The National Review’s Andrew McCarthy wrote this morning that he believes special counsel Robert Mueller will submit his report to Attorney General William Barr ‘imminently.’ He does not expect to see much about Russian collusion, rather the focus will be on obstruction of justice. He said it is no coincidence that House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) announced his new investigation into President Trump to search for possible obstruction of justice on Sunday and sent out 81 document requests and subpoenas to Trump associates on Monday.
It sounds as if Mueller’s report will seque into the new House investigation. Imagine that.
McCarthy reminds us it was not Russian collusion that sparked the appointment of the special counsel. After Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, Comey leaked copies of his memos to the New York Times. The memos contained notes of his meetings with President Trump. (Both Comey and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe kept notes of each meeting with Trump, because they found him so untrustworthy.) Comey had written that Trump asked him to drop the investigation into then-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.
McCarthy noted that “these incidents were said to be proof that the president was subverting the Russia probe – i.e., the old Washington story that “the cover-up was worse than the crime”; that point when the obstruction aspect of an investigation overtakes whatever purported misconduct initially propelled the investigation.”
Given the nature of Mueller’s evidence, I contend that the probe’s emphasis on obstruction means it was necessarily an impeachment investigation.
That is, when it comes to Trump, the episodes prosecutors have been investigating as obstruction do not involve criminal actions — such as tampering with witnesses, as was done in the Nixon and Clinton impeachment cases. Instead, they involve a president lawfully exercising his constitutional prerogatives, but driven by what prosecutors portray as improper motives. That would be a very controversial theory of obstruction. As William Barr opined in a memorandum written before he became attorney general, a president should not be indicted over conduct in a gray area — it should be only over misconduct that is clearly criminal and serious.
Impeachment, however, is saliently different from indictment. Unlike a prosecutor, Congress does not need a penal offense to take action; impeachment is a political process (i.e., the stripping of the president’s political authority by the other political branch). It can be driven by misconduct that Congress concludes is an abuse of power, even if it does not constitute an offense of the criminal code.
One of the reasons that this rings true to me is go back to old Jerry Nadler, Jerry Nadler of the House whatever committee he chaired (judiciary, I guess) and his request for documents from 81 people in the Trump administration about what? Do you recall? What did Nadler say is the focus of his investigation? Obstruction. So we’re putting two and together. If Nadler is focusing his investigation on obstruction, does Nadler have a heads-up on what Mueller’s report is going to say? Don’t doubt that.
Don’t doubt that there is going to be conspiratorial collusion between the anti-Trump forces that exist everywhere in the government, from the Mueller team to the Democrats in Congress, because whether you want to believe it or not, the fervor to get rid of Donald Trump, the fervor to harm Donald Trump forever is at a fevered pitch. It has not subsided. It has not languished. It has peaked. It has continued to grow as Trump has survived every onslaught.
None of this is good news for President Trump. But he is not without resources.
- He has a “real” Attorney General now. William Barr has taken Trump’s side before and, I know many readers don’t trust him, but you might be happily surprised.
- Once the report is submitted, Trump can start declassifying documents and finally fighing back.
- Most independent voters will see that the House investigations are purely political theatre. As I wrote in an earlier post, Democrats are opening an investigation to search for a crime, which is the type of thing that happens in authoritarian dictatorships, not in America. Voters are not stupid.
- Trump’s approval numbers have been moving up. A recent Wall Street Journal poll had him at 46% and Rasmussen, which admittedly leans to the right, is around 50%. His approval number on the economy is at 53%. He has an impressive record of achievement. Nadler and his colleagues may find it more difficult than they think to justify his impeachment.
- It is doubtful that 67 Senators would vote to convict Trump.
Fasten your seatbelts.
**Update: Freshman Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) told supporters today she would like to introduce articles of impeachment this month.