It is now more than two months after the long awaited release of the Mueller Report, an investigation that covered two years, interviews with 500 or so witnesses (but not the President who was the subject of the issues involved) and led to the indictment for criminal acts of 36 people including guilty pleas and jail terms from the likes of Michael Flynn, the President’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, and the conviction of Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager.
Yet, despite an exhaustive 448-page report authored by a former Director of the FBI, polls indicate that most Americans have clear opinions about its findings. For Trump and his supporters, it was a clear vindication — “NO OBSTRUCTION, NO COLLUSION!” echoed repeatedly from Trump and his minions in the GOP, followed by a “Case Closed” set of Tweets. There was no question that the President was satisfied that the whole thing was a pure waste of time. This conclusion was echoed by Fox News, who Sen. Elizabeth Warren, went on to describe as a "hate-for-profit-racket”.
To be clear, except for many talking heads on CNN and MSNBC and hordes of “Never Trumpers”, most Americans have largely failed to read the Mueller Report. It is fact-filled with details (many of which are blacked out for the seeming fact that the Report references many individuals likely to be indicted once the ongoing federal investigations in the Virginia and New York federal courts are concluded.
But if there was a good reason to endure reading these 400+ pages, they were wiped away by the television appearances of Bill Barr, the Attorney General that President Trump always desired. Barr announced his own interpretation within days after receiving the Report: there was nothing in the Report pointing to any evidence of obstruction or conspiracy.
One month after Mr. Barr’s performance — which totally contradicted specific statements and findings of the Report, Mr. Mueller appeared before the media to state (1) yes, there was Russian interference in the 2016 election that was aimed at helping Trump; and (2) some legal gobbledygook that totally failed to state what Mueller should have made clear and what more than 1,000 former federal prosecutors tweeted to all who would listen.
There is more than enough evidence to indict President Trump who would have been charged with obstruction if he were any other American.
It is a startling fact that some of the most highly respected former federal prosecutors felt compelled to conclude that Mueller could not utter those precise words that are supported by the facts he produced in his report. You can hear from 11 of these experienced prosecutors, appointed by both Republican and Democratic presidents, in their own words:
As Gail Collins opined in a recent NYTimes column, "Mueller argues that he can’t report on what his facts mean because the president has immunity from prosecution."
Okay, we all get it that there is a Justice Department opinion letter that Mueller says precluded him from indicting a president even though he identified enough criminal acts that would have sent you or me up the river for a dozen or so years. But, the least that Mueller could have done was what Leon Jaworski, the independent prosecutor in the Watergate investigation did under similar circumstances: he named President Nixon as an unindicted co-conspirator along with his complicit White House advisors.
As Collins noted, "If you believe Trump committed a crime, even if you can’t indict him now, why not say so? Otherwise, what was the point of the investigation? All Mueller was asked to do was to describe what he found and give his conclusions; then the Justice Department and Congress could do what they wanted.”
Walter Dellinger, an acting solicitor general in the Clinton administration, tweeted: “Everyone agrees a president can be indicted once he is out of office. That (in addition to impeachment) is a reason to gather the evidence now while documents are available and memories fresh.”
We are truly living in an Alice in Wonderland world where the crazy Queen of Hearts is following the even crazier rabbit leading us all down a hole to who knows where. I am left with an empty hole in my psyche that is in search for the right person to rise up in these trying times and show us a path to restoring the norms of democracy, the respect that is due for all of our citizens, rich and poor, the restoration of the rule of law to all and a belief that the longstanding relationships with our tried and true allies and neighbors must be restored to regain a sense of who we truly are as a nation.
During the ten days I spent with Marla on a trip to Europe we saw how the leaders in those nations are also torn apart by the problems of migration; how they have been ravaged repeatedly by the disruptive forces of the far right who have attacked political leaders of the center and left. I watched foreign news reports on how a broken and battered UK Parliament has, after three years of trying to deal with the madness of Brexit, is this close to being led by a prominent and outspoken anti-Semitic leader of the far right. And how Donald Trump tried to interfere with that nation’s politics on a trip to London where he announced that Boris Johnson -- someone who is known mostly for his own spate of outrageous lies to the British people — would make a great Prime Minister.
These are dangerous times where — it is sad to say — the lunatics appear to be in charge. Our nation is led by a president that Bill Maher refers to as “Brokahontas Donald Trump “, alluding to his history of bankrupting three casinos, one airline, the Plaza Hotel and fraudulently concocting a University with his name on it. We are also led by a Vice President who calls his wife “Mother”; and by a Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, who recently got up in front of an international group of world leaders and said that the good news about global warming is how many new oil fields will be discovered in Alaska once the polar ice cap has melted. Yikes, it is scary that each of these statements is true.