The pre-Easter weekend news dump of the Mueller report failed. We all heard AG Barr’s pre-emptive strike – a highly unusual presser where he actually trotted out the idea that being frustrated is a defense when one is suspected of conspiring with a hostile foreign power to cheat his way to victory in an election.
Predictably, people commented on the report’s content throughout a holiday weekend while most of America’s attention was focused on Easter, its religious significance, and egg hunts. Despite the layers upon layers of damage control, this plan was bound to fail. The truth beat Trump to the punch.
We knew what Trump did because we saw it in real time. We saw him ask for Russia’s help with Hillary’s emails. We heard Trump declare his love for WikiLeaks. Throughout the past two years, Donald Trump made his views about an investigation into his conduct very clear. We saw him obstruct justice in real time.
On several occasions we saw Sarah Sanders lie about James Comey including that time she lied about FBI agents and their views about then FBI director James Comey. She lied again when she described her lie as a slip of the tongue.
We saw Trump demean and humiliate then Attorney-General Jeff Sessions for the only thing he did right as Attorney-General – recusing himself from the Russia probe. Eventually Sessions was removed to make way for the so-called Acting Attorney-General Matt Whitaker, whose audition as a CNN pundit won him second prize as a stand-in Attorney-General until Bill Barr was in a position to accept the grand prize of Attorney-General – following his successful audition memo.
It comes as no surprise that the Mueller report mostly confirmed that we did indeed see and hear what we thought we saw and heard. When Trump was singing the praises of Vladimir Putin, our suspicions for his reasons were likely correct.
Critics will argue the whole thing was a waste of time because Robert Mueller complied with the DOJ policy of not indicting a sitting president.
Also, this was Trump’s attempt to pre-empt impeachment, but provoke impeachment proceedings anyway. Trump wants the fight over impeachment so he can play the Ace of Victims card. Democrats saw it for what it is, and are acting accordingly on several options.
It’s with that in mind that some people are trying to convince us that no one cares about good government anymore. So why bother to impeach when that will likely fail? It’s the wrong argument.
Presidents were impeached but not convicted in the past. Conviction by the Senate wasn’t assured. So why does there have to be a guarantee of conviction in this case? Arguably, because violation of so many norms raised the stakes for impeachment so high, it’s worse to try and risk failure than to not try at all.
Also people may not care about the palace intrigue, but this is about good government. With the extent of division in the country, there is valid reason for concern. But the country is already divided because Trump and his Putin barnyard trolls divided it. Doing nothing won’t reunite us.
Fortunately, Mueller gave the House a road map to impeach Trump.
The immorality of Trump’s conduct is written throughout the report, as we hear about a man who did all he could to cheat his way to the White House, then use the White House as a shield from legal accountability.
The immorality won’t stop, as can be inferred from Rudy Giuliani’s claim there’s nothing wrong with accepting Putin’s help to win the presidency. There is plenty wrong with it. There’s the cheating. There’s the fact that accepting this kind of help from any foreign power, especially hostile ones, gives them leverage over our foreign policy.
This violates the spirit if not the letter of our election laws. Since people do pay for opposition research, there is a market value for what Wikileaks put out there. That counts as a political donation. Even though it came from multiple sources via multiple people in a loose network with nebulous ties to Trump’s election team and Trump himself, it still counts as a political donation from a foreign source, which is illegal no matter how you square it.
There is a catalogue of behavior by Trump to see he doesn’t belong in the presidency. Accepting that conclusion based on the facts laid out in the Mueller report should be enough for reasonable people with at least some sense of morality to conclude Trump should be impeached.
Cases against Nixon and Clinton were based on far fewer and less severe wrongs. But the Constitution assumes that the House and the Senate would have mostly independent people who put country and morality over party and loyalty to the president. That doesn’t apply in today’s Congress.
Republicans ask not what they can do for their country, but what they can do for Donald Trump. It’s why, for example, Senator Burr briefed the White House on the briefing he got. It’s why Devin Nunes did the same thing.
The people gave Democrats a chance to make things right by giving them control of the House. While the current politics look overwhelmingly against the Republican controlled Senate convicting Trump on impeachment charges, that could change with public hearings, be it for oversight purposes or as the beginning of impeachment proceedings. Impeachment trickles up from the people applying pressure to their representatives who see it’s not in their interest to continue supporting the president. There is never a guarantee, but this isn’t about a guaranteed outcome. It’s as simple as being about doing the right thing.
Common sense dictates that if there was a basis to impeach Clinton for obstruction of justice over a blow job, than surely there is a basis to impeach Trump for obstruction of justice over conspiring with a hostile foreign power.
If investigation produces the evidence for impeachment, the House must impeach. If investigation establishes immoral or unacceptable behavior but not impeachable offenses, the House must censure, Mr. Trump.
Doing nothing is unacceptable.
Ms. Woodbury has a graduate degree in political science, with a minor in law. She is a qualified expert on political theory with a specific interest in the nexus between political theories and models and human rights.
Based on her interest in human rights and the threats that authoritarian regimes are to them, Ms. Woodbury’s masters thesis examined the influence of politics on the enforcement of international criminal law was cited in several academic studies.
Published work includes case summaries for the War Crimes Research Office.
She has an extensive background doing legal research in international and domestic law.
Ms. Woodbury’s work for politicusUSA includes articles on voting rights, the right to asylum and other civil/human rights.