House Intelligence committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA), in his opening and closing statements for the historic hearings on July 24, 2019, set out the significance of the findings of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 Election, and the ramifications of the government’s failure to prevent such interference in future elections.
“When asked, ‘If the Russians intervene again, will you take
their help, Mr. President?” ‘Why not?’ was the essence of his answer. ‘Everyone
“No, Mr. President, they don’t. Not in the America
envisioned by Jefferson, Madison and Hamilton. Not for those who believe in the
idea that Lincoln labored until his dying day to preserve, the idea animating
our great national experiment, so unique then, so precious still, that our
government is chosen by our people, through our franchise, and not by some
hostile foreign power.
“This is what is at stake, our next election, and the one
after that for generations to come. Our democracy.”
Your report, for
those who have taken the time to study it, is methodical and it is devastating,
for it tells the story of a foreign adversary’s sweeping and systemic
intervention in a close U.S. presidential election.
That should be enough
to deserve the attention of every American, as you well point out. But your
report tells another story as well. The story of the 2016 election is also a
story about disloyalty to country, about greed, and about lies.
determined that the Trump campaign, including Donald Trump himself, knew that a
foreign power was intervening in our election and welcomed it, built Russian
meddling into their strategy and used it.
country. Those are strong words, but how else are we to describe a presidential
campaign which did not inform the authorities of a foreign offer of dirt on
their opponent, which did not publicly shun it or turn it away, but which
instead invited it, encouraged it and made full use of it?
That disloyalty may
not have been criminal. Constrained by uncooperative witnesses, the destruction
of documents and the use of encrypted communications, your team was not able to
establish each of the elements of the crime of conspiracy beyond a reasonable
doubt, so not a provable crime in any event.
But I think maybe
something worse: The crime is the violation of law written by Congress. But
disloyalty to country violates the very oath of citizenship, our devotion to a
core principle on which our nation was founded that we, the people and not some
foreign power that wishes us ill, we decide who governs us.
This is also a story
about money, and about greed and corruption. About the leadership of a campaign
willing to compromise the nation’s interest not only to win, but to make money
at the same time.
About a campaign
chairman indebted to pro-Russian interests who tried to use his position to
clear his debts and make millions. About a national security advisor using his
position to make money from still other foreign interests.
And about a candidate
trying to make more money than all of them put together through real estate
project that to him was worth a fortune, hundreds of millions of dollars and
the realization of a life-long ambition, a Trump Tower in the heart of Moscow.
A candidate who, in fact, viewed his whole campaign as the greatest infomercial
Donald Trump and his
senior staff were not alone in their desire to use the election to make money.
For Russia, too, there was a powerful financial motive. Putin wanted relief
from U.S. economic sanctions imposed in the wake of Russia’s invasion of
Ukraine and over human rights violations.
The secret Trump
Tower meeting between the Russians and senior campaign officials was about
sanctions. The secret conversations between Flynn and the Russian ambassador
were about sanctions. Trump and his team wanted more money for themselves, and
the Russians wanted more money for themselves and for their oligarchs.
But the story doesn’t
end here either, for your report also tells a story about lies. Lots of lies.
Lies about a gleaming tower in Moscow and lies about talks with the Kremlin.
Lies about the firing of FBI Director James Comey and lies about efforts to
fire you, Director Mueller, and lies to cover it up. Lies about secret
negotiations with the Russians over sanctions and lies about WikiLeaks. Lies
about polling data and lies about hush money payments. Lies about meetings in
the Seychelles to set up secret back channels and lies about a secret meeting
in New York Trump Tower. Lies to the FBI, lies to your staff, and lies to this
committee. Lies to obstruct an investigation into the most serious attack on
our democracy by a foreign power in our history.
That is where your
report ends, Director Mueller, with a scheme to cover up, obstruct and deceive
every bit as systematic and pervasive as the Russian disinformation campaign
itself, but far more pernicious since this rot came from within.
Even now after 448
pages and two volumes, the deception continues. The president and his accolades
say your report found no collusion, though your report explicitly declined to
address that question, since collusion can involve both criminal and
Your report laid out
multiple offers of Russian help to the Trump campaign, the campaign’s
acceptance of that help, and overt acts in furtherance of Russian help. To most
Americans that is the very definition of collusion, whether it is a crime or
They say your report
found no evidence of obstruction, though you outlined numerous actions by the
president intended to obstruct the investigation.
They say the
president has been fully exonerated, though you specifically declare you could
not exonerate him.
In fact, they say
your whole investigation was nothing more than a witch hunt, that the Russians
didn’t interfere in our election, that it’s all a terrible hoax. The real
crime, they say, is not that the Russians intervened to help Donald Trump, but
that the FBI investigated it when they did.
But worst of all,
worse than all the lies and the greed, is the disloyalty to country, for that,
When asked, “If the
Russians intervene again, will you take their help, Mr. President?” “Why not?”
was the essence of his answer. “Everyone does it.”
No, Mr. President,
they don’t. Not in the America envisioned by Jefferson, Madison and Hamilton.
Not for those who believe in the idea that Lincoln labored until his dying day
to preserve, the idea animating our great national experiment, so unique then,
so precious still, that our government is chosen by our people, through our
franchise, and not by some hostile foreign power.
This is what is at
stake, our next election, and the one after that for generations to come. Our
This is why your work
matters, Director Mueller. This is why our investigation matters, to bring
these dangers to light.
Director Mueller, let
me close by returning to where I began. Thank you for your service and thank
you for leading this investigation. The facts you set out in your report and
have elucidated here today tell a disturbing tale of a massive Russian
intervention in our election, of a campaign so eager to win, so driven by
greed, that it was willing to accept the help of a hostile foreign power, and a
presidential election decided by a handful of votes in a few key states.
Your work tells of a
campaign so determined to conceal their corrupt use of foreign help that they
risked going to jail by lying to you, to the FBI and to Congress about it and,
indeed, some have gone to jail over such lies. And your work speaks of a
president who committed countless acts of obstruction of justice that in my
opinion and that of many other prosecutors, had it been anyone else in the
country, they would have been indicted.
many things you have addressed today and in your report, there were some
questions you could not answer given the constraints you’re operating under.
You would not tell us whether you would have indicted the president but for the
OLC only that you could not, and so the Justice Department will have to make
that decision when the president leaves office, both as to the crime of
obstruction of justice and as to the campaign finance fraud scheme that
individual one directed and coordinated and for which Michael Cohen went to
You would not tell us
whether the president should be impeached, nor did we ask you since it is our
responsibility to determine the proper remedy for the conduct outlined in your
report. Whether we decide to impeach the president in the House or we do not,
we must take any action necessary to protect the country while he is in office.
You would not tell us
the results or whether other bodies looked into Russian compromise in the form
of money laundering, so we must do so. You would not tell us whether the
counterintelligence investigation revealed whether people still serving within
the administration pose a risk of compromise and should never have been given a
security clearance, so we must find out.
We did not bother to
ask whether financial inducements from any gulf nations were influencing this
U.S. policy, since it is outside the four corners of your report, and so we
must find out.
One thing is clear
from your report, your testimony from Director Wray’s statements yesterday, the
Russians massively intervened in 2016, and they are prepared to do so again in
voting that is set to begin a mere eight months from now.
The president seems
to welcome the help again. And so, we must make all efforts to harden our
election’s infrastructure to ensure there is a paper trail for all voting, to
deter the Russians from meddling, to discover it when they do, to disrupt it,
and to make them pay.
Protecting the sanctity of our elections begins, however,
with the recognition that accepting foreign help is disloyal to our country,
unethical, and wrong. We cannot control what the Russians do, not completely,
but we can decide what we do and that the centuries old experiment we call
American democracy is worth cherishing.
House Judiciary Committee hearings beginning on the Mueller Report and the
possibility the findings might trigger hearings to impeach Donald Trump, it is
helpful to hear from Nick Akerman, who served as Assistant Special Watergate
Prosecutor with the Watergate Special Prosecution Force under Archibald Cox and
Leon Jaworski which ultimately led to the resignation of Richard Nixon. He is
an expert on criminal and civil application of the Racketeer and Corrupt
Organizations Statue (RICO), the Economic Espionage Act, the federal Securities
Laws, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and State Trade Secret and
Restrictive Covenant Laws. He also is an expert on computer crime and the
prosecution of competitively sensitive information and computer data. Akerman,
who appears regularly on MSNBC on subjects including the FBI’s ongoing investigation
into alleged Russian tampering with US elections, recently opined on the
comparisons between Watergate and Trump’s culpability during a talk on “The
Critical Issues Confronting Our Nation”
at Temple Emanuel of Great Neck. Here are highlights and some notes:
There is the obvious comparisons but differences: in Watergate, a bunch of American guys flew up
from Miami, burglarized Democratic National Committee, took documents. A low
tech operation and they got caught in a low tech way –they put tape over door
and cop caught them. What was insidious about what happened [in 2016 campaign] is
that it was a high tech operation against DNC, this wasn’t done by individuals
in the United States but by Russians, sitting at computers in Moscow, hacking
into DNC as referenced by fact 12 Russian intelligence officers were indicted
by Mueller’s team.
In Watergate, we never knew what the burglars were trying
to get; by the time they were caught, they didn’t get much.
Here, Russian operatives were hacking into DNC on
multiple occasions, taking documents which they used and released during the
course of 2016 presidential campaign that clearly had impact on what happened
Back in Nixon era, had a conspiracy between Nixon and
a foreign power in 1968 – which we didn’t learn about until 40 yrs later [so it
never was part of the impeachment]- there was suspicion that Nixon had scuttled
the Vietnam peace process during the 1968 campaign because he was concerned
Johnson would settle and his lead over Humphrey would disintegrate –We learned
later from notes of H.R. Handelman, that Nixon orchestrated it– that Anna Chenault
interceded with the South Vietnamese government to keep them from coming to
peace table. [As a result], Nixon make the war go on for four more years and some
26,000 Americans were killed (after 1968; 58,000 Americans altogether. Johnson knew
of Nixon’s interference, confronted Senator Dirkson and said Nixon’s action
constituted treason, but Johnson couldn’t release the information publicly,
because would have revealed the US was bugging the South Vietnamese
government]. Johnson was concerned that if he released that information that
Nixon had interfered during campaign, it would appear that he was trying to
throw the campaign to Humphrey.
In that, it sounds familiar: Obama was also concerned
that it would appear he was exposing Russian interference to aid Trump in order
to tilt the election to Hillary Clinton. [But
it was also because when he presented the information to Senate Majority Leader
Mitch McConnell, he refused to support it and Obama did not want to appear
What Mueller said destroyed Trump’s claim of total
exoneration based on Attorney General William Barr’s so-called summary of
Mueller report. Mueller said, “If we had confidence the president clearly did
not commit a crime, we would have said so.”
What kind of statement is that to make about the
president of the United States? This is not a ringing endorsement of innocence
by any means.
Mueller basically said he was tied to regulations
issued by Department of Justice that don’t permit DoJ to indict a sitting
In Watergate, we didn’t have that problem [the rules
governing Mueller as special counsel were very much constricted after the
renegade Starr, and more constricted that the Nixon special counsel]. Archibald
Cox was really independent, not part of DoJ, but careful to follow DoJ
guidelines and regulations. When he was fired and Leon Jaworski came in, the staff
believed Nixon should have been indicted but Jaworski overruled – in retrospect
he was right – Congress was involved, the American public was being informed.
His view: impeachment process was going on and he should provide evidence to
the House Judiciary committee. So he could do the job. That’s not what we have
Mueller in his statement said it was also important
to investigate a sitting president, to preserve evidence when memories are
fresh and documents available. [Documents have already been destroyed, or kept
out of the hands of investigators.)
What does that mean in prosecutor speak? Why is it
important to investigate while the trail is hot? It might be that the people
who conspired with the president could be prosecuted. More importantly, what
he’s saying is that if the president committed crimes, the evidence should be
put together, and if leaves office within statute of limitations (for obstruction
of justice it is 5 years), so if leaves after one term, he is subject to being
want to pass a law suspending the statute of limitations while a sitting
president can’t be indicted, if that is the DoJ policy; note: that is only
policy, not part of the Constitution or any law that prevents a sitting
president from being indicted.]
because under the current policy, a sitting president can’t be indicted, that
leaves the only remedy to Congress to impeach, especially since Trump has
blocked evidence and witnesses.]
Mueller report lays out a complete trial for obstruction
of justice- 8 instances of obstruction – any one of which anybody but a sitting
president could be, should be, and has been convicted of.
There is a statement by over 1000 former DoJ
employees and prosecutors (including me) who said precisely that: if this
evidence were out there on anyone else, that person would have been indicted
and convicted of obstruction.
For example, Trump requested [former FBI Director
James] Comey drop the FBI investigation into [National Security Adviser] Michael
Flynn – that purpose was to impede and stop the investigation.
Trump tried to stop Russian investigation by firing
Comey – he admitted that to Lester Holt on tv and to the Russians [in the Oval
He tried to stop the investigation by firing [Special
Counsel] Bob Mueller and asked [Attorney General] Jeff Sessions to limit the
scope of investigation into Russian meddling in the election to only focus on
future elections, and not 2016.
He attempted to influence and probably did influence
his former campaign manager Paul Manafort to refuse to cooperate with Mueller,
and that was extremely significant [because
Manafort had such critical insight into what happened during the campaign,
while Mueller was unable to get the Russians who were out of reach; recall
Trump also jumped at the suggestion of handing over the former Ambassador McFaul
in exchange for Putin extraditing the Russians, and allowing Putin to
interrogate Americans Putin suspected of interfering in his election, like
former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.]
Trump publicly attacked his former fixer Michael
Cohen and Cohen’s family, to intimidate him to not cooperate with Mueller
Why? Because there are practical problems with
respect to charge anyone in the Trump campaign: the US doesn’t have subpoena
authority in Moscow and other countries, so it is not an easy investigation. Whereas with Watergate,
almost everything happened in the US, we could subpoena records, witnesses, and
didn’t have to worry about foreign agents in foreign countries not subject to
But one huge problem: our federal criminal law does
not address this new digital age. We had no problem in 1973 finding crimes –
burglary was simple. Our laws have not kept up with new technology.
Page 167 of the Mueller report, right in the middle
of the redacted portion relating to dissemination of stolen docs and emails from
the DNC, right before the Democratic National Convention, is a whole series of
emails disseminated by Wikileaks at the direction of the Kremlin to sow
dissention of Sanders versus the Clinton supporters.
Within 30 minutes of the release of the Access
Hollywood tape [in which Trump gloated
over his ability to grab women by the pussy, because being a celebrity he could
get away with it], Wikileaks, with the Russians, was releasing the Podesta
emails to distract attention away. [It
also came out simultaneously to Obama Administration releasing information of
Russian waging a disinformation campaign on social media.]
This was pretty slick, sophisticated operation. But if
you look at the Mueller report, it ruled out charges on the theory that trafficking in receipt of stolen property under National Stolen
Property Act only covers tangible property, not intangible. Mueller couldn’t charge
beyond reasonable doubt the crime of trafficking in stolen property, because it
As for collusion, which is cooperation members of Trump campaign were cooperating in
accepting this help. That is an important distinction, because of the difficulty
in investigating crimes outside US – DoJ has no subpoena power in Russia, no
ability to extradite Russians indicted for hacking into DNC or other Russians
involved in use of social media to suppress Clinton vote – other major
makes no sense, since the government frequently prosecutes theft of
intellectual property, which this was, and because it is illegal for a campaign
to accept anything of value from a foreign country, which opposition research
and social media campaign surely had value. They have the evidence that they
could present at trial – even in absentia, if the Russians don’t want to defend
themselves, that is their choice. But the evidence would show that Don Jr.,
Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort learned at the Trump Tower meeting that Putin
wanted to help Trump win the election; that Manafort met on several occasions
and delivered polling data that would help the Russians target enough
communities in the swing states to suppress the Clinton vote and give Trump the
77,000 votes, across three states, that clinched the Electoral College. Kushner
met with head of sanctioned bank and likely promised overturning sanctions;
Michael Cohen and Felix Slater were negotiating the Trump Tower Moscow deal;
Roger Stone was the intermediary with Wikileaks, and Wikileaks was working with
the Russian hacker, Gucipher 2.0, and Michael Flynn met with Russians to
guarantee that Trump would overturn sanctions.
the thing: Trump, himself, probably only wanted to cement relationship with
Putin for when he lost the election, but Putin saw the advantage in having a
puppet in the White House who would overturn sanctions on Russian banks and
businesses and individuals, promote oil and fossil fuels (the foundation of
Russia’s economy) while dismantling the shift to clean, renewable energy; weaken
US support of NATO, Paris Climate Agreement, and Iran Nuclear Agreement, break US as a global power while Russia and China
become dominant political and economic powerhouses around the world including
the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Trump may not have cared to win the
presidency, but Manafort, Flynn, Steve Bannon, Roger Stone, Robert Mercer
certainly did and were serving as agents of Russia. Meanwhile, other Trump-connected
figures, like Broidy and George Nador, were working on behalf of Saudi Arabia
and UAE and not only did Trump support their embargo of Qatar, where the US has
its largest military base in the Middle East, but now is allowing Saudi Arabia
to have the technology for high-tech bomb components.
fact that Putin and others knew about the private dealings, and who knows what
from before, like money laundering for Russian oligarchs with Trump
Organization properties and tax evasion, that made him and many of his aides
like Michael Flynn all vulnerable to kompromat and doing Russia’s will.]
There are two buckets [of criminal activity]: the break
in at DNC, hacking emails, stealing documents, while a group another group of
Russian intel officers in St. Petersburg, was involved in social media
disinformation campaign to microtarget Clinton voters and suppress their vote
by passing fake news about Clinton – 13 Russian intel operatives were indicted
February 2018 on this use of social media. [But
what is not readily realized is how closely the Russian campaign dovetailed
with the Trump Campaign’s social media disinformation campaign operated by Brad
Parscale, now Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, who boasted about a disinformation
campaign designed to suppress votes by women, blacks and liberals; Parscale was
connected to Cambridge Analytica, a Steve Bannon/Robert Mercer entity, that
linked up with Russia, and in England, was connected to the Brexit
disinformation campaign. Facebook and Twitter had their own professionals
embedded in Parscale’s office, while both social media giants were also
disseminating the Russian bots.]
What we learn in Mueller report: Manafort provided [Russian agent Konstantin] Kilimnikwith polling
data multiple times, not just in cigar bar – but multiple times, on one
occasion, in context of talking about battleground states, PA, MI, WI. If you
take those three states with 66,000 votes among them, that’s how Trump won [the
Electoral College]. So we have evidence, from [Rick] Gates (Manafort’s right
hand man who revealed to Mueller), we have kalynick, Russian agent, getting
polling data, talking about 3 states in particular, and Russians micro-targeting
voters to suppress vote, but Mueller had to prove somebody in the Trump
campaign engaged in conspiracy beyond reasonable doubt.
the thing about surveillance and Trump’s charge of spying: they were monitoring
the Russians and these encounters with Trump-connected Americans came up. Trump
never said anything uncovered was untrue; to the contrary, his insistence that
he must have been spied upon is proof that what they uncovered was accurate.
The point of counter-intelligence is to determine if foreign agents have infiltrated
or turned Americans into agents or moles, witting or unwitting “useful idiots.”]
The three states that elected Trump, on multiple
occasions were talking about using data to send false news to potential Clinton
voters, but what you can’t do is execute search warrant on St. Petersburg, pick
up Russians for questioning. Mueller
knew the key to investigation was Paul Manafort
[so needed Manafort to turn and give evidence. That’s where Trump’s
obstruction comes in, dangling the possibility of a pardon if he would just
In the end Mueller had a failure of proof because Manafort lied to him. When Manafort appeared before judge in DC, Amy… she found he lied about polling data [so why didn’t Manafort get more time, or have cooperation deal torn up?]. He was covering up the campaign; he was given 7 ½ years [a tiny amount of time for a guy who committed some $50 million in tax and financial fraud and basically was paying off his debts by selling out the country, essentially handing over secrets to a foreign power]. He was also indicted by New York State. The issue is whether at some point will he realize he doesn’t want to spend full 7 ½ years and cooperate – if he does, the Mueller team is no longer in place, so we are left with AG Barr who is basically a political hack for Trump and has done everything to paint rosy picture of Trump’s involvement, lied about what was in Mueller report, setting up situation for a month before the report was released, giving the impression Trump was exonerated by the report, when he wasn’t.
So it is an open question: what happens if Manafort
decides to cooperate, if Roger Stone, right in the middle of dissemination of
stolen documents, interacted with Gucifer 2.0, what happens if these people
suddenly decide to cooperate? [More
likely Barr’s DoJ will stop any investigation or prosecution altogether so the
truth never comes out, the evidence is destroyed and Trump skates free.]
Impeachment, the “I” Word
That leaves us with the House of Representatives and the impeachment process.
Impeachment is a whole different animal – a political
process not a legal process [I always
hear that it is ‘political’ but what does that mean? Shouldn’t it be about Rule
of Law, not about which party is in power?] The House doesn’t have to show evidence
beyond reasonable doubt to start an impeachment case – doesn’t have to deal
with same standard, but the House acts as grand jury, in doing so, brings
charges, which then go to Senate, and it takes 2/3 of the Senate [67 votes] to
remove somebody from office, based on impeachment from House. The obvious
problem now is that 2/3 of Senate is not in any way, shape or form, going to
remove Trump from office and the public is just not there at this point [which is why Trump and new fixer Rudy
Giuliani have been undermining Mueller and the FBI, in the “court of public
opinion”]. I totally believe Pelosi is correct, the public just doesn’t
understand what Trump did.
it is chicken and egg- Trump has obstructed access to the evidence which would
change public opinion and force the Senate to vote to impeach or else look like
they support a criminal in the white House. In Watergate, the House finally was
able to force Nixon to give over the tapes that damned him.]
Barr purposely muddled waters when he issued the ‘summary’ of the Mueller report – Mueller
report over 400 pages, it is long and takes some background in knowing what
The other significant document is the New York Times
– the long [investigative] report they have done on Trump’s taxes. It is no
coincidence Trump doesn’t want to turn over taxes – they go through that long
history of tax avoidance, and what the Trump family did [and the fact he lost
more money than any other American] – but if boils down to a long history of
tax evasion – evading gift taxes, estate taxes, income taxes. Most of what was reported
in the Times is passed statute of limitations, 6 years – but other matters.
here’s where impeachment would come in –not for a crime that is avoided because
of statue of limitations, but shows unfit for office, unfit to be the one
issuing tax policy, financial protections for consumers that he wants to
overturn, shows he is vulnerable to blackmail from others who knows he
committed tax fraud, bank fraud, lying to mortgage companies and insurance
companies, as well as lying to the government, and the likelihood of money
laundering, as well. These practices make him vulnerable to blackmail and
collusion by anyone who knows, and the Russians could certainly have found
those documents, like any other secret document. It’s like when an old
drunk-driving offense is dug up during the campaign. But there are criminal
financial practices that Trump apparently engaged in within the 6 years, and
even during his time in office.]
In 2016 [during the campaign], we know that Trump
sold two properties at 100 Central Park South, to son Eric for $330,000, even
though the Trump Organization valued at $800,000 and $700,000, essentially
passing assets not at true value, just
like Fred Trump did to Donald to evade gift taxes.
Trump knows that the real vulnerability to him are
the tax returns. Also, he doesn’t want the facts of Mueller report to be
brought to life.
Keeping the Public in the Dark
One thing in Watergate: Cox was appointed in May 1973 and by June 1973, the Senate select committee was in full gear, there were TV hearings where people understood what happened, we had testimony that the burglary was connected to the Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP), John Dean [White House counsel] laid out the elaborate obstruction of justice plot, the hush money to Watergate burglars – so as of summer of 1973, the public was pretty well educated.
Watergate was essentially one crime at the center, the burglary, when Trump
campaign involved many different illegal, unethical activities, including the
tacit agreement with the Russians that would overturn sanctions, which
motivated the Russians to commit crimes on Trump’s behalf, which Trump
encouraged, egging on the release of Wikileaks, for example. In some ways,
Trump committed his offenses in the open, including saying on TV he fired James
Comey because of the Russia investigation giving the impression, ‘how could it
be illegal if he does it openly.’ But many more are surreptitious and
convoluted. But Trump is already named as Individual Number 1 in campaign
finance violations, which had it been any other president, would have been
sufficient on its own to initiate impeachment.]
We haven’t had that. Prior to the new [Democratic-controlled]
House, it was controlled by Republicans who kept everything out of the public [except when Nunes forced the release of
FISA materials, intending to signal to intelligence officers to back off], the
Senate didn’t do anything in public. What has to happen now has to be to bring the
Mueller report to life: get McGahn [and
Hope Hicks, Don Jr., Steve Bannon, Roger Stone, Jared Kushner] to testify;
these are people who worked at the Trump White House or still do, who have
already provided testimony to the Mueller team.
One of things Trump administration tries to do –
same as Nixon – is to stonewall. By not providing witnesses, documents. The
recent court rulings are significant – tax returns. Most significant in last
the 10 days is that New York State can provide tax returns to the House
committees, and NYS tax returns mirror the federal returns.
Federal statute requires treasury to produce tax
returns [What makes you think was Trump
submitted to State jibed with Federal return?]
Where this is going will be a road to slog – court
actions, committees – their job is to bring life to 435 page report that most
American don’t have time or inclination to read.
stonewall? First place, to diminish the weight of the charges; second, to push
the process into the election campaign so he can argue that it is only
political, and get the DoJ to impose its policy, which Comey conveniently
ignored, of indicting or prosecuting someone during a campaign. That’s why
there was a hiatus before the 2018 election.]
Around same section, p 176 –there is a prosecution
decision Mueller explains that’s redacted –about whether or not to charge
federal computer crimes statute. But just as the same as Russian intel officers
who had hacked, Mueller concludes he doesn’t have enough evidence. The statute
is computer fraud and abuse statute – hacking statute – the only reason to
charge anybody would be if he were actually involved in the hacking done by
Russians. We don’t know what’s under the redaction, but it is significant.
You can pick up bits and pieces. It is important
that the public know about and be brought to attention.
AG Barr Muddies Waters
What Mueller writes about the law refutes that letter that Barr provided the White House and DoJ as a ‘job’ letter to be appointed as new AG. [It shows his ignorance of the law.] You wouldn’t want a first year law student to be writing, it’s just wrong. He says obstruction of justice doesn’t apply to anything other than a judicial proceeding which is wrong, the DoJ brings it up with FBI cases all the time. In Watergate, the principles in obstruction were charged with cover up of the FBI investigation, just like Trump did with Comey and Russia.
In the letter Barr provided to White House and DoJ [which is why Trump appointed him] Barr says that corrupt intent doesn’t apply because it’s an ‘amorphous’ statute. But there is a specific charge: simply acting with improper purpose to corruptly interfere, impede and obstruct a due administration of justice – straight forward. Yet Barr doesn’t buy into that. Barr was never a prosecutor, always a political appointee, and never tried a case. It’s disturbing for somebody who is AG supervising everyone else doing that.
Watergate was essentially simple, as you point out,
and reduced to one crime, a two-bit burglary and a cover up – Trump’s crimes
about security of voting systems? If Russians can hack into the DNC (and voting
rolls in 20 states), what protection is there?
That is a huge problem. The [Trump administration] has
said we don’t have evidence Russians hacked in [to voting machines] but the
systems are so antiquated, they don’t have means to capture audit trails to
know if anyone did.
the biggest problem: while the Constitution has a provision for Impeachment,
there is no provision to review an election that has been stolen. You can have
a criminal billionaire who pays hackers to flip switches to win the Electoral
College, pay them a cool million dollars apiece to sweat out a year or so in
jail, or pardon altogether.
circular – Trump will obstruct, stonewall, and don’t know that witnesses won’t
destroy evidence, docs, tapes, unless there is impeachment inquiry.
I don’t understand the confusion over prosecuting for collusion – or conspiracy
– when clearly, there were over 100 contacts between Trump, family, associates,
campaign aides, and the Trump campaign benefited from the social media disinformation
campaign to targeted districts, very possibly based on the polling data that
Manafort supplied; from telegraphing his interest in lifting sanctions,
weakening NATO, selling nuclear arms to Saudi Arabia, Japan and South Korea,
and knowing (from the Trump Tower meeting with Kushner, Manafort and Don Jr) that Putin favored his election. It makes no
sense that they can’t prosecute because data was stolen, not material, but data
is intellectual property and it is criminal to steal intellectual property –
which has value. So does the social media campaign waged by Russians based
on Trump campaign’s own polling data,
which by the way mirrored what Brad Parscale was doing – with an objective to
suppressing turnout by women, blacks and liberals – who is now Trump’s 2020 campaign manager. And
what about the Cambridge Analytica link which had Russia, Wikileaks (and Roger
Stone), the Mercers and Steve Bannon and Brad Parscale’s fingerprints.]
turned out for a rally in Times Square, New York City, on Thursday, April 4 to
demand the release of the full Mueller Report into Russian interference in the
2016 election and whether the Trump campaign directly or indirectly engaged. It
was one of hundreds of protests around the country in a “Nobody is Above the
Law Day of Action” to call for full transparency mobilized by the grassroots
activist organization, Indivisible, along with coalition partners including
MoveOn, Public Citizen, People For the American Way, and others.
“1 week later [after Mueller released his report] and we still don’t have the full Mueller report.But, here’s what we know: Mueller’s investigation has led to 34 indictments, 7 guilty pleas, and a conclusion that the President of the United States cannot be exonerated — and Attorney General Barr’s sanitized summary is not enough to close this case.”
Since then, the New York Times has reported that some Mueller investigators “have told associates that Attorney General William P. Barr failed to adequately portray the findings of their inquiry and that they were more troubling for President Trump than Mr. Barr indicated, according to government officials and others familiar with their simmering frustrations.” (“Some on Mueller’s Team Say Report Was More Damaging Than Barr Revealed”)
“If the report weren’t damaging for Trump, his lapdogs in Congress wouldn’t be working so hard to suppress,” said the speaker from Stand Up America, a progressive grassroots organization that formed just weeks after the November 2016 election. Citing the numerous instances of collusion between Trump campaign and Russian operatives that were already known: secret real estate deal with the Kremlin during the campaign; seven officials meeting with Russian agents; passing secret internal strategy to Russian agents, he declared, “If this is not collusion, collusion has no meaning.”
Mueller investigators were also looking into obstruction of justice “and boy did he find it: firing FBI Director Comey to stop the Russia investigation.
“Collusion and obstruction is
included in the full Mueller report. Even Attorney General Barr said so.
“But instead of answers, gave Trump
ammunition to say ‘no collusion, full exoneration’ but we have learned we have
been taken for a ride. The report doesn’t let Trump off the hook.
“The Attorney General is nothing
but a lying White House waterboy.”
The Senate Republicans have blocked
the release of the Mueller Report – despite the House Judiciary committee’s
subpoena – for the fifth time.
“If it weren’t incriminating, Trump
would tweet it out, line by line.”
Here are highlights from the#ReleasetheReport
rally and march:
Thousands gathered at Times Square in Manhattan precisely at 5 pm on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, a day after Donald Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and only two days after the Blue Wave swept over the House and into state houses across the country, and appointing Matthew Whitaker the Acting Attorney General, a sycophant who has been outspoken against the Muller “lynch mob” and the liberal “Russian hoax.”
Within minutes, the numbers gathered at Duffy Square in Times Square in Manhattan grew to the thousands; soon people were packed together, waving hand-drawn signs and chanting “Trump is not Above the Law,” and “Protect Mueller.” After about an hour, they marched down Broadway about two miles to Union Square through streets and crossroads that clogged with rush hour traffic, past stores and offices still busy with people – a contrast to typical protests which go through vacant caverns on a weekend morning. They were greeted with supporters all along the route.
New York City was one of about 1000 such rallies across the nation, a response to Donald Trump’s latest in-your-face lawless outrage: firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions in order to replace him with a sycophant, Matthew Whitaker, whose only “qualification” to be the Acting Attorney General is that he, like now Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, expressed willingness to shield Trump, his family and associates from investigation.
The NYC Planning Team later reported that best estimates put the numbers at 6,000, part of a nationwide turnout of over 100,000 people who came out with less than 24 hours notice.
Whitaker had been auditioning for the job in appearances on TV – the recruitment ground for any number of Trump appointees, including his Director of Communications, the ex-Fox News executive Bill Shine – expressing disdain for Mueller’s team as a “lynch mob”, and declaring in interviews in 2017 that the Russia investigation was a liberal hoax, and while there may have been interference by Russia into the election, there was no collusion with the Trump campaign. No one bothered to ask how Whitaker, who said he wanted to come to Trump’s attention in order to get a job with the Administration in Washington, would have any direct knowledge of the “evidence” to support his claims.
Whitaker was critical of the investigation in an August 2017 CNN op-ed, saying that Mueller investigating Trump’s finances would be crossing a red line, even though the question of whether the Trump empire is built on money laundering for Russian oligarchs loyal to Vladimir Putin is key to whether there was in fact a conspiracy, or collusion, between Russia and the Trump campaign, and whether Trump’s foreign policy decisions are impacted by whether other governments have sway over him (a partial list: Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Russia, China, India, Turkey, Panama. Yet Whitaker is now the highest law-enforcement officer in the country.
Whitaker also defended Donald Trump Jr.’s June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower with Russian officials promising opposition research against Hillary Clinton, stating, “You would always take that meeting,” demonstrating not only his bias (and conflict of interest) but his ignorance of law (it’s illegal to take anything of value from a foreign power; the “dirt” on Hillary Clinton was illegally obtained, which would render the Trump campaign a co-conspirator). But defending illegality is not new: he served on a board of a company that, like Trump University, existed to bilk its customers, and which used Whitaker’s position as a federal prosecutor to bully those who would have sued. And yet, he is now the highest law-enforcement officer in the country. (But dishonesty, along with blind loyalty to Dear Leader, seem to be the prerequisites for a Trump appointment.)
Whitaker, as a 2014 candidate for US Senate from Iowa, had promised he would vote for federal judicial nominees who have “a Biblical view of justice.” He also expressed disdain for the notion of the Judiciary as a co-equal branch of government, and blasted the original decision, Marbury v Madison from 1803 which established the Supreme Court as the arbiter of constitutionality. (I’ll bet he thinks differently now that Trump has put two Federalist Society judges on the court for a long-term conservative majority.)
Trump had to jump over the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is in charge of the Mueller investigation, in order to pluck Whitaker, who was a chief-of-staff to Sessions for a matter of months. Despite basically carrying out Trump’s racist, anti-immigrant, anti-civil rights agenda, Sessions was pilloried by Trump for having recused himself from the Russia probe, since Sessions was part of the Trump campaign and lied to Congress during his confirmation hearing about having had contact with Russians. The likelihood is that Trump deliberately planted Whitaker in the post precisely for this maneuver.
On the other hand, many legal scholars have said Whitaker is not legally allowed to be the Acting chief-law-enforcement officer for the nation since he has never gone through a confirmation process. Again, Trump is likely thinking he can get anyone through the Republican-controlled Senate.
Some 19 different organizations, including Moveon.org, Need to Impeach and Democracy for America,, sent out the “Emergency. Break the Glass” notice, triggered when Trump moved to fire Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, to rally people in New York City and around the country.
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY 12) was among those who addressed the protesters in Union Square. Also, among the organizers, a Brooklyn College student, a mother from Connecticut with an autistic child; and Therese Okoumou, who scaled the Statue of Liberty last July 4 to protest Trump’s family separation policy.
Here are more photo highlights from the New York City rally and march to protect Mueller: