I’d like to take a minute to draw a couple of distinctions about the upcoming Mueller report, and the soon to begin congressional committee hearings. The Mueller investigation is not necessarily These two investigations do not necessarily dovetail with each other, in fact, in some ways they are diametrically opposed.
Robert Mueller’s mandate from the DOJ is not to investigate Donald Trump. Mueller’s probe was designed as a counter intelligence probe into the 2016 election. His mandate was to investigate Russian interference in the election process, If he finds evidence of Russian interference, he will issue a report, documenting the interference, and exposing weaknesses in the system so that congress can move to repair them. He may be investigating Trump for obstruction of justice, but that is an ancillary investigation, “matter arising from his investigation,” and not the focus of his probe. If Mueller finds enough evidence of obstruction, lying to investigators, or lying to congress, then he will issue criminal indictments. But neither he, nor the DOJ is likely to indict Trump, no matter what evidence he uncovers.
The focus of the House investigations should not be primarily in criminal prosecutions. By necessity, the focus of the investigations should be on one Donald Trump, and whether or not he has undertaken actions that warrant impeachment proceedings. These hearings are not so much a legal proceeding as they are a political act. And while anything that Mueller uncovers that implicates Trump would certainly be incorporated into the committees investigations, they are going to need to uncover enough evidence themselves to satisfy the political aspects of this exercise. Here’s an example. Robert Mueller is not going to have word one to say about any violations of the emoluments clause of the constitution. Yet this is a serious issue that the House Oversight Committee will almost certainly look into.
The necessity for these House investigations to uncover, and publicly present their evidence of any Trump misdeeds independently from the Mueller findings is critical for one simple reason. Because, whenever the Mueller report finally comes out, whatever it actually contains, and whatever Bill Barr and the DOJ allow us to see, it is already damaged goods.Remember the great ACA debate of 2009? The GOP came flaming out of the gate, decrying the bill as “medicare for all (like that’s a bad thing?),” and “death panels for Granny!” before the bill was even presented for debate. The Republicans framed that argument forcefully, before the democrats could even open their mouths, and as a result, it took 7 years for the ACA to finally hit the break even point in popularity.
Trump may have failed economics 101, but he learned that political lesson from the ACA fight immediately. From the day that Mueller was named, the administration branded it a “witch hunt,” being operated by “13 angry Democrats.” In order to protect the integrity of his investigation, Mueller has been unable to respond publicly to this abuse, even when it became personal. And Democratic efforts to buttress up Mueller’s investigation, and integrity, have largely been futile, for the simple reason that little to no actual information is emerging from within the investigation that could counterpoint the Trump assertions.Just like with the ACA, the GOP has managed to set the narrative in stone, not for all of America, but for just enough of America to allow the Republicans in the Senate to be able to back away from some very uncomfortable truths.
This is why the House investigations should start immediately, and why all pertinent facts must come out publicly. I received a lot of great comments in my previous article, some positive, some negative. As Freddie Mercury used to sing, “Easy come, easy go, little high, little low.” And I will readily concede that there is no legitimate reason not co communicate with Mueller, and to accommodate his investigation in any way possible. But not to the point that it excludes one piece of pertinent information that could move the public opinion needle on Trump. And don’t let the threats of all of those “5th amendment” assertions scare you. The old saying is “And the truth shall set you free.” Unless you’re guilty of course, then the truth shall lock your ass up for a long time. These hearings are public opinion events, and the public hates the 5th amendment. Why not talk if you have nothing to hide? Donnie Redux refusing to testify about the trump Tower meeting is almost as damaging as testifying that that blocked phone call was to Daddums.It can’t be argued in a court of law, but in the court of public opinion, it’s devastatingly effective, and that’s where this case will be tried.
Because that’s the ultimate distinction. The object of the Mueller report is to identify any Russian interference, and weaknesses, so that congress can fix them. Nobody will even read the stories about the fixes that congress approves to stabilize the election system. But the crux of the purely political exercise that is the House investigations is the possible removal of a lawless, and potentially criminal President. The Mueller report may assist in that, but by itself, it will not take us to the promised land. And the clock is ticking. There will come a point, and it is rapidly approaching, when politically it will not be possible to impeach with a Presidential election upcoming. It has to start now.
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