Despite the effort of spin by William Barr, clearly the most politically tainted attorney general since Richard Nixon’s John Mitchell, the 448 pages of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the sordid presidency of Donald Trump details corruption, lies and fragrant attempts to cover up the truth by America’s criminal president.
Washington Post writer Greg Sargent notes “Trump’s ascension to the presidency was saturated in corruption and partly enabled by criminal schemes. And it is all of this that Trump’s efforts to derail the investigation were designed to keep from ever seeing the light of day.”
“Trump is a cancer on the presidency,” says Republican New York attorney George T. Conway III, echoing comments by former White House Counsel John Dean during the Watergate investigation that sank the presidency of Richard Nixon. Conway is the husband of Trump’s White House apologist Kellyanne Conway. “Congress should remove him.”
Like many other Republicans, Conway walked away from Trump. Good for him. As a former political operative, I hang my head in shame for ever having anything to do with a political party that put Trump in office.
Adds Conway (quoting from the Mueller report):
Trump tried to “limit the scope of the investigation.” He tried to discourage witnesses from cooperating with the government through “suggestions of possible future pardons.” He engaged in “direct and indirect contacts with witnesses with the potential to influence their testimony.” A fair reading of the special counsel’s narrative is that “the likely effect” of these acts was “to intimidate witnesses or to alter their testimony,” with the result that “the justice system’s integrity [was] threatened.” Page after page, act after act, Mueller’s report describes a relentless torrent of such obstructive activity by Trump.
“Mueller’s report paints a damning portrait of Trump’s presidency,” says the column headline of Dan Balz in the Post.
The 448-page document is replete with evidence of repeated lying by public officials and others (some of whom have been charged for that conduct), of the president urging advisers not to tell the truth, of the president seeking to shut down the investigation, of a Trump campaign hoping to benefit politically from Russian hacking and leaks of information damaging to its opponent, of a White House in chaos and operating under abnormal rules.
“It’s not the collusion, it’s the corruption,” says David Brooks in The New York Times:
Donald Trump represents a threat to the American systems of governance. Centuries ago our founders created a system of laws and not men. In our system of government there are procedures in place, based on certain values — impartiality, respect for institutions, the idea that a public office is a public trust, not a private bauble.
When Trump appears in the Mueller report, he is often running roughshod over these systems and violating these values. He asks his lawyer to hamper an investigation. He asks his F.B.I. director to take the heat off his allies. He tries to get the relevant investigators fired. I don’t know if his actions meet the legal standard of obstruction of justice, but they certainly meet the common-sense standard of interference with justice.
Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, calls Mueller’s report “damning.”
“The report details egregious evidence of obstruction,” says Bookbinder, adding:
As the report emphasizes, “It is important to view the president’s pattern of conduct as a whole” — including the ways in which the president “used his unique ability” to influence others by attacking the investigation or potential witnesses via mass communications.
Editorializes The New York Times: “The special counsel’s report reveals a pattern of deceit and dysfunction. What comes up next is up to Congress.”
Which Congress? The House of Representatives, controlled by a Democratic Speaker of the House who urges restraint when talk about impeachment comes up or a Senate controlled by Republicans who have no intention to try their president. He’s one of their own.
Trump took control of a government already tarnished by corruption and mismanagement (through Democratic and Republican misuse of “executive orders” and other abuses) and raised corruption and unethical behavior to new heights.
His corruption added to the toxicity of Washington’s political swamp — the one he promised to “drain” — and spread the stain throughout the government and the nation.
Yes, he must be removed from office, but by “whom?” Congress is not to the task. Neither is the Justice Department with head Trumpian William Barr installed as attorney general.
We may have to wait until the 2020 election to see if the votes might stand up to the Trump terror and attempt to put the public back in control. If they don’t and Trump is re-elected, we won’t have to worry about what happens in 2024. By then, he will have destroyed what little is left of America.
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