Hidey-ho y’all! I’m back in the fray and rarin’ to go, and don’t feel at all like taking a hatchet to my own head! This was expected, right? A lot of folks predicted it. I was already steeling myself to accept it. What’s to despair about? Right?
So, this is what A.G. Barr is saying about what Mueller concluded.
On obstruction of justice, the Special Counsel said it was a tough call and punted it to Barr, the faithful A.G., (can you believe it? 22 months and the guy says “beats me”?), so, OK, Barr harrumphed, “I’ll do it myself then!”, took the ball, and said that what Donny did doesn’t tick all the legal boxes for criminal obstruction. You need corrupt intent for that, and while we never actually sat Donny down and put it to him, who knows what he meant to do with all those public and private efforts to denigrate, delegitimize, and halt the investigation? Who can really say, for example, why Donny fired Comey and tried to fire Mueller too? What Donny said on TV, he didn’t mean that. He was just goofin’ around.
On the collusion front, the proper legal term is conspiracy, folks, and for that you need evidence of some sort of meeting of the minds, you know, like how you legally form a contract. The word actually used in Barr’s letter is “coordination”, which requires either an express or tacit agreement, as he defines it. Despite all the smoke, Mueller can’t prove there was that sort of fire, though yeah, for sure, many overt offers were made by the Russians to help, usually through cut-outs, the better to remain covert. That we can prove;
and yes, certainly, the whole Trump team knew the Russians were fucking around, and sure, various members of the campaign team would have gleefully taken anything the Russians wanted to give them – Don Junior, for example, was explicit in saying so in his emails, voicing his eagerness to get Russian dirt;
and sure, the flip-side of the Russians making several attempts to get some sort of coordinated plan up and running is that members of the Trump team must have taken a few meetings, again, mostly with cut-outs, like that one in Trump Tower, and at least entertained the idea;
and yes, OK, none of them told the FBI they knew what the Russians were up to, even though they knew they should because the FBI had privately warned them about Russian skullduggery, and told them who to call if they caught even the merest whiff of it;
and yes, fine, they all lied through their teeth about the Russian tail wind that was blowing them to the White House, hoping that the public wouldn’t get all riled up and demand something be done about it;
certainly, too, this whole Wikileaks business may connect indirectly, from the GRU to Assange to Roger Stone and thence to the Trump campaign, but if there was any coordination there it was with Assange, not the Russians;
plus, of course, there was Donald’s own greasy side deal to build his beloved tower in Moscow, which he struggled to consummate long into the campaign, lying about it all the way, which gave him a rather nasty conflict of interest, and may even have exposed him to Putin’s leverage – it’s never a good idea for a Russian dictator to know you’re lying to your own public – but that’s not really a campIgn issue, but a question as to how much Donald might have been compromised personally;
and none of that means there was any agreement between the Trump Campaign and the Russians government.
Maybe you could say that Trump and his team did what they could to clear the road, as it were, for the Russians to travel down as they saw fit. That’s different; and I know how a layperson looks at things, but if Trump says on TV “Hey Russia, steal Hillary’s emails”, and a bunch of guys in the GRU salute smartly and promptly hack the living crap out of the entire Clinton campaign, that’s just one guy suggesting something, and another guy deciding it’s a good idea. That’s not coordination, for gosh sakes. Well, not legally, anyway. Not as defined.
Nor is it coordination, as such, to send Putin clear signals by, among other things, steadfastly denying that the Russians were doing anything at all, which conveyed the message that if Donald won, there sure wouldn’t be any consequences coming for their interference. That may have made Vlad and his merry men more comfortable, and you might even conclude that they wouldn’t have attempted this caper at all, unless they knew that if they pulled it off, they’d be home free, so arguably, Donald in effect gave them a go code: “Do your worst and it’ll be nothing but love and kisses if I win”. Yes – in effect. That’s the key. Nobody directly phoned the Kremlin and said “have at it”, God forfend. Donald just did a little of the old nudge nudge, wink wink, in his public statements. OK, a lot. That’s still a different thing. Yes it is. It is. Stop it, yes it is – I’m the lawyer here. It doesn’t match the defined term they created for “coordination”.
Like I said in my last post on this, Mueller was investigating crimes, not whether the whole thing stinks to the very gates of Heaven and makes you want to barf, and certainly not whether it’s OK for a guy to get to the Oval Office with the strenuous aid of a hostile foreign power, gratefully accepted, and materially abetted, in a non-coordinated sort of way.
The obstruction call is a bit strange. Why would Mueller decline to reach a conclusion? Who better than him? Why would he substitute anyone else’s judgment for his own? And of all people to punt it to, why leave the call on obstruction to a guy who lobbied for his job with an unsolicited 19 page memo touting the bizarre legal theory that it’s actually impossible for a President to obstruct justice? Is that really how it played out? Is Barr pulling a bit of a fast one here? Is it possible Mueller made no determination on obstruction because you can’t indict the President anyway? Maybe we’ll never know. But otherwise, he couldn’t get the goods, not to cross the finish line where they drew it, anyway, and in a better world that would be fine. What’s provably criminal is one thing, slimy and impeachable, another, just like “treason” is one thing and low-down miserably traitorous is another. But the political end, the part where elected officials do what Madison et.al. expected them to do, that’s not happening.
So there it is. I’m surprised that they couldn’t actually substantiate “coordination” with the Russians, what with all that quacking and waddling like a duck that went on, and you gotta wonder why everybody lied about all their contacts with Russians, if nothing untoward was going on, but there you have it. I think something’s rotten in Denmark, but I would, wouldn’t I?
So this is maybe the best day of Donald’s life. The Trump 2020 Revenge and Vindication Tour can now begin. Meanwhile, the GOP will conflate Mueller’s conclusions on the Russia question with exoneration for all the many other awful and unlawful things that Trump does daily, and stonewall for the next two years. Case closed. It’s over. Get over it. Don’t be surprised if they push to re-investigate Benghazi and Hillary’s emails.
We just have to make ourselves ready for what comes next. I was wrong again. He’s not going to be gone before year-end. He’s not going to go away at all. It’s a good thing he’s so old, because the next obvious move would be a Constitutional amendment to do away with term limits, so Donald could be elected again and again and again. That or abolish elections because of an “emergency”, aided and abetted by SCOTUS.
But what am I thinking? With my luck Trump lives until he’s 110. With my luck, he’s in a diaper ranting through a bullhorn from the Truman Balcony 15 years after they plant me on the wrong side of the lawn.