When Rule of Law Prevails

The release of the Mueller Report has had the predicted result: very few partisans have been convinced to set aside their preconceived notions about either the guilt or innocence of Donald Trump with respect to contacts with Russians during the presidential campaign or his actions to obstruct justice in the investigation.

What is most dismaying to me, though, is that partisans for Trump have rarely looked at key sections of the Mueller Report. Some won’t because they consider Mueller to be a “black hat” in this whole enterprise—a man dedicated to taking down Trump no matter what. Personally, I think that attitude disregards Robert Mueller’s reputation over the years as a straight shooter, someone who goes where the evidence leads.

Others dismiss anything the report might say because they believe the original FBI investigation is so tainted with an anti-Trump agenda that they consider anything coming out of any investigation as suspect.

Let me just share a couple of significant portions of the report that all should be aware of. First, with respect to Russian interference and whether the Trump campaign conspired with the Russians, Mueller concluded the following:

The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion. Evidence of Russian government operations began to surface in mid-2016. . . .

The investigation also identified numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump Campaign. Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.

This is the basis for the “no collusion” cry from Trump, and I accept that conclusion. However, it is still significant to note that neither Trump nor any of his operatives sought to discourage the Russians from voluntarily giving them whatever dirt they had on Hillary Clinton (and believe me, I know just how dirty the Clintons are). What also is disturbing to me is that this intrusion into the campaign by a foreign government was not reported to the FBI by the Trump campaign. If that’s not illegal, it should be.

Volume II deals with the accusation of obstruction of justice. Here is what Mueller found:

Fourth, 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. The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.

That section means that Trump’s joyful shout of “complete exoneration” is false. Read the last sentence again if you missed it the first time. Mueller, however, operating under a Department of Justice rule that says a sitting president cannot be indicted, could go no further in determining actual guilt. First, let me say that the DOJ’s rule is awful. It means no president, no matter what he or she has done, no matter how egregious, can be prosecuted while in office. Whatever happened to the rule of law, which states that everyone, even the president, must follow the law?

Second, Mueller doesn’t stop there. He knows where the proper authority for dealing with potential misdeeds by a president lies.

With respect to whether the President can be found to have obstructed justice by exercising his powers under Article II of the Constitution, we concluded that Congress has authority to prohibit a President’s corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice. . . .

The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the President’s corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law. 

In other words, Congress has the authority to take the investigation further and make a determination whether any action needs to be taken, whether that action is simply new legislation or impeachment.

Yes, fellow conservatives, I know that this Democrat House of Representatives has a political agenda, but that doesn’t negate the constitutional responsibility laid upon Congress. What Republicans need to do is cooperate fully so this doesn’t become purely partisan. They should honestly look at the evidence (not just circle the wagons) and seek truth, not political advantage for themselves.

Back in the Clinton impeachment, no Democrats would look at the evidence with integrity. They refused to take the allegations seriously because all they could think of was the dominance of their “tribe.” It was a foolish decision on their part; if Clinton had been removed from office, all that would have happened is that Al Gore would have become president, and probably in a stronger position, as the incumbent, for the 2000 race.

If the worst should happen with respect to Donald Trump, the result would be President Mike Pence. If that were to occur, he would be in a stronger position in the 2020 campaign. So the real question here is whether Republicans will move forward with integrity or do what Democrats did with Bill Clinton.

When rule of law prevails, everyone wins in the end.