“They’re going to try to hide the report as much as possible,” he tells me. “They’re going to claim executive privilege, and we’ll have to challenge all that. And we’ll win eventually. We’ll get it all out.”
— House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler speaking about the Mueller report.
By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (4/15/19)
Dear Fellow Readers,
We’ll start with a positive story of congressional effort to get us the full Mueller report as we await release; this from a Commoner Call reader: Jerry Nadler Won’t Stop Until the Full Mueller Report is Out.
House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler has a long history battling Trump, as the sub-head notes, the “New York congressman has brawled with Trump for more than 30 years”. The Rolling Stone article covers an exchange between Nadler and Trump that says everything. The story revolves around a proposed Trump development project with a centerpiece 150-story building that would have been the tallest in America.
“To Nadler, the centerpiece of Trump’s new project looked like “a huge phallic symbol,” but he kept that to himself. He asked Trump, “What’s the highest people live in New York?”
“Sixty-eight stories, at Trump Tower, and I live on the 68th floor,” he recalls Trump saying.
“And I suppose you’ll live on the 150th floor here?” Nadler said.
“Yes, Trump replied. “I thought, ‘OK, that’s what this is about,’ ” Nadler says today. “ ‘He wants to be the tallest man in the world.’ ”
Much like Trump’s efforts to fuel a 2020 partly self-invented signature border immigration crisis with a centerpiece wall, Trump is motivated to create monuments in his own honor.
Nadler has guided his committee to issuing subpoenas and a possible court battle over release of the Mueller report while noting, “They’re going to try to hide the report as much as possible… They’re going to claim executive privilege, and we’ll have to challenge all that. And we’ll win eventually. We’ll get it all out.”
While also guiding House passage of a renewal of the Violence Against Women Act in spite of a furious effort by the NRA, Nadler offered a three-part test/opinion on impeachment of Trump:
“The first was that impeachable offenses — high crimes and misdemeanors — could be proved. That could include obstruction, he says, if that obstruction amounted to a gross misuse of presidential power that threatened the separation of powers, the functioning of government or the liberties of an individual. The second was that the impeachable acts were “serious.” Bill Clinton’s lies under oath about a sexual affair amounted to perjury but did not rise to that level, he says. Richard Nixon lying on his taxes was a crime but not an impeachable offense. “You’re not going to put the country through impeachment even if the president’s done a number of things that are in fact impeachable offenses if they’re not that important,” he says. “You gotta have a rule of reason; it’s gotta be real.”
“And the third thing is that impeachment can’t be seen as purely partisan. “You shouldn’t do it,” he says, “unless you think that you have such strong proof of such terrible deeds that when they’re laid out in public to the American people, an appreciable fraction of the opposition voters will admit, ‘They had to do it.’”
Nadler compared Nixon to Trump noting that Nixon “was not ignorant”. And then offered his own commitment to “as robust a democratic system as we did before”.
“He knew what he was doing. With this president, how much is contempt and how much is ignorance, I don’t know, but he is vastly ignorant. We’ve never seen this before. My role as the chairman of the Judiciary Committee is to try to ensure that when this is all over, we have as robust a democratic system as we did before. Everything flows from that.”
Nadler credited Trump’s Attorney General William Barr and his communications regarding release of the Mueller report, “It’s a very intelligent press strategy”. As expected, Barr’s defense of Trump continues to reap rewards for Trump and his supporters: Barr’s Spy Talk Emboldens Trump’s Allies Ahead Of Mueller Report’s Release.
As noted in the last edition, Barr followed his ‘exoneration’ with an accusation of spying against Trump’s political foes:
“But on Wednesday, those assertions received their biggest boost yet, and from an unlikely source: Attorney General William P. Barr, who told a Senate subcommittee, “I think spying did occur, yes.””
While the Russpublicans were gleeful and the Dems dismissive Barr provided cover for Trump — again — and as intended. A good summary to date would be:
“The results of the investigation — combined with Barr’s suggestion that law enforcement may have done something questionable in initiating the Russia probe — creates a one-two punch that Republicans say puts them in the best position to combat whatever damaging information about the president may be contained in Mueller’s report.”
And there it is, Barr’s strategy ahead of release of the Mueller report: Attorney General William Barr Defends Handling Of Mueller Report, Says Release ‘within a week’
Here is Barr admitting to using his “own discretion” ahead of the release of the report as early as this week:
“I’m operating under a regulation that was put together during the Clinton Administration and does not provide for the publication of the report,” Barr said. “But I am relying on my own discretion” to make information public, he added.
“Barr said a redacted version of Mueller’s full report, totaling nearly 400 pages, will be released sometime “within a week.””
‘Seven Points Of Concern’ about Barr
We are right to be concerned about Barr as he’s protected the president as he promised. Conservative Wisconsin author and never-Trump Charles Sykes offers his seven points of concern, but buried in here is one specific acknowledgement: “Barr later acknowledged that he advised the White House counsel before his letter went out on March 24”.
Barr also refused to answer a question from Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) about “whether the people in the White House had read the special counsel’s full report before Attorney General William P. Barr released his summary”. Barr refused to answer. For a comical treatment of Barr’s nimbleness check out: Barr Ducks A Question About Whether The White House Read The Mueller Report.
As acknowledged, Trump is emboldened with many resulting news stories about his overhaul of the Department of Homeland Security and his demand that ranking officials break the law. Here’s one example — that if true — is an impeachable offense: Trump Told CBP Head He’d Pardon Him If He Were Sent To Jail For Violating Immigration Law.
“President Donald Trump told Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan he would grant McAleenan a pardon if he were sent to jail for having border agents block asylum seekers from entering the US in defiance of US law, senior administration officials tell CNN.”
This is but one confirmation of what we already know: The Mob-Boss Presidency.
Conservative Washington Post Opinion writer Jennifer Rubin noted that Trump is no longer hiding from his authoritarian dictates:
“A normal president confronted with a news story suggesting he ordered underlings to illegally transport asylum seekers to so-called sanctuary cities in order to retaliate against political enemies would deny knowledge of such a heinous plot. If need be, he’d make light of it, portray it as if it were idle chatter or a joke. That’s what President Trump’s devoted prevaricators (White Houses staffers) did following The Post account.
“Trump, however, is anything but normal. No, he tweeted — of course it was a tweet — that not only was the idea considered but that it is still under consideration. “
While Trump minions scramble to walk back some of the bombast, Rubin notes, “ Trump is so brazen he’d rather lie to make himself appear more politically vengeful than tell the truth that his suggestion apparently was rebuffed.”
Rubin finishes with two observations that should be chilling:
Trump’s lawlessness is intensifying.
You’d think the necessity for such a statement would convince Republicans not to support his reelection for four more years, when he would feel entirely unrestrained. You’d be wrong.
Trump’s sister runs for the exit ahead of ethics investigation
There is a small glimmer of sunshine while we wait. Trump’s older sister, federal appellate judge Maryanne Trump Barry, retired. She did so to end “an investigation into whether she violated judicial conduct rules by participating in fraudulent tax schemes with her siblings”.
The subject originally surfaced through a New York Times story from October relating decades of Trump family “dubious tax schemes” and “fraud”.
This is but one of the legal risks Trump faces. This Washington Post article highlights “The 6 Most Potentially Damaging Congressional Investigations For Trump, Ranked”, starting with a reminder that the Mueller report leaves open the question of whether Trump obstructed justice over Trump-Russia. The other risks include broad risks like setting foreign policy for personal enrichment, inflating his net worth, lies about security clearances such as one for senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, Trump’s tax returns and legal exposure over the his hush-money payments.
We’ll end with two final revelations.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested in London and will face a very lengthy legal process to determine if he is extradited to the US to face charges. We’ll leave it to others to debate the merits of the charges and/or legal risks to journalists while noting that we’ll not learn more about what if anything Assange knows about Trump-Russia. We’ll leave two links for further reading of his potential role with this about Mueller’s indictments of the Russian GRU from The New Yorker and this from the Washington Post highlights the open question with this question from former Justice Department National Security Division official Carrie Cordero:
“What was the actual interaction between Russian intelligence surrogates, WikiLeaks and Trump campaign surrogates?” she said. “That is a question that has not yet been answered.”
One of the saddest character low points from Assange through Trump-Russia was his abuse/ruse of the death of DNC staffer Seth Rich as a WikiLeaks feint of an ‘inside job’.
“Throughout the 2016 campaign, Mr. Assange played down accusations of Russian interference, and misled the public on his source for the damaging documents WikiLeaks released.
“He offered a $20,000 reward for information about the killing in Washington of Seth Rich, a young Democratic National Committee staff member shot to death in an apparent bungled street robbery. Some supporters of Mr. Trump suggested that it was Mr. Rich who had leaked the committee’s emails and that he had been killed in retaliation.
“During an August 2016 discussion with Dutch television about the sources of WikiLeaks’ information, Mr. Assange suddenly brought up Mr. Rich’s killing.
“That was just a robbery, I believe, wasn’t it?” the interviewer said. “What are you suggesting?”
““I’m suggesting that our sources take risks,” Mr. Assange said. He then declined to say if Mr. Rich was a source.”
The final remark, which — if true — sets the stage for the ensuing legal fight, from a Wall Street Journal article we can’t access there is this:
“It is now 140 pages long, but lawyers want to whittle it down to about 50, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said in an interview.”
Trump – our imperial president and Barr, his unapologetic and supine protector.