Now that Mueller said this-and-not-that, where do we go from here?
Mr. Mueller, constantly defended as the Gold Standard of Investigatorism by his supporters on the Left, suddenly finds himself without friends.
Why? Because he didn’t do what he was supposed to do, which was lay out convincing evidence that Donald Trump conspired with Russia to defraud the 2016 election. Yes, there were ad hoc contacts with the Russian from the Trump Campaign, which was unwisely heavily populated with people who stood to have financial gain from the normalization of the Russian/US business environment. But there was zero evidence that the contacts were planned, or that they had some sort of nefarious objective other than making this person or that richer; and the ones who seemed to have the least Russian contacts were Trump and his immediate family.
So, no crime. Remember that; it’s important. NO CRIME.
So, the focus immediately moves to the other part of the investigation, that being the question of Mr. Trump’s alleged obstruction of justice. And the focus moved fast; Democrats, their talking points still flashing on their smartphones, lined up to point out that what Mr. Mueller had actually done is give them a roadmap by which to impeach the President for the crime that didn’t occur. And this has been quite the heated topic of late, with various (and credentialed) commentators waxing philosophic (which is a kind way of saying “trying to read Mr. Mueller’s mind”) on the intent of his “10 points” and how they immediately need to move forward on them, for the good of the nation.
(Whenever a politician tells me they’re doing something for the good of the nation, I check to make sure my wallet is in my handbag. It would be wise for you to do the same. But, I digress.)
In one such diatribe, a lawyer-ex-FBI-agent reads between the lines and decides that Mr. Mueller didn’t levy an accusation of obstruction because he was being kind to Mr. Trump (legally speaking), and if he could have levied the accusation, he would have. (I’ll leave it for your own perusal, here.)
Possibly true. Possibly, although I expect Mr. Mueller will deny it vehemently when he testifies in front of Congress. But, even if his intent WAS to lay out a roadmap for impeachment, Mr. Barr laid out the President’s defense in his press conference, stating that Mr. Trump’s actions and words, although consistent with a person seeking to obstruct justice, were ALSO consistent with the actions and words of an innocent man given no legal avenue to clear his name. (Mr. Barr is far from the first observer to point this out.)
That all said, the Democrats appear to be leaving port and about to set sail for a destination called “impeach the president on charges of obstruction”; and that they will also attack those who defend the President on a MORAL platform, that being that his behaviors, outlined in Mr. Mueller’s 10 Points, are so beneath the office of the President that one should be ashamed for defending him.
But should one be ashamed for defending a President who has acted legally but untowardly? Or, should one be ashamed for defending a President who perhaps DID act illegally, but where no crime was committed?
Thankfully, we have recent precedent to guide us.
In 1998, Mr. Clinton did, in fact, commit a crime; that of lying to a grand jury. This is called “perjury”, as all well know, and it can be categorized as a particularly egregious example of obstruction of justice. The outcome of that event is also well known; despite the fact that Mr. Clinton committed a felony in his efforts to hide his culpability, his successful defense argued (a) that standard to remove the President had not been met, (b) the charges were politically motivated, and (c ) that the circumstances of his alleged infraction were circumstantial and inconsistent.
Politically, the public’s support for Clinton did not flip, on the general view that this was “only lying about sex”. In other words, the public gave Mr. Clinton a pass because his motivation for lying was not criminal, but embarrassment.
Compare that now to a possible impeachment trial in the Senate for Mr. Trump.
Since he had, by Mr. Mueller’s own conclusion, committed no crime, he could not have been acting to cover up a crime; instead, he was defending his Presidency against what he most assuredly saw as an attempt at a coup. Thus, there’s little question that charges against him, then, are (compare to above) politically motivated, and even a read of Mueller’s own report shows events which are circumstantial and inconsistent.
In short, Clinton’s own defense strategy is essentially Mr. Trump’s, if it comes to that. And his supporters, instead of having to argue that it was “only sex” (IOW, he was lying about something embarrassing but not criminal) can argue “no crime was committed at all”, giving them ample cover against the moralists.
Like all things Trumpian, this should be entertaining. But I expect nothing to change. You want him out, vote him out. He’s not going anywhere, and nobody who supports him on this matter has any reason to be ashamed for doing so.
Because, there is precedent for you not to be ashamed.