Thursday, May 23, 2019

Mueller Report

Update 5-29-19 see update appended below at end.
Update 6-7-19 see update appended below at end.


I have now read through both volumes of Mueller’s report.  I still have a lot of thinking to do about this.  What follows is only first impressions. 

You can get a good sense of the findings by reading only the executive summaries of Volumes 1 and 2.  You will get lost in the details reading the full report,  this being serious legal analysis.  But,  on the other hand,  you learn a whole lot more. 

But Mueller did his job,  and he did it right.  If you read the whole thing,  you will see that,  very clearly. “Mueller and 17 angry democrats” is an egregious lie by Trump.  This was no “witch hunt”.  He is very seriously misleading the public for political gain,  pure and simple.

Volume 1 dealt with Russian interference in the 2016 elections.  Mueller concludes such did occur,  and he details exactly how,  and who did it.  As part of that,  he documented an enormous number of alarming connections between Trump,  his business,  and his campaign,  with Russia,  to include lying to the public,  and lying to Congress (a crime),  by various persons about those connections. 

Things other than conspiracy with Russia (and obstruction of justice) being outside his purview,  Mueller did not pursue those troubling Russian connections any further than documenting them.  His purview was whether Trump and his people conspired (a very definite legal term) with the Russians,  to illegally influence the 2016 election (foreigners are not permitted to participate in any way). 

Mueller concluded there was no actual conspiracy despite all the other connections to Russia.  But it is what he documented in the way of those connections that is so alarming:  they make the President vulnerable to Russian influence.  

That is a matter for others to resolve,  and the most informative sources will be Trump’s financial and tax records.  His publicly-known extreme resistance to disclosing them is very,  very disturbing,  therefore.  The risk here is Trump behavior that might actually have strayed into something treasonous.  Mueller does not go there.  Others should,  in my opinion.

Volume 2 dealt with obstruction of justice,  particularly about a dozen counts or cases,  to include attempting influence on the trials of associates,  and attempts to illegally remove Mueller.  There is a huge mountain of evidence in Volume 2 to support the notion that at least some (if not all) of those cases really are obstruction of justice on the part of Trump,  or those associated with him. 

It is the grey area of whether it was Trump himself,  or his associates,  that precludes a final conclusion in most of these cases (the decision of actually whom to prosecute).

Mueller includes a very detailed legal analysis of what might be prosecutable and what might not,  tending toward prosecution of President Trump on the counts,  but he does not recommend actual indictments for some legal-technical reasons I do not yet fully comprehend,  although the whom-to-prosecute question is the biggest part of that. 

Mueller presents a convincing argument that the President’s Article 2 Constitutional powers do not constitute a defense.  That would have definite application to impeachment inquiries or proceedings.  That I do understand. 

But he very specifically does NOT exonerate the President!  In more than one place in his report.  Instead,  he leaves the matter to others to decide,  while providing some very convincing evidence that obstruction crimes actually occurred.

My reading and initial interpretation of the executive summary to Volume 2 includes what I interpret as two calls to Congress to impeach,  using the evidence he uncovered,  for obstruction of justice.  That is my initial impression,  and I definitely noticed this was NOT in AG Barr’s summary. 

I might yet change my mind about impeachability for obstruction of justice after reflection,  but right now,  I don’t think so.

Countering that,  anybody reading the full report will understand that some sort of obstruction really did occur (and according to recent news reports,  is still occurring).  I am quite disappointed in AG Barr’s summary which leaves all this out,  explaining quite understandably why Mueller and his team are unhappy with Barr’s summary. 

Barr does have a history of supporting the “imperial presidency” notion.  With this President,  I think that is a really bad choice,  but that is just my personal opinion.

For those interested,  I saw nothing in Mueller’s report that confirms or denies the Steele dossier on Trump.  It was mentioned once or twice,  but not used in Mueller’s analysis,  or included in his data.  Other sources I have seen largely (but not totally) confirm it. 

Personally,  I find the strong links between Trump and Russia far more disturbing than the obstruction-of-justice counts,  serious crimes that they are,  in and of themselves.  My best guess (and only a guess it is) is that other investigations into Trump finances and tax returns will reveal disturbingly-strong connections between the Trump Organization and Russia,  in that Russian bank money is Trump’s primary source of investment funds and income,  and has been,  for some years now.

That makes him vulnerable to Putin’s wishes,  since the same Russian banks keep Putin in power,  and by that,  themselves.  It would certainly explain how Trump consistently believes Putin’s claims over the findings of the US intelligence community,  and why he has consistently acted to degrade our relations with our allies in favor of “better relations with Russia”. 

That’s just my opinion.  None of that is in Mueller’s report. But it would be treason of the “aid and comfort” type.   And that really is impeachable.

My best recommendation to the House is to pursue the financial tax records via the courts,  until stymied.  Then use the “impeachment-related proceedings” to force other revelations.  Somewhere along the line,  something egregious enough will be uncovered to convince the GOP senators to throw Trump “under the bus”.  They will do this to avoid being voted out when their re-elections come up.

Until that happens,  actual articles of impeachment from the House are a fool’s errand,  because the Senate as it is now,  will not convict,  because its GOP members still demonstrably value party advantage above good of the country. 

Speed is important:  if this egregious revelation (or revelations) occurs before the 2020 election,  then Trump’s potential re-election is defeated,  regardless of whether there is an impeachment trial in the Senate.

That’s all for now.  I need to think about this a while.  These are my first impressions.  Whether my opinions might change is yet to be seen.  But right now,  I think not.



Update 5-29-19 Mueller's news conference this date pretty much confirms what I thought I understood from his report (as released in redacted form),  with one exception.  Apparently the main reason he did not issue indictments was DOJ policy not to indict a sitting president.  That's a bigger role for that issue than I read in the report for myself.

Since Mueller's news conference pretty much confirmed everything else I thought I understood from reading his report,  I see no reason to change my interpretations or conclusions,  except this:  crimes were committed,  and indictments would have been issued for them,  had not DOJ policy not to indict a sitting president precluded that.  

My conclusion,  that Mueller's report is essentially a call for Congress to impeach,  stands.  I see no reason to change that conclusion.  I do see reason to amplify it. 

The problem with impeachment proceedings in the House is that the Senate as it is right now will not convict.  Not until something so egregious surfaces that the GOP senators would be willing to throw Trump "under the bus" for it,  lest they risk re-election defeat.  That has not yet happened.

Therefore,  my advice to Democrats still stands:  do not rush to issue articles of impeachment.  Use the courts,  and the power of "impeachment-related proceedings",  to uncover that additional egregious thing which will get GOP senators to desert Trump and Mitch McConnell.   Trust me,  it WILL surface!!! ***

My advice to Republicans:  you need to prioritize the good of the country above party advantage.  This is something you (collectively) have been failing to do.  Look carefully at what Trump has done.  It is in the Mueller report,  and more will be uncovered from his financial records and federal income tax returns.  Then vote for the good of the country (above all!!!) when the impeachment happens.  And it will.

*** It is my opinion (and only my opinion !!!) that these financial and tax records will reveal,  that in recent years,  Trump's main sources of investment capital and business income derive from Russian bank sources.  This is because western banks want nothing more to do with him,  after 6 bankruptcies of record.  If Trump's living derives from Russian sources,  then inherently he is vulnerable to control by Putin and the Russian banks.  That is utterly intolerable in a US President.


Update 6-7-19:  We are close enough to the 2020 election that I think it doesn't matter anymore whether impeachment or a re-election loss happens,  as long as the re-election loss outcome includes criminal prosecution.

To that end,  my recommendation to the Democrats still stands:  uncover that egregious thing or things that will induce GOP senators to desert Trump and McConnell.  Use it either for impeachment,  or for a campaign issue that will cause a Trump loss in the election.  That will be a judgement call as you continue investigating.

As a confirming note:  PBS Newshour has been doing an in-depth reveal of the Mueller report findings as a multi-part item on their broadcast.  It largely agrees with what I have documented here in my analysis.