Tag Archives: Mueller Report

181. Mueller Testimony and Implications for Impeachment

25 Jul

Robert Mueller has just provided testimony (July 24, 2019) related to his Special Counsel Report, before two House committees. His performance has been described as weak and not inspirational. (Note that Mueller is a Republican.)

.       Mueller’s voice was weak, but what he stated was powerful.

Mueller is almost 75 years old. I am an older person so I have a personal understanding of the effects of aging, as well as considerable research. After age 70 or so, it is common to have a gradually progressive memory loss and other physical problems. A couple of years ago, when he started the investigation, Mueller was probably more competent. I am sure that at that time he was quite capable of hiring an excellent staff and providing good leadership and organizational procedures. His report was created by a group of about 17 experts in this area. I think the report is sound and although his current committee performance was not perfect, it was effective. If you look at what was actually said by him and questioners, you could feel very confident. The important features of the report were clearly defined, a list of impeachable actions was confirmed, and appropriate warnings about future election interference were provided. He emphasized that there were no exonerations, and that there were serious findings in the area of obstruction. Trump’s claims of no collusion and no obstruction were false.

It is now up to Democrat leaders to do what is right for the USA, and not focus on irrelevant imperfections. In this area, opinion polls are also irrelevant, and impeachment even without conviction, has the value of making a statement. Below, I have provided more detail on this point.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi  has taken the position that the House should not move forward on impeachment without major Congressional and public support. She is concerned that  Senate acquittal, which is likely,  would be seen as a win for Trump.

Here are possible fallacies of her argument. First, with or without a Senate conviction, Trump will always claim that he has won and is totally innocent. What Trump and Republicans claim cannot be controlled and should not be considered. Second, As actual articles of impeachment are developed, public and leadership support could substantially increase. Third, and most important, impeachment without conviction still makes a profound statement: that Donald Trump does not represent a majority of our people. It will help assure that foreign leaders and people will not view us as crude and erratic. For many years the USA has been a leader in advancing good government and ethics, and an impeachment will help to preserve this image. Impeachment will also serve to define and clarify the improper and criminal acts of his presidency.

One further point: impeachment must be for “high crimes and misdemeanors.” That requirement is satisfied by public reporting — even without testimony or the M. Report. But, I think Congress must also consider other acts of wrongdoing, which are not defined by criminal laws. I am not going to detail a large literature (including my own blogs) of such infractions, which include: failure to divest financial interests, numerous well-established lies, failure to produce income tax returns, prevention of testimony, chosing statements of Putin and others over our intelligence agencies, lack of traditional transparency, governing by tweet, secret meetings with foreign adversaries, major inconsistencies and reversals, and creating a staff with many criminals and unethical wealthy people.

 

176. Impeachment: Current Issues

16 Jun

President Trump impeachment is probably the chief issue of this time, June 16, 2019. Although such issues as “climate change” may ultimately have more impact, the Trump presidency affects all major issues. For clarity, I have outlined two broad categories: possible procedures, and popular arguments.

Procedures relevant to impeachment.

Immediate all out effort to Impeach.

Impeach when there is overwhelming public support for it

Impeach when there is likely a favorable Senate vote.

Start with “investigation” and optionally move to impeachment

Impeach if new solid criminal findings appear.

Never impeach and no further investigation.

Arguments related to impeachment.

Republicans generally disregard Mueller Report findings and argue that impeachment is purely an unwarranted Democrat attack. The Democrat counter argument is that Mueller clearly stated that he was not exonerating the President on any major charge. About 1000 USA prosecutors argue that there is clear evidence for obstruction of justice, and the Report provides substantial evidence.

Even if impeachment does not lead to conviction, it makes an important statement: that Trump does not represent the majority of Americans. Foreign leaders will take note and will view the USA more favorably. And, Republicans not voting for conviction will be held responsible for Trump’s failures.

Immediate impeachment is argued, because the damage to our country by the President is worsening day by day and he must be stopped. In several previous blogs, I have listed all of these negative Trump actions and his tendency towards tyranny. Briefly, the major negative areas are: judicial appointments, eliminating safety/pollution regulations, and failures in foreign diplomacy (most apparent is that his inconsistency lessens trust).

Citizen support for impeachment has now reached almost 50% and will certainly increase as evidence accumulates, and there is additional testimony.  Simply having Special Counsel Mueller reiterating his findings could be powerful.

Many Republicans secretly want impeachment, and if given the opportunity will vote for it — since when out of office, Trump can no longer harm them. This could swing the Senate in favor of conviction.

Impeachment is difficult, so instead, nullify Trump through new congressional laws and judicial rulings. State governments and laws can mitigate bad Trump actions. An example is states backing climate-change, which he has opposed.

Why bother to impeach because he will surely lose the next election. The counter argument is that it is possible for him to win, and impeachment is another opportunity for definitely removing him from office.

For a while, some argued that Trump wanted an impeachment. This was found to be false when he clearly stated it was a big negative.

Recently, Trump has blocked all testimony and provision of documents related to the investigation of his administration. He has advised his associates to ignore subpoenas. This alone is clear evidence of obstruction.

Although gathering more evidence of impeachable actions is helpful, there is already ample evidence from public presidential actions and from the M. Report.

My take on what Democrats should do is: develop  a list of actual quotations (with page citations) from the M. Report, that could lead to impeachment. This one to two page list could be published in a variety of ways to affect public sentiment. Methods to publicize could be: YouTube, massive mailings, billboards, newspaper ads, TV ads, political speeches,  etc. In other words, make a convenient short list of impeachment facts for massive distribution.

 

 

 

175. Current Issues, Briefly, #5

14 Jun

This is the 5th of a series of blogs with brief discussions of current issues. The material is based on my Tweets, unpublished thoughts, and descriptions of various publications that I feel are worth repeating and emphasizing.

Just out: the list of 20 presidential candidates for the first debate. All things considered, I think Elizabeth Warren is the top choice. Almost all the candidates would do a good job and would be a thousand times better than the current POTUS. Some other great people have disadvantages such as being too old. I must remark that being old is not just a number; it is well known that when all people reach about 70 or 80 they begin a progressive reduction in mental ability and in memory. Most also acquire physical maladies that can be very distracting. (Trump is 73.)

Dems need all votes possible, and some great candidates will automatically lose the votes of racist and other jaded voters; sad to say. If candidate leader Joe Biden, 76, (age 80 during first term) were nominated, I would certainly support him, and he could do well for four years by gathering a group of great consultants. But Warren, age 69, has every feature needed for great leadership. I must add that it is gratifying to me that all of the candidates support climate change actions.

Poetic justice: Sarah Sanders (proven liar) is leaving office and Kellyanne Conway is the subject of a Federal watchdog agency inquiry. This is justice for two pathetic sycophants. Trump’s staff is mostly criminals, scofflaws, and blatant liars.

THOUGHTS ON IMPEACHMENT.            Impeachment has been discussed in a variety of ways. But the main effect (given a Republican Senate) is a very important statement: that Trump does NOT represent the goals or ethics of a majority of USA people. Foreign leaders must wait for a decent, responsible USA President.

Tom Steyer has the right idea, impeach the President now. As the process moves forward, the evidence will increase and become clear to the US public. Support will increase. It is the right thing to do. The Trump tyranny and destruction must end ASAP.

The process of impeachment must begin ASAP. Trump is constantly causing serious trouble for the US. Clear evidence regarding OBSTRUCTION is in the Mueller Report, and has been confirmed by a 1000 former prosecutors. Currently, there is a shift towards more public support.

Impeachment is “a dirty, filthy, disgusting word,” according to Trump. This proves to me that, contrary to some opinions, he definitely does not want impeachment. Also, I don’t think impeachment will lose Democrat  votes. It makes the “right” statement here and abroad.

Justin Amash is a real hero. He is a Republican Congressman that provided excellent arguments for Trump impeachment. He is the only Republican doing so and faces a storm of protest. Hopefully, other Repubs will follow. Bravo!   —————————————–

Our narcissistic President is controlled by flattery. Kim Jong Un has beaten Trump by continuing his weapon development. Trump ignores the safety of us, Japan, and S. Korea. He “loves” Kim. Pathetic and dangerous!

Elizabeth Warren has a long and consistent support for the USA “non-rich” class. For many years she was my top Presidential  choice. Now she is surging. She has strength, enthusiasm, high intelligence, humanity, relevant experience, etc. What a great choice.

Read the whole Mueller Report? Nonsense. Democrat leaders should publish one or two page summaries with important quotes (with page references). When the M. Report was published, I skimmed it, picked out important quotes, and made a blog about it. Finding relevant facts is easy, just an hour or two.

Like a child with a new toy, Trump imposes (or threatens) tariffs, even on our most loyal allies (such as Mexico) to solve world problems. He and staff lie about who pays;  actually the USA consumer, through higher prices. Importers pay the tariffs and pass on costs to sellers and manufacturers.  Ignored are the negative US economic and employment tariff effects. Trump likes tariffs because this money (effectively a tax) helps support his self-serving agenda.

For years, the only person that really troubled me was the President. Now I feel that same way about our Attorney General Barr and Senate Majority Leader McConnell — three men that have no shame.  Maybe I should add most Republicans. Barr totally distorts the role of A. G., which should be an independent office. McConnell blocks all legitimate legislation (much of it passed by the House) that is not strictly supported by Trump. An irony is the “transparency” of their bad deeds. They openly do unethical things, except that Trump does have secret meetings and communications, mostly with authoritarians.

Justin Amash is a real hero. He is a Republican Congressman that provided excellent arguments for Trump impeachment. So far, he is the only Republican doing so and faces a storm of protest. Hopefully, other Repubs will follow. Bravo!

Michael Cohen (former Trump lawyer) stated to House Intelligence  Committee that Jay Sekulow (Trump attorney) instructed him to lie about Trump Tower, Moscow. Sekulow emphasized that Cohen is a liar. But it is significant that Cohen lied as a Trump loyalist, supporting a USA President. All facts considered, I think Sekulow and Trump are the genuine liars, who have no excuses.

Trump’s simplistic strategy with Iran is just another example of how his major method, US coercion, is not effective. Iranian people are being devastated by sanctions, but the leaders are not yielding. He should have kept the Nuclear Deal and built on that, using allies & talks.

Article1 Section8 of US Constitution states: “Powers of Congress, to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations.” Why is Trump setting tariffs and making trade rules when Congress is explicitly required to do so? Here and in other areas, he claims that his actions are required because of emergencies, a mis-characterization.  Why isn’t this aberration subject to Federal Court action?

A private prison at North Lake, Michigan is opening again, after major political contributions to Trump and others. Private prisons make big profits for the owner and often reduce funds for decent inmate care. North Lake is for immigrants, and the remote area makes finding legal counsel difficult.

Trump criticized Obama for the Iran nuclear deal, and he cancelled it. This deal had the support of most major nations and was proven to be stopping Iran’s nuclear development. It is true that the deal did not prevent all illicit actions by Iran, but it addressed the most critical area and was of great value. If Trump wanted an improvement he could have left this important feature intact and tried to add further rules But he did not, and has achieved nothing with his nationalistic plan that ignores allies and stokes military actions. This is just another area where arrogant Trump acted alone, without appropriate consultation, and did not seek the support of allies. Often Trump’s goal is just to nullify everything Obama achieved.

Most of the Republican/Trump tax bill did not live up to its promises (for first year), according to Heather Long of the Washington Post (4-15-19, see Tax day 2019:).  Further, as time goes on there will be less middle-class and USA benefit. Corporations spent much of the extra money on stock buybacks instead of higher wages. Meanwhile, the tax cuts have greatly increased our US national debt.

 

 

 

 

 

170. 800 Prosecutors Can’t be Wrong!

9 May

Briefly: Barr and McConnell have lied, Trump in a rage suppresses everything, M. Report shows obstruction, 800 prosecutors agree, some say Constitutional Crisis, Trump a billion-$ loser, Trump Jr was subpoenaed.  Are we at a turning point?

In the last day or two there have been dramatic events related to the Trump investigation and Robert Mueller Report. Here are the most important developments. I also have to add that my Blog-169 entitled “In the USA, an Emerging Tyranny?” was written two days earlier, Monday May 6. The six steps towards tyranny anticipate many of today’s events, such as Trump’s total suppression of testimony, documents, and subpoenas.

One of the most important events is the posting on the web site Medium of a letter from (as of now) 800 former prosecutors,  including both Republicans and Democrats. (Trump says he is exonerated.)  Here is the second paragraph:

“Each of us believes that the conduct of President Trump described in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report would, in the case of any other person not covered by the Office of Legal Counsel policy against indicting a sitting President, result in multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice.”  

In a tweet today (@RichardLeeWB), I wrote:  I think there is already plenty of evidence for Trump indictments and impeachment from the Mueller Report and other information. So we could forget unwilling testimony and Trump obstruction. Note: impeachment even without conviction still makes an important statement, here and globally.

Today, the House Judiciary Committee voted 24 to 16 to hold Attorney General Barr in contempt for defying a Mueller Report subpoena. The committee wants the entire report as a part of their oversight investigation process. The Congress, which is of equal standing to the Executive branch, has a constitutional responsibility for Executive oversight.

A few days ago, Attorney General William Barr refused to testify before the House Judiciary Committee because he did not like the format. Claims that the examination by an outside lawyer was unprecedented, are false. An example is the recent supreme court hearings for Kavanaugh where Dr. Ford was questioned.

Several years of Trump’s early tax returns were examined by reporters of the NY Times. Examination of the period 1985 to 1994  indicates an incredible business loss of over one billion dollars.

Trump Jr was subpoenaed by the GOP-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee to testify regarding the Russian investigation.  This is the first time one of the Trump family members was subpoenaed.

President Trump told reporters that “we are fighting all the subpoenas.” He has decided to restrict all testimony and documents that the Congress has every right to receive. This is based on “executive privilege.”  Please see my previous Blog-169 that outlines the step by step emergence of Tyranny.

 

 

 

 

168. What Stands Out, in This Complicated World

7 May

For an ordinary citizen of the USA, I would guess that there are so many political events and ideas reported by the media — that it may be difficult to decide what is important and what to focus on. I see my role as a blogger, to help explain important current issues in a clear way. And, of course, I admit that I see the world in my own special way and with my own set of beliefs. Maybe I should explain just a little more. I believe in the following: Kindness wherever possible, a strong and prosperous middle class, the spirit of the US Constitution, respect for 99% of the law, and that the vote of every citizen should have an equal effect. To further explain the last point, a very wealthy person should not have extra influence on elections.

Here are my choices for the most outstanding and important current ideas and issues.

Climate-Change disasters are already here and we must make every effort to work on this problem, including considerable research and construction of “green” devices. This effort will take some money, but next to nothing compared to the expense of neglecting it. Briefly, numerous populated lowland areas will be permanently flooded, there will be massive migrations, and increased fires and hurricanes. Actual global warming is increasing faster than previously estimated. Climate change work must be funded, just like our military, government and other necessary agencies without asking where will the money come from.

We must put much more effort into protecting our elections from Russia and maybe other meddlers. Generally, our voting system must be hardened and reliable. Trump has put little effort into protecting our election system, but there are some efforts by various agencies and state governments to help. Our President has little interest because the meddlers have helped him.

Our government must support scientific and tech research, which can improve our lives and help with increasing population. For example, we must stop condemning GMO foods (see my blogs) and do sufficient research to improve trust in this valuable method. Nature is constantly modifying the DNA of all living things, and does not inform us of changes. GMO changes are known and we can test their safety. Humans have changed DNA for many centuries by animal and plant breeding; GMO is a similar, but quicker and more effective.

We clearly need improvements to our health care system. Abolishment of ObamaCare without a good replacement would be a catastrophe for millions of US citizens. ObamaCare provides more citizens with insurance and more safeguards for insurance loss due to various limits and pre-existing conditions.

We must maintain good relationships with our traditional allies: Canada, Mexico, members of the EU (and UK), Australia, India, Scandinavians, Japan, and others. We must very carefully work out an appropriate relationship with China and Russia. International relationships are very complicated and require the participation of many experts. Our current gov is simplistic and often resorts to coercion when good diplomacy is better. It also uses trade policies without considering all the possible effects.

Although sanctions can be useful in forcing more responsible government, they can be ineffective because the leaders of a country will always have plenty of food and various  luxuries. It’s the ordinary citizens that suffer the most. Sometimes really good, intelligent negotiation is better.

Immigration issues at our Southern border must be worked out in a reasonable and humanitarian way. This, of course, is a very complicated issue, with many valid interests to consider. Repubs and Dems must work together and form a viable plan. Our current gov has ignored real solutions and has taken action for purely political purposes, causing needless suffering for many.

The Robert-Mueller-Report makes NO statements of innocence, and includes facts related to many administration crimes, illicit actions, various wrongdoings, and suspicious activity. Ignoring these findings would be a disaster for our country. In order to satisfy certain rules and traditions, conclusions have been ignored, and left to Congress. The evidence provided in the Report can be used for various legal actions and when appropriate for articles of impeachment.

Our new Attorney General, William Barr, is a Trump sycophant who lies, and cannot be trusted. He must be nullified in some way.

Those who believe in democracy always include a free and independent press as one of the most important requirements. The best reporters, like those who work at major newspapers, don’t attack anyone without good cause. If a leader hates the press, then likely he is corrupt and making big mistakes.

Many writers have tried to explain the bizarre behavior of our President. Here are my thoughts: his desperation to keep voters leads him to contradictions, such as supporting both Israel/Jews and Neo-Nazis (Charlottesville conflict). He has no ideals or patriotism, and is only motivated by self-interest. Like most older people, he is somewhat affected by Alzheimer’s disease, which produces memory loss, repetition, and confusion. Stress and sleep loss may be other factors.

For more ideas, please read my other blogs and my tweets,   @RichardLeeWB.

 

167. Slippery Barr Defies Logic (Revised)

2 May

US Attorney General William Barr says that the word “spying” is the same as “investigating.” Spying is more sinister and he knows it. When Russia sends “spies” over here, do we call them “investigators”: NO.  Barr, a Trump sycophant,  is saying that the investigations of Trump’s administration, approved by numerous officials at the highest levels and by FISA courts, are somehow illicit and can be called spying. That would mean that a dozen FBI officials and judges (mostly Republicans) all conspired to persecute Trump for no reason.

If you read the M. Report carefully, you will not see anywhere, a statement of “innocence.” For all questions, either evidence is presented or it is stated that no evidence proving a crime was found; implying that further investigation could lead to such evidence. White House Lawyer Emmet flood confirmed in a letter that a prosecutor never finds that anyone is “innocent” or “exonerated.”

Barr said that he was not “summarizing” the Report, but was only stating the verdicts. But the analogy does not hold, because this is not a trial with verdicts. The Report is primarily a summary of evidence, presented without conclusion, to be used by Congress (not the A.G.) to decide on impeachment. Impeachment is somewhat different from ordinary criminal rules and procedures. Slippery Barr tried to say he was presenting verdicts; nonsense. The public does not care what this Trump sycophant thinks, it wants a decision from Congress.

Regarding  “conspiracy” or “collusion”, there was no clear evidence of an actual crime. But there were plenty of suspicious interactions of Trump and staff with Russians that indicated illicit Russian influence. The Trump-Putin exchange did not have to be based on money, it could have simply been based on Russian help with the election. The interactions include secret Trump-Putin meetings without any US officials, such as the Secretary of State. Contrary to usual governmental procedures, there was no official discussion before or after these meetings. There were numerous communications by Presidential staff with Russian leaders and favors for Putin, like delaying sanctions. Refusal to believe (for a long time), that Russia influenced the election. Putin was treated like an ally, instead of an aggressor (partially taking over Ukraine) and a killer of reporters (that Trump did not condemn). The suspicious acts of Trump were numerous and sufficient to start an investigation, without any need for the Steele Dossier.

I already discussed Barr’s prejudicial scheduling of the release of the redacted Mueller Report. First, it was released on the Thursday before the Friday holiday and a vacation time, so that no actions could be taken for a while. Even worse, about three weeks later, the press conference where slippery Barr presented his incorrect views of the Report, was held two hours before the Report was released, so that he could not be properly questioned. Thus, sycophant Barr had two opportunities to present his distorted views before anyone could read the Report. The American public paid millions of dollars for this vital investigation, which Trump, through Barr, claimed exoneration.

Mueller sent two letters to Barr stating that his interpretation of the Report was faulty. Barr stated that in conversations, Mueller said his interpretation was satisfactory. Until we have more testimony, we need to accept the written version, that Barr mislead the American people.

Thom Hartmann  writes (Salon, March 26, 2019) that back in 1992 Bill Barr did a cover up similar to what happened today. He reportedly buried evidence related to “the Iran-Contra scandal.” Conservative William Safire referred to him as the “Coverup-General. 

The manner in which Barr got his job as A.G. is very troubling. Back in June 8, 2018, Barr wrote a memo regarding “obstruction of Justice” that was favorable to Pres. Trump. It supported the view that an AG would not have to recuse himself regarding supervision of the Muelller investigation. Trump liked this idea and it probably influenced his decision to nominate Barr.

This morning, slippery Barr did not show up for his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, claiming that his examination by an outside attorney was somehow wrong. There is recent precedence for this: the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearing (October 2018), where an outside attorney did some of the questioning. A historical search shows that there were many instances of questioning by staff or outside counsel.

 

 

 

164. Mueller Report: Obstruction

18 Apr

I downloaded both parts of the approximately 400 page Mueller Report as a PDF file. There are extensive findings regarding obstruction of justice. I could find no evidence listed in the report that would disprove obstruction.  Attorney General Barr’s summary did indicate that there was no exoneration with respect to obstruction. He could have added that there is a sizeable amount of evidence that proves obstruction.

The parts of the report presented contained a considerable amount of important information. My impression is that the redactions were (at least mostly) proper. We probably can thank Rod Rosenstein and Robert Mueller’s participation for that.

There are several sections in the report that deal with different types of obstruction.  I found particularly interesting a section that starts on Volume 2 page 131, titled “Analysis.” The parties involved were Flynn, Manafort, and Cohen. For each of these, a considerable amount of information was provided. I have listed below some brief excerpts that reflect the arguments. The reader can download the Report from several sources, read the full section (and other areas) and make his own judgements. As opposed to what AG Barr stated, Mueller did feel he was limited in drawing conclusions because of the special status of “President.” This is noted in several areas. As a result, Mueller chose not to accuse Trump of obstruction and assumed that Congress could make that decision.

Michael Flynn.   Some excerpts:   “The President sent private and public messages to Flynn encouraging him to stay strong and conveying that the President still cares about him.” As Flynn provided testimony against him, Trump’s statements became negative.

Paul Manafort.    Some excerpts:   “there is evidence that the President”s actions had the potential to influence Manafort’s decision whether to cooperate with the government”,  “pardon was possible” for Manafort,  he “did not want Manafort to flip“, “the President called the prosecution a terrible situation and a hoax

Michael Cohen.  Some excerpts:  “The President publicly asserted that Cohen would not ‘flip’ and privately passed messages of support to him”,  “Cohen also discussed pardons with the President’s personal counsel”  Later, the President called him a “rat” and “suggested his family members had committed crimes.”

A President of the USA should know that remarks and promises made to a party under investigation are improper and certainly can affect testimony. 

I am still reading the long report. To understand it, you must realize that Mueller is considering strict interpretations of criminal law. However, Congress has much more leeway in making decisions and conclusions. Although some behavior does not fit the exact definitions of a specific crime, they can look at a constellation of illicit actions and make conclusions. The 400 page report documents numerous improper and possibly criminal actions. Regarding the complicated “collusion” concept, there are numerous documented interactions with Russians, many secret, that are highly suspicious. Several of my previous, older blogs cover these.