As he does so often, disgraced and racist Donald Trump lied with his repeated claims that the report of Special Counsel and former FBI Director Robert Mueller “totally exonerated” his frequent attempts to obstruct the 22-month investigations of his questionable ties and actions with Russia’s illegal involvement in the 2016 election.
In day-long testimony to both the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, Mueller said his report did not “exonerate” Trump and added that Trump faces prosecution after he leaves the White House.
Writes columnist Kren Tumulty in The Washington Post:
Mueller set the record straight on the many lies that Trump has told about the conclusions of the report.
No, he said, it did not “exonerate” the president of the crime of obstruction, for which Trump could still be prosecuted after he is out of office.
And former White House counsel Donald McGahn, whose FBI interviews provided some of the report’s most damning evidence, is not the fabulist that Trump has portrayed him to be but a credible witness, Mueller said — which no doubt will increase pressure on McGahn to also take a turn before the House Judiciary Committee.
Mueller made it clear that Trump took questionable and illegal actions to try and derail:
In June 2017 Trump told then-White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire Mueller and told him to create a fake internal memo to contradict any reports of his actions.
Later that same summer, Trump told former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to direct Attorney General Jess Sessions to “prevent further investigative scrutiny of the president and his campaign’s conduct.” Sessions, however, recused himself of any involvement in the matter.
That brought Trump’s angry insistence that Sessions “unrecuse” himself and take control of the investigation. Mueller’s report said Trump’s actions documented “a reasonable inference” that Trump wanted his attorney general to illegally act as “a shield” to the investigation.
Even worse, Mueller described how Trump tried to use his private attorneys to “influence the cooperation and testimony of potential witnesses like former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former lawyer Michael Cohen through public and private threats and potential pardons if they did what he wanted. Such actions are illegal actions of “witness tampering” and obstruction of justice.
“These facts, starkly affirmed on Wednesday by Mr. Mueller after months of mischaracterization of his report by the president and others, are catastrophic,” writes Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
Despite Mr. Mueller’s unwillingness to speculate on hypotheticals, and his adherence to the Justice Department policy against indicting a sitting president, these facts, which he also outlined in depth in his report, make clear that were Mr. Trump an ordinary person, he would have been indicted on multiple counts of obstruction of justice, as more than a thousand former federal prosecutors, free of those limitations, have observed.
Trump, as we all know, is not “an ordinary person.” He is also not a normal, effective, legal or ethical president.
Democrats had hoped Mueller’s testimony Tuesday would lay out a clear path for impeachment but the professional prosecutor, former Marine and past head of the FBI was not about to play a partisan political game before a national audience.
His testimony did not provide TV sound bites for either side. He answered many questions with terse “yes” or “no” answers.
He made it clear that, in the end, the voters will have the final say in the 2020 presidential elections.
If enough voters turn out to end Trump’s nightmare presidency, particularly in key states where a gerrymandered electoral map cannot overturn the will of the voters as happened in 2016, he will then be open to prosecution that could — and should — give him a new home in a small cell in a federal or state prison.
That would be a fitting end to Trump’s disgrace to the nation and a proper monument to the work of Mueller and his team.
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