Ethics Observations On Reactions To The Mueller Report, Continued: Quotes

1. The most revealing quote is the New York Times headline I’m looking at, approximately the same size as the one announcing that the Titanic had sunk: “Mueller Report Lays Out Russian Contacts And Trump’s Frantic Effort To Foil Inquiry.” What it reveals is that the New York Times has no interest in objective reporting on this matter, and is still in the mode it announced during the campaign: it sees its job as not to report the news, but to take down Donald Trump. The headline, as well as the cherry-picked excerpts from the 400 page report, are calculated to mislead the public and impede the President’s ability to govern. “Contacts” are not collusion or conspiracy, as the report itself showed. Meeting with Russians is neither illegal nor unusual. “Frantic” is a subjective characterization that does not belong in a headline, and “foil” is misleading. The President wanted the investigation to end, as it made doing his job difficult (as it was intended to do), and he wanted to “foil” its illicit (and obvious) objective of carrying out the Democratic Party’s and the mainstream media’s attempted coup.

The Times, the Post and the rest know that most citizens won’t read the report and couldn’t understand it if they tried, so they are pushing the same false and misleading narrative, an abuse of the news media’s critical role, to see if, somehow, they can still take “get” Donald Trump.

2. Andrew McCarthy, who has been an invaluable analyst throughout this fiasco, clarified the “obstruction of justice” controversy yesterday, and William Barr’s comments on them. McCarthy’s quote:

The attorney general stated that the special counsel evaluated ten incidents with an eye toward whether they amounted to an obstruction offense. Barr elaborated that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein disagreed with Mueller on whether these incidents even could have amounted to obstruction as a matter of law…. Barr was not saying that Mueller found one or more of these incidents to constitute obstruction; Mueller was saying that the incidents involved actions that could theoretically have amounted to obstruction.

A concrete example may make this easier to grasp: the firing of FBI director James Comey. Before a prosecutor considered evidence regarding that incident, there would be a preliminary question: Could the president’s dismissal of an FBI director amount to an obstruction offense as a matter of law? If prosecutors were to decide that, even if the evidence showed corrupt intent on the part of the president, a president’s firing of the FBI director cannot constitutionally amount to an obstruction crime, then the prosecutors would not bother to investigate and make an assessment of the evidence.

What Barr is saying is that he and Mueller did not agree, with respect to all ten incidents, on whether the incident could legally amount to obstruction. What the attorney general therefore did was assume, for argument’s sake, that Mueller was correct on the law (i.e., that the incident could theoretically amount to obstruction), and then move on to the second phase of the analysis: Assuming this could be an obstruction offense as a matter of law, could we prove obstruction as a matter of fact? This requires an assessment of whether the evidence of each element of an obstruction offense – most significantly, corrupt intent – could be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. That is why Barr laid out the facts that the president could have shut down the investigation but did not; that he could have asserted executive privilege to withhold information from the investigation, but instead made numerous witnesses and well over a million documents available to the special counsel; and that – reportedly according to Mueller – the president sincerely felt frustrated that the investigation was unfairly undermining his presidency. The point is that these facts so cut against the idea of corruptly impeding an investigation that it is inconceivable the prosecutor could prove an obstruction case beyond a reasonable doubt.

What you keep reading and hearing the bitter-enders say is that Trump wanted to obstruct the investigation,  but his staff stopped him. Well, wanting to do something isn’t a crime or even unethical, and staffs and advisors saying “no” is what good staffs and advisors do.

3. “Many of us do think the President is unfit for office, but unless that’s a bipartisan conclusion, an impeachment would be doomed to failure.” This came from, incredibly, chief drumbeater for collusion Adam Schiff, who was quoted in “Democrats Draw Closer to a Dicey Question: Whether to Impeach Trump,” co-written by that unbiased,  trustworthy pro who thinks that “Edelweiss” is a Nazi anthem and that the fact that it was playing in the White House is sinister, just in case you wonder about the culture in which inflammatory anti-Trump headlines are concocted.

Wait, hasn’t Schiff said, on multiple occasions, that he has proof the the President colluded with Russia and obstructed justice? Now the justification for impeachment is that he thinks that Trump is “unfit to be President.” Ethics Alarms published nearly a hundred posts making the argument that Donald Trump was unfit to be President, but that issue was settled by the voters, who disagreed. According to Democratic norms, a phrase “the resistance” claims to love, what the opposing party is supposed to do and obligated to do is accept the results of the election, cooperate with the orderly transfer of power, continue to give the office of the President and its occupant an opportunity to lead and govern, and to not work to undermine the President’s authority. The Mueller investigation and the hype it received defied all of this. Using the conviction that the President shouldn’t have been elected to justify an all-out effort to remove him from office is undemocratic and unconstitutional.

4. I have lost what I think may be the most disturbing quote of all. David Gergen, the former Reagan and Clinton aide, said on one of the networks yesterday that although the Mueller report didn’t find impeachable offenses, it was still a scandal. I had a link to the exact quote, and can’t find it. If someone can, please send it in the comments.

This is an admission of the “Big Lie” campaign against President Trump. There was never any evidence or reason to believe that the he had conspired with Russia to steal the election, but Hillary Clinton and the Democrats said that this was true to create a scandal, doubt and distrust. The mission was accomplished, you see; that’s what Gergen is saying. That’s how a Big Lie work: the necessity of proving them false wounds the target of the lie.

5. There are so many truly outrageous quotes from the corrupt and the deranged that picking out the worst is beyond me. I guess I’ll go with Symone Sanders, who is a CNN host despite quotes like this demonstrating her competence and intellectual capabilities:

“This is not the justice system. This is not the justice system. The justice system, honestly, the things that were laid out, Donald Trump would be in handcuffs right now. This is an enforcement system. This is enforcement system. It’s not justice.”

Of course, the justice system that Sanders and her ideological clones would endorse is one that places people in prison without evidence, due process or anything but the enmity of progressives. Got it.

6. I suppose if I wanted to be kind and omit the uninformed hysterics of fools like Sanders, I could substitute the comments, from the same horrible CNN panel yesterday hosted by Jake Tapper, by bitter old Watergate felon John Dean:

Well, Jake, what I did is I looked on my shelf for the Watergate — Senate Watergate Committee report. I looked at the Iran/Contra report. I also looked at the — the Ken Starr report which is too big to bring to the set here. It’s four volumes, over 2,000 words and I’ve got to tell you. I’ve read all of those and in 400 words, Mr. — this report from the special counsel is more damning than all those reports about a president. This is really a devastating report

Sure, it’s just an opinion, but Dean’s claim is designed to deceive. In Watergate, there was a crime committed under the auspices of the White House. The President (and Dean, among others) oversaw a massive cover-up involving hush money. Clinton perjured himself as President, hid evidence and silenced witnesses, as well as lying directly to the American people. Clinton did have sex with that woman.

Trump did not collude with the Russians. There was no cover-up, because there was no crime.

More from this disbarred lawyer:

You know, and I think we’ve also lost some of the context of what’s going on here. This was a campaign that Trump has all but admitted was not a serious presidential campaign. It was a branding under taking and they wanted all the help they could get from wherever they could get, and it’s clear they got a lot from the Russians. An unusual amount. Does it rise to the level of a criminal conspiracy? Apparently not, at least with the evidence that’s available. Not everybody was willing to talk about everything that was available. A lot of messages were encrypted. They couldn’t get to them and as far as the obstruction goes, this is clear obstruction, Jake. It — the obstruction statute is an endeavor statute, as well as actual overt action, but just — if you endeavor to obstruct and there is much evidence here of endeavor, you violated the obstruction statue.

How can any one (Jake? Are you paying attention?) allow such a statement to pass without a fact check and rebuttal?  We know Trump’s campaign started out as a stunt, but it wasn’t a stunt once he was nominated. What presidential candidate doesn’t want all the help he can get? It wasn’t Donald Trump’s job to stop Russian activities, it was Barack Obama’s. Trump wasn’t President. He was glad that the public learned about the DNC’s perfidy and the unethical machinations of the Clintons, and so what? I was also glad, no matter how the leaks came about, because they were true.

Being glad when illicit forces help your campaign may show a less than admirable character, but it’s no crime. What’s “an unusual amount” mean? Nobody has shown that the Russian operations had any affect on the election at all. “At least with the evidence available” is just a smear. “With the evidence available,” John Dean’s can’t be proven to be a child molester. You can’t let a panelist get away with that kind of junk.

Saying there is “clear obstruction” cannot be justified, by anyone, and Barr and McCarthy, who have their law licenses, made it clear why. Again: the President could have shut down the investigation but did not;  he could have asserted executive privilege to withhold information from the investigation, but did not. He  made numerous witnesses and well over a million documents available to the special counsel. All of this contrasts sharply with the conduct of both Nixon and Clinton, who used every legal maneuver they could think of to interfere with the investigations of their crimes.

More to come, I’m sure…

 

 

21 thoughts on “Ethics Observations On Reactions To The Mueller Report, Continued: Quotes

    • I’m going to repeat this in the warm-up, but among the unethical quotes are the ones I haven’t received from Charles and others. Sparty is in a different category–she’s around, and while she jumped the shark on Kavanaugh, she’s still around and thinking. The rest, however, should have the courage, honesty and integrity to come here and say, “I was wrong.” Although I didn’t think there was much of a chance that I would have to, since the “Trump was conspiring with Putin to steal the election” was absurd on its face, but I was certainly prepared to write a post that recanted my skepticism and admit that the “Trump is a traitorous agent of Hell” mob was right after all. Foolishly, I guess, I expected The Ethics Alarms Resistance to show similar good faith.

  1. I think the media and the left’s response to the Mueller Report can be summarized as “Show me the big orange man and I’ll show you innumerable crimes.”

  2. 1. NYT headline

    What it reveals is that the New York Times has no interest in objective reporting on this matter, and is still in the mode it announced during the campaign: it sees its job as not to report the news, but to take down Donald Trump.

    At this point, I think it’s a little late to change, don’t you think? They’ve invested 2.5 years in declaring Trump not only unfit for office, but a criminal mastermind engaged in a traitorous conspiracy.

    How do you get from there to “Oops, the Mueller report shows we were wrong” and still retain your business? The people who subscribe to the Times are almost all Leftists or people in the information dissemination business like journalists and bloggers — 90% of whom are also on the Left.

    Do do you suppose, if the Times did a mea culpa, that those people who always had doubts would subscribe in sufficient numbers to replace those who leave in protest of the Times’ abandonment of the narrative they hold so dear, its like a life ring on the Titanic? I don’t think the Times would believe that.

    So in my view, even if they feel like they should submit to reality, the practical fact is that they cannot do so and retain their business. So they must continue or die, and lose any chance at their ultimate goal — removing Trump from office by any means.

    The Washington Post is virtually in the same boat.

    2. Andrew McCarthy

    McCarthy is my go-to analyst for all legal matters of this sort. He has a very clear mind and looks at both sides, although he is unquestionably a conservative by disposition. But there’s nothing wrong with that, just like there’s nothing wrong with a journalist who is liberal by disposition (i.e. Tim Russert) and can take an honest look at both sides.

    What you keep reading and hearing the bitter-enders say is that Trump wanted to obstruct the investigation, but his staff stopped him. Well, wanting to do something isn’t a crime or even unethical, and staffs and advisors saying “no” is what good staffs and advisors do.

    This is yet more of the Left’s movement toward thought crime, and the ambiguation of the First Amendment to prohibit what is not explicitly allowed.

    Also, you know Trump is incapable of having anything but sycophants working for him. The Left and media have been telling us this authoritatively for 2.5 years.

    3. Adam Schiff

    Wait, hasn’t Schiff said, on multiple occasions, that he has proof the the President colluded with Russia and obstructed justice?

    Yes, he has. And he clearly lied, or dissembled. But that’s okay, because it’s all in the service of the greater good, which is Orange Man Bad, must be removed at any cost to the country.

    But I have a question: Can we conclude from this investigation that the entire premise that generated the investigation was, as Trump claimed all along, a hoax? After all, the intelligence community concluded before Trump took office that the Russians attempted to interfere with the election, which should have exactly zero people with an IQ greater than room temperature reaching for their smelling salts.

    This investigation was, as far as we can tell, based purely on evidence that was risible on its face. Yet somehow, people got a FISA judge to issue a warrant to (spy, surveil, whatever your bias requires) on his campaign adviser that got renewed repeatedly, despite ever-increasing doubts about its basis in fact.

    That sounds like a hoax to me. Convince me otherwise, I’m willing.

    5. Symone Sanders

    Well, she’s clearly unqualified to comment on anything. Not only are her ethics alarms broken, but her ability to understand the English language and possess even a layman’s understanding of the law have been compromised by her hatred of Donald Trump.

    That’s quite possibly the most incoherent and idiotic bit of Authentic Frontier Gibberish that has ever before assailed my hearing. I wish I could un-hear it for both our sakes.

    6. John Dean

    I’m sorry, I can’t take him seriously at all, so nothing he says matters one iota. Embarrassing him with facts is like shooting fish in a really, really small barrel.

      • One tiny ray of light. I got this text today from one of my most Trump-deranged friends:

        those sound kind of silly to call obstruction I think

        That’s the first time any of my crazed friends has ever said a single skeptical word about the collusion/obstruction hoax. Although I suppose it’s only a half-ray of light, because he did follow up with this:

        but do you admit a president who throws temper tantrums is unfit

        I briefly considered making a retort about Bill Clinton’s notoriously out-of-control temper but decided to save my breath.

          • Funny you should mention it. After I wrote that line about Clinton, I remembered that i once read a vivid description of Ike’s firing of General Fredendall, who had botched the North African campaign. Among other things, Fredendall had diverted a large number of the Army’s engineers to blast a tunnel into the mountains to form bombproof shelter for his headquarters. Ike took one look and exploded. He began by screaming that Fredendall a “goddamned fucking yellow-belly” (or similar words of the same import), thundered that Fredenthal should be court-martialed for cowardice and shot, and after continuing in that vein for several minutes, fired him. I went flipping through my books and searching the internet trying to find the passage but couldn’t.

            I did find this anecdote about Warren G Harding, though, another president with an undeserved reputation for sunny geniality:

            A White House visitor recalled an incident in 1923 when he let himself into the president’s office only to see Harding choking a man against a wall. The victim was gasping for breath, waving his arms, while Harding raged at him. “You yellow rat!” Harding screamed. “You double-crossing bastard. If I ever… ”—at which point Harding noticed his visitor. Taken aback, he loosened his grip on the man who, eyes ablaze, staggered from the room. “You have an appointment,” Harding said to his visitor. “Come into the next room.”

            The official Harding was choking was Charles Forbes. Forbes, after being appointed as director of the Veterans Bureau, stole $2 million from it.

  3. Is it not important that Mueller did not reach a conclusion about obstruction and passed that decision to Barr? Is this fact not an indication that a prosecutor could not prove an obstruction case beyond a reasonable doubt? (Sorry for the double negative)

    Also is in not an indication that Mueller at least partially failed at his mandate? Who hires an “idependent” consultant to conduct a detailed investigation and produce a full report yet not come to a conclusion? Should the AG or FBI not get a rebate?

    Seems to me that Mueller is so inside the Beltway that he dare not make a conclusion for fear of him or his firm losing out on a next big mandate? Is this unfair of me?

    My national newspaper of record also had an article using the frantic word. Drove me nuts. Trump has a temper, no doubt but frantic is so loaded.

    And finally it is now clear after the substantially full release that Mueller found/reported nothing that was not already leaked or otherwise public yet Congress will hammer away for at least another election cycle. What a waste.

  4. What you keep reading and hearing the bitter-enders say is that Trump wanted to obstruct the investigation, but his staff stopped him. Well, wanting to do something isn’t a crime or even unethical, and staffs and advisors saying “no” is what good staffs and advisors do.

    That is pretty much how I expected it had worked out, once I heard that they had said “no”. Almost immediately, though, Australia’s analogue of the B.B.C. reported on TV that they had agreed with Trump and his orders to Trump’s face, only to refrain from carrying them out. I don’t know which is more mind boggling, the idea of a staff so mutinous that it renders even proper work impossible, or the idea of a state sponsored media outlet so irresponsible that it reports as fact something so serious and readily checked that it would need to combine unrealistically vast amounts of malice and stupidity. Yet at least one of those must be the case.

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