The Mueller report, a 400 page assessment of the Trump administration that began post-election 2016 and continued until this month, is anything but an exoneration of Trump. Rather it paints a picture of perhaps the most corrupt and ineffectual presidency in modern history. It also paints a stark picture of a democratic republic under attack by its president.
Despite Attorney General William Barr’s assurances and President Donald Trump’s boasts, the Mueller report doesn’t come close to exonerating the president of wrongdoing. Instead, it invites Congress to initiate impeachment proceedings. It’s time for Congress to heed that invitation.
In its extensive discussion of the constitutional issues implicated by special counsel Robert Mueller’s 22-month investigation, the report asserts that Congress has the authority to apply law “to all persons – including the President.” Specifically, Congress may “protect its own legislative functions against corrupt efforts designed to impede legitimate fact-gathering and lawmaking efforts.” The authority to prohibit a president’s corrupt use of power, the report finds, is essential to “our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law.”
The report declines to reach a judgment on whether the president has committed a crime because Mueller views himself as bound by Department of Justice policy against indicting a sitting president. This does not mean that the president has not committed a crime.
… Mueller invites Congress to take action, either through impeachment or by exposing a disgraced but politically acquitted Trump to criminal prosecution after he is no longer president — so long as that time comes within the five-year statute of limitations for obstruction.
I have written previously about the dangers of impeachment talk. The consequential and divisive decision to impeach is not to be taken lightly, ought not be used as a tool of political convenience, and should be avoided until the dangers of holding back exceed the dangers of proceeding. With the arrival of Mueller’s damning report, however, the time has now come.
Congress must uncover the full facts of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, the ways in which that interference is continuing in anticipation of 2020, and the full story of how the president and his team welcomed, benefited from, repaid, and obstructed lawful investigation into that interference and the president’s cooperation with it. Equally important, Congress must seize this opportunity, while the report remains a locus of national attention, for the American public to see and hear for itself the firsthand witnesses to the president’s criminal behavior, and to weigh and rally around an appropriate path forward — as they did in the wake of Watergate.
Mueller’s report has in no way cleared the president of grave wrongdoing. It would be a lie to claim otherwise, as Barr and Trump repeatedly have done. The report takes pains to note that the investigation could not establish wrongdoing under the strict framework of conspiracy law, but declines to draw a conclusion on the existence of collusion, which “is not a specific offense or theory” under U.S. law. Further, Mueller does not mince words about the president’s potential obstruction of justice, stating: “If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment.”
Congress has a duty to provide a beacon of principle and democratic values to the American people. It must pick up the baton that Mueller has offered and come to a judgment of its own, with the understanding that conduct that falls short of criminal conspiracy may nonetheless be impeachable.
Given everything we know about Trump from his public statements and actions, combined with the Mueller Report and its findings, every Patriotic American ought to be highly concerned with the president, his dishonesty, and his total disregard for our constitution, our institutions, and the rule of law.
Our national values as well as the very foundations of our democratic republic are under attack by an inept man pretending to be president. Trump, while elected to the presidency, has demonstrated many times he does nt deserve to hold the office he occupies.
Now is the time for Congress to act to protect our constitution, the rule of law, our free and independent press, and the institutions of government that have served the nation so well up tp 2017.
More of the Associated Press article BELOW the FOLD.