“If anyone other than a sitting president had , I am confident that he would be charged with crimes.”
— Former US attorney Barbara McQuade appearing before House Judiciary Committee (9/10/19)
“I’m the guy that gets away with it.”
— Trump quote, ‘Siege: Trump Under Fire’ by Michael Wolff’, cited in The Financial Times
By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (6/17/19)
Dear Fellow Readers,
Is Trump above the law? He believes so – yelling “No Collusion” while laying out the welcome map for foreign interference to benefit his campaign. Trump now announces a latest “if it’s what you say, I love it”. I will get to this, but first let’s follow the Impeachment progress of the Dems.
The House has started Impeachment hearings. There is much wrangling over words – will they, won’t they, when will they, how can’t they? Watching what they do, not what they say, the Impeachment hearings started.
Former US attorney Barbara McQuade was the star, especially given Trump’s enthusiastic encouragement for illegal foreign campaign interference over the last few days.
In a nutshell, given McQuade’s experience and Special Counsel Mueller’s Report, she is confident she could successfully prosecute and gain a conviction of obstruction against Trump. I will use her testimony, the relevant section of the Mueller Report and recent Trump statements to show the case for obstruction and how Trump continues to obstruct.
House Impeachment Hearings Day 1
On Monday June 10 the House Judiciary Committee heard testimony from two star witnesses, but McQuade’s testimony is the most important. As she points out to MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, people “have not read the 448 page report and don’t know what’s in it” while hearing “no collusion, no obstruction”. McQuade’s full testimony can be fund here.
McQuade opened her remarks assuring that Mueller notes “multiple crimes of obstruction of justice”. She follows with the opening quote, “If anyone other than a sitting president had , I am confident that he would be charged with crimes”. McQuade follows this with, “the obstruction described in this report created a risk to our national security”.
Of the ten episodes of obstruction detailed in the Mueller Report McQuade says four rise to a level of “substantial evidence of all three elements of obstruction”. It is these four she would use to successfully prosecute Trump:
“First, the evidence shows a request to White House Counsel Don McGahn to remove Mr. Mueller as special counsel. (Volume II, sec. E beg. page 77)
“Second, a request to falsely deny public reports about that order and to create a false document to support the lie. (Volume II, sec. I beg. page 113)
“Third, efforts to persuade Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reverse his recusal decision, and to publicly announce that the Russia investigation would focus on future elections only. (Volume II, sec. H beg. page 107)
“Fourth, efforts to influence the testimony of Paul Manafort, another former campaign chairman. (Volume II, sec. J beg. page 122)”
McQuade also reminded us of why Mueller’s findings and Trump’s obstruction is important:
“By seeking to curtail the investigation, Trump committed an act that threatened the national security of our country.”
Trump’s obstruction prevented investigators from learning all we need to know about how a “hostile foreign adversary” conducted an attack on our country.
Mueller Report and Recent Trump Obstruction (Act 1)
The first obstructive act McQuade highlights is Trump’s effort to get then White House attorney Don McGahn to remove Mueller. McGahn’s testimony to the Special Counsel was made under oath, Trump now says McGahn perjured himself and in his best prosecutorial effort even speculates on why McGahn would perjure himself.
Trump lies by accusing McGahn of lying under oath by saying he (Trump) “never suggested firing Mueller, was never going to fire Mueller”. He ascribes intent saying McGahn lied to “show everyone what a good counsel he was…wanted to make himself look like a good lawyer OR… that Robert Mueller was always conflicted”. The best part, “I don’t care what he (McGahn) says” as ABC News journalist George Stephanopoulos tried to understand McGahn’s (presumed) motivation.
Taking the appropriate summary analysis paragraph from the Mueller report we see Volume II, page 90:
“…And after the media reported on the President’s actions, he denied that he ever ordered McGahn to have the Special Counsel terminated and made repeated efforts to have McGahn deny the story, as discussed in , infra. Those denials are contrary to the evidence and suggest the President’s awareness that the direction to McGahn could be seen as improper.”
Going through the details of the report, Trump lied and there is much evidence to this effect beyond the summary statement. Trump was repeatedly advised that Mueller’s team operated without conflict; Trump lied about ordering McGahn to fire Mueller; Trump lied about demanding McGahn lie about media reports…
Mueller Report and Recent Trump Collusion (Act 2)
The second example is Trump’s most recent assertion that he would again violate the Constitution and knowingly break the law by accepting information on an opponent if approached by foreign figures. Trump’s view, “It’s not an interference. They have information. I think I’d take it.” And even though he’s now documented for lying almost 11,000 times, he is completely believable when he asserts, “I don’t think in my whole life I’ve ever called the FBI”. Or you might prefer, “the FBI Director is wrong” while Trump announces his openness to foreign help with his election.
Back to the Muller Report, for comparison here’s what Trump said on July 19, 2017 in an interview with the New York Times regarding Donnie Jr.’s “if it’s what you say I love it” meeting with Russians offering ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton: (Volume II, page 105)
“On July 19, 2017, the President … then met with reporters for the New York Times. … the President addressed the June 9, 2016 meeting and said he didn’t know anything about the meeting” at the time.734 The President added, “As I’ve said — most other people, you know, when they call up and say, ‘By the way, we have information on your opponent,’ I think most politicians — I was just with a lot of people, they said …, ‘Who wouldn’t have taken a meeting like that?’”
One reason Mueller did not think there was sufficient evidence for a conviction of conspiracy was a lack of proof that any of Donnie Jr., son-in-law/advisor Jared Kushner or former convicted Campaign Chair Paul Manafort knew that accepting foreign interference as ‘dirt’ against an opponent violated the law. A fine for speeding isn’t excused if you missed the posted speed limit, but apparently a well connected “wonderful young man” like Donnie Jr. shouldn’t be held accountable for not knowing better.
Trump is consistent, after all that has transpired, he assures us he would opt to break the law…again. To be doubly clear, the initial email to Donnie Jr. proposing a meeting made it clear, “this is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and it’s government’s support for Mr. Trump”.
Mueller’s Report shows Trump to be obsessed with any news that would diminish his election – and that is at the core of why Trump is dangerous as he places national security secondary to his own his own thin-skinned fear of being found out; the little boy that never got enough attention.
Former White House Counsel John Dean also appeared in the June 10 Committee hearings. Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank notes that “Dean is of limited value in the year 2109” having last appeared on July 11, 1974 during the impeachment inquiry of President Nixon. But Dean is also uniquely qualified to offer this indictment:
“The Mueller report, like the Watergate Road Map, conveys findings, with supporting evidence, of potential criminal activity,” Dean testified, later adding that “it’s quite striking and startling to me that history is repeating itself, and with a vengeance.”
Also writing for the Washington Post, Aaron Blake highlighted Dean remarks:
“The most obvious parallel Dean noted involved himself: It concerns the role of the White House counsel. Just as he was the most significant witness against Richard M. Nixon, former White House counsel Donald McGahn has emerged as the most significant witness in the Mueller investigation. McGahn didn’t technically flip on Trump, as Dean did when he pleaded guilty in Watergate, but as Dean pointed out, “McGahn is the only witness that the special counsel expressly labels as reliable, calling McGahn ‘a credible witness with no motive to lie or exaggerate given the position he held in the White House.’ “”
Like Nixon with Dean, Trump tried get White House Counsel McGahn to take various efforts to impede the FBI and Mueller’s investigations but failed because McGahn refused, and said so calling it “crazy shit”.
No Puppet, You’re the Puppet, No, You’re the Puppet
To read the Mueller Report is to see the art of Trump lies. His facility for stepping in dog doo-doo while saying he did not and accusing you of smelling bad.
Well Hillary was right about who was Putin’s puppet.
But while Trump revisits the scenes of his lies, he does offer new twists, now it’s ‘No, You’re the Facist’.
After House Speaker Pelosi calls Trump on his “they have information, I think I’d have to take it”, Trump responds with accusing her of a “fascist statement”. As an aside, he’s just not very good at this anymore; he’s off his game.
“He’s the guy that gets away with it”
We say no one is above the law. You know who doesn’t believe that? Trump believes and acts above the law. His story morphs with the news cycle:
- First it was no contact with Russians.
- Then it was no collusion with Russians.
- Then he tells us collusion isn’t a crime.
- Dancing faster he now claims you can’t prove collusion.
- And finally, this week we are told, hey, collusion is good…
Trump doesn’t stop at asserting, “they have information, I think I’d take it”. Here’s Trump interviewed on Fox a few days after the fallout over his Stephanopoulos interview saying, “Of course you have to look at it because, if you don’t look at it, you’re not going to know if it’s bad. How are you going to know if it’s bad?”
He’s trying to spin it: “No one is going to present me with anything bad”. “Because he loves this country”. “So of course you’d report it the FBI or the Attorney General of somebody like that”. I guess the FBI Director was not wrong after all, once again — Trump spins — we just heard Trump’s own words wrong.
Trump believes he’s above the law – a latest example.
Let’s not even worry about what the Hatch Act lays out. The short version – a Federal watchdog “found that (White House counselor) Conway violated the Hatch Act on numerous occasions”, she was labeled a “repeat offender” and it was recommended she be asked to resign.
Trump equates Conway’s breaking the law with “it looks to me like they’re trying to take away her right of free speech”. And of course, the oh-too-familiar, “No, I’m not going to fire her,” Trump said. “I think she’s a terrific person. She’s a tremendous spokeswoman. She’s been loyal. She’s just a great person.”
Akin to ignoring all subpoenas, Conway mirrored the White House level of cooperation with, “If you’re trying to silence me through the Hatch Act, it’s not going to work. Let me know when the jail sentence starts.”
The swirl of Trumpian scandal continues to blow and grow from big issues down to something as simple as confirmation the White House, in spite denials to date, did ask the US Navy to hide the USS McCain from Trump’s view during his visit to Japan.
Once in a while Trump tells us the truth and we fail to come to terms with the importance. Sometimes it just doesn’t sink in, doesn’t cut through the noise. Such a contradiction – Trump accuses McGahn of perjury while refusing to let McGahn testify before the House Judiciary Committee – why not let McGahn further perjure himself if Trump is right?
As former president George W. Bush once said:
“There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”
No matter how Trump and sycophants try to walk back or justify Trump’s “I’d want to hear it” around campaign assistance from foreign governments or persons, it is illegal. In a letter the chair of the Federal Election Commission, Ellen Weintraub clarified, “it is illegal for any person to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a U.S. election.”
Going further, appearing on MSNBC Host Brian William’s program former Republican Congressman David Jolly said that Trump’s recent statement that he’d accept ‘dirt’ is an “impeachable moment”.
Another day in Trumplandia and it’s déjà vu all over again.