Mueller’s Report Is A Referral For Impeachment

Last week, special counsel Robert Mueller delivered the most damaging indictment of a current president’s conduct since Watergate prosecutor Leon Jaworski established a “road map” for the impeachment of former President Richard Nixon in 1974. No, Mueller did not find evidence “beyond a reasonable doubt” to charge President Donald Trump and his operatives with engaging in a criminal conspiracy to rig the 2016 general election — a finding that would have required not only a shared purpose but also a meeting of the minds. His report did find, however, that Russia interfered massively with our supposedly free and fair election and that the Trump campaign welcomed and cheered those hostile acts. Mueller’s inquiry also found oodles of evidence indicating that Trump engaged in obstruction of justice — conduct calculated to hamstring a federal investigation. Now, the U.S. Congress has the solemn duty to reckon with the evidence that has been put on the table.

Through a series of indictments and outstanding investigative reporting long before Mueller’s (partially redacted) report became public, we already knew a great deal about the Kremlin’s efforts to elect Trump. We learned that the two camps were in regular contact, with at least 28 meetings and 100 contacts between the Trump campaign and transition team and Russian operatives. We also knew that many of the president’s closest confidants and associates, including his former national security adviser, campaign chairman, deputy campaign chairman, personal lawyer and “fixer” and foreign policy campaign adviser, were convicted of or pleaded guilty to a range of crimes.

The sworn testimony that Mueller and his team compiled from insiders corroborated all of the above. It also resoundingly disproved Trump’s rallying cries of “no collusion.” Collusion, as Mueller’s report takes pains to emphasize, has no legal definition and is not a federal crime — Mueller rather sought evidence of criminal conspiracy, or coordination with Russia through some active or passive agreement. He did find a wide range of conduct that included Trump encouraging the hacking of Hillary Clinton’s email servers (which Russians carried out just hours after Trump suggested they do so), campaign manager Paul Manafort regularly providing polling information to a Russian national and Donald Trump, Jr. arranging a meeting with the express purpose of obtaining “dirt” on Clinton. In sum, Mueller found the Trump team “expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts.” The fact that these efforts by the Trump campaign did not technically qualify as criminal activity does not mean that the president did not actively threaten the integrity of the American legal and political system.

In addition, the president’s efforts to obstruct justice were comprehensive and wide-ranging. Mueller investigated a total of 10 specific episodes for obstruction of justice, and according to Lawfare (a law and national security blog produced in cooperation with the Brookings Institution), several of those activities met all of the statutory elements of criminal obstruction of justice: an obstructive act, a nexus between the act and an official proceeding and corrupt intent. Notably, Trump pressured former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to “un-recuse” himself from the probe, dismissed former FBI director James Comey ostensibly due to the investigation and tried to force White House counsel Don McGahn to fire Mueller.

Recall that Attorney General William Barr wrote in his four-page summary of the report that Mueller declined to pass judgment on whether the president obstructed justice because evidence existed on both sides of the case. His letter failed to mention that Mueller’s decision critically rested upon the Department of Justice policy that a sitting president cannot be indicted and that the special counsel knew from the get-go that he would not accuse the president of obstruction of justice. If the evidence had warranted giving the president a clean bill of health, the special counsel would have said so — the report explicitly noted that if Mueller and his team “had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state.” The fact that Mueller and his team did not so state indicates that the president was decidedly not exonerated. Now that the full report has been released, we know that Barr’s letter was the work of a deeply misleading spin doctor. The facts paint Trump as a deeply unethical man with little regard for the rule of law.

Now, the House of Representatives must decide what to do with these facts. If it wants to confront the substance of the report, it will introduce a resolution to begin an impeachment inquiry. An impeachment battle will never be politically risk-free, but it should be a risk our members of Congress should be willing to take — even a formal censure would not hold accountable a president who cannot be shamed. The special counsel did not have a pathway to hold Trump to justice, but Congress does. I hope they take it, for no other action can fully acknowledge the seriousness of this moment. What if the next president obstructs justice only six times?

  • Marlowe.38

    You are always predictable. A parrot of the left/liberal line.

    • TD

      Donald Trump has exceeded 10,000 false statements and tweets, a record no president will ever break.

      Ms. Wilcox, on the other hand, is one of the best commentators on current events. If you do not like her articles I suggest you go back to Fox news.

      • Marlowe.38

        No doubt Trump is an egotistical buffoon who is given to exaggeration and hyperbole. As an orator he is no Adlai Stevenson or Franklin Roosevelt. Although he was not my first choice, I have no doubt that we are better off than we would have been with Hillary. Things are going better than I expected.

        As for false statements, Trump is little league compared to Hillary and I don’t think we need to worry about him stealing the White House furniture or smashing computers. I will over look your 10,000 figure as I do some of Trump’s exaggerations.

        As for Fox News, it is a good idea to watch Fox News because you get information there that MSNBC, CNN and NPR won’t mention. Might also help to read Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams or find them on YouTube.

        What I hear out of the Democratic candidates is a contest to see who can propose the most schemes to buy votes with tax dollars and increase the size of government.

        Amanda’s columns are undistinguished because they do not acknowledge any merit in what has been by many standards a successful administration despite constant partisan sniping and obstructionism. Her mindset is redundant throughout the media and academia. In those quarters it is not cool to be conservative. Deviation will get you ostracized.

        • TD

          Great success?
          Republicans were once noted for balanced budgets, Trump has the largest deficits by far as a choice to give tax cuts to the Forbes 400 and the Fortune 500. taking after “W”. All passed by a Republican controlled congress.

          Republican were once proud supporters of NATO and against the Russians. Now Putin is to believed, and the CIA and FBI are not, and our allies in Europe wonder of they can trust us.
          North Korea has made a fool of the president, while divorcing us from South Korea and Japan, our allies who wonder if they can trust us.
          Neo Naziism and plain old right wing extremism is on the rise, supported by the lack of serious condemnation by the president. We lost 300,000 brave troops to defeat the Nazis, it would be good if the president could honor them by loudly and directly condemning the Nazis.
          Even with a Republican controlled congress for two years the Southern boarder is a mess, so much for the great negotiator.
          What he did to Jeff Session and many of this top administration officials (all conservatives) is a disgrace.
          He allied with Saudi Arabia, a major sponsor fo terrorism in the world.
          Just how should we ” acknowledge any merit in what has been by many standards a successful administration”. Please name a few, except those handed to him by Mich McConnell

          • Marlowe.38

            You make some good points, particularly regarding the budget and Saudi Arabia. But as for the border and the deficit, I have trouble imagining how things would have been better with Hillary. Same re North Korea.

            It has been a long time since I have found a politician, particularly a presidential candidate I admired. The polarization and incivility have not helped. I think it started with our unwise involvement in Vietnam. I have trouble seeing how it turns around. Depressing.

          • Marlowe.38

            “Please name a few,…”

            The economy, low unemployment, consumer confidence, withdrawal from bad trade agreements..

            What do you recommend for the border. Do you like the influx ?

            What is your solution for North Korea?

            Who is your candidate for president?

          • TD

            The Economy
            After 7 years of grown under Obama with unemployment under 5% Trump decided that massive deficit spending (because of his tax cut) for a fiscal stimulus was in order. When did this become a conservative or Republican position? History will not find this as a smart idea, unless your goal is to bankrupt the government.

            The Boarder

            The boarder situation has gotten much worse in the last 3 year, two of them with the Republicans in complete control of the government, The solution is to work with congress – compromise – and do something. Sending more army troops will not solve the problem. Most Americans support DACA.

            North Korea

            Clinton had a potential agreement and solution to NK problem, then Bush 43 and the neocons decided to stop the the negotiations and invade Iraq. Trump has, after saying the invasion of Iraq was a huge mistake, hired the same people (Bolton etc.) to run his foreign policy.

            Withdrawal from “bad trade agreements”
            Nafta2 was has not been ratified by the Republican controlled Senate. Still using Nafta1 negotiated by Bush 41.

            Now Trump is in a unilateral contest with China. Perhaps he should not been so quick to throw out the Pan Pacific agreement. If he was still negotiating for a better deal the US would have Asian and European allies in the contest with China. Again listening to Bush 43 foreign policy advisors, which did not work to well the first time around.

            Presidential candidate
            Hoping the Republicans have a different candidate, have no idea who the Democrat party will endorse. Will not vote for Trump.

          • Marlowe.38

            https://townhall.com/columnists/alfredoortiz/2019/05/12/contrary-to-democrat-talking-point-the-economy-is-working-for-everyone-n2546152?utm_source=thdaily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=nl&newsletterad=05/12/2019&bcid=0334819eb05b1a81fb4a339aa6cbefed&recip=23657492

            Sorry to take the easy way out by citing an article.

            You have done a good job of marshaling information and presenting your positions. Thanks for being civil, unlike many posters.

            I think it is a stretch at this point to say that the present economic situation is just a continuation of Obama’s policies. Trump has made changes and many things are better than would have been likely without change.

            There are a lot of claims and a lot is up in the air. The ultimate resolution will be the next election.

          • TD

            I do not believe that this economy is simply a continuation
            of Obama’s economy. I believe it is rather a result of huge deficit spending stimulating an already growing economy with unemployment below 5%.
            US Deficits by year.
            2009 was the worse of the Bush/Cheney “great recession”. Obama’s first budget (2010-2012, the 2009 budget was passed in October 2008 when Bush was President) was a stimulus to get us out of the worst economy since Hover.
            2008 $458 in Billions
            2009 $1,413
            2010 $1,294
            2011 $ 1,295
            2012 $1,087
            2013 $679 Sequester starts Republicans control House
            2014 $485
            2015 $438 First budget with Republican control of Congress
            2016 $585
            2017 $665
            2018 $779 First budget with Republican control of Government
            Projected budget deficit for this year is $1.092 billion. Since the Republicans took over the government the deficit has grown dramatically.
            BTW, the budget year starts in October, thus the results of the
            sequester shows up in 2013, it was in line with the deficit projected from the
            budget Obama submitted for that year.
            Since the Republicans took over all of congress and now the presidency
            the deficit has doubled. As Keynes pointed out, deficit spending will drive the economy. The last time the US did this was Johnson/Nixon and that ended up with huge inflation and then stagflation, with rising unemployment and interest rates in double digits. We may not find out by 2020, but
            probably by 2025 if the deficits continue this way

  • TD

    500 federal prosecutors agree with you Amanda!

  • Jake Casey

    Two Years,19 lawyers, 40 FBI agents, 25 million dollars and no collusion discovered. Clinton’s campaign paid for a fake dossier that was used to get as illegal FISA warrant then to spy on the Trump campaign. Clinton actually destroyed evidence. Wake up!

    • TD

      Maybe you should read the report
      Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort: Sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for financial crimes
      Trump confidant Roger Stone: Charged with lying to Congress
      Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn: Pleaded guilty to lying to investigators
      Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates: Pleaded guilty to lying to investigators
      Former Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen: Pleaded guilty to tax and bank charges, campaign finance violations and lying to Congress
      Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos: Served 12 days in prison for lying to investigators
      17 others charged.

      President not charge with obstruction because Office of Legal Council says a sitting president cannot be charged.

      It is available at https://www.justice.gov/storage/report.pdf. Try reading it!

      • Jake Casey

        Not anything having to do with Trump CONSPIRING WITH RUSSIA. It didn’t happen or he would have been charged. Intellectual dishonesty and ignorance by the left. Liberal deep state actors illegally spied on a presidential campaign. Clinton has been taking money from foreign adversaries for years. What’s up with that? Her campaign paid for the fake story about Trump that was used TO GET FISA WARRANTS. That’s illegal? You people are deranged and are doing just what Putin wanted by continuing to go with this fake crap.

        • TD

          He was not charged – true – the report says the President not charged with obstruction because Office of Legal Council says a sitting president cannot be charged, although 10 instances of possible obstruction listed.

          • Jake Casey

            The report and Barr said the absence of charges had NOTHING TO DO with the restriction of indicting a sitting president. That was expressed in testimony repeatedly. Sorry, get over is Trump is President.

        • TD

          Perhaps you should read the last 75 pages – as Tump’s lawyer argues that the president can not be impeached, and the report argues the opposite. It is up to Barr, who apparently was selected by Trump for his views on this issue. 900 prosecutors say that Trump’s actions were obstruction.

    • TD

      Trump cost US taxpayers $102,000,000 on his golf outings.

      Thus far, the amount of taxpayer money Trump has spent on his golf
      totals equals 255 times the presidential salary that he promised not to
      take, as well as three times the cost of special counsel Robert
      Mueller’s investigation. And the president has given no indication he
      intends to slow down.

  • Max Holcher

    Amanda – you are repeating innuendo and preferential opinion – not facts directly supporting decisively your conclusions..
    Max Holcher ’67

    • TD

      The following is not innuendo or an Opinion
      The report says:

      President not charge with obstruction because Office of Legal Council says a sitting president cannot be charged, although 10 instances of possible obstruction listed.

      Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort: Sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for financial crimes.

      Trump confidant Roger Stone: Charged with lying to Congress

      Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn: Pleaded guilty to lying to investigators.

      Trump campaign aide Rick Gates: Pleaded guilty to lying to investigators

      Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen: Pleaded guilty to tax and bank
      charges, campaign finance violations and lying to Congress

      Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos: Served 12 days in prison for lying to investigators

      17 others charged, mostly Russians

      The other day it was relieved in a filing attached to his sentencing memorandum, made
      public late Thursday, federal prosecutors said Michael Flynn “informed
      the government of multiple instances … where either he or his
      attorneys received communications from persons connected to the
      Administration or Congress that could have affected both his willingness
      to cooperate and the completeness of that cooperation.”
      Flynn, a former national security advisor, not only told investigators about
      these communications but also provided the special counsel’s office with
      a voicemail of one instance.