Promoted from the diaries by streiff. Promotion does not imply endorsement.
One of the most irritating aspects of the last two years was the deification of Robert Mueller – the shrieks, even on this site, claiming the end of the United States, the collapse of the heavens, if *his* “investigation” was not allowed to complete.
Somehow, he was elevated above every official in the nation, elected and appointed, above oversight, above question and above any constitutional limitation. A certain former RedState frontpagers regular odes to his greatness are still a wonder to behold.
So, naturally, the President asking – but apparently without any conviction – his staff to have Mueller fired is supposedly akin to an act of apostasy and sacrilege we’re all supposed to be shocked speechless by, and, apparently, amounts to “obstruction of justice.”
For all the squealing about the President’s supposed “obstruction of justice”, the fact is that not even Robert Mueller had the gumption to definitively accuse the President of obstruction.
Because he didn’t.
Note that neither the Democrats, nor their fellow traveller Justin Amash, nor Robert Mueller are able to identify a particular act that either sabotaged or interfered with the investigation.
Which is why Mueller punted and left it up to his superiors, who, as he expected, though he must have been disappointed that even Rod Rosenstein joined in, rightly concluded that there was no obstruction of justice.
As Mueller himself reports, Trump never once asserted privilege and his team was provided with unrestricted access to documents, aides and staff throughout the investigation. Mueller’s only colorable complaint was that Trump refused an in-person interview.
Newsflash; refusing an in-person interview on advice of counsel is not only a Constitutional prerogative but a Right stemming not just from Article II but the Bill of Rights. By definition, exercising a Constitutionally granted prerogative or protected right *cannot* be prosecuted as an obstruction of justice.
If Mueller had felt that strongly about it, he should have sought a subpoena and tried his luck with some Obama appointed judge. Though, I suspect, Trump would have simply sat with his lawyer, privately conferred after each question, checked notes, had an answer typed up, and then read the answer out.
Which brings us to Mueller and his cargo cult of worshippers’ major beef, that Trump tried to have him fired. Which is precisely where Mueller’s case for obstruction falls short.
He has to prove that Trump’s stated reasons and concerns (as listed below) as a target of investigation – that this was a witch hunt – for wanting him removed are illegitimate, or entirely without basis, something Bill Barr clearly considered and actually explained in typical blunt yet understated fashion.
I. Trump reasonably considered the fact that Mueller has a longstanding personal relationship with James Comey as creating a conflict of interest.
II. His team was composed exclusively of Democrat partisans, including donors, open supporters and former employees of the woman his target had just defeated.
NOTE: Ken Starr made sure he had multiple Democrats on his team when he was investigating Bill Clinton.
III. He was, according to numerous news reports, investigating things well outside the mandate of Russian interference and the 2016 elections, including the Miss World pageant in 2013 and business deals with the UAE from as far back as 2003. To wit, his prosecution of Manafort had nothing to do with the 2016 election.
IV. There was no underlying crime, as Mueller himself concluded, and the President, being an innocent party, knew this. Yet, instead of ending his investigation, he kept it going, and he kept on pursuing indictments on unrelated matters well after the President had reason to believe he must have reached that conclusion.
V. The President did not request for an end to the investigation. Instead he requested for an end to Mueller, personally, as the Special Counsel, running it. In other words, the President did not believe Mueller would run a fair, impartial, non-partisan, animus-free investigation, and wanted him removed on that basis. The investigation would presumably have continued under different management.
VI. He has to prove that he, Robert Mueller, and only he, Robert Mueller, could fairly, thoroughly, impartially, conduct the investigation, and that Trump, knowing there was no one else in the entire country who could run it, sought his ouster as Special Counsel in order to terminate the investigation.
VII. He made no effort to look at the engagement of foreign assistance and Russian interference on the other side – Steele and his dossier fed by his contacts in the Kremlin – by the Clinton Campaign.
Ultimately, given that Trump did not follow through on his wish to have him removed, and the fact that he ordered the White House and his staff to fully cooperate, and that Trump was only exercising his Constitutional prerogative/right to submit only to a written interview, Mueller knew he had no case for obstruction. He cannot establish mens rea.
Worse, he knows that if he tried to indict the President for it, his own conduct will come under scrutiny. His hiring decisions, his decisions on what avenues of investigation to pursue, the point at which he realized there was no case for “collusion” and his reasons for not shutting down the investigation right there and then, etc.
So he and his team instead decide to violate long standing DOJ guidelines and publish damning information about his target without actually indicting him.
Which leads us to Mueller’s hesitance in appearing before Jerrold Nadler’s committee. Jackie Speier let the cat out of the bag just a few days ago;
“He doesn’t want to be trashed by the Republicans,” said Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) … “You’ve seen Jim Jordan [R-Ohio] in action. He can handle his own, but they’ll ask questions like ‘Why didn’t you look at this, and why didn’t you look at that?'”
Mueller is said to be refusing to testify publicly and is reportedly only willing to testify if the questions are limited to what is in the report i.e. he absolutely doesn’t want Republicans questioning him on issues I to VII as outlined above.
I think Republicans should make it clear, in no uncertain terms, that neither they nor their staff will accept any preconditions limiting their questions to him in any hearing and that they reserve the right to enter everything into the public record.
It’s time that halo over Mueller’s head was knocked off.