The Mueller Report
Have you read the Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Election aka The Mueller Report? Not me, completely, but I’ve read some key parts, and plenty of commentary from people who have read the whole thing. More than enough to make my points.
The Mueller Report – that’s what I’m calling it, official title be damned – represents the product of what Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein directed Mr. Mueller to do when he appointed him on May 17, 2017. The primary charge? Determine whether there were “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald J. Trump.” The conclusion? Both sides tried, hard, to coordinate. And winks and nods, and unrecorded phone conversations, bedevil prosecutors.
Quick thoughts. The Department of Justice has a policy which says we don’t indict sitting presidents. I agree with the at policy, by the way, although a traditional criminal charge – murder, bank robbery, etc. – might change my mind.
The Mueller report passed on obstruction of justice charges. (Investigating obstruction of justice falls within the catch-all provisions of the directive.) It did so because of the DOJ policy,
The report said, as well, that it would not say the president had obstructed justice because, with the policy, such a statement would leave the POTUS without a forum to defend himself. Finally, though, Mr. Mueller’s office said the evidence did not support the conclusion that the president had not obstructed justice. And it also told us it would tell us Mr. Trump had not obstructed justice, if the facts supported that conclusion. (Translation? Mueller can’t say Trump did not obstruct justice, but he has no path forward to bring an obstruction of justice case.)
So, where are we? We don’t prosecute presidents. The investigators do not absolve the president in the bullsh*t report (his words) which totally exonerates him (again, his words). But …
Is it enough that a Special Counsel has reached the conclusion that POTUS tried to obstruct justice and failed? Is it enough that, even if he had succeeded, DOJ policy precluded a prosecution? And, is it enough that the evidence in the report demonstrates that, without doubt, a foreign country – Russia – interfered with the 2016 election and that the Trump campaign tried to benefit from that illegal interference?
The notion that the absence of an indictment and conviction absolves Donald Trump reflects a failure of our system to educate the public or … more likely, willful ignorance on the part of four out of every ten of us. People don’t get charged or convicted for many reasons. Innocence is but one. Here, the facts support the conclusion that Richard M. Nixon ought to be considered for sainthood, as measured against the piece of work we elected a very long 893 days ago.