediately.  I think that idea, while seeming bold and momentarily separating her from the herd of other Dem candidates (about 20 now), is dumb.  Just like her push to disband ICE is dumb.   (Some government organization will be needed to deal with those issues, so what you are really calling for is a smarter, more moral and more gentle ICE, while giving Trump fuel for his lies about you wanting an open border).

That’s two strikes against you Elizabeth and the campaign has barely begun (I’m giving you a pass on the Native American fiasco).  How about just getting into office and reform what we already have?

This past weekend a number of arguments and innuendos on liberal political cable have basically called out Democrat House leadership for a lack of “intestinal fortitude” to fight for basic principles.   (Nancy Pelosi lacking intestinal fortitude?  Are you kidding me?)

In an editorial in the New York Times, Charles Blow makes his case for impeachment including this sentence  …….“once a president is impeached, he is forever marked. It is a chastisement unto itself. It is the People’s House making a stand for its people.”

First, the Mueller report is enough to forever mark Trump.   The issue is to get enough people to understand it and believe it.  Second, the people’s House is really just a Democrat people’s house at the moment.  The Republicans have no say.  So, let’s understand the statement made is from just Democrats, not wholly the “people.”  I don’t think the Democrats thought of it as the people’s House when Republicans were in control.

Hey, thank God the Dems won the House, without which we would really be in deep doo-doo as a nation, left with almost no power to thwart our Narcissist-in-chief, but I don’t care for all this principled posing.   Especially when acting on principles pushes us to do something really dumb.

Warren asserts this issue is a matter of principles above politics.   Not really.  As indicated in the previous paragraph, the issue is fully enmeshed in politics and because the Trumpubicans rule the Senate we all know how this story will end and I think it will end badly for Democrats.  Trump is too good at setting the story line and when the Senate fails to convict, Trump will convincingly add “no conviction”, to the other two mantras.

As for impeachment, as you might guess I am fully supportive of Nancy Pelosi’s “one step at a time” approach.   More Americans must first come to believe the Mueller report and it will take time and education for them to do so.  It will take time because at the moment Trump seems to be winning the narrative game.   “No Collusion”, “No Obstruction” is a more powerful message than “here’s a four hundred page tell-all you all must read to believe.”  Yeah, let me check my text messages and emails, respond to some of them and play my favorite on-line game first.  Maybe I’ll have some time for that report tomorrow.

Let’s keep working the various angles to educate Americans as to what the Mueller report really says, which might take a lot of work since so many have been turned off by these endless investigations.  People believe they have heard it all before, because they have heard most of it.

Also, Trump is a master at making the truth murky, so we have to make the obvious clear.  Yes Trump’s actions warrant impeachment, but we can only charge him now (in the House) and must wait for sufficient change in public opinion to make the process worthwhile.  In the mean time let Congressional committees call in Mueller and other key figures mentioned in the report for public hearings.  Let’s see what that brings.  And let’s see how some 14 other investigations go.

There’s no rush.

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The Report is Out but I’m Still Waiting for Mueller to Speak

…..  Because I want him to clarify what some of his statements mean.  The 400+ page report is divided into two sections, one on “conspiracy” and the other on “obstruction of justice”. The Trump narrative reduces the report to “no collusion”, “no obstruction.”  But as with everything Trump, his depiction vacillates between being not quite true, to just plain false.  This is especially true as to the second section on obstruction.

First, on the “collusion” aspect, Mueller does not use that word, but instead “criminal conspiracy”.   The former is not a legal term, despite its constant use by Trump and the media;  the latter is a legal term with several hurdles to overcome in order to indict.  Therefore, one could collude quite a bit without actually committing the crime of conspiracy.

There is plenty of evidence that the Trump team and the Russians played off each other in ways that may not be judged criminal conspiracy, but still were improper, especially for a presidential candidate.  Trump’s team clearly welcomed Russian efforts that would help him, even if they did not exactly “conspire” with them.

Still, Mueller states at the end of the first section that he could not find sufficient evidence to indict………..points for the Trump team.  But of key significance, Mueller does not make the same claim in the second section on the obstruction of justice.  Instead, he states clearly that a lack of indictments here should not be seen as an “exoneration” of the president, listing 10 episodes that could be seen as obstruction.  The AP has summed up this aspect so well I will quote them at length:

“THE FACTS: The special counsel’s 400-plus-page report specifically does not exonerate Trump, leaving open the question of whether the president obstructed justice.

“If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state,” Mueller wrote. “Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment.”

The report identifies 10 instances of possible obstruction by Trump and said he might have “had a motive” to impede the investigation because of what it could find on a variety of personal matters, such as his proposal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

“The evidence does indicate that a thorough FBI investigation would uncover facts about the campaign and the President personally that the President could have understood to be crimes or that would give rise to personal and political concerns,” the report states.

In explaining its decision, Mueller’s team said reaching a conclusion on whether Trump committed crimes would be inappropriate because of a Justice Department legal opinion indicating that a sitting president should not be prosecuted.  It nevertheless left open at least the theoretical possibility that Trump could be charged after he leaves office, noting that its factual investigation was conducted “in order to preserve the evidence when memories were fresh and documentary material were available.”

“Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” the report states.”

I highlighted that section above in blue because it raises a curious, likely confusing point that has not been dwelt upon in the media for the most part.  Mueller seems to be saying that the Justice Department’s rule against indicting a president while still in office prevented him from making a decision on obstruction indictments, as that would exceed his mandate.  But he could preserve evidence for possible future investigations, such as the House is undertaking now.

Mueller has been or will be invited to speak to House committees.  I expect him to attend willingly and figure he will be asked to clarify points I have just raised.  I’m looking forward to it.


P. S.  Michael Smerconish, one of my favorite TV political hosts, did concentrate on this very issue this morning, so if you want to know more about this, go to his website and look for a picture of Trump on the top right:   https://www.smerconish.com/home

Or, if you already have had enough of this, just wait for Mueller to testify in a couple of weeks or so, because he will likely clear up many questions the report raises.

A Preface to the Upcoming Mueller Report

Amidst the usual Trump provoked Loonie Tune “news”,  the Mueller report will finally be made public some time next week according to Bill Barr, Trump’s recently appointed Attorney General.   Barr was Attorney General for the first Bush administration, and has had a sterling legal reputation, so he’s not simply a Trump lackey.  However,  he has voiced and written opinions that favor Trump’s view of presidential power and he has done enough as AG for Trump to make Democrats suspicious of his intentions.

First he put out four pages of what he calls a “bottom line” result of the investigation.  It high lights the fact the report does not announce any new indictments.  Music to Trump’s ears no doubt, fitting well with his long time mantra “no collusion” and “no obstruction”.

However, the “obstruction” issue isn’t as clear cut as that of “collusion”, as Barr indicates by quoting Mueller:  “The Special Counsel states that ‘while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.’ ”  There was evidence on both sides.

Since Mueller did not take a stand on the obstruction issue, Barr stepped in and concluded no charges were warranted.  Whether Barr had a right to do that is an open question.

Bottom line Trump can claim to be innocent, by legal standards.  But that does not mean he did not do many bad things, just not bad enough to meet our high standards for a crime.   Even in terms of collusion, it may be that the Trump team is revealed to be a collection of clowns, made unwitting tools by the Russians.

Not guilty of conspiracy but of being arrogant fools who endangered our national safety and weakened our position as a nation of laws not individual whims. These possibilities are what prompt the Democrats to press for a full release to Congress.

The report will be redacted for at least four legitimate reasons, like national security. The big question is how big that redacted portion will be.  The Democrats think it will be too much, information held back because it will be embarrassing to the president rather than for one of the stated reasons.

In addition to that four page report and a couple of letters added for clarification, Barr has made statements at two congressional hearings that indicate he also intends to take a look at the origins of the Mueller report, because he believes some “spying” had taken place.  Barr also used the term “unauthorized surveillance,” but he held on to the term “spying” when pressed  by a committee member.

It is possible that Barr’s “look” at the origins of the investigation will exonerate the FBI, but at the moment he seems to be offering more support for Trump’s witch hunt accusations.

So, now we wait until the report is released next week.  I hope the above helps you better understand the fireworks likely to erupt.


P. S.  –– If you want to become an expert for yourself on Barr’s four page summary you can find it here.