Mueller's flimsy impeachment case against Trump for obstruction

Having utterly failed to find evidence that Donald Trump or his team (or anyone else) colluded with Russia to throw the 2016 election to Hillary Clinton, his critics now focus on nailing the president for obstructing justice.

Special counsel Robert Mueller's report in Volume II went well beyond his mandate to investigate collusion. In addition, he transparently invited Congress to impeach and convict Trump for obstructing justice by trying to stifle the investigation into a crime (that incidentally never occurred). Volume II of the report is the hanging chad, as it were, that radical Democrats now are trying to use to drop the noose around Trump's head.

Never mind that if Mueller couldn't find how Trump's actions violated a host of specific obstruction laws, how is Congress supposed to persuade not just hyper-partisan Republicans but also fair-minded Congress people the Trump is guilty of the more stringent constitutional test: That Trump committed acts of "Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors." If committing perjury wasn't a serious enough felony to convict  Clinton then...well. But that's another story.

Nevertheless, Volume II makes interesting reading. It does confirm that Trump is a blockhead and scumbag of the first order. It demonstrates that the impulsive, unschooled president is as much a danger to himself, as the he is to the nation. But if such subjective tests as ignorance, impulsiveness and other failings were legitimate reasons for removing presidents from office, then more than one would have been fired.

Volume II  also shows how correct even Trump's supporters were when he took office in hoping that he would surround himself with intelligent, courageous and ethical aides. Without them Trump indeed could be deep in the legal swamp.

If level-headed Democrat leadership like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have their way, impeachment won't happen. They know, from the Clinton experience, that it will boomerang to smack them in the face. But they've got a bunch of stubborn, unreasonable tigers by the tails, and who knows where they will drag the leadership.

Additionally, Mueller's Volume II did more than fail to make the case. As Kimberley A. Strassel points out in her Wall Street Journal op-ed, "Mueller’s Report Speaks Volumes: What’s in the special counsel’s findings is almost as revealing as what’s left out." Her brilliant analysis spoke of Volume II thusly:

As for obstruction—Volume II—Attorney General Bill Barr noted Thursday that he disagreed with “some of the special counsel’s legal theories.” Maybe he had in mind Mr. Mueller’s proposition that he was entitled to pursue obstruction questions, even though that was not part of his initial mandate from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Or maybe it was Mr. Mueller’s long description of what a prosecution of the sitting president might look like—even though he acknowledged its legal impossibility. Or it could be Mr. Mueller’s theory that while “fairness” dictates that someone accused of crimes get a “speedy and public trial” to “clear his name,” Mr. Trump deserves no such courtesy with regard to the 200 pages of accusations Mr. Mueller lodges against him.

That was Mr. Mueller’s James Comey moment. Remember the July 2016 press conference in which the FBI director berated Hillary Clinton even as he didn’t bring charges? It was a firing offense. Here’s Mr. Mueller engaging in the same practice—only on a more inappropriate scale. At least this time the attorney general tried to clean up the mess by declaring he would not bring obstruction charges. Mr. Barr noted Thursday that we do not engage in grand-jury proceedings and probes with the purpose of generating innuendo.

That should end it, but it won't. The fight already has amped up over the integrity, impartiality and competence of Mueller and Attorney General Bill Barr. As for me, as I tried to plow through the 448-page report, it struck me that either the Mueller team was so meticulous and conscientious as to rule out any possible objection to his conclusion that no crime could be proven. Or  that the Mueller and his  was so picayune and biased that they tried  to go to any length to hang Trump.

Such is the nature of today's discourse.

dennis@dennisbyrne.net

www.dennisbyrne.net 

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  • Yep! It's all making us look like a bunch of whining losers. Trump/Mueller nationally. Locally we have that goof Kim Foxx and . who ever the hell it is that's investigating her. .If incompetence and stupidity were enough to toss somebody out of office, we would be might short in the leadership department ,locally and Nationally.

  • My friend, aren't you in the least concerned about all those Russian contacts and Trump's cozying up Mr. Putin and other autocrats?
    And his efforts to obstruct the investigation? This is more than "ignorance" or "impulsiveness". You call him a "blockhead" and a "scumbag" ---I agree---but he is worse than that. He is a pathological liar and a sociopath without a moral compass or a shred of patriotism.
    Evil to the core. And I suspect, you know it too well.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    You've got him pegged here. The lying struck me when I read Bob Woodward's "Fear" at the end of last year. If not obstruction of justice, surely the report's rife with material for perjury charges by the dozen? And as for obstruction, I'd say even your "cozying up" standard qualifies -- like attempted murder, attempted obstruction of justice is itself a crime, regardless of "success."

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    Dennis mentions the perjury charge in the Clinton impeachment, but Clinton was also charged with obstruction. Suppose the same standard that Republicans used to judge obstruction were applied to Trump. Wouldn't he be impeached?

    Something tells me Republicans have a different standard today, as do Democrats. It's a shame that we get partisan double standards as opposed to an objective assessnent of whether the obstruction is sufficient to merit impeachment.

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    Here's the legal definition of obstruction to help us decide whether Trump engaged in any prohibited activities:

    The crime or act of willfully interfering with the process of justice and law especially by influencing, threatening, harming, or impeding a witness, potential witness, juror, or judicial or legal officer or by furnishing false information in or otherwise impeding an investigation or legal process.

  • In reply to PDF56:

    I'm not sure where your definition comes from, since there are actually several obstruction of justice statutes in Title 18. At page 9 of Vol. 2 of the Mueller report, the statutes considered are summarized as follows:
    "Three basic elements are common to most of the relevant obstruction statutes: (1) an obstructive act; (2) a nexus between the obstructive act and an official proceeding; and (3) a corrupt intent. See, e.g., 18 U.S.C. §§ 1503, 1505, 1512(c)(2). We describe those elements as they have been interpreted by the courts. We then discuss a more specific statute aimed at witness tampering, see 18 U.S.C. § 1512(b), and describe the requirements for attempted offenses and endeavors to obstruct justice, see 18 U.S.C. §§ 1503, 1512(c)(2)."

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to jnorto:

    When Clinton was impeached for obstruction and perjury, here is the evidence the House GOP offered for obstruction in the Jones case:

    • encouraging Lewinsky to file a false affidavit
    • encouraging Lewinsky to give false testimony if and when she was called to testify
    • concealing gifts he had given to Lewinsky that had been subpoenaed
    • attempting to secure a job for Lewinsky to influence her testimony
    • permitting his lawyer to make false statements characterizing Lewinsky's affidavit
    • attempting to tamper with the possible testimony of his secretary Betty Curie
    • making false and misleading statements to potential grand jury witnesses

    McGhan said under oath that Trump asked him to lie about Trump's order to fire Mueller. That would seem to qualify under the GOP standard for obstruction in 1998.

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