For the entire wee between Mueller’s anticipated testimony on July 17th, an his actual testimony on July 24th, the blabbing skulls of punditry on the networks constantly floated the tantalizing teaser of whether or not Robert Mueller would answer “The Ultimate Question.” Said question of course being, Mr Mueller, would you have charged the President with obstruction of justice if it were not for the OLC memo?” Vegas wouldn’t even take odds on that one, the prohibitive favorite was a resounding “NO!”
But it had to be tried, and it was Democratic congressman Ted Lieu from California who tried it, albeit in a slightly sneaky manner. In a series of quick, direct questions, meant to elicit simple “yes” or “no” answers, Lieu slipped in “Director Mueller, the only reason you did not in fact President Trump for obstruction of justice was the OLC memo, correct?” To which Mueller replied “Correct.” Lieu played it perfectly, continuing to ask questions to try to cover that exchange up, but everybody in the world knew that Mueller would have to correct his response, which he did in his opening statement in the afternoon session.
But then, in the afternoon session, a funny thing happened on the way to the boredom. Colorado GOP congressman Ken Buck, who has apparently spent the last week using his head to perform a self colonoscopy, since there has been unanimous agreement on the answer asked a rather dimwitted question;
Buck” So, you believe that a President can be charged with a crime after he leaves office?
Buck slipped on the ice and fell on his ass. But apparently Buck was blissfully unaware that everybody on the planet already knew that answer, because he tried to ask the same question again, only with a couple of devastating word changes;
Buck” So..So you could charge the President with obstruction of justice after he left office?
If you weren’t paying really close attention, it appeared that Buck was stunned by Mueller’s initial answer, and repeated the question, looking for a different response. But it was by no means the same question. In his first attempt, Buck asked a generic question, could anybody charge a president, any president, with a crime, any crime after he leaves office? The answer was yes. But on the second go around, Buck screwed up major by getting specific, “So…So you (Mueller specifically) could charge the president with obstruction of justice (a specific crime), after he left office?” Mueller: “Yes”.
Now one can claim that the first time around with Lieu, that Mueller was caught unaware, and simply replied “yes” to yet another in a string of questions that all elicited similar responses, without realizing the import o his answer. I find that likely, since Mueller moved quickly to correct the record when he realized what he had actually said. Similarly, it is possible that Mueller missed the subtle changes in Buck’s second question as well. But it has been more than 48 hours now, and no correction has been offered by Mueller, so I’m assuming he knew what he said, and feels no need to change the answer.
But the fact of the matter is simple. Special Counsel Robert Mueller was asked a simple and direct question, could he successfully charge President Donald Trump with obstruction of justice once he left office? And the simple, blunt answer was yes. Add to that response the fact that in later questioning, Mueller refused to knock down the statement that one of the reasons that he and his team declined to subpoena Trump to testify to the grand jury was that they thought that they already had sufficient evidence of intent to obstruct justice, and the implication is clear. The only reason that Donald Trump was not perp walked right on into federal court alongside Michael Cohen was because of the Office of Legal Counsel memo prohibiting indicting or charging a sitting president. Both as “Individual One” in the Cohen charges, as well as independent charges for obstruction of justice. Let’s see Barr try to wriggle his pandering ass out of that one.