Monthly Archives: May 2019

Mueller’s Ten-Minute Statement

Today, May 29, 2019, Robert Mueller addressed the public on camera for ten minutes.  He did not take questions after, and he said at the end that he intended for this to be his only statement to the public and that, if he is subpoenaed to testify before Congress, he will have nothing to say other than what is in the report.

So…what did he have to say in those ten minutes? ¬†Some pretty potent stuff, actually.

The Mueller report has two parts to it. ¬†Part one is about Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether Trump colluded. ¬†On that, the report clearly says that there is no evidence to charge Trump with colluding with the Russian hackers. ¬†But that’s just part one. ¬†The interesting part is part two: that part deals with any attempts that might have been made to obstruct the Mueller investigation during these two years that it was going on. ¬†For that, I’m going to hand the phone to Mr. Mueller. ¬†Here’s the passage that really gets to the heart of it.

And as set forth in the report, after that investigation, if we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so. We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime.

The introduction to the Volume 2 of our report explains that decision. It explains that under long-standing department policy, a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. That is unconstitutional. Even if the charge is kept under seal and hidden from public view, that, too, is prohibited.

A special counsel’s office is part of the Department of Justice, and by regulation, it was bound by that department policy. Charging the president with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider,¬†The department’s written opinion explaining the policy makes several important points that further informed our handling of the obstruction investigation. Those points are summarized in our report and I will describe two of them for you.

First, the opinion explicitly permits the investigation of a sitting president because it is important to preserve evidence while memories are fresh and documents available. Among other things, that evidence could be used if there were co-conspirators who could be charged now.

And second, the opinion says that the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.

And beyond department policy, we were guided by principles of fairness. It would be unfair to potentially ‚ÄĒ it would be unfair to potentially accuse somebody of a crime when there can be no court resolution of the actual charge.

So that was Justice Department policy. Those were the principles under which we operated. And from them, we concluded that we would not reach a determination one way or the other about whether the president committed a crime. That is the office’s final position and we will not comment on any other conclusions or hypotheticals about the president.

Do you get it? ¬†Mueller is¬†EXPLICITLY saying that if there had been rock-solid evidence that Trump committed a crime by attempting to obstruct justice, the Mueller report¬†still would have said¬†exactly what it says now, because (1) a sitting president can’t be indicted, and (2) it’s not fair to accuse a person of a crime when there can’t be a trial to judge the accusation.

And the reason he wouldn’t take questions, I’m sure, is that there was an obvious question that he didn’t want to have to deal with: ¬†“If there were no rule against indicting a sitting president, would you have tried to get an indictment?”

A sitting president can, of course, be impeached.  Mueller mentions that option as existing.  And this ten-minute statement has very much energized the sector of the Democratic Party that wants to see it happen.

Full transcript and video of Mueller’s statement on Politico

Politico article about impeachment debate (including video of Nancy Pelosi’s remarks), May 29, 2019

It’s heating up. ¬†The drama has barely begun. ¬†Stay tuned.

Whoops! Guess the Republicans on Capitol Hill Don’t All Have Trump’s Back!

Question:  In which chamber of Congress did the Intelligence Committee just issue a subpoena to Donald Trump, Jr. to grill him about his contacts with Russia?

The likely response would be, “Oh, that’s easy: it has to be the House.¬† That’s where the Democrats are in the majority and control all the committee chairs, and it’s the Democrats who want to dig for dirt on Trump, and the Republicans who want to protect him.”

That’s how I would have answered that question if it were put to me, and I would have been sure of myself.¬† But…guess again!¬† It’s the¬†SENATE Judiciary Committee, with¬†REPUBLICAN co-chairman Richard Burr,

This is going to be interesting.

Article in TheHill.com, May 9, 2019

 

Talks on Infrastructure

As this article in the New York Times dated April 30, 2019, reports, Trump met with House Speaker Nancy¬†Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to agree that there should be a $2 trillion infrastructure spending bill passed.¬† This would be a massive program in repairing the nation’s bridges and roads, and developing certain kinds of transportation technology as well.¬† They agreed on that much: that there should be such a plan.¬† However, there’s a lot left for the Republicans and Democrats to fight over, so it’s far from a done deal.

It needs to be noted that Obama, for much of his own presidency, was asking Congress for infrastructure spending, but the Republicans would have none of it.  The idea under Obama was to spend the money, not only so that infrastructure would be improved, but also to infuse money into the economy to bring the country out of recession.  His proposals were dead on arrival with the Republicans.

And now, while at least the two parties are talking to each other, it’s still going to be hard for them to come to an agreement.¬† Democrats will want it to be paid for with fuel taxes and a reversal of tax cuts to the wealthy; Republicans will most likely want it paid for with budget cuts from social programs.¬† Republicans will also want environmental laws to be scaled back even more than they already have been,¬† which Democrats will oppose.¬† And it’s well to remember that what both parties want, even more than being able to celebrate a bipartisan victory, is for victory in the next election in both Congress and the White House.¬†¬†Neither party enjoys having to share power.

Note the quotation from Sarah Huckabee Sanders about how what has been stopping the U.S. from investing in its infrastructure before is that it’s been too concerned with helping other countries instead.¬† That is classic Trump White House rhetoric, exactly what plays to Trump’s loyal base.¬† It is, of course, questionable whether Mrs. Sanders believes a word of what she’s saying, as she admitted to the Mueller team that she sometimes doesn’t.