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…