The starting point on our tour of the grounds is that anyone who says that the Report was good news for Trump (and this includes Trump...) is not even trying. "But he wasn't indicted" is a ludicrous joke for two glaring reasons. The first is that a person can act unethically, reprehensibly and with corrupt results without breaking the law, yet breaking your sworn oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. And the second is that Robert Mueller very clearly says that the reason he didn't indict Trump is not for any reason of innocence or even lack of evidence but because he Justice Department policy doesn't allow him to do so.
"Because we determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment, we did not draw ultimate conclusions about the President’s conduct," Mueller writes, explaining that because one cannot indict a president, he therefore could NOT state a conclusion. And then added, clearly explaining that if he could have exonerated Trump, he would have done it...but, he reiterates, he didn't do it -- “At the same time, if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment.”
And pointed as Mueller's words here are, they don't even come close to Trump's own that show his full awareness of his guilt. They come after being told that Robert Mueller has been named as Special Counsel to investigate him. And Trump's reaction? It was to slump in his chair and say -- "Oh, my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I'm f*cked."
Seriously now, are those the words and action of an innocent man, who knows down to his bones that he's innocent? Today's pop quiz: how many of you would say the same thing (presidency aside) if you were completely innocent, knew you were completely innocent, and heard that you were going to be investigated? Hands? Anyone???
Further, considering that Mueller notes the number of witnesses who lied, took the Fifth Amendment or (like Trump) refused to testify, Mueller says that if there was another investigation which has a wider mission than he was given and is also able to delve even more deeply without being obstructed, it would likely bring out facts of other crimes.
Some exoneration, eh? I suspect he's referring to further Congressional investigations or the ongoing Justice Department investigations by the Southern District of New York, or perhaps even an impeachment inquiry .(He does mention impeachment in the Report.)
Moreover, Mueller’s team found that Trump repeatedly tried obstructing justice to hinder the investigation and said that the only reason he didn't accomplish that is because staff regularly refused to act on it. And for the record, trying to obstruct justice is obstructing justice. You don't get a pass because you were lousy at it.
Additionally, at the heart of obstruction of justice, the Mueller Report supported as credible the account by former FBI Director James Comey of Trump demanding his loyalty, while refuting as false Trump's insistence that Comey was lying.
In fact, the one area of the Report that appears to give Trump a pass is nonetheless damning on its own, and that's the question of collusion. For starters, Mueller makes clear that collusion is not actually a crime and so it wasn't a focus of his investigation. And beyond that, the Report goes into great detail about how Russia was, in fact, trying to impact the election for Trump. AND Trump and his team knew that, and knew they benefited from it. AND Mueller details all of the instances where that occurred (including the Trump Tower meeting with Russian officials, Jared Kushner trying to set up backchannel communications with Russia, Paul Manafort giving polling data to Russia oligarch Constantine Kilimnik, and Trump himself calling on Russia to find Hillary Clinton's emails -- and much more.. But because of Mueller's very narrow definition of what constitutes "criminal conspiracy" (rather than "collusion," since one is actually able to collude without it being a crime), those efforts of demonstrable collusion didn't meet the standard of provable, indictable criminal acts.
And keep in mind, that was the good part of the Report for Trump and his administration!
And these are merely a few random observation from a day full of revelations pouring down upon even more revelations
On a more personal, individual level, it's also worth noting that when Trump -- who has claimed to have "one the great memories in the world" -- .answered Mueller's written questions, afraid to submit to an interview for fear of lying and committing perjury, he responded some version of "I don't recall" 37 times.
And a couple of non-Trump details about individuals particularly caught my eye.
After James Comey was fired by Trump, who subsequently talked about the supposed mess in the FBI under Comey's leadership, a reporter at a White House press conference questioned press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders that his own reporting showed a “vast majority” of agents in fact supported Comey, To this, Sanders replied, “Look, we’ve heard from countless members of the FBI that say very different things.” It turns out that when faced with testifying under oath to Robert Mueller's team, at the risk of prison, she finally told the truth and admitted that she'd lied. The Report stated that her response at the press conference was “not founded on anything,” Actually, Sanders tried to explain that it wasn't really a lie, but merely a “slip of the tongue.” A slip of the tongue?? There aren't tongues big enough to slip that far. In fact, the Mueller Report continues by nothing that after afterwards Sanders spoke to the president who told her that she had done a “good job and did not point out any inaccuracies in her comments.” Gee, so much for that "slip of the tongue." What she said was a lie, and Trump congratulated her for it.
Which brings us up to "Attorney General" William Barr. I won't get into the outrage of his initial false summary, his claim of spying on Trump which he later had to walk back, his redactions -- and let's be clear, there is A LOT that is redacted in this Report -- and his total obfuscation of the press conference before releasing the Report that not only gave a completely different explanation of what was Mueller's team had written in black-and-white, but he literally lied, because if I did this would go on almost endlessly. But I will bring up his attempt to use Trump’s "frustration" with the Mueller investigation as his reason for protecting Trump against obstruction of justice..
Frustration. Yes, really.
I can't do much better than my friend Bart Baker, who is one of the world's great professional ranters, yet was able to be be remarkably pithy. But what he wrote in brief still put it in excellent perspective --
"Contemplate this a moment: The AG of the US just made frustration a legal defense. 'I was frustrated sitting in traffic so I drove on the sidewalk. Sorry I killed those people walking there but I should be found not guilty by reason of frustration.' Fucking insane."
[Note: Yes, I'm aware that I previously typed the word as the more demure "f*cked," so this might appear contradictory. But one does not mess around with the language of Bart Baker. Nor attempt to ever make him seem demure...]
Those who believe that Trump comes off great in this Report do so only if you choose to be willfully ignorant. The Report was a roadmap of corruption, obstruction of justice, unethical behavior, collusion, lying and more by a man who swore to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, so help him God. And by the swamp he surrounded himself with. (Let us not forget that there have already been nine guilty verdicts as a result of the Mueller investigation -- and 36 additional indictments...so far.) And all this while Russia was attacking the United States and, as the Report states clearly, the Trump team knew about it and were fine with it. And the only reason he didn't get indicted is because Robert Mueller "determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment" because the Justice Department says a president can't be indicted.
Innocent? Cleared. Exonerated? Hey, don't take my word that his corrupt actions fill the Report. Listen to the expert himself --
"Oh, my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I'm f*cked."
This is a 400-page document explaining in meticulous, even-handed detail and painstaking research why Trump said that.
Being willfully ignorant is no virtue. And what you close your eyes to can hurt you. Keep in mind that the Mueller Report is not even remotely the end -- as damning as it is. The SDNY has its ongoing investigations, as do the New York State Attorney General, the New York City District Attorney, and about half-dozen House committees.
And lest you missed it -- there is an appendix in the Report where the Mueller team recommends 14 additional investigations to be pursued by others, since they fall outside his purview. And 12 of them were fully redacted. This was not just a Report on what happened, it was an outline of how others can pick up the investigation or after Trump leaves office file charges at that point,
In the end, I’m not put off by the many people who will choose to be blind and ignorant saying, see, Trump was right, he’s done nothing wrong – because a) they’re the ones Trump was referring to who he said would vote for him even if he shot someone on Fifth Avenue, and b) if there had even been indictments of Trump in the Report, most of these people would still have said Trump did nothing wrong, that it was a biased, political, Deep State witch hunt.
Instead, my foundation is that there will be 25% of Republicans who will be blind to everything. And another 10% who are so deeply entrenched as lifelong Republicans that they will twist themselves into pretzels to convince themselves that Trump is okay enough because they just can’t see voting for a Democrat. What’s important and what I focus on is the 30% in the middle (Independents and moderate Republicans alike) who are uncertain of the truth, troubled by what they hear, and are open to listening before they’ve finally had enough of corruption, collusion, taking babies from their parents, destroying health care, giving tax breaks to billionaires and more. Just shifting 3% of those people would be massively significant. It would turn a close election into a landslide – it changes a 51-49% squeaker into 54-46%. And that’s just a mere 3% switch. Now make it 5% or perhaps 10%. That’s a very low bar, it’s not only not trying to convince everyone, but not even trying to convince most people, yet even just a small shift is overwhelmingly meaningful.
Republicans can say, “Let’s move on” all they want. Democrats are not moving on. And I don’t think most of the public is either. Polls show that 80% of people want to see the full report. They want to know.
And then eventually come all the civil suits, against Individual 1. This is no small thing. Consider: the Mueller Report itself actually states the Justice Department policy that, "a President does not have immunity after he leaves office."
Trump did not get indicted. By policy, Trump could not get indicted or prosecuted. And so Trump did not get indicted. Make no mistake -- the Report says that's the reason. Not because he did nothing wrong. Nor illegal. Trump has just had a 400-page document explaining all he did that was profoundly wrong, unethical, corrupt...and illegal. And much of it was redacted, so we don't even know it all or the worst. Yet. We will, I'm quite sure.
And it was just the start.