Mueller’s Letter to Barr

Prior to the release of the redacted Mueller report, when Barr’s con-job summary was setting the Beltway press narrative of NO COLLUSION COMPLETE EXONERATION, I figured if Mueller objected to a PR blitz that misrepresented his report, he’d say so. Turns out he did:

The Mueller report and now this letter make clear Mueller was trying to get the truth to the public.

Is it too late? Barr is being by turns coddled and grilled on the Hill right now, depending on who’s doing the questioning, but is anyone still paying attention?

The political ramifications for Trump are secondary here. It’s an ongoing national security issue.

Hillary Clinton: It’s the National Security Threat, Stupid

Clinton published a must-read op-ed in Le Post this afternoon. Here are a couple of excerpts:

Our election was corrupted, our democracy assaulted, our sovereignty and security violated. This is the definitive conclusion of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report. It documents a serious crime against the American people.

The debate about how to respond to Russia’s “sweeping and systemic” attack — and how to hold President Trump accountable for obstructing the investigation and possibly breaking the law — has been reduced to a false choice: immediate impeachment or nothing. History suggests there’s a better way to think about the choices ahead.

Obviously, this is personal for me, and some may say that I’m not the right messenger. But my perspective is not just that of a former candidate and target of the Russian plot. I am also a former senator and secretary of state who served during much of Vladi­mir Putin’s ascent, sat across the table from him and knows firsthand that he seeks to weaken our country.

Clinton urges Congress to hold hearings on the Mueller report findings, not jump straight into holding a vote on impeachment, citing the Watergate inquiry as a model. She notes that during Watergate, a Senate select committee held hearings that added to the facts of the case before an impeachment inquiry began and suggests that a committee could do something similar now by calling Mueller and McGahn to testify. Clinton doesn’t spell this out, exactly, but this would all have to be on the House side since the Republican-controlled Senate has demonstrated that it will do nothing.

Clinton calls out Trump in deservedly savage terms:

We have to get this right. The Mueller report isn’t just a reckoning about our recent history; it’s a warning about the future. Unless checked, the Russians will interfere again in 2020, and possibly other adversaries, such as China or North Korea, will as well. This is an urgent threat. Nobody but Americans should be able to decide America’s future. And, unless he’s held accountable, the president may show even more disregard for the laws of the land and the obligations of his office. He will likely redouble his efforts to advance Putin’s agenda, including rolling back sanctions, weakening NATO and undermining the European Union.

Clinton emphasizes a key point that Trump and the Republicans are determined to ignore: the Mueller report isn’t only or even primarily about Trump. It’s about an attack on our democracy by a hostile foreign power, and the report establishes that the attack happened unequivocally. That requires action. By making it solely about Trump and crowing about his supposed “exoneration,” Trump and the Republicans are derelict in their duty to protect the country.

Clinton is right, of course. But given that just today Trump signaled refusal to cooperate with any oversight at all because NO COLLUSION HOAX WITCH HUNT I WON, with the full support of his Republican toadies in Congress, impeachment might truly be the only way forward. Greg Sargent explains, outlining how stonewalling on requests for tax returns, urging former and current administration officials to disregard subpoenas and requests for committee appearances, etc., might force Democrats to use an impeachment inquiry to get anywhere at all:

Trump, in a new interview with The Post, just made it overwhelmingly clear that he will henceforth treat the House and its reasonable oversight efforts as fundamentally illegitimate.

“There is no reason to go any further, and especially in Congress where it’s very partisan — obviously very partisan,” Trump said, referring to the latest round of oversight requests House Democrats have made…

Perhaps Trump views an impeachment inquiry as a less bad outcome than releasing his tax returns. Or perhaps he hopes to run out the clock, gambling that Democrats won’t have the guts to pull the trigger.

If so, that creates a torturous dilemma. Democrats themselves say the full truth must be pursued, for the sake of the country. But if Trump blocks them from doing that, it would seem to force their hand and require an impeachment inquiry.

Clinton’s op-ed is a timely reminder that the stakes are much higher than the orange fart cloud’s presidency. Perhaps the House Democrats’ first move should be to get Mueller’s testimony about the true purpose of the report and underscore the national security implications, then proceed from there within that framing, explicitly pursuing impeachment if that’s the only way to get at the facts.

The op-ed also brushes back the notion voiced by some Democrats that we should close the book on the Mueller report and focus on removing Trump via the ballot box in 2020. What ballot box, if Putin or someone else decides to diddle our election again? Anyone who urges Democrats to move on has lost the plot — it’s not only about Trump, though holding a lawless president accountable is a Congressional duty; it’s the national security threat, stupid.

Petty and Small (Open Thread)

I wish every eligible voter in America were granted a week of paid leave on the condition that they’d use that time to read the Mueller report. I’m only half way through it, but I feel sure that if everyone read the report, 73% of us would rise as one and demand that Trump and his sycophants be ejected from government housing.

I’m not even talking about the criminality. It’s all just so…juvenile. Here’s one teeny-tiny example via the sworn testimony of Chris Christie, who described having lunch with Trump while the administration was attempting to contain the fallout from Michael Flynn’s firing. Here’s Trump’s genius plan to co-opt James Comey into the cult so the FBI would back off on investigating Flynn:

Christie felt it was beneath his dignity to make such a call and was embarrassed to put Comey in the position of receiving such a call. We’re talking Chris “McDonald’s Go-Fer” Christie and James “Last Honest Man” Comey, who is such a showboat that the job of FBI director wasn’t big enough for him, so he invented a brand new job and then failed spectacularly at that! (H/T: Kay)

This is just one example. There’s also Jared taking a call from Flynn (who comes off as a gigantic, lying crybaby, BTW) and assuring Flynn that Trump still “respects” him and will soon tweet positively about him, to which Trump nods assent like a monarch distributing a knighthood.

There are scads of scenes like that so far, and I haven’t gotten into the obstructiony bits yet, which are likely to be even worse. Honest to dog, I’ve driven van-loads of 11-year-old girls who were more dignified and discreet. It’s just embarrassing.

“Don’t Impeach the Motherfucker?”

In the “Impeach the Motherfucker” thread downstairs, there’s a debate as to whether or not we (Democrats) actually should impeach the motherfucker or not. It’s an issue on which reasonable people can disagree, IMO. No one with any sense expects the Republicans to put country over party and convict Trump in the Senate.

Impeachment could backfire politically on the Democrats, resulting in failure to hold the House, take the Senate or, dog forbid, eject Trump from the White House. That would truly be disastrous. The “don’t impeach the motherfucker” people weigh those risks against the possibility of a conviction (basically, nil) and conclude that impeachment isn’t worth it.

I understand that argument. But if the Democrats don’t impeach Trump, they’re affirming that 1) presidents are above the law, and 2) Congress can’t check the president’s power unless both chambers are held by the opposite party.

Perhaps that’s always been the case. I had assumed affirming the rule of law was more important than the pursuit of power, but maybe that’s my own naivety. But if this is the reality before we must all now bow, here’s what I don’t want to hear from fellow Democrats: bullshit rationalizations like “House hearings can be just as effective” or “wait until Trump is out of office, then go after him.”

Nope. This isn’t about a blow job or some rogue advisers freelancing foreign policy under a dementia-addled president. Our democracy was attacked by a hostile foreign power, and Trump and his highest level campaign advisers eagerly accepted that foreign power’s help. Once elected, Trump openly and publicly obstructed the investigation into the attack on our democracy.

If the Democrats respond to all that with “welp, shruggies!” because holding Trump accountable would be risky politically, we are admitting that the pursuit of power is more important than the rule of law. Period. Full stop. The end.

Maybe it always has been thus, and in that case, feel free to sing “good morning, star-shine, the earth says hello” to me in a jeering fashion. But let’s hear no more cant about being a country of laws that are enshrined in our constitution. If we punt on impeachment in this case, we don’t get to say that anymore.

Another Mueller Report Thread

The last one is getting long.

Here’s a searchable version. I’ve downloaded it for my own convenience. I haven’t found any stunning surprises yet, including about some of the (apparently) bit players like Carter Page and George Papadopoulos.

It’s worth noting that Barbara Ledeen, whom Trump asked to find Clinton’s emails and came up with some fakes from “the dark web”, is married to Michael Ledeen, another of those slimebag holdovers from Iran-Contra and other scams. I think it might be worth looking further into what part of “the dark web” they were from. Ledeen was connected to Joel Zamel, who is part of an intelligence-for-hire group. The connection is through a relatively inocuous part of Zamel’s empire, a group called Wikistrat.

Carry on.