As most of you know, Robert Mueller testified, under oath, July 24, 2019, before two congressional committees. His testimonial style was uninspiring and droll. Yet, whether most of the country was bored or not, his report and his testimony presented a dramatic and uncontroverted narrative about how Russia interfered with our 2016 election and how Trump’s campaign welcomed and benefited from that interference.
Here’s a summary of findings in Mueller’s report and subsequent testimony:
- The president knowingly accepted foreign assistance, which Mueller indicated was not only unethical but was “a crime in given circumstances.”
- The president asked his FBI director to shut down the investigation of former national security advisor Michael Flynn (“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go . . .”)
- The president directed White House counsel Don McGahn to fire Mueller out of concern that the investigation would be the death of his presidency.
- The president asked former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, to tell Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions to limit the Justice Department’s investigation only to future election interference so that Trump’s past behavior would be ignored.
- The president dangled pardons in an attempt to influence witnesses scheduled to appear before Mueller’s team.
So, Trump, now POTUS, surely understands our how serious this is; our very democracy is at stake, and the president plans to cooperate with an effort to prevent future interference, right? Surely, he recognizes the harm foreign intrusion into our elections might cause. July 24, 2019, should be a date that lives in infamy, a national day of mourning, right?
Well . . . uh . . . no . . . instead of being as shocked as the rest of us, determined to stop these dangerous election intrusions by foreign governments, Trump did what any sitting president would do. On the day he found out our country was attacked, he and his party celebrated their ‘victory.’ The president was not found guilty of collusion only because there wasn’t ‘sufficient’ evidence (which doesn’t mean there was ‘no’ evidence), so he declared victory.
“Witch hunt—no obstruction, no collusion—I have been completely exonerated” were Trump’s takeaways from the testimony and the report. Trump is from Venus; the rest of us are from Mars. Worse, Mueller testified that the Russians have not stopped meddling in our democracy—“They’re doing it as we sit here,” he reported. “And they expect to do it during the next campaign.”
Two bills have been floating around the capital for quite a while now, The Security From Political Interference in Justice Act, and the Abuse of the Pardon Prevention Act. The Republicans refuse to consider either of these bills. As a matter of fact, they do not intend to do anything about Russian or any other foreign interference. Why? Obviously, Republican legislators believe they will benefit from the interference. And this tells you all you need to know about the current Republican Party. Foreign interference, gerrymandering, race bating, lying, cheating, shaming, anything, is on the table, as long as it benefits Republicans. Mueller expressed concern that this would now become ‘the new normal.” He is right to be concerned.
Congressman Adam Schiff, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, summed up Mueller’s finding by saying that Trump’s behavior was ‘unethical’ and ‘unpatriotic.’ He suggested that the president’s participation in such schemes might result in that president being extorted or blackmailed by foreign power. Mueller agreed with all of this and added that Trump’s behavior was also ‘a crime in given circumstances.’ (His meaning was clear—if Trump weren’t the president, he would be exposed to criminal charges.)
Schiff: We should hold our elected official to a standard higher than mere avoidance of criminality, shouldn’t we?
Our president and his party danced their victory dance because he avoided criminality at the expense of the integrity of our democracy. July 24, 2019—a sad day for America. History will judge you harshly, Mr. President.
Experienced attorney, lawsuit funding expert, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series. The series consists of "Betrayal of Faith", "Betrayal of Justice", and "Betrayal in Blue", with a fourth book due out in 2019. You can learn more about these topical political, legal thrillers at markmbello.com. Mark Bello is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.