Mueller Investigation

On Volume Two of the Mueller Report

"Oh my God. This is terrible."

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

Over at the Niskanen Center, I have posted some thoughts on volume two of the report by special counsel Robert Mueller. The second volume addresses President Trump's response to the investigation of Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election and whether any of those actions constituted criminal obstruction of justice. As I told Vox, "If this is what complete and total exoneration looks like, I'd hate to see a damning report." Quite simply, the president behaved very badly, and his administration seems to have been saved by the willingness of his subordinates to ignore his rants and directives. This look inside the Trump White House is disturbing and should not let anyone rest easy, confident that the office of the presidency is in good hands. Unfortunately, we already knew that.

Once you get past the description of the dysfunctional workplace that is the Trump White House, you find a very interesting set of legal arguments. Mueller's obstruction investigation faced a variety of serious legal challenges, including whether presidential actions to impede the investigative work of an executive branch officer can constitutionally or statutorily amount to obstruction of justice and what the appropriate role is of a special counsel who can not bring a criminal indictment against the target of his investigation. Mueller's legal analysis is best read alongside the analysis offered by William Barr when auditioning for the thankless role of Trump attorney general. I'm more sympathetic to Barr's formalism than Mueller's functionalism, but these are interesting and difficult issues.

To the disappointment of some, Mueller made the right call to lay out his factual findings and the legal issues as he understood them and let others—the attorney general, Congress, and the voters—decide how best to respond to the results of the special counsel investigation. I think Barr made the right call as well in determining that this presidential misconduct should not give rise to criminal charges. Unfortunately, the president has through his own words and deeds strengthened the hand of his opponents who would like to see him impeached and removed from office. He ignored the first law of holes, and when he found himself in one he just kept digging.

You can read my extended discussion of volume two here.

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91 responses to “On Volume Two of the Mueller Report

  1. “Mueller’s obstruction investigation faced a variety of serious legal challenges…”

    Including the issue as to whether there can be obstruction occurring after the investigation confirms internally that no crime has been committed which occurred sometime in June of 2017 and which should have been apparent to Mueller prior to the start of the investigation.

    It should be noted that the source of Steele Dossier was public knowledge in late 2016 along with a large number of the Mueller team having been participatants in the charade during the summer of 2016.

    1. I think we can agree that it was more than somewhat irresponsible that Mueller, having determined over a year ago that the collusion that the media were continually talking about didn’t happen, sat on that conclusion until now.

      Why, it’s almost as though he was trying to hurt the President by sustaining a false narrative as long as possible!

      1. Mueller’s report lays out multiple instances of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

        Read the report for yourself instead of repeating idiot Talking Points.

        1. I have read it, and you must have a pretty weird definition of “collusion” to say that.

        2. Read the report for yourself instead of repeating idiot Talking Points.

          Physician, heal thyself.

      2. I think we can agree that it was more than somewhat irresponsible that Mueller, having determined over a year ago that the collusion that the media were continually talking about didn’t happen, sat on that conclusion until now.

        You understand that every word of this is a lie, including “and” and “the,” right?¹ Mueller didn’t determine that it didn’t happen at any point, let alone “over a year ago.” Just because you read a stupid Andy McCarthy column doesn’t mean you have to repeat it as though it was a fact. Go back to asserting that you can’t really be sure Obama was born in Hawaii because you weren’t in the delivery room.

        ¹Yes, I know the word “and” doesn’t appear. It’s a historical allusion.

        1. Someone who unironically retweets Tom Nichols and the NR crowd isn’t really in a position to be criticizing anyone about deception or delusion.

        2. Birtherism is a good parallel here, David!!

          We can’t be sure that all of our thoughts and actions aren’t controlled by Martians, either.

  2. >Quite simply, the president behaved very badly,

    Compared to what? Did he ignore subpoenas, ala President Obama? Try to run-out-the-clock using hundreds of frivolous privilege claims, ala Clinton? Implausibly claim no recollection, ala Reagan?

    If anything, vol 2 completely exonerates President Trump. He maybe complained, ranted, and raved, but ultimately listened to his advisors and did the right thing at every step.

    1. But he didn’t confess, and that seriously impeded the investigation.

      Seriously, this two part serious is kind of weird. Part 1, where Mueller actually DID exonerate the President, Wittington sees as all but convicting him.

      But when it comes to part 2, where Mueller did his best to leave at least the impression of Presidential guilt, suddenly Wittington is all nuancy.

      What gives here?

    2. “Implausibly claim no recollection, ala Reagan?”

      Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s only a few years after leaving the White House. In that light, the claims of no recollection are maybe not so implausible after all.

      1. Reagan was not the same man he was when he took office in 1980 after the assassination attempt. He slowed way down and the shock of everything, had it come to roost about 12 months earlier, probably would have kept him out of 1984. I doubt he had actual full blown Alzheimer’s when he was still President. Maybe the beginning symptoms. But, all of his advisors (some which I knew) would say that mentally he was just not as with it after about 1986.

    3. I also love how the media gives zero credit to the fact that he did not even attempt to exercise any executive privilege over the material in the report. In fact, his team went out of there way to try to limit any redactions.

      Frankly if I was Trump I would call up the Fat Man Nadler and tell him if he wants the unredacted report made public so be it. Damn all the ongoing investigations or intelligence sources which will be compromised. The Democrats want full disclosure – give it to them. They can then take all the blame when the blowback comes.

      1. He lied, and directed others to lie, yet was not held to account. He provided inadequate written responses, yet was not subpoenaed. That’s quite an executive privilege.

        1. “Inadequate written responses”….He had no obligation to provide any response whatsoever.

          “He lied”…that is quite an unfounded accusation.

          1. No. Not unfounded at all.

            Read the report.

      2. Redaction. In my limited but actual experience I have compared the 2012 DoJ OIG Reports on Operation Fast and Furious, Sep redacted and Nov less redacted: the Sep redacted parts unredcated in Nov covered cases not settled in court or which were on-going investigations and full reveal would compromise cases and sources.

        “The Democrats want full disclosure….”

        No, the Democrats do not want full disclosure.

        The lesson from the Green New Deal cartoon in Toledo Blade by Kirk that has AOC stating “Promise your base stuff that has no chance … then blame the other party …” and the response “… she does understand how Congress works …” is that the demagogues want to call for something they know can’t happen so they can spin it. That’s how the system works.

        Yes it would be nice to pretend to cave in to the righteous demands and release the report unredacted. I suspect though, the Democrats would blame the damage to ongoing investigations, unsettled court cases, and intelligence sources on everyone but themselves for demanding the full release (which they really do not want in the first case).]

        1. The lesson from a political cartoon that claims AOC is a bad-faith demagogue is to never so anything Dems want.

          Who is asking for the public to see the unredacted report? I only see Congressional Dems wanting Congressional review.

          1. Who’s asking? Jimmy the Dane, just a few inches up the page.

            1. Ah. I did not see ‘if I was Trump I would call up the Fat Man Nadler and tell him if he wants the unredacted report made public so be it. Damn all the ongoing investigations or intelligence sources which will be compromised’ as a good faith desire.

              Point is, no one, including the Dems, want ‘full disclosure.’ That’s a strawman.

    4. “Implausibly claim no recollection, ala Reagan?”
      Yes, actually, he did do this in his written responses to questions. And the questions had to be written because he refused to sit for questioning in person. (Which I don’t blame him wanting to do because he can’t open his mouth without lying.)

      “…but ultimately listened to his advisors and did the right thing at every step.”
      He directed his subordinates to obstruct justice and his subordinates, apparently stuck in a difficult position, either failed to do what he demanded and hoped he’d forget he asked or quit. This isn’t doing “the right thing at every step.” It’s doing whatever the heck you feel like doing and having your employees quietly refuse to comply.

      1. “Which I don’t blame him wanting to do because he can’t open his mouth without lying.”

        I would advise anybody to avoid simply speaking to the FBI. You don’t have to be a habitual liar for that to be good advice, you simply need to not have a photographic memory and the good will of the FBI.

  3. The question on obstruction was always whether Trump genuinely believed the investigation was a sham based on false conspiracy theories, should never have happened and therefore should be shut down, OR whether he knew he was guilty of doing what people were accusing him of doing with the Russians, and he wanted to cover that up.

    In Part One, Mueller’s investigation concludes it was the former. The investigation did not establish any collusion, any conspiracy crimes, Kushner and Jr. didn’t get indicted as the media claimed they would, etc and in many cases Mueller actually said there was NO EVIDENCE for these conspiracy theories, not just evidence that didn’t establish anything but, but NONE at all!

    1. “The question on obstruction was always whether Trump genuinely believed the investigation was a sham based on false conspiracy theories, should never have happened and therefore should be shut down, OR whether he knew he was guilty of doing what people were accusing him of doing with the Russians, and he wanted to cover that up.”

      Is the law school that deserves credit for arranging that level of legal insight still accredited? Was it ever?

      1. In all your years of posting here (quite possibly as a parody of an intolerant left wing fascist) you’ve never once offered an ounce of legal analysis or insight. I don’t suspect you will start now.

        1. Wait: Yes, he did offer legal analysis to the effect that the U Va Phi Psis would never collect a dime.

          1. Try that link again

            ]

    2. The Mueller report did not conclude the investigation was a sham based on false conspiracy theories.

      1. The Mueller report overwhelmingly indicates that President Trump’s mens rea regarding the investigation, and the unfounded conspiracy theories that prompted it, was exactly as President Trump said it was thousands of times (witch hunt). As opposed to a corrupt mens rea of covering up the truth of those conspiracies.

        1. You’re a better lawyer than to argue that thinking you’re innocent obviates mens rea for obstruction, ML.

        2. In addition to agreeing with Sarcasto that believing the investigation is a witch hunt is not a defense to obstructing the investigation, the report does not confirm Trump’s belief it was a witch hunt.

          1. There’s a difference between confirming something, and admitting it. It’s the former the report did.

            1. I assumed that “confirm” and “admit” are different things. The Mueller report still does not confirm the investigation was a witch hunt.

          2. “report does not confirm Trump’s belief it was a witch hunt.”

            The report provides ample evidence supporting that conclusion, and none weighing against it.

            “believing the investigation is a witch hunt is not a defense to obstructing the investigation”

            It is a defense. That’s undeniable. Maybe not a complete, absolute and all-sufficient defense, I suppose.

            1. What ample evidence from the report supports the conclusion that the investigation was a witch hunt?

              Let me rephrase: believing the investigation is a witch hunt is not a credible defense (i.e., one which has any chance of being accepted) to obstructing the investigation.

    3. Mueller never said there was “NO EVIDENCE” for conspiracy.

      Quit lying.

      1. “Mueller never said there was “NO EVIDENCE” for conspiracy.”

        Mueller wasnt investigating conspiracy

        Try to actually read the report

        1. What? Mueller said specifically that he was investigating conspiracy, not collusion. Apparently, you’ve been listening to Barr, not reading the report yourself.

      2. I’m going to quote Glenn Greenwald quoting the report itself.

        “Mueller did what he was charged to do, which is to say whether there was enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt in order to indict Trump and his family members and aides on the issue of conspiracy and collusion, and he found that there wasn’t. That’s incredibly significant. You can just brush that aside if you want, but we all know that everybody spent the last three years saying Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner are inevitably about to be arrested, and then none of that happened. . .

        But in other areas of the report, on collusion, Mueller went much further than that, to say not just that there’s not enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, but that there’s no evidence at all that this happened. And the language that he used, which I’m going to have to read, since David claims that it isn’t in there, is that Mueller himself said, “in some instances, the report points out the absence of evidence … about a particular fact or event.” For example, he says the Internet Research Agency, the Russia-based trolling farm, used Facebook posts and tweets to try and disrupt the election. And he says, “The investigation did not identify evidence that any U.S. persons knowingly or intentionally coordinated with the IRA’s interference operation.” As I said, he made the same exact claim about the change to the GOP platform regarding Ukraine, that there was no evidence—not that it didn’t rise to the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt, that there was no evidence this was anything other than a low-level aide acting on his own to change the platform, without even the knowledge of Trump, let alone Putin, to conform it to Trump’s stated foreign policy. And the same is true with all of the attempts after the convention, once Trump was nominated, by Ambassador Kislyak to try and talk to the foreign policy officials within the Trump campaign. Mueller says, “The Office did not identify any evidence” in those interactions of coordination between the campaign and the Russian government. And I could read 10 more examples like that.”

        1. I’m relying on third party legal analysis here [IANAL] but wasn’t the catch with Don Jr and Jared not that they didn’t violate campaign finance laws in meeting with the Russians and accepting their help but that conviction required proving intent which couldn’t be proven.

          We saw during the whole Clinton email scandal that people were sure she was going to prison (in fact, they still chant “lock her up” years later) and were surprised when she avoided arrest due to the same issue with proving intent.

          I think it’s pretty reasonable to assume someone could get arrested for doing something illegal like taking campaign help from a hostile foreign power and then getting caught in successively worse lies about it. Remember, the President said he knew nothing about it several times until we find out that not only did he know but that he helped craft the first set of lies where Don Jr said Trump Sr didn’t know about it.

          1. Well, they clearly didn’t violate campaign finance laws, because they didn’t use anything they got from her. But if they had, the campaign finance laws permit buying things of value from foreigners. It’s only accepting them as donations that can be problematic. So the claim that they were going to violate campaign finance laws assumes that they wouldn’t have paid for the information if it had been useful.

            “Remember, the President said he knew nothing about it several times until we find out that not only did he know but that he helped craft the first set of lies where Don Jr said Trump Sr didn’t know about it.”

            You realize the “it” in the start of that sentence isn’t necessarily the same as the “it” in latter part?

          2. “not that they didn’t violate campaign finance laws in meeting with the Russians and accepting their help but that conviction required proving intent which couldn’t be proven.”

            If the violation of a law requires a certain mens rea, then lacking that mens rea means you didn’t violate the law. As far as the investigation, the point isn’t to prove a negative (impossible) but to conclude that there is no evidence or insufficient evidence.

            “We saw during the whole Clinton email scandal that people were sure she was going to prison (in fact, they still chant “lock her up” years later) and were surprised when she avoided arrest due to the same issue with proving intent.”

            The problem there was there isn’t any intent requirement in that law. It’s gross negligence, which is the same as saying extremely careless. An ordinary Joe would have been prosecuted and they have been. But I wasn’t surprised at all, because she was likely a few months away from being President.

    4. I think there’s a third option:

      Trump genuinely believed he didn’t conspire with the Russians to illegally effect our national elections but was worried such an investigation would uncover other crimes unrelated to the Russians helping him get elected. Sort of in the same way Clinton was impeached for lying about an affair when the original investigation was about the Whitewater deal.

      1. shawn_dude,

        I think that’s a fair argument that could have legs, in theory. The primary question would be as I stated, but presumably you could also commit obstruction even while innocent of “the” crime that is the subject of the investigation, if you had the corrupt motive of covering up some other crime.

        But as you noted, it depends on the existence of “other crimes.” So either way, you need an underlying crime in order to have a corrupt motive (or at least, maybe, the subjective belief that you have criminal liability).

        I wasn’t old enough to vote during the Clinton impeachment and don’t know too much about it. Clinton’s “affair” was more than just an affair, being that it was in the workplace with a subordinate, which creates some issues I think, and also perjury is a different crime than obstruction.

  4. Proclaiming one’s innocence or questioning the legality of an investigation is simply not “obstruction”. Mueller had jack and he knew it so he had to try to justify his existence somehow and the political hacks he employed also needed to deliver something of use to their masters at the DNC.

    The real obstruction of justice here is that Mueller dragged on his investigation for at least 12 months after concluding there was nothing with collusion. Why? Again, he had to justify his existence and his political hacks he employed needed to deliver the paydirt to the DNC.

    I don’t even get when people say that this shows the Trump administration is dysfunctional. I have friends who have worked in Clinton, George W, and Obama’s administrations and they all say that is just how the White House operates. One friend who worked for George W. and then as a hanger on to Obama said that W’s white house worked more efficiently since he just delegated everything. Trump didn’t have anyone to delegate too and even if he did he really couldn’t trust most people in his employ at least at the beginning.

    1. And, as far as I can tell, justifiably so. He came in without the usual folder of potential hires, and had to trust the establishment for recommendations.

      And the party establishment went out of their way to prove they couldn’t be trusted.

      1. Whether you are a Trump fan or not, I think everyone would agree that Trump’s appointments and hiring of subordinates is one of his biggest failures as a president. In his presidential campaign, he highlighted his ability to “hire the right people” and pointed to his experience in the corporate world of knowing how to delegate to the “smartest” individuals.
        He ended up being completely naive when it comes to political appointments and hires, which resulted in frequent turnover, disloyalty among his subordinates, and complete ineptitude.

        1. When somebody comes into politics without any experience, no matter how brilliant they might be, (And Trump is, despite the mania of TDS sufferers, at least fairly bright.) they won’t have connections, or a ready list of people suitable to hire for various positions.

          It would be the same if Jeb Bush up and decided he wanted to build and run hotels. He wouldn’t know who to hire. So he’d have to ask for advice, and if the only people available to ask the advice from despised him, he’d get a lot of bad picks sent his way.

          What we can ask of a man in Trump’s position is that they identify the bad picks, and keep replacing them until they have a trustworthy, competent staff. I believe that’s been happening, but not rapidly enough, in part because of the Senate slow-walking Trump’s non-judicial nominations.

          1. But Trump didn’t say when campaigning, “look, I’m an outsider, so its going to take me some time to figure out who the best people will be.” Instead, he said, “one of my best abilities is identifying and hiring the right people” and this claim was specifically in response to people that questioned his lack of political experience.

            In my opinion, one of Trump’s greatest weaknesses is his inability to foster loyalty in his subordinates. In the corporate world, it doesn’t matter quite so much. The main motivation of corporate employees is to succeed at their job in order to remain employed and hopefully advance their career. An Apple’s employee’s loyalty to Steve Jobs had no relation to the effectiveness of that employee in his/her job.

            But in the political world, it is extremely important. As a leader, Trump fails in this respect.

            1. Trump had a great deal of loyalty in Cohen for many years during his corporate years. It mattered a great deal to Trump. Based on Trump’s insistence that even former employees ignore lawful Congressional subpoenas suggests that it still matters to him.

              1. I never said that loyalty wasn’t important to Trump. I’m sure it’s hugely important to him. But wanting loyalty and obtaining loyalty are two completely different things.
                There was never any reason for Cohen to be disloyal to Trump for many years. Trump paid him handsomely, I’m sure. But the second that things got rough for Cohen, he immediately bailed on Trump. Reinforces my point that corporate “loyalty” and genuine loyalty are not the same.

          2. (And Trump is, despite the mania of TDS sufferers, at least fairly bright.)

            He has a certain low cunning, but he’s not at all intelligent.

            1. Says the man self-identifying as a TDS sufferer.

            2. Trump’s not-so-public comments speak for themselves. He speaks quite truthfully very often, often giving credit to his opponents where it is due. And that my independent analysis frequently matches up with his points to him actually having a head on his shoulders.

              1. Look, just the fact that he managed to become and stay a billionaire while living a lavish lifestyle demonstrates he’s no idiot. That he managed to get elected President while being substantially out-spent, having most of the media against him, and even a substantial portion of his own party working against him, is also evidence.

                There are plenty of things I don’t like about Trump, but to claim he’s stupid is, well, stupid.

        2. I’ve worked in the government sector and the for-profit sector. Hiring and employment relations are two different animals in either. Nothing alike. Trump’s experience is all in the making money side of industry. There you get a lot of loyalty out of employees, especially those close to the top, because they are beholden to the almighty dollar and the only way to make that money is to be in with your superiors.

          The exact opposite is true in the government sector. None of these people are making money and besides pulling down an inflated government salary they could care less about the dollar aspect. Their job security isn’t in promoting efficiency or cutting expenses, it is in ideology and knowing “who’s who”. Loyalty to a person is the number one commodity here.

          I think Trump’s inexperience with this type of attitude and behavior is what caused the initial upheaval in the administration. He assumed he could just hire and manage like he did in the for-profit side. You can’t in government. It took him about 18 months to figure this out and he is doing better (not great) about it now. Doesn’t help that there was this whole made up Russian thing hanging over to him. No one who is the least bit politically savvy would hook their wagon to that potential crash and burn unless they were just willing to risk it all for the shot at the big time.

          If Trump gets a second term (and I think the odds really are 50/50 at this point hinging mostly if the Dems can field a moderate candidate…if they go to the fringe they will lose the Midwest again) I think we will see a completely different White House administration. Trump won’t care (not that he does much now) and he will also be looking toward legacy (in terms of him selling that eventually to make money) and continuity (business continuity is rammed into any MBA and business executive and is second nature). The Republicans are going to grow to hate the idea but if he gets a second term he is going to be able to name his successor around 2012.

          1. Thanks for explaining this much better than I did above. Well said.

  5. For the nth time, considering there was no crime and extremely unethical behavior to both start and prolong this fake investigation, any sort of action taken in response to it is anything but bad. There’s no such thing as thoughtcrime and you can stop shilling against Trump anytime. Just because he isn’t the President of Libertopia doesn’t mean you need to disparage him at every opportunity.

  6. How can you obstruct justice for something than didn’t happen?

    1. Because that’s the law of obstruction. So, don’t obstruct.

      1. Yes, this isn’t a valid complaint; You really can, criminally, obstruct an investigation into something where the crime being investigated didn’t occur. By destroying evidence under subpoena, suborning perjury, bribery… All sorts of things that are illegal regardless of whether there’s an underlying crime.

        The key point here, and I believe Barr was pointing this out, is that Trump didn’t do anything that wouldn’t be perfectly legal if he didn’t have a corrupt motive for doing it. He’s legally entitled to fire people and set prosecutorial and investigative priorities.

        And that there was no underlying crime, and Trump would likely have known this from the start, goes into any analysis as to how likely it was his motives were corrupt. Lacking a crime to conceal, it really becomes unlikely that he wasn’t acting out of uncorrupted motive.

        That’s not to say his motive was necessarily admirable, or one Mueller would have shared. Again, he’s President, HIS judgment as to what would be good policy, not Mueller’s, is the controlling one.

        1. As I mentioned higher in the thread, the underlying crime of conspiracy with a hostile foreign power to affect our national elections is a serious one. I’m not convinced Trump didn’t really know whether the law was broken given how many different lies he gave regarding the ties between his campaign and the Russians. But I think he could rationally want to obstruct any investigation into what he thought was an unfounded accusation because it might expose something else that was either illegal or professionally embarrassing to him. Believing you actually committed the crime for which you are being investigated is not the only reason you might want to obstruct an investigation.

          1. Yes, as a purely theoretical matter you can’t rule out the possibility that he was afraid Mueller would discover his drug smuggling network, or what have you.

            No evidence of it, of course, but the possibility is there.

            But for an obstruction prosecution, let alone conviction, you need evidence, not the bare theoretical possibility of bad motives.

  7. The Trump-besotted crowd speaks again.

    1. Now, now:
      CNN and MSNBC are just trying to make an honest dollar…

  8. There was never any collusion, no crime, no obstruction, and anything who thinks otherwise is a friggin moron who is too stupid to share our air.

  9. So many comments here are either mistakenly relying on Barr, or making stuff up about what’s in the Mueller Report. It’s impossible to believe those come from folks who read the Report. To the extent that those comments indicate the mood and tendencies of the Trump base, they are a bad sign for any prospect that continuing with politics as usual will reassert the influence of reality on the nation’s politics.

    That’s why it is time to impeach Trump, regardless of the outcome for his tenure in office. Only an actual impeachment trial, with the public embarrassment it will deal to Trump’s self-deceiving apologists in the Senate (and in his base, too), will prove sufficient to fix the nation’s attention on the facts Mueller has reported.

    It is time for Democrats favoring impeachment to actively oppose those who don’t. It is time to label Nancy Pelosi with the tag she has fully earned, as the leader of the Trump appeasement wing of the Democratic party.

    It is intolerable that so many Democrats are reluctant to impeach Trump because they fear him, and fear for their political careers. You hear them say that if they impeach and lose, then that will strengthen Trump in the election. So what? There is a worse alternative, which impeachment could avoid—that Trump will not be impeached, and win the election anyway. After that, his boast about being able to get away with murder in public would be effectively proved.

    1. ” To the extent that those comments indicate the mood and tendencies of the Trump base, they are a bad sign for any prospect that continuing with politics as usual will reassert the influence of reality on the nation’s politics. ”

      Speaking as someone who has read the report, I get the same feeling when I read things from the other side. It’s like they’re reading some alternate universe version of the report, where Mueller found that Trump was guilty of everything. Our public discourse continues to bifurcate.

      I think the problem is that, on the left, it has become conventional to employ a presumption of guilt when it comes to Trump, to the point where you don’t even seem to notice that you’re doing it. At every fork in the road, reasoning-wise, you automatically pick the one where he’s guilty of something. And then get outraged when somebody else makes a different turn.

      For instance, urging that Comey lay off Flynn. You automatically see that as obstruction. But as President, Trump is ENTITLED to decide that firing him was good enough, move on. Only if he told Comey to go easy on Flynn to protect himself from some legal liability would it be obstruction. Otherwise it’s just an ordinary decision regarding prosecutorial discretion, which is Trump’s to exercise as President.

      1. “For instance, urging that Comey lay off Flynn. ”

        Officer, its my birthday, how about just a warning?

        Mr DA, my son is 18, give him a break.

        Both “obstruction!!!!” according to some.

        1. Heck, this isn’t even dad asking the DA to give him a break. This is the DA telling one of his Jr. prosecutors to cut somebody a break.

          1. “Heck, this isn’t even dad asking the DA to give him a break. This is the DA telling one of his Jr. prosecutors to cut somebody a break.”

            Which for anyone who has ever engaged in the practice of law on a local level happens all the time. Many attorneys are hired precisely because they have a good rapport with the local DA and make “personal” requests for prosecutorial discretion. This happens every single day thousands of times in every single local courthouse in America. I fail to see what is so scandalous about it?

      2. Speaking as someone who has read the report,

        Speaking as someone who doesn’t believe you, I don’t believe you.

        1. Shove another box of Twinkies down your gullet and maybe you’ll change your mind.

    2. Did you read the report, Stephen?

      Can you please point out the 2 or 3 worst examples of people “making stuff up” in these comments, and also any instances that were mine, if any?

      Please, please enlighten us. If you don’t, it will be a really bad sign for any prospect of reality influencing the nation’s politics.

    3. Literally nothing you wrote is accurate or based in reality.

    4. This is the natural conclusion to the confirmation bias on the Left. All the libtards do is read the Huffpo and other similar media and think they know the “truth”. It is dangerous.

      When a liberal says “I’ve read the report” what they really mean is they watched MSNBC for an hour and read CNN takes on the report. They actually didn’t read the 400+ pages. They don’t have the mental capacity to digest it even if they did.

      I’ve actually stopped engaging with any liberal who starts spouting off about obstruction because it just isn’t worth it. All they do is repeat the same tag lines and act if know all.

      1. Hard to believe that someone who uses the term “libtards” is actually interested in engaging with other points of view.

        1. Some points of view you engage with in the hope of learning something, or persuading somebody.

          Other points of view you engage with merely in the hope of demonstrating to onlookers that the person is an idiot.

    5. “That’s why it is time to impeach Trump, ….”

      For what? What crime would you charge him with?

      1. Holding office while not a Democrat.

      2. Impeachment does not need a crime.

        Do you think Trump seems fit for the office based on the Mueller Report’s evidence attempts to subvert the Constitution and rule of law stymied only by his staff’s lack of respect for him and his own inept forgetfulness?

  10. “Niskanen Center”

    Snort.

    Think Progress wouldn’t accept it?

  11. “Quite simply, the president behaved very badly, and his administration seems to have been saved by the willingness of his subordinates to ignore his rants and directives.”

    Kinda undermines the theme that Trump is Literally Hitler.

    1. Stupid wanna be Hitler still works for the narrative pretty well.

      (Note: I don’t think Trump is like Hitler. Or even like stupid wanna be Hitler.)

  12. Taibbi at Rolling Stone:

    “You know what was fake news? Most of the Russiagate story. There was no Trump-Russia conspiracy, that thing we just spent three years chasing. The Mueller Report is crystal clear on this.

    He didn’t just “fail to establish” evidence of crime. His report is full of incredibly damning passages, like one about Russian officialdom’s efforts to reach the Trump campaign after the election: “They appeared not to have preexisting contacts and struggled to connect with senior officials around the President-Elect.”

    Not only was there no “collusion,” the two camps didn’t even have each others’ phone numbers!

    In March of 2017, in one of the first of what would become a mountain of mafia-hierarchy-style “Trump-Russia contacts” graphics in major newspapers, the Washington Post described an email Trump lawyer Michael Cohen sent to Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov. They called it “the most direct interaction yet of a top Trump aide and a senior member of Putin’s government.”

    The report shows the whole episode was a joke. In order to further the Trump Tower project-that-never-was, Cohen literally cold-emailed the Kremlin. More than that, he entered the email incorrectly, so the letter initially didn’t even arrive. When he finally fixed the mistake, Peskov didn’t answer back.

    That was “the most direct interaction yet of a top Trump aide and a senior member of Putin’s government”!”

    1. I had a LOL moment envisioning Cohen emailing russianemail (at) gmail dot com asking for dirt on Hitlery.

  13. […] same pattern emerges again and again in the Mueller report’s damning second volume. “The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but […]

  14. […] same pattern emerges again and again in the Mueller report’s damning second volume. “The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but […]

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