Friday April 19, 2019
New York Times website, yesterday.
I celebrated when they arrested Michael Cohen last August. I went our for drinks with my friend David. We toasted. I thought walls were closing in on the sonuvabitch.
I didn't celebrate yesterday when a redacted version of the Mueller Report was finally released by Attorney General William Barr (whose name goes down in infamy for how he's played this), even though on the whole the report is damning, embarassing, pathetic, shameless.
Mueller begins this way—first page, second graf:
The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion.
I'm old enough to remember when Trump's team denied this. They‘re probably still doing so on some level when it suits them.
Was the Russian government doing what it could to elect Donald Trump president of the United States? Obviously. Did the Trump campaign seek their help? Vocally. Did they then lie about their contacts with Russians and Wikileaks? Repeatedly.
Was it a conspiracy? Apparently not. Again, from the first few pages of the report:
As set forth in detail in this report, the Special Counsel’s investigation established that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election principally through two operations. First, a Russian entity carried out a social media campaign that favored presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and disparaged presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Second, a Russian intelligence service conducted computer-intrusion operations against entities, employees, and volunteers working on the Clinton Campaign and then released stolen documents. The investigation also identified numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump Campaign. Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.
I expected this, though. I was hoping maybe for a smoking gun but assumed we wouldn't get it.
So onto the second part. Did Trump obstruct, impede and attempt to shut down the varous investigations (FBI, DOJ, Mueller) into potential collusion? Of course he did. He did it on national television. Beyond that, Mueller cites—is it 10 incidents?—in which Trump told subordinates to essentially engage in obstruction of justice. The subordinate didn't follow through, but that's still obstruction of justice. What finally brought down Nixon, George Conway reminds us in a Washington Post Op-Ed, was a recording of Nixon telling CIA director Richard Helms to urge the FBI away from the Watergate investigation. Helms didn't follow through, either, but it was still obstruction of justice. Back then, that was enough.
Trump did this x 10 and he's still in the Oval Office.
Here's NPR's political reporter Carrie Johnson on “Morning Edition” this morning:
It's hard to imagine—according to a lot of former prosecutors with whom I‘ve spoken—that if this involved any other person, that it would not have resulted in some criminal charge.
That’s a big reason why I'm not celebrating. I was counting on the rule of law to come to our aid. And it didn‘t. It hasn’t. Maybe someday, but not today.
I'm also not celebrating because the Trumpers will continue to lie about it. And Fox News will repeat their lies as truth and add their own; and so will Rush and Matt and Alex and Breitbart and Sinclair and the GOP. There are no honorable Republicans anymore because they don't have to be. They can lie and Fox will call it truth. They can be corrupt and dishonorable and Fox will call them honorable. They can be racist and Fox will say it's the other side that's racist. World without end.
Many people are celebrating this line from the report. It's Trump's reaction when he learned that Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel back in May 2017—a week after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey:
This is the end of my presidency. I'm fucked.
I'm not celebrating that, either. He wasn't fucked. It wasn't the end of his presidency. That line just makes me sadder.
You know who's celebrating? One of the report's more chilling lines is what one Russian texted another on Nov. 8, 2016:
Putin has won.
That's who's celebrating: Putin. Putin and Fox News.