It's time again to check in on The Witch Hunt by 12 (wait-18!) Angry Democrats that TOTALLY EXONERATED! the president. Yes, this quantum situation goes on, as Donald Trump hollers he's been both vindicated and victimized by a report that contains a section on obstruction of justice that essentially serves as a referral to Congress to begin impeachment proceedings on the basis the president has repeatedly abused the powers of his office.
Democrats in the House are waffling on all this, naturally, though they have subpoenaed documents-including Trump's tax returns and financial documents from the Trump Organization-and his associates to come testify. This is directly in their purview as a co-equal branch of government tasked with providing oversight of the Executive. Yet the Trump administration has not just disputed some requests, or challenged some of the details. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has openly defied the tax-return request in seemingly a direct violation of federal law. The president's lawyers are suing the House Oversight chairman over the financial document subpoena. And the president has essentially banned his subordinates from testifying.
One of those subordinates is Don McGahn, the White House counsel who became a pivotal figure in The Mueller Report after he sat for 30 hours of interviews with the special counsel. The White House has signaled it will attempt to invoke executive privilege to stop McGahn from appearing before Congress, a strategy which may not make too much sense considering they've already waived executive privilege twice when it comes to McGahn's testimony. (The Washington Post's Philip Bump suggests this is a strategy to delay his appearance, not prevent it.)Anyway, the Report outlines how Trump told McGahn to get rid of Robert Mueller, which seems like an order to obstruct the investigation in the most basic way possible, and which McGahn, like many Trump subordinates tend to, ignored.
From The Mueller Report:
On June 17, 2017, the President called McGahn at home and directed him to call the Acting Attorney General and say that the Special Counsel had conflicts of interest and must be removed. McGahn did not carry out the direction, however, deciding that he would resign rather than trigger what he regarded as a potential Saturday Night Massacre."
This was bad enough: the Saturday Night Massacre refers to the incident that began Richard Nixon's downfall, when he ordered the removal of Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox and both the attorney general and deputy attorney general resigned in protest. Solicitor General Robert Bork eventually carried out the order, kicking the scandal into overdrive. But later in the report we learned that, after further attempts to get Mueller removed (which his subordinates again refused to carry out), Trump tried to get McGahn to help cover up the obstruction attempt.
In early 2018, the press reported that the President had directed McGahn to have the Special Counsel removed in June 2017 and that McGahn had threatened to resign rather than carry out the order. The President reacted to the news stories by directing White House officials to tell McGahn to dispute the story and create a record stating he had not been ordered to have the Special Counsel removed. McGahn told those officials that the media reports were accurate in stating that the President had directed McGahn to have the Special Counsel removed.
The President then met with McGahn in the Oval Office and again pressured him to deny the reports. In the same meeting, the President also asked McGahn why he had told the Special Counsel about the President's effort to remove the Special Counsel and why McGahn took notes of his conversations with the President. McGahn refused to back away from what he remembered happening and perceived the President to be testing his mettle.
Wow! Can't imagine why the president is so eager to prevent McGahn testifying publicly about these Very Presidential episodes. Moreover, Trump might suggest he was reacting to the tenor of those media reports and the public reaction, but does his immediate reaction-to lie and cover it up-not indicate he knew what he'd done was wrong? Does this not speak to the "corrupt intent" required to prosecute someone for obstruction of justice?
As if to drive home the desperation, the president tweeted up a storm about McGahn this morning:
As has been incorrectly reported by the Fake News Media, I never told then White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire Robert Mueller, even though I had the legal right to do so. If I wanted to fire Mueller, I didn’t need McGahn to do it, I could have done it myself. Nevertheless,....- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 25, 2019
It's no longer just media reports detailing Trump's directive to McGahn to get rid of Mueller: the former White House counsel testified to that effect, under oath, while sitting for an interview with Mueller's team. In contrast, Trump did not sit for an interview with the special counsel-at least in part because his lawyers thought putting him in a situation where he has to tell the truth for any extended period of time would be catastrophic. Trump submitted written responses to Mueller's questions about "Russia-related" issues-which included 37 instances in which he "could not recall" things-but his lawyers refused to submit any responses to questions on obstruction.
As for the claim that Trump could have fired Mueller himself: that's true. It's just that would have been so obviously corrupt that even Lindsey Graham, Trump's closest ally in Congress, suggested it would cross a red line. Also, Trump does not like personal confrontation and almost never fires people himself-a reminder of what an almighty scam his Business Deals Tycoon persona on The Apprentice was.
....Mueller was NOT fired and was respectfully allowed to finish his work on what I, and many others, say was an illegal investigation (there was no crime), headed by a Trump hater who was highly conflicted, and a group of 18 VERY ANGRY Democrats. DRAIN THE SWAMP!- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 25, 2019
It's fantastic that Trump suggests both that Mueller was treated with respect and that Mueller is a Highly Conflicted Trump Hater in the same sentence. Nice of him to remind us he did not treat anyone involved with respect, and that he continually tried to tamper with the investigation in public as well as in private. As a reminder, it was once considered verboten for a sitting president to comment on any ongoing Justice Department investigation. Forget an investigation into the president himself and his associates, and that the comments were often, "WITCH HUNT!" Also, not that it matters, but Robert Mueller is a registered Republican.
.....Despite the fact that the Mueller Report was “composed” by Trump Haters and Angry Democrats, who had unlimited funds and human resources, the end result was No Collusion, No Obstruction. Amazing!- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 25, 2019
Ah, and the Quantum State returns: the Witch Hunt orchestrated by conflicted Democrat Trump Haters, based on a total hoax they made up to get revenge for the 2016 election and remove Trump from office, ended with those same conflicted Democrat Trump Haters...exonerating the president. Of course, they did not COMPLETELY EXONERATE! him, and none of this makes any sense-unless you do not subscribe to the concept of observable reality, and believe the contours of the world around us can be continually bent and manipulated to serve your purposes in the moment.
Also, on a more basic level: if McGahn's testimony about his interactions with Trump have really been misrepresented, why is the president so desperate to prevent him from testifying in public? Surely that's an opportunity for him to correct the record. Unless the record is correct, and the president is instead trying to muddy the waters while waging a direct assault on the separation of powers outlined in the Constitution of the United States.
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