APB: After Mueller

Attorney General William Barr’s letter to Congress summarizing the Mueller investigation that absolved Trump of collusion and determined that Trump would not be prosecuted for possible obstruction of justice brought joy to Trump, Republicans in Congress, and Moscow. But as many commentators pointed out, absent Mueller’s full report, the letter left more questions hanging than answers. So much information is already in the public domain about Trump’s efforts to undermine the investigation and the Trump campaign’s extensive contacts with Russia that his claims of exoneration, not to mention Barr’s summary (or cover-up?), cannot be taken seriously. David Leonhardt succinctly summarized the case for Trump’s unfitness for office:

He directed a criminal conspiracy to break campaign finance laws. He has used the presidency for personal enrichment. He has undermined democracy. He has damaged America’s global standing. He has lied repeatedly to the American people. He has obstructed justice. (New York Times, “Three Takeaways from the Barr Letter,” March 25, 2019)

Numerous investigations of Trump’s corruption, violations of campaign finance laws, security clearances, and obstruction of justice remain. More subpoenas and Congressional hearings lie ahead. The lies and secret dealings with Russia and other governments remain to be explained. Impeachment proceedings in the House of Representatives are not out of the question. The biggest problem for Democrats may now be maintaining public interest and avoiding overkill. As Dan Balz writes in the Washington Post (March 25): “House Democrats will have to think carefully about any potential payoffs. The party’s 2020 presidential candidates will have to consider whether there is a public appetite, beyond those who already despise the president, for investigations that could turn into partisan spectacles on Capitol Hill.”

For the moment Trump has the edge. He’ll be tweeting “total exoneration” endlessly. We need to keep our eye on the ball: 2020. Investigations may reveal criminal intent and indictable offenses. But removing Trump from office by the ballot box is clearly the only certain route to normalcy.

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5 Comments

  1. In addition to the report bringing joy to Trump, Republicans in Congress and Moscow, we shouldn’t forget Bibi. Bibi although under indictment will use Barrs summary as ammunition against his tormentors. Trump is the most admired US President in Israel. AIPAC convention is coming to DC soon and the timing could not be worse. I can see Trump and Bibi hugging on stage.

    Domestically let’s keep in mind that the US government writes instructions to the public at an 8th grade level for a good reason. So Trump’s ability to keep the messages simple: no collusion, witch hunt that cost $22 million and took 2 years, now the Dems want to drag on more investigations in the House etc. will resonate with a lot of people.

    I may be wrong once again, but I think polling in the next couple of weeks will paint a picture of the electorate saying enough is enough and time to move on.

    1. All very true. We can only hope that time will also erode Trump’s triumphalism and be replaced by Democratic accomplishments on health care, the environment, etc.

  2. Dear Mel and All:

    I take heart from David Leonhart’s case of The Drumpf’s unfitness for office; as well as Dan Balz’s cautionary note that was reported in “The Washington Post;” and/ or the election of 2020.

    In isolation, there is despair. We’ve all got to stick together in mutual support to see us through these son-of-a-bitching times.

  3. “For the moment Trump has the edge. He’ll be tweeting “total exoneration” endlessly. We need to keep our eye on the ball: 2020. Investigations may reveal criminal intent and indictable offenses. But removing Trump from office by the ballot box is clearly the only certain route to normalcy.”

    Precisely.

  4. I hope that the ballot box will bring down Trump and his party, but it is disappointing and a dangerous precedent, that he cannot be exposed as the malefactor that he is. Mueller may have made that possible. In the course of his investigation, he found apparently prosecutable actions, and he gave the information to other prosecutors who were not limited by his limited charge.

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