This post offers you five reasons to view Part II of the Mueller Report as a purely political document without any supporting legal rationales.
Part I of the Mueller Report conclusively found no evidence that President Trump or anyone close to him ever conspired with, or attempted to conspire with, the Russian government to affect the outcome of the 2016 election. That should put the matter to bed.
Those who say that the Mueller report also doesn’t find affirmative proof that President Trump did not conspire with the Russians need to go back and study their basic American jurisprudence. In America, individuals do not have to prove their innocence; it is the prosecution that bears the high burden of proving their guilt. Case closed.
With Russian Collusion a dead-in-the-water talking point, the President’s critics have swung to Part II, which implies that the president of obstructed justice, whether it came about in the form of fulminating against what he knew was a witch hunt, debating with his attorney whether it was possible to fire the chief witch hunter, issuing orders to keep quiet about those discussions, or refusing to appear for an oral deposition.
See that, say President Trump’s critics. President Trump clearly had bad motives, which makes him unfit for the office he holds.
But for presidents, just as for everyone else, having bad motives doesn’t matter unless they’re followed by conduct. The fact that I put myself to sleep at night, not by counting sheep but by figuring out different ways to poison my enemies is irrelevant if I never poison my enemies or inflict any other criminal harm on them. My motives also do not make it a crime if someone later catches me sneering at one of those enemies, because sneering, while rude, is not a criminal act.
The record shows that Trump did not fire anyone and that his subordinates spoke freely to investigators. As for refusing to appear for a deposition, Mueller acceded to Trump’s request that he be subject only to written questions. That was a bargain, not an obstruction.
I’ve also noted before that it’s questionable whether one can claim “obstruction of justice” when there was no actual justice going on. The laws about obstruction of justice posit a known, actual crime; a prosecutor honestly investigating who did that crime; and a person, even an innocent one, deliberately engaging in affirmative acts (destruction of evidence, silencing of witnesses, etc.) to block that investigation.
In this case, however, the facts we know argue against “justice” having any part in this farce. Instead, a continuously emerging stream of new information tells us that government investigative agencies under Obama used illegal means to spy on the Republican presidential candidate. Then, when Trump won, he was accused of doing something bad with the Russians, although no one could quite finger what the precise illegality was. Trump’s FBI director then illegally leaked classified material to the media to trigger a special prosecutor. Although Mueller lacked evidence of an actual crime, he zealously spent two years and $35 million hunting for a crime, any crime, that he could pin on Trump.
That’s not justice. That’s Soviet-style political persecution. [Read more…]