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Friday, 26 July 2019 13:01

Robert Mueller's Testimony

Written by  Bob Serody

A Summary of the Mueller Inquiry

This is a personal summary of the hearings in the House concerning the Mueller report on Wednesday, July 24, 2019.

The House Judiciary Committee under Chairman Jerrold Nadler gathered testimony from Mr. Mueller in the morning. The outcome was expected when Republican members circled Robert Mueller like sharks trying to refute the findings in the report and shred his integrity.  They often prevented him from completing his answers with rapid-fire questions while attempting to show that Mueller was prejudiced against Trump, because members of his team had made private donations to Democratic candidates. Therefore, the Republicans claim the findings against President Trump were a political charade. This accusation prompted Mueller to respond that he selected his team based on their expertise and objectivity, not on their personal political activities.

The Democratic members attempted to show that Trump, had he not been president, would have been indicted for the crimes uncovered by the investigation. As Mueller said, much to the chagrin of Attorney General Barr and the Trump administration, had Trump not been a sitting president, he would not have been exonerated. The 448-page report was damning of actions associated with Russian collusion and obstruction. When Trump tried to have Mr. Mueller fired, this action would have been considered a criminal offense. Was the special investigation effective? Look at the many people on Trump’s staff or those associated with him during the presidential campaign who were charged with crimes and then convicted. Trump could not be charged because of Justice Department policy. Mueller asserted that the probe did not exonerate Trump. Also important was the conclusion at the end of the report. Based on the evidence, Mueller indicated that Trump could be indicted and face criminal charges following the end of his presidency.

Although the facts revealed in the Mueller inquiry were clear, it was not expected that those tuning in on the hearings were going to change their minds on Trump’s guilt or innocence. Mueller refused to answer many questions, either because they fell outside the nature of the investigation, or because the information would have revealed classified sources. The Republican members of the committee attempted to make Mueller look like he was incompetent and that his findings were just a witch-hunt.  Mueller did not appear that sharp during some of the questioning and was made by Republican questioners to appear reticent in answering more than 100 questions. However, it could certainly be argued that his reluctance in answering many of these questions was for the reasons previously cited. He also had no desire to play politics with members of the panel and was nonpartisan in his replies. He attempted to stand by the words in his report. Unfortunately, very few people are going to read a 448-page report, and so it could be argued that, as a result of the Mueller inquiry, his appearance at this inquiry had little effect on those who had already made up their minds.

The House Intelligence Committee under Chairman Adam Schiff gathered testimony from Mr. Mueller in the afternoon. Schiff painted a devastating portrait of the Trump administration in his opening remarks. Republican members could not effectively argue that many Trump associates hadn’t lied regarding their collusion with Russian officials. Mueller also had attempted to interview President Trump over a period of one year in order to uncover what he knew and whether he was directly involved in Russian collusion and obstruction. However, as the negotiations to obtain an interview with Trump dragged on, Mueller decided that he had uncovered enough evidence from Trump’s associates and dropped the attempt for an interview. There was Trump’s firing of FBI director Comey to prevent an ongoing investigation of wrongdoing. This action and the subsequent attempt by Trump to fire the special council was, according to Mueller, a criminal offence. Mueller made it clear that Trump’s position as sitting president prevented an indictment according to Justice Department policy.

There was also the Trump Tower-Moscow deal and his attempt to enrich himself at the expense of the American taxpayer. These business activities could also have caused him to compromise himself, making himself vulnerable to Russian influence during his presidency.

Mueller had submitted written questions to Trump. It became evident from Trump’s replies that Trump had not been truthful during the investigation. Although Representative Devin Nunes tried to make it seem that Mueller’s investigation was just a made-up world to embarrass the president, Mueller’s response was direct. The report’s findings were neither a witch-hunt nor a hoax.

The charge by Republicans that the Steel Dossier was somehow used to help the campaign of Hillary Clinton was found to be not truthful. Republicans also tried to accuse the special council of spreading 25 leaks to embarrass Trump, a charge denied by Mueller. Also brought up were Trump’s praise of Wikileaks’ actions in releasing stolen documents from the DNC during the political campaign.

At the end of the hearing, Mueller was asked what he considered to be the greatest threat uncovered by his investigation. His answer was the attempt by foreign governments to interfere with the 2016 elections. He also pointed out that not enough was being done to prevent a repetition of interference in future elections.  Mueller strongly recommended that the agencies consisting of the NSA, CIA, FBI, and Military Intelligence must coordinate their efforts and share information to prevent Russia and others from interfering with the 2020 campaign. Methods also needed to be developed to counter cyber-technology. He also mentioned that counter-intelligence activities are currently ongoing. Lists of registered voters from many states have a lready been obtained by foreign powers, and this breech not only shows the need to protect our elections, it can be inferred from Mueller’s warnings that the Trump administration has no motivation or desire to protect our Constitutional rights.

Some conclusions

When politicians act unethically, it can lead to compromise and, eventually, even criminal activity. Unfortunately, there has been very little effort to prevent this from happening. Trump has been very effective in dividing this country with his tactics of fear, hatred, and race baiting. The Republican Party has shown it is afraid to challenge him. Fortunately, the Democrats are edging toward the need to move for impeachment proceedings now, in spite of the Senate’s determination to block hearings on convicting the President of high crimes and misdemeanors. Why shouldn’t we proceed and not wait until Trump is out of office before charges of impeachment are brought up?

First, with cyber-interference aimed at monkeying with our electoral system, Trump could be reelected in the next election even if a plurality vote could favor his Democratic opponent. There are other impelling reasons for starting impeachment proceedings now, and I find no one who has stated these reasons better than Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton. The following are his words:

The core purpose of the Constitution is to prevent tyranny. In other words, the Framers anticipated the possibility of a Donald Trump.

This is why a president who places himself above the law cannot usurp the powers of the other two branches of government.

Trump surely appears to be usurping the powers of the other branches.

Under these circumstances, the Constitution mandates that the House undertake an impeachment inquiry and present evidence to the Senate.

This may not be the political thing to do. But in order to safeguard our democracy, it is the right thing to do.

We owe it not just to ourselves but also to our children and all those who come after us. The only way to safeguard our democracy is to act now.

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 Bob Serody is a member of Space Coast Progressive Alliance.

*ED. NOTE: The views expressed here are solely those of the author. SCPA does not endorse candidates and welcomes commentary on a wide range of issues, including political campaigns, local, regional and national. If interested in contributing commentary, please contact SCPA.

 

 

 

 

Last modified on Sunday, 04 August 2019 20:54
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