Robert Mueller’s report illuminated one issue: Donald Trump repeatedly obstructed justice and abused the power he was given. But, don’t count on impeachment.
Discourse swirls around the 448-page (heavily redacted) Mueller report, which stopped short of claiming that Trump’s campaign was authored in Russia. However, the man on the name of the report, Robert Mueller, doesn’t exactly say that he believes an obstruction of justice sits within the pages, but it certainly seems very much like it, writing, “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 writes. “We are unable to reach such a judgment.”
The report does make a few things clear. The Russian government did attempt to help Trump win, the Trump campaign was eager to benefit from hacks aimed at his opponents, and that the President attempted numerous times to halt the FBI’s investigation. A couple of examples attest to this, whether it be (via Mueller) that Trump “repeatedly” asked (the then National Security Adviser) Michael Flynn to “find” tens of thousands of emails Hillary Clinton had deleted. Or how Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort gave a Russian contact internal polling data and “stressed a focus on Midwestern states.” The volume regarding obstruction of justice matters illustrates numerous episodes of Donald Trump’s behavior, from (FBI Director) James Comey’s firing to his efforts to intimidate (ex-Trump lawyer) Michael Cohen.
What we have is an interesting, albeit limited shrug. While Mueller has “determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment” regarding whether Trump is guilty of criminal obstruction of justice, it is worth mentioning that impeachment is a political investigation, not a criminal one. It is up to Congress to decide what constitutes a bootable offense, Mueller has not the power to initiate it. Simply put, the report is a sales pitch.
In it, there are seven key moments that Mueller highlighted, pointing toward an obstruction of justice.
- Trump insisted that he doubted that Russia was behind the hacking of Democrats’ emails, and denied having any business in Russia even though his company was trying to build a skyscraper in Moscow.
- Trump unsuccessfully tried to get FBI Director James Comey to drop an investigation into Michael Flynn.
- Trump tried several times to get Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reverse his oversight of the Russia investigation or limit the probe.
- Trump fired Comey from the FBI director job.
- Trump directed McGahn to have Mueller himself fired (but ultimately failed).
- Trump tried to prevent the disclosure of emails revealing his son’s meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer.
- Trump and his legal team urged key figures in the probe (like Paul Manafort) not to “flip,” and attacked those who did (e.g., Michael Cohen).
The subtext of the evidence, and especially Mueller’s it-is-but-it-isn’t motif, is to push Congressional investigation into the material. In the tail of the piece, he writes, “The protection of the criminal justice system from corrupt acts by any person — including the President — accords with the fundamental principle of our government that ‘no person in this country is so high that he is above the law.’”
However, the unreality of 2019 will see that not come to pass. In a more stable (even responsible) climate, the machinations of impeachment would have commenced when it became clear that the President was attempting to influence the investigation into himself. But, the insanity of today aside, the redacted remnants of the Mueller report clearly highlight abuse of power in order to save himself. It should not be tolerated, and certainly would not be in any other date on the calendar.
How come? 2020 is an election year. The Republicans own the Senate. If the House moves to impeach, it will probably be shut down (through sheer majority) so the run-up to the election will be solely painted in a particular hue, the victimization of Donald Trump. It’s a zero-sum equation. You either (fail to) impeach Trump and spent the entirety of the campaign talking about him, or you let him off the hook and hope that the electorate doesn’t forget this moment. Donald Trump is ostensibly the Psychomagnotheric Slime of Ghostbusters 2 fame. A force running underneath New York City that feeds on hate and avarice. He wants you to hit him, and clearly one should, but not like this.
The report, despite not giving us what we wanted, a naked exposure of the Emperor sans clothes but with an Ushanka hat and a full chest tattoo that says “Don 4 Vlad 5eva,” is shocking. It may have absolved Trump of the highest realms of treason, but this investigation garnered indictments of 34 people and convictions or guilty pleas from seven. Trump’s willingness to accept Russian hackers and other means to disrupt the investigation off-course should be the salient point. As it is recorded in the report, Trump said of Mueller’s appointment to head the investigation: “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m fucked.”
As it stands, the Democrats are not looking to impeach. So, Donald’s sweariest fears didn’t come to be. We must rely on our citizenry to carry it out in 2020.