On May 29, 2019, US Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller ended his two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election with a remarkable, 10-minute public statement taking no questions. Special Counsel Mueller announced he was closing the special counsel’s office saying “Our investigation is complete,” resigning, and to returning to private life.
You can view the statement in full here:
Mueller outlined 5 primary conclusions of his investigation and made clear that the next steps belong to the United States Congress to decide to impeach, convict and remove President Trump.
The 5 major points made by Robert Mueller in his statement were clear:
1) Had he been able to clear the president on the question of obstruction, he would have done so, but he did not. Mueller noted the Justice Department’s longstanding policy against indicting a sitting president and said that his office was never able to even consider bringing charges against Donald Trump, either openly or under seal until Trump left office. According to Mueller:
“We concluded that we would not reach a determination—one way or the other—about whether the president committed a crime. … 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.
As set forth in our report, after that investigation, if we had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said that.”
2) What happens now is up to the United States Congress. Mueller went out out of his way to describe how his investigation team had gathered and preserved evidence for future investigators, adding pointedly “The Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.”
3) Americans should be deeply concerned by Russia’s broad and systemic interference with the 2016 election. According to Mueller, “There were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election. That allegation deserves the attention of every American.” In his report, Mueller made cleat Russian efforts were aimed at hurting Democrat Hillary Clinton.
4) Mueller doesn’t intend to say anything further but if he testifies before congress, he will not deviate from his report and said:
“Any testimony from this office would not go beyond our report. It contains our findings and analysis, and the reasons for the decisions we made. We chose those words carefully, and the work speaks for itself. The report is my testimony.”
5) Mueller took deliberate issue with the accusations Trump and others have made that his investigation had been conducted by conflicted, angry Democrats on a witch hunt by saying:
“I want to thank the attorneys, the FBI agents, the analysts, and the professional staff who helped us conduct this investigation in a fair and independent manner. These individuals, who spent nearly two years with the Special Counsel’s Office, were of the highest integrity.”
Immediately after the Special Counsel Mueller’s statement, President Trump tweeted his reaction:
“Nothing changes from the Mueller Report. There was insufficient evidence and therefore, in our Country, a person is innocent. The case is closed! Thank you.”
Trump’s first reactions to Mueller’s statement were more muted than his usual to his “No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION.”
The day after the special council’s statement, and true to form, Trump attacked Robert S. Mueller as “totally conflicted” and “a true never-Trumper”. Trump made the false claim that the special counsel would have brought charges against him if he had any evidence which is totally opposite to what Mueller said in his public statement the day before.
Trump told reporters:
“Robert Mueller should have never been chosen” Trump told reporters that he considered Mueller “totally conflicted” because he had discussions about the position of FBI director early in the Trump administration and is friendly with former FBI director James B. Comey, whom Trump fired in 2017. “He loves Comey. Whether it’s love or a deep like, he was conflicted.” Trump claimed.
Trump also again attacked the Russian probe:
“Russia, Russia, Russia! That’s all you heard at the beginning of this Witch Hunt Hoax. … And now Russia has disappeared because I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected. It was a crime that didn’t exist.”
Trump told reporters at the White House that Russia had not helped him get elected when he said:
“You know who got me elected? I got me elected. … Russia didn’t help me at all. Russia, if anything, I think, helped the other side.” In his report, Mueller made it clear that Russian efforts were aimed at hurting Democrat Hillary Clinton to benefit Trump.
A ROADMAP FOR IMPEACHMENT BUT NOT REMOVAL
Despite the fact that the special counsel’s report on Russian interference did not come to a conclusion as to whether President Trump obstructed justice, the Mueller Report did disclose at least 10 “discrete acts” in which Trump may have “obstructed justice”. Mueller left it up to congress to decide for themselves if there was obstruction of justice.
Any one of the 10 acts could form the basis of impeachment by the Democratic Controlled US House of Representatives, but not necessarily result in a conviction by the Republican US Senate. The Mueller Report says the 10 instances of potential obstruction of justice can be divided into “two phases, reflecting a possible shift in the president’s motives.”
The first phase of obstruction of justice took place before Trump fired FBI Director James Comey after Trump had been reassured by Comey he was not personally under investigation. After Comey was fired by Trump and after Mueller’s appointment as special counsel, the report states Trump realized or knew he was under investigation for possibly obstructing justice and he changed course and became more aggressive to discredit the investigation.
The Mueller report states:
“At that point, the president engaged in a second phase of conduct, involving public attacks on the investigation, non-public efforts to control it, and efforts both in public and private to encourage witnesses not to cooperate with the investigation.”
CBS News did an exceptional summary of the 10 times Trump may have obstructed justice. Following are the 10 times Trump may have obstructed justice quoting a CBS News article with the link below:
1.”THE CAMPAIGN’S RESPONSE TO REPORTS ABOUT RUSSIAN SUPPORT FOR TRUMP”
“The first instance of possible obstruction detailed in the report occurred during the 2016 campaign, when questions first “arose about the Russian government’s apparent support for candidate Trump. The report states that while Mr. Trump was publicly skeptical Russia had released emails from Democratic officials, he and his aides were also trying to get information about “any further Wikileaks releases.” The report also notes that despite Mr. Trump’s insistence he had no business connections to Russia, his namesake company was trying to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. And once the election was over, Mr. Trump “expressed concerns to advisers that reports of Russia’s election interference might lead the public to question the legitimacy of his election.”
2.”CONDUCT INVOLVING FBI DIRECTOR COMEY AND MICHAEL FLYNN”
“The second instance involves Mr. Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who left the administration just weeks into Mr. Trump’s presidency after he misled FBI agents and top administration officials — including Vice President Mike Pence — about his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Flynn had said he had not discussed sanctions on Russia with Kislyak, a lie that Pence and others then repeated. The day that Mr. Trump found out Flynn had lied to Pence and the FBI, he had dinner with Comey, whom he asked for “loyalty.” Mr. Trump then secured Flynn’s resignation on Feb. 13, 2017. “Now that we fired Flynn, the Russia thing is over,” he told an outside adviser, who disagreed with the president’s assessment. That same day, Mr. Trump had another meeting with Comey and encouraged him to stop investigating Flynn. “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go,” Mr. Trump said. The president then asked Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland to draft an internal memo “stating that the president had not directed Flynn to discuss sanctions with Kislyak. McFarland declined because she did not know whether that was true, and a White House Counsel’s Office attorney thought that the request would look like a quid pro quo for an ambassadorship she had been offered.”
3.”THE PRESIDENT’S REACTION TO THE CONTINUING RUSSIA INVESTIGATION”
“The third instance involves then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was debating whether to recuse himself from the Russia investigation in February 2017, as well as Comey. Mr. Trump asked White House Counsel Don McGahn to talk Sessions out of recusal, and became angry when Sessions announced he would recuse himself on March 2. The president then asked Sessions to “unrecuse” himself. After Comey testified to Congress that there was an FBI investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, Mr. Trump reached out to his CIA and NSA directors to help “dispel the suggestion that the President had any connection to the Russian election-interference effort.” Comey had told Mr. Trump he wasn’t under investigation and, against Mc Gahn’s advice, the president twice called the FBI director to ask him to say that publicly.”
4.”THE PRESIDENT’S TERMINATION OF COMEY”
“The fourth instance stems from Mr. Trump’s decision to fire Comey, which directly led to Mueller’s appointment. Mr. Trump decided to fire Comey in May 2017 — days after the FBI director declined to tell Congress that Mr. Trump wasn’t under investigation. After Mr. Trump dismissed Comey, the White House insisted he had done so at the recommendation of the Department of Justice. In reality, Mr. Trump had not consulted with the Justice Department before deciding to fire Comey. In conversations that followed, Mr. Trump indicated the Russia investigation was the real reason he had let Comey go: “The day after firing Comey, the president told Russian officials that he had ‘faced great pressure because of Russia,’ which had been ‘taken off’ by Comey’s firing. The next day, the president acknowledged in a television interview that he was going to fire Comey regardless of the Department of Justice’s recommendation and that when he ‘decided to just do it,’ he was thinking that ‘this thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.’”
5.”THE APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL COUNSEL AND EFFORTS TO REMOVE HIM”
“The fifth instance revolves around Mr. Trump’s reaction to Mueller’s appointment. Upon hearing the news that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had tasked Mueller with investigating the Russia matter in May 2017, the president privately declared it was “the end of his presidency.” Mr. Trump then demanded Sessions’ resignation, although he did not accept it at the time, and told aides Mueller had conflicts of interest that should preclude him from acting as the special counsel. It was then reported in June that Mueller was investigating Mr. Trump for obstruction of justice, prompting the president to publicly attack Mueller and the Justice Department. Within days of the first report, he told Mc Gahn to tell Rosenstein that Mueller had conflicts of interest and must be removed. Mc Gahn ignored the request, explaining that he would rather resign.”
6.”EFFORTS TO PREVENT PUBLIC DISCLOSURE OF EVIDENCE”
“The sixth instance stems from the June 2016 meeting between top campaign aides and “a Russian lawyer who was said to be offering damaging information about Hillary Clinton as ‘part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.’” Mr. Trump told his aides “not to publicly disclose the emails setting up the June 9 meeting, suggesting that the email would not leak and that the number of lawyers with access to them should be limited.” Donald Trump Jr., who had been present at the Trump Tower meeting, wrote a press release saying “the meeting was with ‘an individual who [Trump Jr.] was told might have information helpful to the campaign’” — a line that was edited out about the president. Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer then denied to reporters the president had “played any role” in Trump Jr.’s statement.
7.”FURTHER EFFORTS TO HAVE THE ATTORNEY GENERAL TAKE CONTROL OF THE INVESTIGATION”
“The seventh instance has to do with Mr. Trump’s repeated attempts to have Sessions “reverse his recusal.” Mr. Trump asked Sessions to do this in the summer of 2017. The following December, Mr. Trump told Sessions he would be a “hero” if he took control of the investigation. Additionally, in October 2017, the president asked Sessions to “take [a] look” at investigating Hillary Clinton.”
8.”EFFORTS TO HAVE MCGAHN DENY THAT THE PRESIDENT HAD ORDERED HIM TO HAVE THE SPECIAL COUNSEL REMOVED”
“The eighth instance concerns Mr. Trump’s efforts to get Mc Gahn to dispute press accounts that the president had instructed him to try and get rid of Mueller. In early 2018, Mr. Trump told White House officials to tell Mc Gahn to rebut the stories, but Mc Gahn told the officials the stories were true. Mr. Trump then personally appealed to Mc Gahn, telling him in an Oval Office meeting to deny the reports. In the same meeting, the president also asked McGahn why he had told the special counsel about the president’s efforts to remove the Special Counsel and why McGahn took notes of his conversations with the president,” the report states. “McGahn refused to back away from what he remembered happening and perceived the president to be testing his mettle.”
9.”CONDUCT TOWARDS FLYNN, MANAFORT, [REDACTED]”
“The ninth instance stems from Mr. Trump’s response to the prosecutions of Flynn and Paul Manafort, his former campaign chairman, as well as an individual whose identity was redacted. “After Flynn withdrew from a joint defense agreement with the president and began cooperating with the government, the president’s personal counsel left a message for Flynn ‘s attorneys reminding them of the president’s warm feelings towards Flynn, which he said ‘still remains,’ and asking for a ‘heads up’ if Flynn knew ‘information that implicates the president,’” the report states. When Flynn’s counsel reiterated that Flynn could no longer share information pursuant to a joint defense agreement, the president’s personal counsel said he would make sure that the president knew that Flynn’s actions reflected ‘hostility’ towards the president. Meanwhile, Mr. Trump praised Manafort during his “prosecution and when the jury in his criminal trial was deliberating. At one point, he praised Manafort as “a brave man” who refused to “break.”
10.”CONDUCT INVOLVING MICHAEL COHEN”
“The tenth and final instance of potential obstruction concerns Mr. Trump’s behavior toward Michael Cohen, his onetime personal lawyer. Mr. Trump profusely praised Cohen when he remained loyal to the administration, at one point personally calling to encourage him to “stay strong,” only to criticize him viciously when he began cooperating with the government. After the FBI searched Cohen’s home and office in April 2018, the president publicly asserted that Cohen would not ‘flip,’ contacted him directly to tell him to ‘stay strong,’ and privately passed messages of support to him,” the report states. Cohen also discussed pardons with the president’s personal counsel and believed that if he stayed on message, he would be taken care of. But after Cohen began cooperating with the government in the summer of 2018, the president publicly criticized him, called him a ‘rat,’ and suggested that his family members had committed crimes.”
You can review the full unedited CBS News report here:
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
Congressional Democrats are now at a crossroad when it comes to President Trump with the end of either road not at all promising or guaranteed. If impeached by the house, Trump is not likely to be convicted and removed by the Senate. Trump will be the Republican nominee, and with 24 democrats running, the eventual Democrat nominee may be so weakened by a bitter primary battle and a divided Democratic Party to hand the election to Trump.
Articles of Impeachment in the US House of Representatives are passed by a simple majority vote, but conviction and removal is a long shot at best. It is clear that the Democratic controlled House of Representatives has more than enough grounds from the Mueller Report and more than a majority of votes to impeachment Trump for obstruction of justice. What is as equally clear is that the Republican controlled United State Senate would never vote to convict and remove Trump from office.
After Articles of Impeachment are passed by the House, the charges are forwarded to the United States Senate for a trial presided over by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court which today is John Roberts. Two-thirds of the Republican controlled Senate, or 67 votes, are needed to convict and remove Trump. If all 48 Senate Democrats would vote yes to convict, 19 Republican Senators would have to vote with all the Democrats to convict and remove. Nineteen Republican Senators voting to convict is not at all likely given Trumps strangle hold over the Republican Senators and the Republican Party.
When you review the entire 466 page Mueller Report, the one conclusion that any reasonable person can come to is that the Russian probe uncovered evidence of a President “giving aid and comfort” to Russia to influence his election to become President and to hide or stop the Russia investigation to disrupt the 2016 election by firing FBI James Comey or both.
Trump has spent a lifetime being loyal to only two things: himself and his money. Given the millions and millions of dollars involved with Russian financing of Trump enterprises, Trump’s love of money and his love for Russia probably outweighs his love for his own country if he really ever had love for the country in the first place.
Today, the Republican Majority in the Senate is led by the 3 Republican Stooges Mitch McConnel, Lindsay Graham and John Cornyn who publicly help or gives credibility to the “Fool In Chief” because they are desperate to hold onto power and running for reelection with Trump in 2020. Any one of the 24 Democrats and even the one Republican running to replace Trump would be a better President than Trump could ever hope to be.
No doubt impeaching Trump will take upwards of a year and into the 2020 election cycle with no sure outcome. Beating Trump at the polls is the only guaranteed way to end the moral and political disaster he has been. The only sure way to remove Trump as President once and for all and to end the nightmare and insanity is to beat Trump both at the polls and in the electoral college, but who can do that remains to be seen.