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EDITORIAL: The Mueller report

Investigation shows a president who misuses and disrespects his high office

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The investigative report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, which was released in redacted form late last week, paints a disturbing portrait of a president who clearly does not appreciate the weighty responsibilities of his high office.

The White House is not a prize that goes to the top gladiator, to be used as a plaything. It’s not a new acquisition by the Trump Organization, as the current occupant of the Oval Office seems to believe. The presidency is a solemn trust, one that President Trump has belittled and demeaned by his own actions— laid out in page after page in the Mueller report.

In its 448 pages, Robert Mueller lays out convincing evidence that the Trump campaign—while it may not have actively conspired with the Russian government— eagerly accepted help from individuals or organizations aligned with Russia to win the White House. Then, as president, Donald Trump actively sought to obstruct the inquiry into his campaign’s actions.

Some of the most damning testimony against the president comes from his own people, particularly White House legal counsel Don McGahn.

While the president certainly has the authority to oversee the administration of justice, which includes hiring and firing top law enforcement officials, Mueller properly concludes that the president’s authority does not extend to actions taken to thwart or otherwise impede investigations into the presidency itself.

It’s a matter of corrupt intent, and Mueller lays out more than enough evidence of that to win a conviction in most any court of law. As Mueller concluded, President Trump repeatedly tried to influence witnesses, either through threats or suggested inducements, such as pardons. He fired FBI director James Comey and directed his former campaign director, Corey Lewandowski, to order then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to rescind his recusal on the Russia investigation and to limit the scope of the ongoing probe to future election interference, foreclosing an examination of the Trump campaigns actions in 2016. And most damaging of all, Trump directed Mr. McGahn to order the firing of Mueller himself, an order that prompted McGahn to prepare his own resignation rather than carry out an act he believed to be illegal.

In the case of the firing of Comey and attempted firing of Mueller, when news of the president’s actions leaked to the press, the president directed his own people to lie to coverup his corrupt actions. He even directed McGahn to create a false, post-dated letter intended to undercut a New York Times story on the president’s demand for Mueller’s removal, another order that McGahn refused.

While the language of the special counsel statute required Mueller to issue his report to the Justice Department, it’s clear that Mr. Mueller intended his report primarily for Congress, which is the one tribunal with the clear, constitutional authority to take action to address the president’s actions.

Whether that involves impeachment remains to be seen. Some Democratic leaders, fearing potential blowback, have already taken impeachment off the table. That’s a mistake, because the final word on this investigation has yet to be written. As in Watergate, congressional committees spent months investigating the Nixon White House even as an independent counsel undertook his own investigation.

To date, Congress has largely shirked its role, as majority Republicans sought to squelch an honest inquiry during the first two years of the administration.

Some ask: What’s the point of further inquiry, or possible impeachment, given that the Republican-led Senate would never vote to convict the president? Yet further inquiry could reveal new information publicly, including some that could cause even Republican senators to change their minds. During Watergate, it was the congressional investigation, not the independent counsel’s office, that first revealed the existence of a White House taping system— the revelation that ultimately led to Nixon’s resignation.

If nothing else, Congress has a responsibility under the U.S. Constitution to do its job, which includes an oath to uphold the Constitution. Mr. Mueller needs to testify. So should former White House counsel Don McGahn. Attorney General Barr needs to explain to Congress and the American people the discrepancies between his own assessment of Mueller’s findings and the actual report.

There is good reason to believe that the Mueller report isn’t the comprehensive assessment many Americans had expected. With nearly a dozen other criminal investigations that appear to have spun off from Mueller’s inquiry, it may only be the tip of the iceberg. Which means much work remains for Congress’s investigatory committees to do. It’s time they get started.

Comments

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Steve Jacobson

I believe that a good majority of voters believe that many or most politicians are in some way crooked. Trump is just more crooked but not enough to sway his supporters away. By electing Trump two and a half years ago what the voters proved is that they were tired of the same o, same o politics as usual. Now they must decide whether to go back to the same o, same o or vote for a president like Trump again who is nothing like the others.

Thursday, April 25
Deplorable

I am voting for Trump again , regardless of which socialist the democrats nominate.

Monday, May 6
jtormoen

I love it when rational thought, logic, and fact are used to determine one's vote.

But aptly named

Tuesday, May 7
Scott Atwater

Tip of the iceberg is quite the understatement. Now that the Meuller reports concludes that there was no collusion, the next investigation will need to focus on how it was possible for the Obama administration and the DNC to weaponize several government agencies against an opposition party's presidential political campaign. This was, after all, nothing less than a Coup d'Etat. As Americans, we can't tolerate this, and people need to be held accountable.

Tuesday, May 7
bonfire

650 former prosecutors say trump would be prosecuted for obstruction if he weren't president. George Conway counts 690 and predicts over 700 soon. Trump and administration are blatant corrupt criminals arrogantly believing they are above the law while GOP sits on their hands and aids and abets them. People who still believe there is nothing to see here have fallen for this massive boondoggle, hook, line and sinker.

Tuesday, May 7
Scott Atwater

650 former prosecutors blah blah blah. I shouldn't have to point out that the rule of law has nothing to do with polling. Since the entire Russian collusion allegations were nothing more than a hoax at best, and a coup at worst, obstructuion is quite a reach considering that there was no crime of collusion in the first place.

I seriously question the intelligence of people that still refuse to accept the 2016 election results, and refuse to accept the Meuller report exonerating the Trump presidential campaign. Said people are extremely foolish if they find it acceptable for the Federal government to infiltrate, spy, attempt to sabatoge a political party.......and still have the arrogance to assume that the same thing couldn't happen to them and their political party.

And some people still can't figure out why Trump was elected in the first place!

Wednesday, May 8
bonfire

I'm just imagining a Democratic president who:

has refused to release his tax records from the campaign to today, probably not wanting his real wealth and corrupt dealings revealed, (As a hedge fund manager said to a republican strategist, "Trump's not a billionaire. I'm a billionaire. Trump's a clown living on credit"),

signed a tax cut benefiting the super wealthy and corporations that has resulted in skyrocketing deficits and debt, (I remember when Republicans never stopped screaming about deficits, utter silence from them now),

meets with multiple murdering dictators with goo-goo eyes and declares he is in love,

refuses to acknowledge Russian election tampering despite intelligent agencies' warnings and proof or lift a finger to combat Russian election tampering for upcoming 2020 election,

allows immigrant children to be separated from parents and put in cages with no plan whatsoever to re-unite them,

has pursued making deals and money while campaigning and as president above all else, a massive conflict of interest,

and believing he is above the law and continually acting on it.

SA, If it was a Democratic president doing all this and more instead of Trump, you would be apoplectic.

At this point, I don't think very many trumpers actually believe what Trump says or promises nor care how he behaves no matter how corrupt and immoral. I think the majority just loves the chaos (Trump will shake things up!) and are driven by resentment (own the liberals!) while ignoring the harm to their country and families. Comedian Trae Crowder, Liberal Redneck said in one of his videos, "They hate us more than they love their country. I swear, they'd let Trump burn their house down if the liberal next door had to choke on the smoke".

Wednesday, May 8
Steve Jacobson

All that and yet the Dems are scared s**tless that their front runners are Bernie and Joe. 2020 might be easier than we thought!

Wednesday, May 8
jtormoen

There is indeed some truth to that Mr. J ... which then speaks volumes regarding certainly the voter and voter rational thought and action ... and also about the structure and framework of our governmental system.

But history so far shows much evidence of the long run effect.

Wednesday, May 8
Scott Atwater

Talking points debunked:

Trump's taxes - Which the IRS regularly audits, any abnormalities would be front page news.

Tax breaks only for the wealthy - Congress impemented a progressive tax rate, therefore tax cuts are also progressive.....a simple and fair concept.

Foreign diplomacy - Trump meets with foreign heads of state, as all presidents do. Not sure if "goo-goo" eyes equate with a childish reset button, making comments like "I'll have more flexibility after the election", or sending boatloads of cash to Iran.

Russian election tampering - The Obama administration assured us that Russian tampering had zero effect on the outcome of the election, and said no further action was required.

Immigrant children in cages - News footage of this occured during the Obama administration, funny that we hadn't seen this until now!

Pursued making deals and money while campaigning - Obviously you have confused Trump with the Clinton Foundation. Talk about blatant hypocrisy.

As we can all see, the anti-Trump narrative doesn't fit the facts.

Lowest unemployment levels in decades, booming economy with an average of 3% GDP growth, and unfair trade practice held in check by tariffs that someone finally had the guts to use.

Trump 2020.

Wednesday, May 8
jtormoen

AKA ... "Breitbart/FOX revisited"

Wednesday, May 8
bonfire

Grasping for straws, SA, or rather gasping for straw men.

Wednesday, May 8
Steve Jacobson

Straw men - AKA Joe and Bernie? For just one second can you consider Trump a straw man? C'mon, give us a challenge! I think SA was right on and I don't watch any of the news channels - not one!

Wednesday, May 8
jtormoen

and it shows

Wednesday, May 8
Scott Atwater

Once again the resident leftists resort to nonsensical single line retorts when confronted with reality. Allow me to simplify the process and suggest the following response when you find yourselves in this situation again: Orange man bad!

Wednesday, May 8
jtormoen

Absolutely bad ... thanks for suggesting.

Wednesday, May 8
Scott Atwater

Multiple syllables this time, I'm impressed.

Wednesday, May 8
jtormoen

While you respond with no import, I digress just a moment to ask ... what is it of fascism that so appeals to you? Most of what I learned of the Nazi regime from my studies, learning and teaching suggested little of value from it ... and much evil.

Your response will likely be one of diversion to perhaps weird denials ... or mention of Obama ... or Hillary. Not sure what or whom.

But my question remains in that you, and a couple others so in support for Trump.

What is it of fascism that so appeals to you?

Wednesday, May 8
Scott Atwater

Ah, Fascism......yet another term that leftists have misused to the point of rendering it meaningless. Most useful when reality and substantiated fact has once again backed them into a corner. I dismiss your question based on a patently false premise as laughable. Your juvenile attempt to equate the term "Fascism" to Trump and his supporters does, however, shine a light on your character.....of lack thereof.

I do find it interesting that you also saw fit to reference the Nazi regime, and that deserves a closer look:

In it's beginnings the National Socialist Workers Party preached class inequality, anti-capitalism, national healthcare, gun control, nationalization of major industries, nationalization of transportation, and nationalization of education. Astute readers will recognize the similarities between the origins of the National Socialist Workers Party and a certain political party easily recognizable today. Of course as always happens, once the public gave complete power to the Nazi's, they became tyrannical with predictable and horrific results. All political opposition was crushed, dissenting voices were eliminated, and the press only existed as a propaganda arm of the state.

Unfortunately the signs are here today. We have a hopelessly biased media, conservative speakers are not allowed to speak on college campuses, people are harassed and chased out of restaurants because of their political beliefs. A group ironically calling itself "Antifa" destroys private property, tears down statues, assaults peaceful protesters with differing political beliefs, and targets anyone despicable enough to wear a hat with a simple message stating "make America great again".

You introduced "Fascism" and "Nazi" into this conversation, but I'll bet you didn't realize it was you who was wearing the armband, rather than I.

Thursday, May 9
jtormoen

Ah, the Ernst Janning response.

Speaks volumes

Friday, May 10
jtormoen

But did not answer the question

Friday, May 10
Scott Atwater

" I dismiss your question based on a patently false premise, as laughable".

Friday, May 17