Donald Trump

Will the Mueller Report be a Blueprint for Impeachment?

Probably Yes

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

It is certainly possible that the Mueller Report to be released on Thursday will constitute a blueprint for impeaching President Trump on obstruction of justice charges.  My speculation is based mostly on the aggressiveness with which the lawyers on the Mueller team did their investigation and their keeping the Russia-Trump investigation open long after they had to know there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Andrew McCarthy has been particularly insightful on what was happening:

The collusion probe came to Mueller primarily as an obstruction case. Since it was obvious from a very early point that there had been no collusion, the question of whether there was a prosecutable obstruction case was really the only one Mueller had to answer. In the end, he defaulted.

It is almost certain that Mueller knew by autumn 2017 that there was no Trump–Russia conspiracy. Trump railed about the investigation for public consumption, but the White House and his lawyers (especially the first team, led by John Dowd) provided sweeping cooperation, including hours of interviews with White House counsel Don McGahn and well over a million documents (among them, contemporaneous notes of McGahn's meetings with the president). Though he could easily have claimed executive privilege to withhold this information from prosecutors, Trump never did. . . .

A nagging question persists: Why did Mueller allow the investigation to continue for well over a year after it must have been patent that there was no collusion case? . . . Why did neither Mueller nor Rosenstein issue an interim report? That would have enabled Trump to govern without a cloud of suspicion that he might be a clandestine agent of Russia, yet permitted the overarching inquiry into Russia's operations and even the obstruction probe to continue. The country deserves an answer.

McCarthy gives some background about the likely reason that Mueller failed to decide whether to prosecute, ultimately punting the decision to Barr:

As for the obstruction inquiry, after 22 months of investigation, Mueller finally declined to make a prosecutorial judgment, dumping the matter in Barr's lap. . . .

There is no doubt that a president may be cited for obstruction based on corrupt acts that tamper with witnesses and evidence (recall the Clinton and Nixon precedents). But no patently illegal acts were alleged against Trump. In their absence, Mueller's team pursued a novel theory: An obstruction charge might be premised on lawful exercises of the president's Article II prerogatives (e.g., firing subordinate officials, weighing in on the merits of investigations, considering pardons) if a prosecutor — the president's subordinate — later deduced that the acts had been improperly motivated. . . .

As is not uncommon for former top officials, [Barr] had weighed in on important policy matters from time to time over the years.

So it was on obstruction.

In June 2018, Barr had submitted an unsolicited 20-page memo to Rosenstein. Citing the legislative history of the obstruction statutes, leading case law, and longstanding Justice Department policy, he contended that Mueller's apparent theory of obstruction was legally untenable and practically unworkable. Putting the president aside, the theory would subject to possible prosecution any Justice Department supervisor who made a routine personnel decision during a case (say, reassigning a lawyer from one investigation to another) if some prosecutor later suspected an improper motive. Barr further made what should be an incontestable point: Given the damage such a prosecution can do to the nation's governance, a president should not be prosecuted in the absence of something all reasonable people can agree is a clear, serious violation of law.

Once Barr was confirmed, Mueller had to see the handwriting on the wall: The new AG was not going to approve a dubious obstruction charge. The special counsel thus had a choice: concede that Barr was right on the law, or fight for the controversial theory his staff had pursued — i.e., recommend an obstruction charge and dare the AG to nix it. But Mueller shrank from making the decision, choosing merely to summarize the evidence and leave the prosecutorial judgment to Barr.

In consultation with Rosenstein, Barr found no prosecutable case. . . .

In the meantime, [Mueller] let the president chafe under the yoke of suspicion long after it was manifest that there was no collusion case. All the while, the special counsel's staff considered an unsound reinterpretation of obstruction law in order to nail Trump — after the Justice Department had bent over backwards in order to avoid charging Hillary Clinton with mishandling classified information, a concrete criminal allegation that was supported by weighty evidence.

Although political predictions are wrong nearly as often as they are right, I would expect that the Mueller Report released on Thursday will give plenty of ammunition for Congressional Democrats who might want to impeach Trump for obstruction under a theory that the Mueller team thought plausible enough to have spent nearly two years pursuing.

I hope that the report will also reveal when the investigation of the Trump campaign began and on what basis, as well as which current and former foreign agents or governments were used by the Clinton campaign, the FBI, or the CIA to surveil or gather information on members of the Trump campaign, the transition team, or the administration.

UPDATE (April 18, 1:12pm ET):

Now that the report is out, some other commentators (such as David Axelrod) bear out my prediction:

"The report provides a conundrum for Congress by virtually inviting an impeachment probe around the obstruction issue," Axelrod tweeted.

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  1. “I hope that the report will also reveal when the investigation of the Trump campaign began and on what basis, as well as which current and former foreign agents or governments were used by the Clinton campaign, the FBI, or the CIA to surveil members of the Trump campaign, the transition team, or the administration.”

    It won’t. Trump has already bemoaned the lack of examination given to “the other side.” Hopefully more time will tell though! By the way has anyone seen Joseph Mifsud?

    1. “It won’t. Trump has already bemoaned the lack of examination given to “the other side.”

      It’s almost like Mr. Trump doesn’t know that these are people who work under him, at his direction. Are we to conclude that he doesn’t know how to lead an organization, or rather, that what he says publicly has nothing to do with what he does privately?

      1. No, it’s almost like Trump knows that when under investigation for obstruction it may be counterproductive to issue a formal command to the AG that an investigation of the investigators begin forthwith.

        Better to take the hits, bitch about them publicly and privately, and then appoint a guy as AG who you suspect shares your belief that the investigators need investigating.

        1. Your suggestion that Donald Trump knows how to act when under investigation is silly. At best, he is the guiltiest-looking innocent man in American political history.

          But keep doing the best you can with this, clingers.

          1. He never looked guilty. It was always a ridiculous conspiracy theory on par with the one that Obama is a secret Muslim born in Kenya. Only it turns out Democrats are much more deranged, tribal and filled with hate so they took it much further.

            1. The serial lies — consistent lying by the President and many of those close to him, regarding communications, meetings, and conduct with respect to Russia and the e-mails — were not the expected conduct of innocents.

              The statements that he fired Comey because of ‘this Russia thing’ and that the firing had ‘taken that pressure off’ also are inconsistent with an appearance of innocence.

              Carry on, clingers.

              1. Comey oversaw a baseless and probably illegal spying operation into the political opposition campaign, like Watergate on steroids, which then transitioned into a bureaucratic coup against a duly elected President. The only odd thing is that Trump didn’t fire this bozo sooner and gave him a chance to come clean.

                1. Nonsense.

                  1. Look at the bright side, bernard. We get these guys as opponents in the culture war.

                  2. The truth can be a hard pill to swallow.

                    I’m not a close-minded guy though. I invite you, or anyone, to explain the evidence that justified spying on the Trump campaign. I’ve issued that challenge on this forum before. I’m willing and ready to hear something new.

                    1. In my experience, you and your fantasies are oblivious to facts.

                    2. Your failure to offer a single fact is noted.

                    3. When you did so before, did people point out that there was no spying on the Trump campaign?

                      Or did they just make fun of you for not realizing all the evidence against Trump and his cronies?

                    4. Whats your nifty semantic argument about “spying”? Lets hear it. Whatever it is, though, it doesnt jibe with common usage and understanding, ie the definition of the word descriptively speaking.

      2. “It’s almost like Mr. Trump doesn’t know that these are people who work under him, at his direction.”

        And should fire them if they do not follow his direction?

  2. I see the man who doesn’t understand how campaign email lists work has logged on to explain politics to us.

  3. McCarthy is a worthless hack. Citing him for anything is pretty much worthless.

    Barr’s not-a-summary quotes Mueller as narrowly deciding there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Well, Stone wasn’t part of the campaign and Kilimnik wasn’t part of the Russian govenment, but Stone was indicted for coordinating with Wikileaks and the Gufficer 2.0 operatives and Kilimnik was Manafort’s go-between to Deripaska (also not an official part of the Russian government).

    The obstruction charge probably isn’t weak. It just so happens there’s a DOJ policy saying the President can’t be indicted. Mueller didn’t leave it up to Barr to make any decision, either. That goes against the entire point of the Special Counsel regulation.

    The entire report needs to go to the House to determine what it all means.

    1. You are confused, Stone was indicted for lying not any collusion, and the report exonerates Stone of collusion too, because he was clearly associated with the campaign.

      “The Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election. ”

      It’s funny you attack McCarthy as a hack, because when this all started he vociferously defended the FBI and the FISA process, saying it was just not possible the FBI would use something as flimsy as the Steele Dossier on its own to get a FISA warrant, until the evidence came out and he had to change his mind.

      1. until the evidence came out and he had to change his mind.

        To be clear, no such evidence came out.

    2. “Barr’s not-a-summary quotes Mueller as narrowly deciding there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.”

      hmmm. Is that what they say over in your bubble?

      1. That’s the brilliance of conspiracy theories – evidence against the theory is further evidence of the conspiracy.

        1. All conspiracy theories originate from a CIA disinformation campaign.

          #MetaConspiracy

    3. McCarthy is a worthless hack. Citing him for anything is pretty much worthless.

      Plainly not “worthless” since he has radically changed his tune over the course of the last two years. He started off firmly in the camp of “this is a real investigation, because my beloved DoJ, and my nearly as beloved FBI, do not pursue investigations based on vapor. If they got a FISA warrant, there must have been plenty of predicate, thrice checked and verified.”

      And then after a year or so he changed course to “Oh Lordy ! My beloved DoJ seems to have been doing exactly what I said it would never do .”

      So if he’s a hack, this 180 can only be based on a change of paymasters. Ergo at least someone thinks his scribblings are valuable.

    4. Oh boy, we got a live one.

      Do you realize that you are now at the stage of rejecting the short form birth certificate and demanding to see the long form birth certificate?

  4. The collusion probe came to Mueller primarily as an obstruction case. Since it was obvious from a very early point that there had been no collusion

    It was? There were numerous points of contact between Trump, the Trump campaign, people in Trump’s orbit, and people connected to Russian intelligence.

    A nagging question persists: Why did Mueller allow the investigation to continue for well over a year after it must have been patent that there was no collusion case?

    Because it wasn’t clear. People who were interviewed kept lying and trying to deceive the investigators, and the President’s allies kept dropping hints that he’d pardon anyone who got charged for lying to the investigators.

    Just look at Manafort, he lied, cut a deal, then lied again, and it’s widely expected that Trump will issue a pardon at some point.

    Even now… how easy would it have been to set up an encrypted back-channel between the Trump campaign and Russia? It’s really hard to prove a negative, and with that many weird and suspicious connections you have to keep digging for a long time.

    . . . Why did neither Mueller nor Rosenstein issue an interim report?

    Because that wasn’t in their mandate and they played it by the book. Their job was to investigate, not run PR for POTUS. If you wanted to track the investigation there were plenty of court filings.

    As for the obstruction inquiry, after 22 months of investigation, Mueller finally declined to make a prosecutorial judgment, dumping the matter in Barr’s lap. . . .

    Probably, according to Barr’s summary. We still haven’t seen the report, and don’t know what will be in the redacted version.

    But no patently illegal acts were alleged against Trump.

    I’m pretty sure I could beat this article’s word count simply by listing patently illegal acts alleged against Trump.

    Some of which (including those by his allies) were unearthed by the Mueller investigation and would have ended up in the sites of the original probe.

    In their absence, Mueller’s team pursued a novel theory:

    Which sounds a lot what a normal person would describe as obstruction of justice.

    In June 2018, Barr had submitted an unsolicited 20-page memo to Rosenstein

    And got appointed AG! Replacing an Interim AG who penned an op-ed on how the AG could kill the Mueller investigation.

    Although political predictions are wrong nearly as often as they are right, I would expect that the Mueller Report released on Thursday will give plenty of ammunition for Congressional Democrats who might want to impeach Trump for obstruction under a theory that the Mueller team thought plausible enough to have spent nearly two years pursuing.

    In other words you expect loads of evidence that contract your position, and you’re fully prepared to disregard all of it.

    1. In June 2018, Barr had submitted an unsolicited 20-page memo to Rosenstein…..And got appointed AG! ”

      An absolutely key point. Not only is Trump guilty by nominating and appointing Barr, but 54 Senators are guilty by confirming him.

      I expect to see that Mueller came within an ace of indicting them too. Presumably in a trial of Trump in the Senate following impeachment, they’d all have to recuse themselves ?

    2. Yeah, “fully prepare to disregard all of it,” does “it” include the Obama administrations use of clandestine informants (commonly known as “spies”) against the Trump campaign? The use of Clinton/DNC funded opposition research (commonly know as “BS”) to obtain multiple FISA warrants? The Obama administration’s decision to withhold investigatory information from the incoming administration? The Strzok/Page “Insurance Policy” text (and other texts that weren’t deleted)?

    3. “There were numerous points of contact between Trump, the Trump campaign, people in Trump’s orbit, and people connected to Russian intelligence.”

      You mean other than the ones the FBI paid to approach the campaign?

      1. Well yes. If law enforcement sees a lot a criminal activity in an organization having a paid informant go over is a common and legitimate practice.

  5. I doubt this is going anywhere in the House but suspect that is even better from a Democratic strategy point of view. They can bemoan how nothing is happening even as they make sure nothing actually does happen.

  6. Those who want to impeach Trump don’t need this report as a blueprint. I personally don’t think there is much chance of impeaching Trump, because the Dem leadership (as opposed to the 19-and-counting candidates) knows it would just rile up most of those voters who voted for Trump precisely because he is not a standard politician. It would be an even more obvious case of sour grapes than the Clinton impeachment was.

    1. I believe — based in part on discussions with many Democratic Party leaders — that the primary reason senior Democrats prefer not to impeach Pres. Trump is that they are content to let him brand the Republican Party with ineptitude, bigotry, corruption, and backwardness for at least a generation.

      That, coupled with the leashes a Democratic House can place on the Trump administration, is enough to make watching Trump lurch about for a couple of more years the better political bet.

      1. “based on discussions with many Democratic Party leaders”? Who exactly? Just watching Rachel Maddow doesn’t count. But, I almost wish it were true. It would explain a lot about the leadership of the Democrat Party.

        1. What is the “Democrat Party,” you bigoted, half-educated rube?

          1. “What is the “Democrat Party,” you bigoted, half-educated rube?”

            It’s the guys who aren’t the goobers, Arthur.

          2. Now, now, stay calm, I understand your “collusion” nonsense has been exposed as, well, nonsense, but don’t worry, plenty of other conspiratorial delusions out there. And, I use “Democrat” because I just can’t bring myself to equate the party of slavery, Jim Crow/segregation, and infanticide with something characterized by, or advocating democracy (the definition of “democratic” in case you were confused) with the vileness of that party.

          3. Oh, forgot to add ballot harvesting/voter fraud. So, I really meant to say that I can’t bring myself to equate the party of slavery, Jim Crow/segregation, infanticide, and ballot harvesting/voter fraud with something characterized by, or advocating democracy.

            1. Don’t look now, but it looks like MKE has become unstuck in time.

              1. Really, kinda thought the infanticide and ballot harvesting/voter fraud references were rather timely. As for other historical facts, you might want to inform the woke brats destroying statues and monuments across the country about their misplaced concerns, I doubt they read Vonnegut.

            2. The Jim Crow Democrats are almost all Republicans now, that’s to Nixon’s “Southern Strategy”. And, uh, at least in North Carolina, the “vote harvesting” scandal involves Republicans, too. It’s why their guy who had more votes counted for him didn’t get declared the winner of the election.

              1. Yeah right, I’ve heard that excuse before, funny though what I’ve never heard is any statement from any Democrat apologizing or even admitting their Jim Crow past. So, until you can point to any Democrat rejecting their racist past, you’re kind of full of it.

                1. ” until you can point to any Democrat rejecting their racist past, you’re kind of full of it.”

                  You mean like, say, Senator Byrd?

                  (Your logic is rather poor. The claim is that most of the racist D’s (then) have become R’s. Your refutation is that the people who are still D’s aren’t bemoaning their racist past. How does that even address the claim?)

      2. I believe — based in part on discussions with many Democratic Party leaders

        Nobody believes that.

        that the primary reason senior Democrats prefer not to impeach Pres. Trump is that they are content to let him brand the Republican Party with ineptitude, bigotry, corruption, and backwardness for at least a generation.

        What’s sad is that you don’t even realize that if you hadn’t fabricated this, how badly it would reflect on the Democratic Party.

  7. I thought it was God who was the searcher of all hearts, but apparently it’s Jim Lindgren, who seems to know exactly what everyone thinks. He’s also a law professor who clearly adores a man who rejects entirely the very notion of the “rule of law”. Strange!

    1. You say that I adore Trump. But I made a small donation to the Hillary Clinton campaign, and I have never encountered a President about whom I am so ambivalent–not even close. I was somewhat ambivalent about Presidents Reagan and Clinton–but in retrospect my opinion of both is more positive than it was at the time.

  8. If the Democrats impeach Trump after the no-collusion finding then they’ll lose Congress in 2020, not just the presidential election.

    The obstruction charge is basically that he fired Comey, complained about Sessions recusing himself, and he sent some tweets. I can’t believe how full of themselves the FBI and Mueller’s team are.

    Comey should have been fired the day he briefed Trump on the Steele/GPS/DNC dossier.

    1. Wrong.

      Trump should have whipped out a list on inauguration day, and fired a fair number of people before the warmth from his hand had faded from that Bible. All he accomplished by giving people like Comey a chance, was to give them time to organize against him and set traps.

      Even the briefing you mentioned was just a trap, conducted only for the purpose of being able to tell the press that he had been briefed on it, transforming it from just a campaign smear to some sort of official intelligence document.

      Sure, it would have been a mess, but he’d have been the one to put the mess together again, under his control. Instead of the “resistance” just getting organized and stubborn.

    2. If the Democrats impeach Trump after the no-collusion finding then they’ll lose Congress in 2020, not just the presidential election.

      There was no “no-collusion finding.” Reading is fundamental.

  9. It’s always refreshing to see someone openly willing to whore his integrity to defend the indefensible.

    Jim Lindgren: Intellectual whore. Yup, you wear it well.

    (Advice to future presidents: If you do not want to be investigated over an extended period; don’t bend over backwards to look as guilty as possible. I am *still* trying to figure out why he felt he had to lie about the Trump Tower meeting if absolutely nothing improper was going on.)

    1. One possible explanation for the President’s actions during the investigation is that he wasn’t sure none of his team was guilty, or even thought that at least some of them might be guilty. At the high end of partisan spin, he might not have even been sure he was innocent of wrong-doing.

      Far more likely (to me, anyway) is that it’s simple ego. The Russians wanted Trump elected because they believe he was the far less capable candidate, and his election would hobble the United States. So, first he tried straight denial… the Russians didn’t even try to influence the election. Since that was obviously untrue, and Trump changes from lie to lie until some other issue takes center stage, he then moved on to “no collusion” and “witch hunt” and and “attempted coup” to “investigating me is treason”.

      1. “The Russians wanted Trump elected because they believe he was the far less capable candidate, and his election would hobble the United States.”

        If that was their theory, then they got it ass backwards, which might make you rethink your premise.

        1. It’s also ridiculous on its face. The Russians knew, just as did the Americans, Republican and Demcrat alike, that Hillary was bound to win.

          Any Russian monkey business could not have been aimed at helping Trump to win, since it was a sure thing that he wasnt going to. The obvious motive for any monkeying was to sow discord and to try to hobble a Hillary Presidency with a taint of illegitimacy.

          I doubt that there was in fact any real Russian input to the Steele dossier, but if there was, then there’s your secret collusion in a nutshell.

        2. “If that was their theory, then they got it ass backwards,”

          In the sense that they got exactly what they wanted, and it was better (for them) than they could have hoped for?

          1. Two reasons. One, you have to believe that Hillary would have made for a stronger, more secure America on the world stage, better able to oppose Russia for them to try to get her to lose. I suppose you can believe that Hillary would have been, in an alternate universe, a better president, but this is un-provable. Thus your hypothetical is based on an unprovable axiom. Trump’s leadership, in this timeline at least, has led to a stronger America than before his election.

            But secondly, for your premise to make sense, you have to assume that Hillary would be harder on Russia than Trump has. This again is an un-provable hypothetical. If anything, though, Trump has done less to relieve sanctions on Russia than a president not under a cloud of “Russian collusion” might have, lest he be thought of as a stooge.

            Think though, the Russians have been meddling in our elections since their Revolution in an attempt to undermine the West. And further, do you really think that Russians are better at reading the polls than people hear? Like everyone else, they thought Hillary would win, and wanted to undermine the West, which they have done is spectacular fashion thanks lately, playing the Democrat Party and American media like a harp.

            1. “One, you have to believe that Hillary would have made for a stronger, more secure America on the world stage, better able to oppose Russia for them to try to get her to lose.”

              No, they needed to think that. And they did.

              ” has led to a stronger America than before his election. ”

              Ha. Good one.

              “But secondly, for your premise to make sense, you have to assume that Hillary would be harder on Russia than Trump has.”

              Wrong again, for the same reason.

              “Think though, the Russians have been meddling in our elections since their Revolution in an attempt to undermine the West”

              This is your argument that the Russians didn’t try to interfere in 2016? You’re not even trying.

  10. They kept it open as long as possible because 1. The investigation existing served as an anchor around the Admins neck 2. so they can squirrel together has many nuggets of minor negative information they could in the hope that they would eventually strike gold or cobble something together on what was essentially a fishing expedition. If there was anything slamdunk in that Report you can be your fake Democrat pee tape that we would have heard about it the moment it came out.

    1. If Mueller had officially concluded that there was no Trump-Russia collusion by 2017, but he wanted to continue investigating Trump for obstruction, there would have been no argument for Sessions to remain recused. Hence Sessions would have taken over the SC supervision from Rosenstein. I suspect that would have been unwelcome.

    2. Most significant to them was number 3. to mount an offensive defense of their misconduct in spying on the Trump campaign, probably the greatest scandal in American political history.

      1. I agree there. You just have to read the Congressional testimony of various, mostly former by now, FBI officials, involved in the spying on Trump and his campaign, to see this. Anything Russia related was off the table, on the grounds of interfering with an ongoing investigation – the Mueller investigation. This was enforced by having FBI attorneys at the side of each current or former FBI official. Interestingly, Bruce Ohr, former #4 at the DoJ, who worked as an unofficial conduit between the Crossfire Hurricane investigative team and Steele and Simpson with Fusion GPS, was much more forthright, presumably because being DoJ, and not FBI, he didn’t have an FBI minder at his side while testifying.

        1. No one spied on the Trump campaign. FBI attorneys during Congressional testemony are minders now to keep this secret?

          Cite MK Ultra next.

          1. Sarcastro, you’re telling us the sky isn’t blue. Let me guess, semantics? Instead of spying we should call it “properly authorized surveillance”? Are you the anonymous handle of Chris Cillizza?

            1. He’s not telling you anything about the sky. He’s telling you that reciting fantasies about anyone spying on the Trump campaign just makes you look delusional. Proceed as you see fit.

              1. He’s not telling you anything about the sky. He’s telling you that reciting fantasies about anyone spying on the Trump campaign just makes you look delusional. Proceed as you see fit.

                Not only that, but if there had been “spying” on the campaign, it wouldn’t have involved Mueller, who wasn’t appointed until long afterwards, so the claim that Mueller was trying to “mount an offensive defense of [his] misconduct” makes no sense.

                1. Nieporent : Not only that, but if there had been “spying” on the campaign,

                  Just out of interest, as a “reading is fundamental” kind of guy, what difference in meaning do you perceive between ‘spying” and “surveillance” ? What spying is not also surveillance ? And vice versa ? You may write on both sides of the paper.

                  it wouldn’t have involved Mueller, who wasn’t appointed until long afterwards, so the claim that Mueller was trying to “mount an offensive defense of [his] misconduct” makes no sense.

                  ML’s “their” has morphed into “his” in your rendering. As I’m sure you’re aware there was a wholesale transfer of the pre Mueller FBI team, inc Strzok, into the Mueller team. What was your thinking in narrowing down ML’s point about “them” and “their” to “him” ? Why would it make no sense for the members of the Mueller team, who were involved before Mr Trump became President Trump, to be interested in covering up their past misconduct. And why would it make no sense for Mueller and his new hires to want to help them ?

                  1. ” what difference in meaning do you perceive between ‘spying” and “surveillance” ?”

                    Spying is when you break into the offices, and plant bugs. Surveillance is when you sit outside, and write down who comes and goes, and when.

                    The FBI routinely surveils known or suspected foreign agents. This means that everyone who interacts with those agents creates records of when those interactions happened.

                    Try taking it out of the political context. TMZ surveils the Hollywood environs, recording the interactions of celebrities. So, if you’re in a club in the next booth over from Movie Star, you might be visible in the background when they ask Movie Star about Sports Event. When you later claim that TMZ spied on you, you deserve to be laughed at.

                    1. Not a bad effort, though you haven’t quite got it right. Spying is clandestine surveillance. Surveillance can be clandestine or overt. Spying can’t be overt.

                      So taking your two examples. The break in and bug planting is both spying and surveillance. Though if you entered lawfully, and informed the occupier – “I’ve got a court order authorising me to instal these bugs, so that I can record whatever is said in this office” – then it stops being spying, because it’s not covert, and it becomes just surveillance again. But if you just ask the occupier if you can instal the bug so you can listen in on one of his employees, and the bugs are secret from the employee, then we’re back to spying (on the employee) again.

                      Your booth in the club is just surveillance. It’s a public place and it’s no secret that you can be overheard if you talk loudly enough. But if you hire a pretty girl to wear a wire and make eyes at a Movie Star, he invites her to his booth and chats her up in quiet tones and then you publish the tapes, that’s spying. Cos it’s clandestine.

                      The distinction has certainly got nothing to do with whether you enter onto private property or not. If you sit in the mail sorting office steaming open the guy’s letters, copying them, and then sealing them up again, that’s spying.

  11. Well, it seems like people are still plenty sore over Trump’s exoneration.

    1. “it seems like people are still plenty sore over Trump’s exoneration.”

      If he ever gets exonerated, they will be.

      1. Sore of his exoneration? They are still sore over his election.

      2. “If he ever gets exonerated, they will be.”

        Wow. I’d expect you to have at least gotten to bargaining with God, by now.

      3. Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt, apparently.

        1. I see an awful lot of denial by Trumpists of what is actually in the report, and a lot of gullibility in taking Barr’s statement at face value.

          1. Like Mr. Trump himself, reading long documents is not their strong suit. As long as SOMEONE says it says what they want/hope, that’s good enough.

          2. Why would it be more gullible to take Barr’s statement a face value than to take Mueller’s report at face value ?

            1. Mueller spent a little bit more time on his? Barr is obviously partisan, but Mueller isn’t?

              Those are just a couple of reasons to take Mueller more seriously than Barr.

    2. if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment. Accordingly while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.

  12. I can’t accept the initial premise of this post, which seems to be that the Muller probe found no collusion between the presidential campaign(s) and foreign powers: if a common definition of collusion is “secret or illegal cooperation, especially in order to cheat or deceive others,” then the Muller investigation certainly found it in the person of Gregory Craig, Special Counsel to Former President W. Clinton (spouse of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton) and White House Counsel to Now-Former President B. Obama (titular head of a political party), who undertook considerable “lobbying work” for Ukraine.

    Granted, the Muller probe found no stained blue dress in Trump’s wardrobe; however, that doesn’t imply that such stained blue dresses aren’t prominent in other closets which must necessarily have been examined as part of the probe. What if the much-begged-for Muller Report serves as a blueprint for indictment of those who //oppose// the President?

    1. Setting aside that Ukraine isn’t Russia… Basically, by this definition of ‘collusion’ you’re suggesting, every administration in the last century has been guilty of it.

      1. Under that definition of “collusion”, there IS a crime which applies… unregistered lobbying.

        We saw that the Trump campaign would have been more than willing to collude with Russia. We also saw that Russia wanted to influence the election, specifically, to elect Mr. Trump. With those two facts clearly in sight, it’s obvious (to non-partisans, anyway) that you’d need a fairly thorough investigation to be sure that nobody ever crossed any lines (or, as it turns out, that only 37 people or so crossed lines, but none of them were actually Mr. Trump.)

        The investigation took so long because Mueller didn’t want to be accused of overlooking anything, accidentally or on purpose, after it was done. The President is incapable of taking a long-term view of ANYTHING, or he would have told the Mueller team to investigate away, secure in the knowledge that he didn’t do anything wrong that they could actually pin on him. Instead, at pretty much every opportunity, given a choice between doing something that made him look innocent, or doing something that made him look guilty, he chose the second one.

        1. The investigation took so long because Mueller didn’t want to be accused of overlooking anything, accidentally or on purpose, after it was done.

          I suspect this will rapidly be proved to be false. I think we will find that Mueller’s team did not investigate the large pile of obvious stuff that Barr will now be investigating himself.

          1. I’ll take that bet.

          2. Note that I suggested that the “clearly visible” might vary between partisans and non-partisans.

      2. Why should the country matter. Collusion with any foreign government to affect the result of a presidential election is the very definition of collusion.
        TBH, I personally believe all connections with China should be investigated which would put Feinstein in the frame since her driver of over 20 years was discovered to be a Chinese spy and Pelosi and her husband’s financial links to China are well documented.

        1. McConnell too. They are all on the take from China.

        2. They did nab up a Chinese spy at Mar-a-Lago.

    2. Has anybody talking about “no collusion” noticed that,

      “In evaluation whether evidence about collective action of multiple individuals constituted a crime, we applied the framework of conspiracy law, not the concept of ‘collusion,’”

  13. Here’s my prognostication. Mueller’s report will be full of evidence of Trump obstructing the investigation, based on the legal theories that ranting and complaining about an investigation is obstruction. And that firing honest Jim could be too.

    But the report will also demonstrate beyond argument that Mueller , Weissman et al do not really believe their theories at all. Because there will be one glaring omission which, on their theories, should be front and center in the evidence of Trumpy obstruction – appointing a guy as AG who was already on record as opining that the Mueller-Weissman obstruction theory was, legally, dog poo. And persuading the Senate to confirm him.

  14. The House indicts, the Senate convicts. As long as the Republicans remain in control of the Senate and support Trump, impeachment is little more than political theater. If the Democrats think that will help them in the next election they are very misguided.

    1. ” If the Democrats think that will help them in the next election they are very misguided.”

      They don’t. Talking about impeaching Trump is about as real as when the R’s talk about indicting Hillary. It gives the hardcore partisans something to talk about, but doesn’t have anything to do with what’s actually going to happen.

  15. This otherwise fine blog keeps getting tarnished with this anti Trump nonsense. Stop.

    1. Yes, noted anti-Trump zealot Jim Lindgren quoting even crazier TDS sufferer Andrew McCarthy.

  16. “Will the Mueller Report be a Blueprint for Impeachment?”

    Almost certainly not. The D leadership would have to want to actually impeach President Trump, and they do not. The likely outcome of such an attempt would be a party-line acquittal in the Senate, which does not benefit the D’s individually or collectively, and if it actually worked, they’d get a President Pence out of the deal. No, if the White House is to be occupied by a Republican, as it will be until at least January of 2021, better to leave the most ineffective of leaders in place, rather than risking installing someone else who might be a more effective leader.

    1. The likely outcome of such an attempt would be a party-line acquittal in the Senate

      Highly unlikely. Manchin, Jones and probably Sinema would not be votig to convict. Which would make the optics even worse for impeachment.

      The whole dog and pony show is about scooping up contributons, and trying to keep suburban housewives in their column in 2020.

  17. It is now 8:52AM and I have MSNBC on not because they are a reputable news outlet (they are not) but because I want to watch the Left absolutely lose their breakfast over the release of this report. I have my popcorn popping in the microwave right now. This is going to be like 2016 election night all over again. Rachel Madcow might actually have a heart attack on the air. This is going to be awesome.

    I remember two years ago when the libtards were pasting “Its Mueller Time” all over social media because they were so convinced Trump had colluded with the Russians to “steal” an election. They can’t believe that didn’t happen (and in some sick way are actually sad that our President wasn’t some sort of traitor who stole an election). Now their world view is falling apart and watching it collapse it going to be one word – AWESOME!

    1. This is good, Jimmy the Dane, because what you describe gives you a glimpse of how your betters have enjoyed stomping your preferences into submission in the culture war.

      Have a good morning! And imagine what it would be like to be on the winning side regularly.

      1. And Cuckland will wonder why he won’t have any succor or respite when the time comes….

        1. Yup. In 12 years, AOC is gonna link Kirkand up against the wall with all the other rich lawyers.

        2. Big talk from an impotent, vanquished casualty of the culture war (in particular, reason, science, tolerance, and modernity).

          Carry on, clinger. Inconsequentially, of course. Rant and mutter all you like, but you will toe the line established by your betters. That’s the cost of losing the culture war.

          1. I actually think you’re sometimes amusing. Not as clever as Titania McGrath, but still amusing.

            1. To be fair, Titania McGrath didn’t spit out a random selection of 5 pre-programmed responses like Arthur L. Hickbot does.

            2. “I actually think you’re sometimes amusing. Not as clever as Titania McGrath, but still amusing.”

              Actually, I think Kirkland is slightly better than Titania McGrath.

  18. IANAL but why should obstruction (or any procedural offense) even be a chargeable if no initial crime was committed? Sounds like entrapment to me.

    1. “why should obstruction (or any procedural offense) even be a chargeable if no initial crime was committed?”

      Because obstruction of justice is a separate crime.

      Consider. Suspect A does something wrong. Public official B is not involved, but does believe that if A’s wrongdoing comes to light, it will be bad for B. B therefore participates in a coverup of A’s crimes. A’s wrongdoing has nothing to do with B’s crime of obstruction of justice. This is also true if A turns out to not be guilty.

      Also, of course, the President is an unusual case, immune from criminal prosecution while in office, but also subject to impeachment and removal while in office. The exact crimes that justify impeachment and removal are not defined, but rather are left for (a supermajority of) Congress to decide, if and when the need arises.

      1. I would think as a matter of principle that could be distinguished separately as some sort of conspiracy. I just don’t like the idea of someone defending their innocence being considered a crime in and of itself, especially when its politically motivated. Of course being innocent doesn’t mean you can do anything you want to prove it, but sometimes innocent people do questionable things.

        1. “I just don’t like the idea of someone defending their innocence being considered a crime”

          Approximately nobody has advanced a claim that “defending their innocence” is considered a crime.

          “sometimes innocent people do questionable things.”

          Sure. But assuming that people who are acting guilty are acting guilty because they are guilty is a reasonable assumption to make. It isn’t always true (the facts that things are not always what they first seem like is why there are investigations in the first place.)

          If you are innocent, then interfering in an investigation that would show you are innocent MAY be illegal, but it is definitely stupid. Which pretty much sums up the Trump Presidency.

      2. This is one of my rare (partial) concurrences with Mr P.

        B may have all sorts of motives to obstruct A’s investigation and potential conviction, other than that he conspired with A t commit the original crime. B might find A’s conviction inconvenient – perhaps A is B’s valued sales manager. Or B might have a sincere moral objection to the law under which A is being prosecuted. Und so weiter.

        I think it gets slghtly more difficult if A is not in fact guilty of an offense. B could still have a corrupt motive, believing that A is in fact guilty. But can you really be obstructing justice if you are assisting in the acquittal of an innocent man ? You could certainly be wasting police time, but whether than amounts to obstructing justice as understood by the common man seems doubtful. Obviously whether it amounts to obstructing justice under a statute depends on what is written in the statute.

        1. “can you really be obstructing justice if you are assisting in the acquittal of an innocent man ?”

          Sure you can. Say you start tampering with the investigation, get caught tampering with the investigation, making the innocent man look like there’s something to hide. It takes longer to complete the investigation that clears A. Even though you (finally) reached the accurate result, you’ve obstructed justice.

          Here, it’s complicated because A (the person who couldn’t get Russia to collude with him) and B (the person who interfered in the invevstigation) are one and the same.

        2. But can you really be obstructing justice if you are assisting in the acquittal of an innocent man ?

          Sure. In the same way that you aren’t allowed to frame a guilty person, you aren’t allowed to obstruct the investigation of an innocent person.

    2. Because successful obstruction looks like no crime was committed. So obstruction has to be illegal, or everybody who was guilty would attempt it, what would they have to lose?

      The problem with obstruction in the case of Trump was that every last thing he did was within his legal authority, so the only way it could have been “obstruction” is if they could prove he had a corrupt motive for the legal acts.

      And, absent an underlying crime to hide, that’s mind reading territory.

      1. The corrupt motive was Making America Great Again.

        1. Making something “great again” that is/was already great is redundant.

    3. “`IANAL but why should obstruction (or any procedural offense) even be a chargeable if no initial crime was committed?“` Because if law enforcement is investigating whether a crime has been committed, then lying to them wastes time and resources. “Oh, you can send us on wild goose chases and if no crime was committed you get lucky” doesn’t make a lot of sense as a policy.“` Sounds like entrapment to me.“`That’s… not what entrapment means.

      1. Whoops. Formatting got screwed up. Let me retry that:

        IANAL but why should obstruction (or any procedural offense) even be a chargeable if no initial crime was committed?

        Because if law enforcement is investigating whether a crime has been committed, then lying to them wastes time and resources. “Oh, you can send us on wild goose chases and if no crime was committed you get lucky” doesn’t make a lot of sense as a policy.

        Sounds like entrapment to me.

        That’s… not what entrapment means.

  19. Well surprise surprise…no collusion….not even a close call on obstruction…this was an illegal witch hunt from day 1. Time for those who perpetrated this to pay the piper.

    1. Indeed, why bother reading the report when you can just listen to Honest Barr explain the real answer?

      Also not sure where you are getting the no close call on obstruction.
      “Im not sure if this is a crime or not” != “that means it’s not one.”

      In the end, you’ll continue to declare the same victory you’ve been preemtively declaring, the Dems will declare the same (though with less preemptive silliness) and the Mueller report will be effectively neutered as another partisan scrum.

      Remember when there was a post on this very blog that the blue wave as a nothingburger? Hot takes are fun, but we’ll see what shakes out in a week or two. (And I do think there’s a nontrivial chance what shakes out will be net good for Trump, though I wouldn’t bet on it).

      1. NO COLLUSION….NO OBSTRUCTION….NOT EVEN A CLOSE CALL.

        Get over it. The fact that you are sad/mad that Trump is not some kind of traitor who “stole” an election is telling.

        1. Man, I am owned by quoting eloquent Trump tweets and calling me mad online.

      2. “when you can just listen to Honest Barr ”

        Keep hope alive.

        1. Read to the end of my comment. Finding Barr’s conference an unseemly defense of the President doesn’t mean I’m convinced the Mueller report will be a panacea and retractively make Sanders the Arch-Commisar or anything.

        2. “Keep hope alive.”

          Or

          Keep plucking that chicken.

          1. That I can get behind, Thomas.

      3. Sarcastro : Also not sure where you are getting the no close call on obstruction

        From Barr obviously. But from Barr’s comments you get the message that Mueller wasn’t just throwing marginal balls but wild pitches. As I understand Barr (and apparently Rosenstein) :

        1. Mueller was unable to reach a conclusion on obstruction
        2. Barr and Rosie were – no obstruction on the evidence provided, even if you accept Mueller’s wacky legal theories
        3. And no we don’t agree with the wacky therories
        4. And no we didn’t even get round to the “can you indict a President” conundrum

        That doesn’t sound like a close call to me.

        1. Mueller has wacky legal theories now?

          Man, exhoneration ain’t what it used to be.

          Barr acted as Trump’s personal defense attorney. Which is why citing to him is going to look increasinly ridiculous as the report is read out.
          Again, the report probably won’t move the needle either way. But it will make Barr look pretty bad for how he’s acting as AG.

          1. “…if we had confidence…that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment.”

            NO COLLUSION?

            1. Only dedicated Trumpists, like Barr, could possibly say that was “complete exoneration,” or “not close.”

            2. Er that quote is about obstruction not collusion.

              Moreover what it describes is not the standard. Anyone is not guilty unless the prosecution can show that he committed the offense, beyond a reasonable doubt. Mueller’s verbiage flips that to – we’re not confident, beyond a reasonable doubt, that he didn’t commit the offense. The burden of proof seems to have wandered across to the other side.

              The fact that they even put this sentence in shows that what they were doing was politics.

              1. Lee, this says Mueller is not confident that Trump does not meet that standard.

                The burden of proof isn’t pulling for you on this one. The higher it is, the more serious this statement gets.

                1. this says Mueller is not confident that Trump does not meet that standard

                  🙂 somehow you missed out “clearly” – anyway let’s parse :

                  He’s NOT {confident that Trump clearly didn’t commit obstruction}

                  So what does the bit in the bracket mean ? It means that X is confident (stronger than thinks or believes) that Trump is
                  clearly
                  (stronger than probably, possibly or obscurely) innocent.
                  So the bit in brackets represents superintergalactic exoneration. Not only is he not guilty, but he’s clearly not guilty, and not only is he clearly not guilty but X is confident of that conclusion.

                  So Mueller is NOT {ready to superintergalactic-exonerate} Trump. Which leaves an absolutely enormous space for common or garden exoneration before we even get on to preponderances of evidence or still further along – reasonable doubt.

                  Tis you that are parsing it wrong. It means Mueller is unwilling to hand out a fulsome apology and a lollipop, not that he was within an ace of indicting.

                  1. anyway let’s parse
                    Yep, strong argumenting happening here. And your logic way too twisted for what is a simple double-negative.

                    Mueller is not confident that Trump’s clearly innocent. Taking that to a ‘what is metaphysical truth’ zone shows that you’re willing to stretch to lame high school debating tactics, not anything exhonerating Trump.

                    In fact, lets talk about the ‘applicable legal standard…
                    The Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) has issued an opinion finding that “the indictment or criminal prosecution of a sitting President would impermissibly undermine the capacity of the executive branch to perform its constitutionally assigned functions” in violation of “the constitutional separation of powers.” Given the role of the Special Counsel as an attorney in the Department of Justice and the framework of the Special Counsel regulation, see 28 U.S.C. § 515; 28 C.F.R § 600.7(a), this Office accepted OLC’s legal conclusion for the purpose of exercising prosecutorial jurisdiction.’

                    Mueller doesn’t seem to think those facts look great for any non-President.

                    1. If you’re not up to parsing, then we can do it with an example.

                      Let’s say Mueller was strictly 50-50 on whether Trump committed obstruction. That would obviously be a thousand miles from “beyond a reasonable doubt” and so comfortably within “not even close.’

                      But would “I’m 50-50 on it” fall within or without “I’m not confident that Trump is clearly innocent” ? I submit it would fall squarely within it. Your turn.

                      btw your OLC opinion is royally irrelevant to the point at issue here. Mueller is not talking about whether to indict he’s talking about his level of confidence as to whether the evidence demonstrates that Trump is innocent or guilty of obstruction, which is a matter antecedent to any prosecutorial decision to which the OLC opinion might be relevant.

                    2. Your hypothetical would not make it worth highlighting, though.

                      The report makes it clear the reason no determination was made was OLC’s opinion about the legality of making a case for indictment, not lack of evidentiary threshold.

                    3. Your hypothetical would not make it worth highlighting, though

                      Good grief. The hypothetical is not intended to offer a guess as to Mueller’s actual state of mind but to demonstrate what his words mean.

                      And this : The report makes it clear the reason no determination was made was OLC’s opinion about the legality of making a case for indictment, not lack of evidentiary threshold.

                      is another dodge. Because what we are actually discussing is the quote you offered :

                      if we had confidence…that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state

                      which is plainly not about the OLC opinion but about the weight of the actual evidence.

              2. Lee,

                See my comment above.

                The report says that Mueller did not consider the issue of “collusion,” essentially because it is not well-defined.

                “In evaluation whether evidence about collective action of multiple individuals constituted a crime, we applied the framework of conspiracy law, not the concept of ‘collusion,’”

                1. I am aware of that. Indeed though IANAL my browsing revealed to me that “collusion’ is not actually an offense, at least a year ago. But I am a meek and non confrontational commenter and I never like to correct other folk’s errors, misunderstandings or shorthand unless the correction is germane to the point I wish to make.

                  But since you have been kind enough to make the point, I will mention it to sarcastro, who raised the matter of collusion, in the hope that he will learn the error of his ways.

                  Sarcastro – consider yourself duly admonished.

              3. “Anyone is not guilty unless the prosecution can show that he committed the offense, beyond a reasonable doubt. ”

                This is a common misperception.
                Actually, guilty people are guilty whether they can be proven guilty or not. They just aren’t punished by the justice system.

                The faithful can sit tight, knowing that eventually, all involved will eventually sit, Judged by the Almighty who isn’t moved by partisanship.

          2. “Barr acted as Trump’s personal defense attorney. Which is why citing to him is going to look increasinly ridiculous as the report is read out.”

            “Attorney General Eric Holder brushed off a question Thursday about when he might leave the administration. Instead, the top lawman professed his allegiance to President Barack Obama.

            “I’m still enjoying what I’m doing, there’s still work to be done. I’m still the President’s wing-man, so I’m there with my boy. So we’ll see,” Holder said in an interview on the Tom Joyner radio show.”

            1. Weak sauce.
              A lame tu quoque, attemting to equate the President’s policy-man at the DoJ with acting as the President’s personal defense attorney.

              1. My side is good, your side is bad.

                Keep hope alive.

                1. Hiding behind ‘No, you’re the real partisan!’ won’t do it, Bob.

                  You fail to address either your use of the fallacy when we’re talking about Trump not Obama, and then you also ignored the failed paralellism that prevents you from even deploying your distraction properly.

                  1. Barr is acting like Holder who acted like Ashcroft who acted like Reno who acted like … Edmund Randolph.

                    The AG is not independent of the President. Never has been, never will be.

          3. sarcastro : Mueller has wacky legal theories now?

            Barr : Although the DAG and I disagreed with some of the SC’s legal theories and felt that some of the episodes examined did not amount to obstruction as a matter of law, we did not rely solely on that in making our decision….

            How does this come as a surprise ? Weissman has form on pursuing people with wacky legal theories that go down 9-0 at the Supreme Court. But which stll succeeed in destroying the target,

            1. Not evidence that’s wacky. Not shocking Trump’s defense doesn’t agree with Mueller. (Note that Mueller’s report indicates he bent over backwards to offer the most generous interpretation of obstruction he could).

              1. Not evidence that’s wacky. Not shocking Trump’s defense doesn’t agree with Mueller.

                Barr and Rosenstein are on Trump’s defense team now ? Can he afford the fees, I wonder ?

                1. You don’t think Barr’s presser was largely oriented towards preemtively defending Trump from this report?
                  Did it seem like an objective and sober digest of the report to you?!

                  1. And somehow Rosenstein seems to have eased himself out of your answer.

                    As for Barr’s presser, my impression is that he

                    (a) knew that normal procedure was that the DoJ would make no comment on the behavior of folk who were not indicted – which would include not making the Mueller report available at all. Because anything beyond silence would be unfair on those investigated but not indicted (which is the reason for the policy.)

                    (b) also knew that for political reasons he would have to depart from that normal procedure and make the report available

                    (c) noticed that it was full of tendentious innuendo inserted to attack the President

                    (d) and did not feel at all constrained from giving his opinion on the strengths and weaknesses of the arguments in the report

                    One of the more telling remarks he made was in correcting a cub reporter – making it very clear that Mueller’s report was a confidential report to him as AG, not a report to the public or to Congress. And it was entirely a matter for his discretion (within the constraints of the law) as to how it should be presented. If he chose to present it all.

                    1. Rosenstein was never in my OP, so dunno why you keep trying to get him in there. Suffice to say, given the story of the Comey letter, it’s clear Rosenstein is willing to bend his analysis for Trump at least somewhat.

                      You think normal protocol would be for the Mueller report to not be made public? Where in the world did you get that from – it’s investigating events, not people.

                      Keep to your argument that Barr’s defense of Trump was a reflection of how bad the Mueller report was.
                      But prep for a lonely vigil – I don’t think Barr’s going to come out too well in this.

                    2. sarcastro : Rosenstein was never in my OP, so dunno why you keep trying to get him in there.

                      Well let’s review the exchange

                      moi : Although the DAG and I disagreed with some of the SC’s legal theories

                      Sarcastro : Not shocking Trump’s defense doesn’t agree with Mueller.

                      Who did you mean by “Trump’s defense” – I took it as a sarcastic reference to Barr rather than to Giuliani. But either way, the DAG (=Rosenstein) is neither Barr nor Giuliani and he – standing behind Barr as he’s talking, and failing to demur – is joined in Barr’s scepticism of Mueller’s legal theories.

                2. Obviously anybody that doesn’t think Trump committed a crime is arguing in bad faith for the Trump defense.

                  1. An AG explaining his President’s intents and feelings in an attempt to undercut a report from his office right before it comes out isn’t merely having an opinion.

                    And that’s not counting his previous now clearly deceitfully out of context quotation from the report.

                    1. “And that’s not counting his previous now clearly deceitfully out of context quotation from the report.”

                      What’s out of context? You mean where Barr removed the rampant speculation by Mueller? I know the exoneration is hard for some folks to take.

                    2. First, Barr quoted Mueller. Doesn’t matter how speculative the stuff removed is, if you appeal to Mueller’s authority, you altering his clear meaning is a lie.
                      And Barr sure altered Mueller’s clear meaning:

                      When Barr said ‘the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian Government’ he left out the clause before that…’Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian effort…’

                      That’s burying the lede to the point of deception, doncha think?

                    3. That’s burying the lede

                      Bingo ! So now we can confirm what the Mueller investigation was and was not.

                      WAS – a very long newspaper story

                      WAS NOT – a criminal investigation

                      Poor ol Barr didn’t get the message. The object of the exercise was not to do dull old boring stuff like determining whether someone had committed a criminal offense, sufficiently obviously to be worth prosecuting. It was to win a Pulitzer !

                    4. That’s very, very, lame, Lee.

                    5. No, it goes to the heart of the disagreement between Barr and the Dem/media propagandafest.

                      Barr is an old school DoJ hand who thinks the DoJ’s job is to investigate crimes and prosecute offenders if there is sufficient evidence to do so. Consequently the object of the exercise is to reach a decision on prosecute / don’t prosecute. That’s the lede. Except that in Barr’s book, as concisely explained by Rosenstein in his “let’s fire Comey” memo, if the conclusion is don’t prosecute, you don’t have a lede, and you keep quiet.

                      But ih this case he’s faced with force majeure and isn’t offered the possibility of keeping quiet. So he’s telling you what he thinks the lede is. Don’t prosecute.

                      The fact that you’d like to read a lot of stuff that might be politically useful to Trump’s opponents, but which is totally irrelevant to the prosecution decision, doesn’t make the extraneous material “the lede.”

                      Mueller did this in most of his indictments too – much flowery prose about Russia this and Russia that followed by an actual indictment thathas nothing to do with the flowery prose. The flowery prose is inserted for political purposes. It’s not relevant to the prosecution decision.

                      But it serves its purpose – it provides propaganda shots for the Dems. And it shows the Rs that Mueller is an anti-Trump politician not an honest cop. As if we needed reminding given the team he picked.

                    6. If ya gotta go with ‘Barr is the only true lawman around here, which is why he acts so much like a tool of Trump’ go with it. (also: ‘force majeure?’ Really?)

                      But it’s lame to derail my point about how TiP’s defense of Barr doesn’t hold water.

  20. not sure how it follows that continuing an investigation past the point that “Mueller must have known there was no collusion” means that there must have been obstruction, much less obstruction that rises to the level of a prosecutable crime. I’m not arguing that Mr. Trump didn’t twist arms, try to manipulate curcumstances, or try to place loyalists to ensure that he got the result he wanted. but if those actions rise to a prosecutable level, I’m not sure I’ve seen a President in the last 6 decades that hasn’t done similar things, either regarding himself or close associates.

    seems much more likely based on what we _have_ seen is that he kept finding links into much more prosaic criminal activity that was eminently prosecutable, like fraud, fiduciary malpractice, and unregistered activity on behalf of foreign governments. those links have resulted in quite a few prosecutions and indictments, and it does not appear that those activities are over. continuing the investigation to allow following those threads until they could be handed off to other prosecutors is a simpler and much more likely scenario than the assumption/innuendo laden narrative spun in this article.

  21. MSNBC is going crazy…this is hilarious…they just accused Trump of “copyright infringement” for having a Game of Thrones theme based Tweet. That is how little they have. Well that and they are twisting the words of everyone including the AG. Headlines to come:

    Feelings and Emotions….

    AG acted like Defense Attorney….

    Where was Mueller?….

    Cooperation?!? Trump WAS NEVER INTERVIEWED!!!!!!

    1. Uh Oh….the mainstream Media is now pronouncing Barr’s legal reputation is GONE! Done! He is a SELLOUT!

      1. Never give up, never surrender.

        1. (Sounds better when spoken through a Thermian interstellar vox.)

  22. And now talking heads are saying “if there are TEN, TEN, TEN instances in the report then there is a strong argument for impeachment and obstruction!!!!!”

    Come on…..these people are mentally insane.

  23. [sarcasm] Well, the orange Literally Hitler is obviously guilty of obstructing an investigation of collusion since the investigation found no evidence of collusion. [/sarcasm]

  24. I haven’t had this much fun over a special counsel since Fitxmas fizzled.

    How dare Barr have a press conference!!!!

  25. Well, this comment section sure is having a very normal day.

  26. The “corrupt intent” theory of obstruction, as I understand it, posits that the same discretionary decision made for a bad reason (to protect oneself or one’s associates from prosecution and embarrassment) constitutes criminal obstruction, while doing so for a good or neutral reason is not.
    So let’s try that out on a hypothetical. The outgoing president very much wants to see someone from his party re-elected. His former secretary of state is the lead candidate to replace him as his party’s nominee. He very much wants her to be the one re-elected, so she will continue his legacy.
    But then she comes under investigation for a crime. The factual elements seem to fit hat and glove with a criminal statute. But, indicting her would kill her chances.
    Meanwhile, her husband meets with the attorney-general (herself politically connected with the sitting president) to persuade her not to proceed.
    Then shortly after, someone – perhaps the AG, perhaps someone at DOJ, perhaps the head of the FBI – decides to issue a report saying there is no basis to prosecute. At least part of that was to spare the former Secty. Of State’s candidacy.
    Is the person who made that decision for that reason guilty of criminal obstruction?

    1. You don’t really need a hypo for that.

      You can just watch the Trudeau SNC-Lavalin thing unfold. Is it OK to pressure the AG to plea bargain a prosecution down to a slap on the wrist, after she’s decided it wouldn’t be OK ?

      What if jobs depend on it ?

      What if political contributions which might keep you in power might depend on it, bearing in mind that you are the leader that Canada desperately needs ?

    2. “Meanwhile, her husband meets with the attorney-general (herself politically connected with the sitting president) to persuade her not to proceed.”

      The hypo is wrong, suppose they simply met to exchange photos of their grandchildren.

      1. Get your hands off my hypo!

  27. Prof. Kerr’s twitter is going deep on the actually charged issue of Russian election meddling, which is dramatic stuff, and less partisan than the collusion stuff everyone is furiously speed-reading.

    1. “election meddling”

      Who cares? We are in the 2020 cycle now, 2016 might as well be 1816.

      1. First, we do care about 1816. James Monroe winning in the shades of the War of 1812?
        Second, Russia’s still in that mode so working to prevent/defend against them doing that again is good.
        Third, the legitimacy of an election is important while we’re still under the auspices of the results of that election.

        1. Whatever.

          1. How’s that weaponized disinterest working out for you, Bob?

            1. Very well.

              1. LOL. Keep on keeping on, Bob. I do still love ya.

      2. “Who cares? We are in the 2020 cycle now, 2016 might as well be 1816.”

        Well, the election meddling is serious stuff. As President, he’ll have to do everything he can to ensure that the Russians, or other hostile power, don’t meddle in our election again. And he’ll have to order the FBI to keep tabs on the Russians to make sure they don’t meddle with the Dems either.

    2. So interesting. “Use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest (except Sanders and Trump — we support them.)”

      So the same thing that foreign entities such as every major foreign media outlet in the Western world did, using every opportunity to criticize Trump every single day since 2015.

      Just imagine if the Trump campaign had literally worked hand in hand with foreign intelligence agencies, like the Clinton campaign did.

      1. I know you’ve become partial to a particularly crazy narrative in this area, ML, but maybe read about the entire Russian enterprise before you whine about the media and wallowing in counterfactuals.

        1. I’m partial to the facts. I read more liberal sources than other. Maybe you should read up on the facts before wallowing in abject ignorance.

      2. “Just imagine if the Trump campaign had literally worked hand in hand with foreign intelligence agencies”

        Imagine if Trump let someone else, who knew more than he does, tell him what to do? Or that Trump is actually smart enough to actually direct such an enterprise?

        Because neither of these springs lightly to mind.

  28. “Once Barr was confirmed, Mueller had to see the handwriting on the wall: The new AG was not going to approve a dubious obstruction charge. ”

    Who cares? It’s not, and never has been, up to the AG. The AG literally has no role in the decision of whether or not to impeach. The only way the AG is involved is if the probe outlasts the Trump Presidency, and the decision is whether or not to charge him as a private citizen rather than as the sitting President.

    1. “Who cares? It’s not, and never has been, up to the AG. The AG literally has no role in the decision of whether or not to impeach.”

      Nor does the special counsel. He works for the DOJ to investigate crimes, not impeachable offenses, which are up to Congress to investigate.

      1. Congress can delegate.

  29. This is not a very libertarian-looking thread. More like pure pro-Trump partisanship. Can anyone think of anything Trump does which should concern libertarains?

    1. Yes, and on topic too.

      A libertarian President would have instructed his AG to keep secret all parts of the Mueller report, and supporting documention, that discussed the actions or testimony of, or evidence relating to, unindicted parties.

      The notion that evidence and testimony can be extracted from individuals using the enormous coercive and surveillance powers of the state, and then published even if the individuals are not to be prosecuted is profoundly anti-libertarian.

      1. “A libertarian President would have instructed his AG to keep secret all parts of the Mueller report, and supporting documention, that discussed the actions or testimony of, or evidence relating to, unindicted parties.”

        I’m not sure this is right. Authoritarians like to allow the government to operate in secret. Libertarians tend to prefer the government NOT to operate in secret.

        1. Authoritarians like to allow the government to operate in secret. Libertarians tend to prefer the government NOT to operate in secret.

          But revealing precisely what the victims screamed when they were under torture in the government’s torture chamber doesn’t reveal what the government is doing in secret. We only get to hear the forcibly extracted cries of pain from the government’s victims. We don’t get to find out which instruments the government was using, who was operating them, whether they were laughing or merely grinning.

          What is revealed by the prosecution publishing its “not good enough to prosecute” case against private people who have been investigated and questioned, using the terrifying powers of the state, is the private facts about private people’s lives, not the government’s own secrets.

    2. “Can anyone think of anything Trump does which should concern libertarains?”

      He’s utterly ineffective, which is fine if we don’t need him to actually do anything or get anything done.

      On the other hand, should something come up that actually does require a leader in the White House, we’re hosed.

      To be more responsive, most libertarians would be opposed, on general principle, to a President who jacks around with tariffs just because he can.

      1. His appointments to the various oversight agencies seem to be a mixed bag from the libertarian perspective.

        They’re certainly in favour of deregulation, which is pretty popular among libertarians. Though many are also closely aligned with major players in the industries they regulate, which brings up a serious issue of regulatory capture.

        I feel like he’s pushing the US to more of a Russian model, low regulation, but to be a major player you need government allies.

  30. Now that the report is out, some other commentators (such as David Axelrod) bear out my prediction:

    “The report provides a conundrum for Congress by virtually inviting an impeachment probe around the obstruction issue,” Axelrod tweeted.

    I literally burst out laughing when I read this.

    Either the report would be largely consistent with Barr’s summary, and Lindren would have claimed validation for being right that Trump was unjustly persecuted. Or it would have been far more damning of Trump, and Lindren would claim it was a witch hunt.

    That’s not some clever lawyer, it’s a 5 year old who thinks they discovered a trick to prove that Sally lied about them stealing the cookie.

    Where does Lindren address the fact that Barr grossly misrepresented the contents of Mueller’s report and quoted things out of context?

    Where does Lindren consider the times Trump tried to arrange contacts with Russia?

    Where does Lindren address the numerous instances where Trump tried to kill or interfere with the investigation, only to be thwarted by his own people ignoring his illegal orders?

    Is conservatism so dead that he doesn’t even need to bother taking this seriously?

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