SocraticGadfly: What's next for Trump after the Mueller Report

March 23, 2019

What's next for Trump after the Mueller Report

Attorney General Bill Barr released his Mueller Report letter Friday. While we have yet to see the full, or nearly full, report, the key takeaway is no more indictments by Mueller. And, via Splinter, here is the full Barr letter.

That is no shock to me, and expected a month ago.

I know Kossack Dead Enders like Marcy have halfway accepted reality while at the same time dangling a bone or two to their followers. On Twitter, she claimed that maybe there was a "conspiracy" (finally dropping the word "collusion," for which there is no federal statute) but that Mueller couldn't see it through to charges — whether because it didn't clear a high enough legal bar or forces were arrayed against him.

Marcy's now butt-hurt again and making up BS, this time about the Barr Letter. Section 1? No, Trump has never officially dangled a pardon for Manafort, Marcy. There may have been elliptical talk, but nope, nothing close to explicit.

Meanwhile, Marcy's fans asked her if she was ever going to reveal the alleged threat against her or whatever. That, of course, assumes there was a real, actual threat.

Per this tweet:
Marcy, per the end of the post linked above, doesn't appear ready to name a name.

Reality? Even if Congressional Dems force the full report into public eye, there's still no Donut Twitter collusion "there" there. (Ben Wittes at Lawfare, who should know federal law better than Marcy Wheeler, still uses "collusion" in his spin on the report release. He goes Marcy-like otherwise on citing "reasonable doubt," in his case, referring to obstruction of justice."

That said, Barr can be faulted on other things. Like rushing to put out his cover letter as a possible spinning. Popehat takes him to task. So does Neal Katyal, including the rush to judge that Trump did not obstruct justice in firing Comey. I don't think he did, esp. since Rosenstein was on board. Plus, Barr's legal POV is that such can never be, in and of itself, obstruction. I halfway, but not totally, disagree with Barr.

Whether Trump obstructed justice elsewhere may still be an open question. But, I don't have to subscribe to Barr's version of broad executive branch powers on hiring and firing subordinates to say that in this particular case — because Rosenstein agreed — there was no obstruction. (That is, if Rosenstein had not signed off on the Comey firing, I'd have charged Trump.) **

Renato Mariotti also piles on Barr. And, IMO, goes too far. The standard of justice for criminal vs civil law, "beyond a reasonable doubt" vs "preponderance of evidence," was written precisely for this. And, frankly, I don't think 11 open-minded federal jurors would civilly convict Trump on an election-related conspiracy between Putin and Trump. (Mariotti uses the criminal law standard in his piece, but IMO, he clearly wants to frame things in civil law standards. And, he's far from along.)

It does seem clear that Barr's "broad powers" take may have hamstrung the "legally conservative" Mueller. And, perhaps intentionally.

What we really have, as I see it, is a lot of Donut Twitter wishing criminal law worked like civil law — preponderance of evidence instead of beyond a reasonable doubt. But, that AIN'T the way it works, quite fortunately.

Speaking of that, the Disease of Marcy has spread to The New Republic. There, she assumes facts not in post-conviction legal evidence about Roger Stone, among other things.

Outside of legal theories, though, Trump's repeated public dialog on Twitter, per the Washington Post, means that obstruction would be hard to prove for other reasons. I don't see "corrupt intent" in the Comey firing, again. And, since Mueller did not find "collusion" (in the generic sense) other obstruction charged folded like a cheap deck of cards. Marcy? Talk to the hand of Rosenstein. As I said, with no "collusion," everything else related to that falls apart.

Per Katyal, I fault Mueller most for never pushing for a direct interview with Trump. There was no "collusion," but ... as the investigation morphed, Mueller shouldn't have shut it without this. Popehat is right that Mueller is "legally conservative," but this was too far.

Rick Hasen also weighs in with other concerns at Slate. Did Don Jr. offer a thing of value in the Trump Tower meeting? Did he even solicit the Russian information? I disagree with Rick, respectfully. I do agree that campaign finance charges were a possibility but ... see below.

That said, I do think the House needs to haul Barr in front of it. And with a subpoena, not just an agreement to talk. I also think Nadler or whomever should call Mueller up, too. And, again, under subpoena. If he really is "legally conservative," per Popehat, he'll be fully responsive to everything asked under a subpoena. More so than just under general oath-taking.

And, as others note, Trump isn't out of the woods.

It is true that federal district court in New York has cases still to investigate. And, with state courts there looking at other items, who knows what could still happen. Campaign finance charges could be part of this indeed, per Hasen. Remember, the Stone case is now in those hands. (Constitutional sidebar: Nothing's stopping a state court from indicting a sitting president, as I see it, any more than SCOTUS said that there was nothing stopping the Paula Jones lawsuit.) But, while those may be about things like money laundering and campaign finance violations, none of them involved the "collusion" claims of Donut Twitter, Hillary and the Hillbots or the Kossack Dead Enders.

As for the Steele Dossier that lurks behind the "collusion" claims? Who's not to say that Russian intelligence didn't play Christopher Steele like a landed fish from the moment he started looking for info?

Speaking of, Corey Lewandowski goes on the Dems-only attack at Faux even though he damn well knows that Never Trumper Republicans, starting with Jeb! asked for the work, not just the information, but Steele's actual work to get it, months before Fusion did for the Dems.

Otherwise, we did get to see Ken Starr make a bigger ass out of himself than normal.

Contra Marcy and others dangling bread crumps, top Dem prez candidates  pretty much gone radio silence about the letter and report. And, that's because they're not being asked that much about it. Single-payer is a big talking point, as are others.

Of course, Miss Nancy Pelosi already stupidly pulled impeachment off the table. NOT just for alleged collusion, but ... period, basically. That's even as Emoluments Clause lawsuits remain active in court and give the House a starting point on this issue, which is quite impeachment-worthy. Some Dem prez critters, like R.F. O'Rourke, have signed off on Miss Nancy, calling impeachment a "last resort," and taking the wrong lessons from Slick Willie vs Newt et al 1998.

(It's not the first time Congress has had legitimate reasons to impeach a president and used the wrong grounds. Instead of the flimsy Tenure of Office Act, radical Republicans should have impeached Andy Johnson for obstruction of justice, malfeasance of office and violation of his oath of office after he failed to enforce the 1866 Civil Rights Act passed over his veto.)

Pelosi needs to do what Mueller didn't — learn from Jack Brooks, who knew the difference between impeachment and a criminal case.


Per former presidential legal spox Ty Cobb, sure Trump was thin-skinned about the idea Putin put him on the throne. Add that to his general ego and thin-skinnedness. That said, Hillbots went down this road.

Since Putin did NOT try to help Trump win, contra the post-letter and report backhanded swipe by Blake Hounshell (and Politico is really doubling down on MSM stupidity on this, I guess), he has good reason to be touchy. As for Blake's other idiocies? Selling weapons to Ukraine (which Obama refused to do), further tightening sanctions on Russia, and looking to opt-out of the intermediate forces nuclear treaty are far short of "cooperating" with Putin.

And shit, not that anywhere near 100 percent of his insinuations are true in a criminal court of law, but when wingnut whackjob VD Hanson is telling more truth about this than Marcy, the Hillbots, Donut Twitter and the Beltway stenos, you know it's bad.


** Should Obama be blamed for saying more than "knock it off" in late summer 2016? Well, yes, he should. He should have intervened when his AG, Loretta Lynch, met Slickster Clinton on the Phoenix tarmac. Without that happening, I presume Comey doesn't presume he has to bigfoot everything. Hillary loses EC but wins PV, or wins both, as it is.

Maybe Dear Leader was trying to have his cake and eat it too. It's possible that Sepp Blatter's, I mean ?? "17 agencies" may actually have known that Vlad the Impaler's meddling was bipartisan already before the November 2016 election.

And, if the Dragon Lady herself were really as much that as claimed, she would have put Huma Abedin on leave as soon as Anthony Weiner's Twitter weiner popped up.

As for Trump being pro-Russian? Jacobin puts paid to that bullshit. As have I in these spaces, and many people, some of them listed below. Cruise missiles launched on Syria? Arms sales to Ukrainian fascists? (Neither of which Obama did.)

Yet, the MSM continues, even after the report and letter, to lie through its teeth. Whether the Old Gray Lady NYT or Madcow Maddow, it's all about $$$ from Donut Twitter, Hillbots and Never Trumpers.

As for claims the Washington Free Beacon, on behalf of Never Trumper Rethugs, ended its association with Fusion before Fusion contacted Steele? Well, all we know for public consumption is that Fusion's Glenn Simpson did not start paying Steele for work until he got Democratic money. It's quite possible that Simpson, who already knew Steele, had contacted him and put him on "standby," before the WFB pulled out. And Rethugs trying to distance themselves from Steele know that Fusion had been retained, in any case, for oppo research on "various Republicans," but above all, Trump, and that Steele in part repackaged rumors already in the public domain.

Update, May 14: Former Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein has turned both barrels on Comey, calling him a "partisan pundit" who trampled "bright lines that should never be crossed."

The specific target of his ire is how Comey handled reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails adn server after then-AG Loretta Lynch had had her conflict-of-interest inducing meeting with Bill Clinton on the Phoenix tarmac.

Rosenstein is totally right. It was grandstanding, as I said at the time, and not SOP, either. Then-Assistant AG Sally Yates should have been contacted by Comey and she should have been asked to get Lynch to officially recuse herself, then take over.

Rosenstein said he would have handled Comey's firing differently had it been just him, not Trump, but that Comey deserved to be fired.

He did.

Period and end of story, Donut Twitter and Resistance.


Few more thoughts hither and yon. Glenn Greenwald was far from alone on this issue. Others, such as some of the folks at Consortium News, Aaron Mate, Ken Silverstein, Mark Ames, Matt Taibbi, Yasha Levine and others, were there. A lot of the stuff above is my own analysis without them. Don't mention Caitlin Johnstone. She's a nutter who probably read her own horoscope to decide where to jump in. Anybody who salutes her, a conspiracy theorist of a bit, and a red-brown alliance nutter, needs to rethink.

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