Preliminary Takeaways and Fallout from the Report
Updated: Apr 29, 2019
There is no indication that the Mueller report is changing hearts and minds on either side of the great divide. My own heart and mind have not been changed one iota, not a smidgen, not a jot, by the first 180 pages of the report, as I plow through the beast, nor by articles, accounts, and accompanying analysis read, viewed at the PBS NewsHour, and heard on NPR.
William Barr has fully embraced his role as the president's personal attorney general. If there any were lingering doubts after the four-page report on the report, Barr dispelled them with Thursday's press conference. Unlike me, David Brooks had been giving Barr "the benefit of every doubt figuring he has a very good reputation around town and figuring his letter was remotely accurate." At Thursday's press conference, said Brooks,
"...he sort of - he burned me. So I'm not giving him the benefit of the doubt anymore.... I'd given him faith that he was being accurate in what was in the report. And in that press conference, he was no way accurately reflecting what was in the underlying report. He was sugarcoating in the extreme and ignoring, you know, what everyone was about to learn an hour later. I'm mystified why he thought it was a good idea." (The Redacted Mueller Report Is Out, NPR Week in Politics, April 19, 2019)
No much new is reported in the sections covering Russian attempts to interfere in the 2016 election and contacts between people associated with the Trump campaign and individuals associated with the Russian government. What strikes me is the caliber of individuals involved, a motley crew of shady characters, second-rate hustlers, mediocrities, dupes, and wannabes who devoted considerable creative effort to puffing up their CVs and padding their credentials. How did Hillary Clinton lose to these clowns?
What is Elizabeth Warren thinking? I expect occasional instances of poor judgment from firebrands like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has also jumped aboard the impeachment train. That goes with being a firebrand. From Warren I hoped for better. No good will come of impeachment without Republican votes to convict in the Senate. I cannot envision a scenario where that will happen. House Democrats are better served by conducting oversight and passing legislation to set the agenda for the 2020 election.
Alexander Hamilton could have been describing the fine mess in which we are presently flailing in this passage on the subject of impeachment (Federalist No. 65: The Powers of the Senate):
"A well-constituted court for the trial of impeachments is an object not more to be desired than difficult to be obtained in a government wholly elective. The subjects of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself. The prosecution of them, for this reason, will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community, and to divide it into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused. In many cases it will connect itself with pre-existing factions, and will enlist all their animosities, partialities, influence, and interest on one side or on the other; and in such cases there will always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of the parties than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt."
Mitt Romney professed himself to be "sickened" and "appalled" by the revelations of the Mueller report. What does he propose should be done? Well, when you come right down to it, nothing. Says Romney, "The business of government can move on." As long as Trump continues to advance the Republican agenda of cutting taxes, eliminating regulations, and eviscerating departments and agencies that carry out the functions of government (with the exception of defense, homeland security, walls, &c.), Romney will be sickened and appalled, Susan Collins will wring her hands, and both will go along with business as usual. This is what passes for principle on the Republican side of the aisle.
In conclusion. "Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I'm fucked." Are these the words of an innocent man?
Keep the faith.