Well it’s here.
The Mueller report is finally out redacted and available for anyone who’s interested in reading it. While the report did echo some aspects of AG William Barr’s controversial summary released a few weeks back, there were a lot of damning things revealed about President Trump. Despite being let off the hook for his role in the 2016 election and Russia meddling, the first half of this 448-page report still makes the president look bad.
For instance, during a rally President Trump said, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” President Trump said while talking about Hillary Clinton and her email scandal. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
Five hours later, according to the report, a Russian intelligence group launched a cyber attack on the DNC to do the very thing he asked for. Despite this and the handful of aids that have met with Russian officials the counsel still could not establish collusion – which should have been the end of the report.
What’s raising eyebrows of those, including myself, who have read the report are the actions the president took to undermine the investigation into his dealings with Russia and the election. Certainly, what will become the most used quote from the entire investigation will be when former AG Jeff Sessions informed the president about the special counsel investigating him.
“Oh my God. This is terrible,” He said as he slumped in his chair. “This is the end of my Presidency. I’m fucked.”
Que Curb Your Enthusiasm’s theme music.
Seriously, this sounds like a sitcom at this point. President Trump tried on ten different occasions to try and undermine the Mueller investigation and we know this because it’s been well documented in the investigation. Ten different times and while there is a lot to go over, I’m just going to provide a few examples of the president’s attempts to obstruct justice.
First off, you had the whole thing that started it all: the firing of James Comey, the former director of the FBI. It was reported way back when that the president had asked for the director’s loyalty and if he could let go of the investigation into Michael Flynn. Flynn, the former national security adviser, lied to congress about calls he had with Russian officials about recently imposed sanctions on the country.
“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,”
Comey refused and then the president fired him. While President Trump has admitted that he was going to fire the director anyway and it is lawful that the president fired Comey, it does seem suspicious that he fired him after having this conversation with him.
After this, the president then tried to get Sessions to un-recuse himself from the investigation, furious he distanced himself in the beginning. The report shows that this may have been so the president could get Sessions to steer the investigation away from Russian interference and focus it on Clinton and her emails. As the report states:
“There is evidence that at least one purpose of the President’s conduct toward Sessions was to have Sessions assume control over the Russia investigation and supervise it in a way that would restrict its scope”
However, my favorite excerpt from the entire ordeal, and the one I’m going to end on, is the president’s exchanges with former White House Counsel Don Mcgahn. Twice the president attempted Mcgahn to convince then acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that Mueller had conflicts of interest during the investigation and that he should be removed from it.
“McGahn was perturbed by the call and did not intend to act on the request. He and other advisers believed the asserted conflicts were “silly” and “not real,’”
The report went on to say that when the president tried to get him to remove Mueller a second time the president said something to the extent of, “Call Rod, tell Rod that Mueller has conflicts and can’t be the Special Counsel,” and “Mueller has to go,” and “Call me back when you do it.”
Mcgahn tried to resign after this, telling former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus about his decision, (which he ultimately didn’t follow through with.) As the report states:
“Priebus recalled that McGahn said that the President had asked him to “do crazy shit,’”
The president wanted McGahn to do “crazy shit.”
The funniest thing about the Trump/McGahn part of the report is an exchange they had in which the president asked why McGahn was taking notes. The president apparently never had a lawyer that took notes before McGahn, mentioning Roy Cohn who never took notes during his meetings, to which McGahn replied that he was a “real lawyer.”
It’s worth mentioning as many reporters have pointed out, Roy Cohn has been disbarred – back in the 80s.
This is the part where Kramer kicks in the door and the laugh track begins. Every one of these attempts to obstruct justice sounds like an entire season of a show. It has everything in it, an absurd plot line, an absurd main character that gets himself in all sorts of trouble and an absurd amount of people trying to protect him from himself. At the very least it’s a soap opera that tried so hard to be so serious it ended up being funny.
You literally cannot write a better political comedy (sorry Veep).
“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.”
That’s from the same paragraph that Barr used in his summary.
“The president’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the president declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests,”
Saved by the hair of his chinny chin chin, that those around him had enough common sense not to enact his orders. This shows the complete lack of control that the president has in his administration. That’s largely based on the fact that he’s not equipped to manage it properly, his own subordinates have flat out refused to do things he’s asked of them or have waited so long he forgot that he told them to do so.
It’s an insult to President Trump but it’s deserved.
Republicans have to be getting exhausted from defending the president, sooner or later someone has got to say enough is enough. The proof is in the pudding, in the black ink printed on that novel of report. President Trump, whether unknowingly or not, attempted to obstruct justice on Ten (10) separate occasions. My question is how long it will take for house republicans to accept this as fact and start to question the president and his actions.
One doesn’t ask the FBI director at the time to “go easy,” on Michael Flynn without being guilty. One doesn’t try to get the attorney general to un-recuse himself from an investigation without being guilty. One doesn’t try to get White House Counsel Don Mcgahn to fire Robert Mueller due to “conflicts of interest,” without being guilty.
Where does the line get drawn?
Mueller had concluded that while he couldn’t come to a decision on whether or not the president had obstructed justice, he would leave that up to congress. It’s something that AG William Barr neglected to include in his summary of the report.
Until then however, it’s important to note that there is still a lot of information to be digested in this report that hasn’t yet come to light. Give it a few days, a week, a month and let it be processed. While there was a ton of damning evidence against the president in both volumes of this report, it still confirmed that he did not collude with Russia despite some suspect occurrences.
Will the president be punished for his actions in trying to undermine the investigation, I don’t know. As it stands, impeachment still seems like something extremely far off in the distance and there would be a ton of obstacles to jump over and a disinterested public to convince it’s necessary. As per DOJ guidelines, it clearly states that a sitting president cannot be indicted on charges such as obstruction of justice. I will say this.
The president better hope he wins in 2020.