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The Mueller Report — Russia's Unearned Victory Lap

April 19, 2019 in Economics

By Patrick G. Eddington

Patrick G. Eddington

The release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on
alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian
government, along with allegations of obstruction of justice by the
president, has (seemingly) answered some questions but only
generated still others.

That the president was enraged that Mueller had been appointed
comes as no surprise. What he did in response evokes memories of
Richard Nixon and Watergate.

According to the report (p. 77), Trump viewed Mueller’s
appointment as the “end of his presidency and that Attorney
General Jeff Sessions had failed to protect him and should
resign.”

Sessions submitted, but Trump ultimately did not accept, his
resignation. Trump then apparently borrowed from Nixon’s
playbook, reportedly asking White House counsel Don McGahn to
“have the Special Counsel removed because of asserted
conflicts of interest.”

McGahn did not carry out the instruction for fear of being seen
as triggering another Saturday Night Massacre and instead prepared
to resign. McGahn ultimately did not quit and the president did not
follow up with McGahn on his request to have the Special Counsel
removed.” (p. 78)

What’s also clear to me from reading the report is that
Mueller and his team apparently considered, but ultimately decided
not, to go after Trump for obstruction of justice.

In the section dealing with the yearlong negotiations with the
White House over getting the president to voluntarily provide
answers to questions about his relationship with Russian entities,
Mueller provided a rather remarkable account (p. 13):

“During the course of our discussions, the president did
agree to answer written questions on certain Russia-related topics,
and he provided us with answers. He did not similarly agree to
provide written answers to questions on obstruction topics or
questions on events during the transition. Ultimately, while we
believed that we had the authority and legal justification to issue
a grand jury subpoena to obtain the president’s testimony, we
chose not to do so. We made that decision in view of the
substantial delay that such an investigative step would likely
produce at a late stage in our investigation.”

The job of a prosecutor is to follow the leads he and his
investigators get, and to secure the necessary evidence and
testimony, via subpoena if necessary. It simply strains credulity
to suggest that on the key question of whether Trump had, by
pattern and practice, obstructed Mueller’s own investigation
that Mueller should back off because of “the substantial
delay.”

Mueller’s team wasn’t facing an expiring clock on
their investigation, and the Special Counsel clearly believed he
had the legal authority to compel the president’s testimony.
When the moment came, he balked. Look for Mueller to get grilled
— probably rhetorically incinerated — by House …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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