Monday, March 25, 2019

Barr Gives Trump A "Get Out Of Jail Free" Card. Now House Dems Need To Proceed With Hearings AND Impeachment

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The key section of the Barr summary yellow highlighted.

"What this outcome is not, however, is a “Complete and Total EXONERATION,” as Mr. Trump unsurprisingly spun it. Mr. Mueller explicitly declined to exonerate the president on the matter of obstruction of justice — a crime that constituted one of the articles of impeachment for both Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. After examining Mr. Trump’s actions and weighing “difficult issues” of law and fact, Mr. Mueller punted. “While this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” the report states."  - NY Times Editorial yesterday

"This letter causes me grave concern. Mueller made no conclusion one way or other, yet forty eight hours after receiving the report you have William Barr saying 'I conclude that the evidence isn't there'.  Particularly he says there's not evidence of Trump's intent. Now,  how the heck does he determine that 48 hours after a two year investigation, and particularly without even trying to interview Trump? What was his frame of mind?  I would expect any reasonable prosecutor to try to get that information. So I believe there's going to be fear among the American public that there's been a whitewash here." - Former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal, yesterday on MSNBC - interviewed after release of Barr's summary.

"Donald Trump got a pass. He will walk away from this not just free from consequence, but emboldened in the idea that he really is above and beyond any rules. And on the possible charge of obstruction, he got a very special intervention from Barr, who had advertised this part of the pass in his job application to be attorney general."- Mark Sumner, Daily Kos, March 24 


One of the headlines on the front page of  The Wall Street Journal today was:  'Democrats Press On With Their Probes'.    Well, what on god's green Earth did these nattering nabobs expect? That everything - all investigations into the criminal in the White House - would suddenly halt based on a measly, slanted  3 1/2 page summary?  One written, no less,  by a Trump- appointed toady to subvert justice?  Maybe the gracious GOP would have halted all probes (say on a President Hillary Clinton)  if the shoe were on the other foot (ROTFL!) but we sure as shit can't expect the Dems to throw in the towel now!  (Especially as we learn some 'pukes want to revamp investigations into the Clinton Foundation.)  So this is now political war, no holds barr-ed.

Up until yesterday afternoon I believed the biggest, most odious whitewash in American history was the Warren Commission Report. Now in the wake of William Barr's four-page summary of the Mueller Report we know his presumptuous missive trumps (no pun intended) that.  What am I talking about?  This is the same character - as former Solicitor General Neal Katyal noted yesterday (post summary) that cranked out a "kooky memo claiming a president could not be found guilty of obstruction of justice". 

Barr's words in the memo were:

"Mueller should not be permitted to demand that the President submit to interrogation about alleged obstruction….under this theory, simply by exercising his Constitutional discretion in a facially-lawful way — for example, by removing or appointing an official; using his prosecutorial discretion to give direction on a case; or using his pardoning power ~ a President can be accused of committing a crime based solely on his subjective state of mind. "

 In other words, arguing Trump is above the law since he can't be interrogated for flouting obstruction statutes. And hence, can never be found guilty of  transgressing such according to this specious reasoning.

Well yesterday Barr transported that kooky take directly into his pathetic, biased summary- thereby rendering a one-sided, rush to judgment conclusion: NO evidence of collusion with Russians and no evidence for obstruction of justice.  See e.g.

Basically tantamount to a "get out of jail free card",  while whitewashing Mueller's point that while Trump could not be prosecuted for a crime (on the evidence manifest and the legal standard) he could not be exonerated either.

Look, that Mueller  (mystifyingly) was unable to draw a firm conclusion “one way or the other” on whether Trump or anyone in the White House obstructed justice during the investigation, did not give Barr the right to answer the question for him.  That is, to make the conclusion Mueller refrained from making, for whatever reason.  As this commentary by Charlie Pierce  so colorfully put it:


"And thereby hangs the upcoming brawl. Mueller says essentially that he is drawing no conclusions on obstruction of justice. Meanwhile, Barr—and Rod Rosenstein—are saying that, because Mueller drew no conclusions, he did in fact draw a conclusion. The law, as it has been said, is an ass.

There will be insufferable cock-a-doodle-doo'ing from the usual suspects for the next two years, and we all better get used to it. I suspect that both Barr and Mueller will get hauled before various congressional committees."

The only reason for Barr's disinformation and subversion tactic is political: to muddy the waters ahead of any potential congressional investigations.  Especially to enable Trump's rabid Reeptard lapdogs and  enablers to try and intimidate the Dems into giving in and giving up - further investigations. And we've already beheld Trump butt lickers like Lindsey Graham yapping (WSJ, ibid.) "NO collusion and no obstruction. ..Now is the time to move on, govern the country...."      

Not on your miserable, cowardly life, you effing maggot! As if in a symmetric situation your GOP House would do the same!

Besides, why the hell should the Dems  adopt that pusillanimous posture based on a biased, 4-page summary where an AG - specifically appointed by Trump to get him off - put his own spin and stamp on Mueller's report before releasing it?  As Janice put it, "You mad or what?"

Not to mention the fact, as pointed out by Dem lawmakers yesterday, before there's any "case closed" we need to see documents, communications, other evidence amassed by Mueller and his team. That includes any salient grand jury materials.  As pointed out by Rep. Jamie Raskin (MD): "There have been a number of cases where grand jury materials have been turned over to congress including during the Watergate investigation."    So, no damned rush to judgment or closing investigations until we get hold of everything. Sorry, Reeptardos!

Basically then, what we know is that Mueller punted on the issue of at least finding Trump guilty of obstruction of justice, leaving the door open for William Barr to step in and interject a specious exoneration.  Clearly to kneecap any further House investigations, hearings.  This despite the fact Barr ought to have recused himself based on  his own conflict of interests in the case, including writing a slanted WaPo op-ed and dashing off a 19- page memo asserting presidents can't be found guilty of obstruction of justice. Basically, he'd written a "Look, hire me as AG and I'll set you free!"  job proposal (or audition) for the approval of Trump and his deranged,  legal maggots.

As one legal specialist on a CNN panel last night said: "For law abiding Americans this result is both appalling and confusing. They will ask how could a president who acted in so disruptive a manner even giving aid and comfort to an enemy (Putin) not be found guilty by a legal standard? How does that level of disruption not rise to the level of legal culpability?"


Well, because the standard for a criminal prosecution, and especially "beyond a reasonable doubt" is so high. But as another legal expert (John Flannery) weighed in yesterday, it is important to grasp that differing legal standards were in play in the report (the entirety of which is now essential  to see).  Thus, the level of guilt for a grand jury is generally much less and we know grand jury findings were delivered to Mueller's team of 19 lawyers.  These then also need to be made known to House Democrats, i.e. to plan their own Judiciary Committee hearings.  Case closed? NO way in hell.

The letter (summary)  from Barr, at just four pages long, described the evidence for obstruction as “not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction-of-justice offense”. Furthermore, Barr insisted in his letter the decision not to prosecute was not made based on any limitations related to the indictment of a sitting president.  Maybe, maybe not, but that will ultimately be up to the House Democrats and their Judiciary Committee (especially) to decide.   Perhaps the most egregious (and insane) claim made by this Trump pawn was that because there was no finding for collusion there could be no obstruction of justice either.  The man is either: a) demented, b) a total moron or c) a total Trump toady beholden by a prior quid pro quo. I vote the last.


As Rep. Steve Cohen (TN) pointed out yesterday, neither Barr or Rosenstein was elected by the people. The House Dems were and they now have the responsibility to finish getting at the truth that Mueller, Barr et al didn't.  As to the Repukes' catcalls and insipid demands that "this is now over", and "time to move on", don't make me laugh. If the tables were turned and an analogous report was made about a President Hillary Clinton, would the GOP House turn tail and run, give it up? Hell no, they'd launch numerous investigations into every nook and cranny of the report - as well as insist on the supporting evidence.

Well, that's exactly what the Dems need to do. Especially now that Dotard is bragging that it represents a "complete exoneration" - which it does not. It represents a complete whitewash by Trump's own appointed "Roy Cohn" - his sleazy lawyer from the 80s-90s that bailed him out of endless legal pits.  

Now, more than ever, Nancy Pelosi's argument for no impeachment will be dead in the water. Every House Dem  with half a spine, and worth his or her salt will demand it as a final evolution for the justice the Mueller report could not deliver. And especially if Trump and his cabal attempt to weaponize the report to push for his re-election.  This cannot be allowed to happen!

The House Dems especially need to bring the "hammer" down on Trump's sorry head after he expelled this balderdash from the tarmac in FLA yesterday before leaving on Air Force One:


"It’s a shame that our country had to go through this, to be honest it’s a shame that your president has had to go through this for, before I even got elected it began. This was an illegal take-down that failed.”

No, it was a legal investigation that was scuttled by a pawn YOU appointed, after Jeff Sessions recused himself, you infernal imp.  And as one legal specialist put it last night, this has all the earmarks of a quid pro quo.   Contrary also to much of the media saying the American people "ought to be thankful no collusion or conspiracy was found", I am afraid I ain't buying.  


 There's a lot more hidden we don't know and that  "Barr's Report" never touched on but which the House Intelligence committee can access.  This includes the key aspects of the Mueller counterintelligence investigation,  including the details of the Trump Tower meeting. Oh, and the notes of the translators attending Trump's secret meets with Vlad Putin.  Also we need to see Trump's written responses to Mueller's questions, delivered some months ago (instead of an in person interrogatory).  If Trump has nothing to hide he ought to have no problems with such release. If his lawyers -like Jay Sekulow- insist it's "confidential" we know they're doing  a cover up.    Call me a cynic and skeptic, but I'm simply not buying that those hidden meets - or Dotard's written answers to Mueller-  included nothing of interest or politically significant. 

 As all of this unfolds in the weeks and months ahead people need to be reminded this is not over, not by any stretch- no matter how much the Reeptards belch, squawk, spin  and curse.  Above all, the Dems need to question Mueller on who got to him and how, to cause him to punt so profoundly after 500 search warrants,  the efforts of nineteen top lawyers, 2800 subpoenas, 34 indictments etc  Only to find  "not enough evidence to establish"   a crime?  That sounds almost as lame as the Warren Commission insisting they had no evidence beyond "one lone nut" killing JFK.  As columnist Mark Sumner put it into plain terms with just one perp, Michael Flynn (Daily Kos, yesterday):

"What about Michael Flynn? Flynn was caught red-handed engaging in, at the very least, illegal lobbying for a foreign government—lobbying that including trying to arrange for the kidnapping and export of a U.S. resident in a way that would have certainly led to his death. For his cooperation, Flynn got all but a single charge of lying to investigators waved away. And from this cooperation came … what? What single word of Michael Flynn’s can be found in all the actions taken by the Special Counsel? Why was he so rewarded for … nothing?"


I do agree with the ending paragraph of a WSJ editorial ('The Mueller Moment Arrives') two days before the summary emerged:

"The country deserves deliverance from the ruinous politics of the 2016 campaign and that requires maximum political transparency."


Indeed it does, including knowing Trump will never conspire with the Russkies again to hoist himself and his gangster family into office!    Nope, this Constitutional crisis is not over anytime soon. 
As a preview - and perhaps prelude- we already know the piece of dog shit Dotard Trump (and his shithead sycophant traitor slime) are planning a vendetta against all those who mounted the Russian investigation. Or who are still criticizing his sorry traitor ass, see. e.g.

Trump and his allies plan to use Barr’s summary of Mueller report as cudgel against critics


Excerpt:  "Trump and his allies on Monday sought to put his adversaries on the defensive and cement the view that Mr. Mueller’s report represents complete vindication. Trump’s defenders said they want accountability for a “witch hunt” that has consumed half of his term."


Buckle your political seat belts, my friends,  because we are in for two years of political warfare which will determine whether we still have a democratic Republic, or a Banana Republic!  Or maybe we even have a country left.



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AND:



Excerpt:

"the entire process of learning the truth about the 2016 election has constantly worked in opposition to the most basic, foundational principle of democratic government: That the public’s right to know is first and foremost. The original sin of the Trump-Russia investigation was the crazy notion that we’d be able to solve the crisis of American democracy with a tight-lipped Marlboro Man of a prosecutor working behind the locked doors of a grand jury room, and not in the sunlight of public hearings. "
 And:

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