The █████████ Mueller Report
April 17, 2019 9:26 PM   Subscribe

Attorney General William Barr to hold press conference Thursday as Mueller report expected to drop (CNN) Your guide to Mueller's report on Trump: What's in it, what's not and what comes next (NBC); Marcy Wheeler’s primer How to Read the Mueller Report (“The first step is to know what is supposed to be in there and what isn't supposed to be in there -- something a lot of people get wrong.”); Justice Dept. to release two versions of redacted Mueller report (CNN); 25 Subplots to Watch in the Mueller Investigation (Politico); Memo to the Press: How Not to Screw Up on the Mueller Report (Lawfare); Maxing It Out for Trump Josh Marshall (TPM) on how the fix is in. This is the US politics megathread.

• William Barr Round-up:
Should William Barr Recuse Himself From Mueller Report? Legal Experts Say Attorney General's Ties to Russia Are Troubling (Newsweek) • Judge in FOIA case says he may want to review DOJ redactions of Mueller report after release—"The attorney general has created an environment that has caused a significant part of the American public to be concerned," U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton said. (CNN)
• Immigration Round-up:
Attorney General Barr just handed ICE more power to keep asylum seekers in detention (Vox) • Border Patrol Holds Hundreds of Migrants in Growing Tent City Away From Prying Eyes (Daily Beast)—"The situation is unhealthy. People are in a confined space, they’re not getting showers, their clothes are dirty, babies are not getting Pampers like they should be." • Under Trump, immigration enforcement dominates Homeland Security mission—"A former senior administration official said Trump sometimes called cybersecurity “the cyber” and said that dealing with it, or talking about it, would only get you in trouble." • Denials of U.S. immigrant visas skyrocket after little-heralded rule change (Reuters)
• Polling Round-up:
Navigator Research Poll: Most Americans don’t think Mueller report will clear Trump (Politico) • AP-NORC Poll: Many want Congress to probe Trump-Russia (Associated Press) • Nearly 4 in 10 voters believe Trump’s campaign was spied on (Politico/Morning Consult) • Trump’s Tax Time Troubles—Most say Congress should get full Mueller report (Monmouth University) "Trump’s overall job rating stands at 40% approve and 54% disapprove."
IN OTHER HEADLINES:

• Ben Taub's epic-length Guantánamo’s Darkest Secret (New Yorker) "as the world’s most powerful democracy, the United States had 'the means to uphold and pressure other countries to uphold human rights. But instead the United States is stating to the world very clear and loud that democracy does not work—that when you need to get down and dirty, you need a dictatorship. That dictatorship was built in Guantánamo Bay.'"

• ProPublica has issued an in-depth investigation into the Trumps' fraudulent claims in their real estate deals since the mid-2000s Here Are the Trump Projects Where Ivanka and Her Dad Misled Buyers: Read the Trumps’ false statements — and what the actual facts were.

Gina Haspel Relies on Spy Skills to Connect With Trump. He Doesn’t Always Listen. (NYT) "Gina Haspel was trying to brief President Trump early in her tenure as the C.I.A. director, but he appeared distracted. Houseflies buzzing around the Oval Office were drawing his attention, and ire."

Mitch McConnell, Never a Grandstander, Learns to Play by Trump’s Rules (NYT) "Two factors have made [McConnell's reliance on White House intermediaries] less attractive: the arrival of Mick Mulvaney, a former Freedom Caucus hard-liner in the House, as acting White House chief of staff and the diminished clout of Vice President Mike Pence as a dealmaker. […] Mr. McConnell’s approach is rooted in his personal political realities: He cannot afford to have the president, whose support with the party’s base remains solid, turn on him. He is also up for re-election next year, in a state enthralled with Mr. Trump."

Mick Mulvaney’s Master Class in Destroying a Bureaucracy From Within (NYT) "'The bureau was constructed really deliberately to protect ordinary people,' says Lisa Donner, the head of Americans for Financial Reform. 'He’s taken it apart—dismantled it, piece by piece, brick by brick.'"

NASA's administrator lavishly praised an influential Evangelical ministry during its $10,000-a-table fundraiser. Some experts say his speech violated the Constitution. (Business Insider)

Post-Mueller report likely to target Russia dossier author Steele (Politico) "Several people interviewed by the Inspector General’s office over the past year tell POLITICO that Horowitz’s team has been intensely focused on gauging Steele’s credibility as a source for the bureau. One former U.S. official left the interview with the impression that the Inspector General’s final report “is going to try and deeply undermine” Steele, who spent over two decades working Russia for MI6 before leaving to launch his own corporate intelligence firm."

Bill Weld: I'm in GOP Primary to Beat Trump, Not Just Weaken Him (Politico); Trump's GOP Critics in Senate Mum on Weld 2020 Bid (CNN)

The Trump-Putin Relationship, as Dictated by the Kremlin—Why does the White House cede control of the narrative to the Russians? (The Atlantic) "Why do so many of Trump’s positions bewilderingly align with Putin’s, including chastising U.S. spies, dismissing NATO as “obsolete,” and questioning the value of the European Union? What explains Trump’s affinity for Putin, and the extensive secrecy that has shrouded their interactions since 2017?"

The Debate We May Be Having Tomorrow: If Trump Obstructed Justice to Hide Compromise By Russia, Could That Be a Crime? (Emptywheel.net) "I want to prepare for the possibility that tomorrow we’ll be debating whether a President can obstruct justice to prevent voters from learning how badly he and his dumb son compromised themselves in a foreign intelligence operation in the course of running a presidential election to get rich."

Today is the 819th day of the Trump administration. There are 564 days until the 2020 elections.

Previously in U.S. Politics Megathreads: “There will be plenty of unfavorable things about the president“

Elsewhere on MetaFilter: Paying a lot more and getting a lot less (US Tax Day); The Terrifying Rise of the Abortion Abolition Movement; Copy. Paste. Legislate. (Bill Mills); Charles Koch Institute Trains Future Journalists; As American As Apple Pie (Iowa Democratic Socialists); OnceUponATime's Active Measures site

MeFi ChatUnofficial PoliticsFilter SlackVenting Thread for catharsis and sympathizingPolitical Humorizing Thread for jokes and one-linersHelp fund the siteNext FPP draft • Thanks to Doktor Zed and ZeusHumms for helping to create this thread.
posted by zachlipton (2030 comments total) 136 users marked this as a favorite
 
so nobody on mueller's crack team of legal and tactical geniuses had the forethought to, i dunno, make a PDF of the report and leak it in case barr and company decided to whitewash things? they just decided to trust this president after the last 2 years of publicly known corruption, not to mention whatever the fuck THEY uncovered that wasnt public? so, what, i'm supposed to believe mueller and the top lawyers in the country got outplayed by a bunch of two bit wannabe mob goons who couldnt find their asses with two hands and a map?

that's hillarious option # 1.

option # 2, per anonymous wapo sources, is that "Mueller decided he could not come to a conclusion on the question of obstruction because it was difficult to determine Trump’s intent and because some of his actions could be interpreted innocently..." which, given what trump openly told lester holt, means the mueller team was essentially compromised, either directly or due to their sympathies for power.

good job all. bring on 2020.
posted by wibari at 9:42 PM on April 17 [30 favorites]


The Debate We May Be Having Tomorrow: If Trump Obstructed Justice to Hide Compromise By Russia, Could That Be a Crime?

Please can we not be having that debate? It's obviously a crime, or should be one, and I don't understand anyone who thinks it shouldn't be. The president should not be immune to the law. It's not a complicated or controversial idea. I'm too tired to have to defend obviously good ideas on top of all the other shit going on.

I mean, obviously america is pretty terrible right now and the way we're getting rid of Trump is at the ballot box, not in a prison jumpsuit (or at least, at the ballot box first).
posted by axiom at 9:46 PM on April 17 [16 favorites]


Should be a crime is not the same thing as being a crime, unfortunately.

However, I've always thought the "collusion" angle was a red herring. It didn't help that Mr. Trump was denying it before anyone was accusing him of it.

No, to me the question has always been, Did the Trump campaign benefit from foreign activity that was illegal? And the public record on that has long been, Yes.

Say you buy a car stereo that's been boosted. You may never have "colluded" with the thief, but you did benefit from their low, low prices.

By framing this as a question of "collusion," Mr. Trump has done a splendid job of distracting the debate from the reality that a hostile power has helped place someone in office. They may not have been the only reason that person gained office, but they did help, "collusion" or not. And, like buying a hot stereo, there should be consequences for that.

So we go full circle - should be isn't will be.
posted by aurelian at 10:04 PM on April 17 [31 favorites]




It seems fairly likely that there will be evidence that Trump and his team lied and otherwise engaged in various obstructions. But I guess the main question is going to revolve around whether Mueller should have indicted -- or someone else should now indict -- a sitting president for lying about an underlying non-criminal activity (assuming we accept Mueller's judgment that the underlying activity was non-criminal). This is going to a tough one to argue in the court of public opinion, because Republican hypocrisy (so much hypocrisy...) notwithstanding, it's tough to argue that it's a big-time crime to lie in order to hide something you feared was illegal but in fact turned out not to be. I certainly hope there's more in it than that, but even a strong case for obstruction is probably not going to change very many minds who already believe (based on Mueller's own words) that there was no underlying crime to obstruct.

The analogy with Clinton seems pretty close: the impeachment charges were for perjury and obstruction, and everyone pretty much agreed he had perjured himself, but one's fervor came from how one perceived the underlying "crime": the law agreed it wasn't illegal to have the affair, but Republicans still thought it was immoral and thus that the perjury was also a terrible crime, whereas Democrats thought the underlying "crime" was minor and certainly not illegal, and therefore figured that the obstruction was, although real, minor and a gotcha. The end result was that the middle, who sided with Democrats in thinking that the underlying crime was minor and thus the perjury was minor, supported Clinton. By analogy, I fear that that the middle, who may side with Mueller in feeling that the underlying Russian activity was non-criminal and thus may feel that the obstruction, though real, is also trivial, is therefore more likely to side with Trump than with the Democrats who are incensed by their feeling that the crime (and certainly the criminal) is very bad and therefore the obstruction is very bad.
posted by chortly at 10:32 PM on April 17 [12 favorites]


So, Newsweek notes that Barr did business with Russia's Alfa Bank and he received dividends from Vector Group, a holding company with deep financial ties to Russia. Just a reminder here that the mysterious server pings going from Trump Tower went to Alpha Bank (and a company owned by Betsy Devos).

Without getting all tied up in my red string, I'm beginning to think that everyone on the GOP side may actually be compromised.

How much of the report is being redacted to protect Barr, or previous clients of Barr, as well as 45 and his family?
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 10:35 PM on April 17 [54 favorites]


By framing this as a question of "collusion," Mr. Trump has done a splendid job of distracting the debate

Only through poorly-thought-out reactions to Barr's memo and facilitation from an amazingly vast majority of the press, though. Not only does the word “collusion” not even appear in the Barr memo, and hence the memo doesn't even remotely claim “no collusion”, the memo doesn't say no crimes were committed by Trump or the campaign, and even to the extent it says “no conspiracy” it only refers to a small particular category of conspiracies.

So, like, even Trump's hand-picked corrupt AG guy pulling his fake-summary trick (which Barr has done before) and bending every rule as far as he could was unable to represent the report as exonerating of anything but the tiniest fraction of what the word “collusion” might mean in this context, but everyone in the damned world loudly repeated Trump's “No collusion!” claim at every opportunity.

If members of the media had actually examined what the Barr memo said in regards to the nebulously-defined concept of “collusion” we'd actually have been better off... the plasticity of the concept in a counterintelligence context should actually have been evaluated as the double-edged sword it is and it should've been virtually impossible to exonerate anyone of it in the public mindset. But both sides, butteremails.

That's only the first move in the post-Mueller-report game, though, and it's the final move that matters.
posted by XMLicious at 10:47 PM on April 17 [12 favorites]


Various folks on legal twitter have been pointing out that House Dems' strongest grounds to subpoena the unredacted report would be as part of impeachment proceedings against Barr. Certainly makes sense to me.
posted by bcd at 10:49 PM on April 17 [34 favorites]


The analogy with Clinton seems pretty close: the impeachment charges were for perjury and obstruction, and everyone pretty much agreed he had perjured himself, but one's fervor came from how one perceived the underlying "crime": the law agreed it wasn't illegal to have the affair, but Republicans still thought it was immoral

Don't want to derail into 20th-century stuff here but we really need to not go along with the pretense that Republicans actually think this is immoral.

Contemporaneous to that impeachment process, Newt Gingrich was cheating on his second wife with his two-decades-younger third-wife-to-be and many other Republicans were cavorting in sin as they pretended to moral outrage. And now, of course, the President and self-identified Nationalist leader of the Republican party, put there by both the base as well as politicians at every level, is also a twice-divorced 130k-apiece serial philanderer. IOKIYAR.

Republicans are auto-electorally-enthusiastic philanderophiles, for anyone who might be misled into thinking Trump is some kind of exception in history in that regard.
posted by XMLicious at 11:12 PM on April 17 [45 favorites]


█████████ █████ █████ ███████████████ █████████ █ ██████ ███ pancakes ██████ █████████ ██████████████.
posted by mazola at 11:19 PM on April 17 [101 favorites]


Yes, the reason Republicans thought Clinton's acts were immoral wasn't due to some abstract moral code but a bunch of partisan bigotry with a continual application of IOKIYAR exceptions for their own side. But if Clinton's approval rose due to impeachment,* it was potentially because a small subset of the public changed their judgment of him, arguably based on a sense that the underlying crime was minor and thus the obstruction was minor and thus the impeachment was unfair; and similarly, this tiny silver may have likewise been convinced by Mueller that the underlying crime is minor and thus, whatever we discover tomorrow, may likewise decide that that obstruction is minor.

[* As I've argued here before, I personally think that the impeachment probably had no effect whatsoever on Clinton's approval and its rise was just due to the economy, and similarly I think that whatever happens tomorrow will have very little effect on anything and thus none of it matters too much. Or more broadly, public opinion data is so noisy that we will never learn what the true effect of any of this stuff is. But in any case, none of that should stand in the way of a little recreational speculation...]
posted by chortly at 11:58 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


Let's get something completely CLEAR. Please! Uhm, let's please remember, in all the hoop-la, and spread this far and wide, keep this in mind... Note: This is NOT the Mueller Report - it is yet another redacted cover-up summary. Don't let the media and pundits make this something it is NOT! Let's call it William Barr's most recent novel, file in the fiction section...(Loosely based on a real story, only the facts have been changed to protect the guilty...)
posted by WinstonJulia at 12:27 AM on April 18 [40 favorites]


To predict how the current admin will react to any given situation, just ask "What Would Al Capone Do?"
posted by benzenedream at 12:35 AM on April 18 [6 favorites]


I'm beginning to think that everyone on the GOP side may actually be compromised.

It's been apparent ever since so much dark money started flowing through SuperPACs, years now. This was the weird tension that defined the end of John "Campaign Finance Reform" McCain's career, the temptation to so. much. money! The RNC is fueled the same way the NRA's been fueled, and the real estate markets in NYC and London have been fueled, and Deutchbank has been fueled—with money that needed an end-around US sanctions and/or laws.

What's got my addled soul worried since 2016 or so (and especially since January 2019) is that the DNC stepped in dirty SuperPAC too, inadvertently or not, and are getting keen on pretending they can't smell the stench.
posted by carsonb at 1:02 AM on April 18 [37 favorites]


█████████ █████ █████ ███████████████ █████████ █ ██████ ███ pancakes ██████ █████████ ██████████████.

Makin' pancakes, makin' bacon pancakes?

So, general strike? I'm ready to build tents and make tea and coffee. I don't really know what else to do. Is there a pause button somewhere? If yes, is there a rewind button?
posted by loquacious at 2:06 AM on April 18 [10 favorites]


...the law agreed it wasn't illegal to have the affair, but Republicans still thought it was immoral.
----------
Don't want to derail into 20th-century stuff here but we really need to not go along with the pretense that Republicans actually think this is immoral.


Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that while they may not actually have believed it was immoral, their public position was that it was immoral.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:45 AM on April 18 [14 favorites]




Okay, I'll bite - how do I read the redacted text above?
posted by parki at 4:49 AM on April 18 [4 favorites]


Just wanted to say +1 on the post title and the perfect balance of word-count and information in said post. Well done. Also to say good luck, and we're all counting on you.
posted by petebest at 5:02 AM on April 18 [20 favorites]


Heh heh, George Stephanopoulos (WH Communications Director under Clinton for a few months, on Good Morning America just now) had a Freudian slip and referred to Barr's upcoming presentation of the “edited” version of the Mueller report, rather than “redacted.”
posted by XMLicious at 5:10 AM on April 18 [22 favorites]


Buzzfeed’s Zoe Tillman reports live from the DoJ:
From DOJ spox Kerri Kupec: In his remarks at 9:30am, AG Barr will address executive privilege (whether it was invoked), White House + DOJ interactions over the last several weeks, and the redaction process.

How is Barr feeling today? "Calm," Kupec says.

Here is what we KNOW:
- Barr will have a presser at 9:30am. DAG Rosenstein* will be there, but isn't expected to speak.
- Congress will get CDs with the redacted Mueller report between 11am-12pm
- The report will be posted online *sometime* after it's delivered to the Hill

Here is what we DON'T KNOW:
- The contents of the Mueller report
(ABC’s Katherine Faulders notes, “At 7:18am, Robert Mueller was seen arriving at the special counsel's office, per @erica_yueh who spotted him.”)

Just in case the abnormality of Barr’s press conference wasn’t apparent, here’s this exchange from Twitter:

Preet Bharara: “My recollection is that the media got the relevant documents at the start of or slightly before even garden variety DOJ press conferences, not after.”

George Conway: “Also @PreetBharara when DOJ has press conferences about investigations, don’t they usually have present some of the people who actually worked on the investigation?”

Preet Bharara: “Usually. Or always.”

* Rosenstein’s in full-blown CYA mode, per Newsweek.
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:17 AM on April 18 [16 favorites]


Rick Perry is Said to Plan His Exit (Bloomberg)
Perry, an Air Force veteran who was previously Texas’s longest-serving governor, has enjoyed a good rapport with President Donald Trump. Trump personally asked Perry if he’d take over as Homeland Security secretary, before the president asked Kirstjen Nielsen to resign earlier this month, two of the people said. Perry declined, they said.
posted by box at 5:25 AM on April 18 [6 favorites]


Trump is being totally calm since the report completely exonerates him. 9 tweets so far, including 6 retweets of nut job org Judicial Watch railing about Clinton’s email and spying crimes.

How long before Barr appoints a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton, Steele, the FBI and Mueller’s team to distract from the “exoneration.” Might be a decent chance he announces this morning.
posted by chris24 at 5:26 AM on April 18 [14 favorites]


You don’t know if this is an aberration or not, if Trump is something outside, and he’s going to lose, and we’ll forget,” Mr. Caro said. “Or, is he the first of the mad Roman emperors?”
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 5:38 AM on April 18 [12 favorites]


"...so nobody on mueller's crack team of legal and tactical geniuses had the forethought to, i dunno, make a PDF of the report and leak it in case barr and company decided to whitewash things?"

Assuming that this works like any old plot-predicting exercise, Of Course a Mastermind like Mueller would wait until the doctored report is out before striking with a counter move. Or: expect that PDF tomorrow (and Bran on the Iron throne).
posted by Namlit at 5:46 AM on April 18 [4 favorites]


I've been watching a lot of content the past few days from David Hoffman's YouTube channel and it has helped me to realize that for all the ways our lives have changed since the 70s (and before), they really haven't changed at all in my lifetime at least in terms of the overarching problems the entire spectrum of society must face.
posted by wierdo at 5:47 AM on April 18 [14 favorites]


WaPo:
It will reveal that Mueller decided he could not come to a conclusion on the question of obstruction because it was difficult to determine Trump’s intent and some of his actions could be interpreted innocently, the people said.
nycsouthpaw: If this is accurate, it makes the decision not to seek an interview with Trump seem like a choice by the investigators to just not do their job. fwiw *I* don’t think it’s terribly difficult to determine Trump’s intent. But if I did, I’d def want to sit down with him. He can be very forthcoming in interviews.
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:25 AM on April 18 [20 favorites]


Former ASG Neal Katyal posted a thread for Barr's release of the redacted Mueller report:
5 RULES FOR WHEN NEWS ABOUT MUELLER REPORT COMES OUT.

1. Believe only the text of the Report, not others’ characterizations of it. This WH in particular spins “up” as “down” (like the Nunes documents).
2. Ask what the scope of the Report is. Is it just conspiracy with Russia? Does it include, for example, the campaign finance allegations, where federal SDNY prosecutors have said the President ordered the commission of felonies?
It’s almost never happened in American history that federal Prosecutors have said a sitting President orchestrated the commission of felonies.
3. Examine whether the Report is limited to criminal acts. Some of the most egregious allegations against Trump, like lying to the American people about his business dealings with Russia before the 2016 election and saying he had no biz in Russia, are not necessarily criminal.
Others, like being beholden to the Kremlin out of self interest, may be. Has Mueller only resolved the latter? If not, expect Congress to be taking all of that up.
4. Ask whether Mueller has actually resolved anything. Has he said there are other avenues to investigate for matters within the scope of his Report, such as a sit-down interview with Trump? Again, Congress may investigate further — but also don’t forget about state prosecutors.
5. Ask yourself, if the American people knew in 2016 what Mueller’s Report says,even if the Report says Mueller won’t indict the President, Trump would have won the election. Does this President have the judgment&transparency appropriate to serve as the nation’s highest official?
Don’t focus on the one-line spin. Focus on the facts, judgments, and limitations in the Mueller Report.

And ask yourself, if Trump had just been honest and forthcoming about all of this, we could have spared this long ordeal. END
See you all in MeFi Chat for the hot takes.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:27 AM on April 18 [26 favorites]


How long before Barr appoints a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton, Steele, the FBI and Mueller’s team to distract from the “exoneration.” Might be a decent chance he announces this morning.

On that note: “Spying Is a Judgment”: After Mueller, Will Trump Get His Grand Inquisition? (Abigail Tracy, Vanity Fair). "Comey and McCabe appear to be in the crosshairs of the attorney general’s ominous new investigation. How far could it go?"
Veterans of the Justice Department are now expressing concerns that Barr—once viewed as the “institutionalist” the department needed—may be preparing to exact revenge against the president’s perceived enemies with politically motivated investigations. “What I find so disturbing is this statement by the attorney general, who, in the same breath, admits that he hasn’t carried out the investigation yet, but who characterizes it as criminal and inappropriate,” said Patrick Cotter, a former assistant U.S. attorney.

The issue isn’t that the D.O.J. shouldn’t conduct internal audits to ensure staff are complying with departmental policy, these sources say. Indeed, the Trump-Russia probe was “a very atypical, historical, large investigation,” said Cotter. But the attorney general’s word choice in discussing court-authorized surveillance raised a massive red flag. “Spying is a pejorative. Spying is a judgment. Spying is a condemnation,” Cotter continued. “It is an insult, and he shouldn’t have said it.”

The connotation of the word is such that sources I spoke with suggested Barr must have picked the word deliberately. “Anyone is human, and anyone can have a slip of the tongue,” said Elliot Williams, a former high-ranking D.O.J. official. But the distinction between lawfully authorized and illegal surveillance is “so fundamental to the job of attorney general, and so fundamental to anyone who has studied law enforcement or worked in law enforcement.” Spying, said Williams, “is such a radioactive term, and such a sensitive concept, that that was surprising, to say the least, to come from someone with his background.”

Cotter, too, considers the source. “This is not some guy on talk radio. This is the attorney general of the United States testifying before Congress. Everybody’s words matter, but his words matter a lot,” he told me.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:28 AM on April 18 [14 favorites]


See you all in MeFi Chat for the hot takes.

Will share amusing takes in the Political Humor thread.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:30 AM on April 18 [4 favorites]


It is my understanding that the purpose of the Special Counsel investigation was to find out about Russian interference in our election (and beyond, I guess).
It seems like all anyone is interested in is whether or not Trump is guilty of some of this. I guess this is part of the horse-race reporting, but I'm concerned that, if it's somehow possible Trump did not knowingly do anything illegal, then the whole thing will disappear, even though Russia seems to have not stopped doing these things.
posted by MtDewd at 6:32 AM on April 18 [8 favorites]


Good God, could Rosenstein look any more like a hostage?
posted by Harry Caul at 6:35 AM on April 18 [12 favorites]


The slow-rising central horror of "Watergate" is not that it might grind down to the reluctant impeachment of a vengeful thug of a president whose entire political career has been a monument to the same kind of cheap shots and treachery he finally got nailed for, but that we might somehow fail to learn something from it.
— Hunter S. Thompson (Rolling Stone, 1973)
posted by Barack Spinoza at 6:39 AM on April 18 [135 favorites]


House Democrats subpoena 9 major banks while probing Trump’s finances — including six US firms and three foreign lender[s] (Alex Henderson, AlterNet)
[According to the Wall Street Journal,] the banks range from Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and Citgroup to Deutsche Bank and Capitol One. Other banks subpoenaed include Royal Bank of Canada and Toronto-Dominion Bank.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:40 AM on April 18 [17 favorites]


OK -- that is weak sauce. Go Congress!
posted by mumimor at 6:45 AM on April 18


The Attorney General: "[Despite their understandable frustration] The White House fully co-operated with the Special Counsel's investigation."

Does that include the time that Trump demanded that Don McGahn fire the Special Counsel?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:47 AM on April 18 [26 favorites]


As the #Country waits for the #MuellerReport, know this...it does not matter how #Barr #RedactedMuellerReport. @MichaelCohen212 has 7 days, 70 hours, + 100 pages of what #TeamMueller knows and can fill in the bulk of the redactions. Nice try Mr. @POTUS. #Truth We will tell it all - @LannyDavis, Michael Cohen's attorney

Soon I will be ready to address the American people again...tell it all...and tell it myself!
@MichaelCohen212
posted by petebest at 6:48 AM on April 18 [5 favorites]


Despite outbreaks, GOP opposing Democrats' efforts to tighten vaccine laws (Igor Derysh, Salon).
When did vaccines become politicized? Amid a measles outbreak, suddenly Republicans support anti-vaxxers

Bills to restrict exemptions for immunizations passed through legislative committees in Washington, Colorado and Maine this month without a single Republican supporter, Politico reports. Washington is currently dealing with one of the biggest measles outbreaks in the country. Democratic lawmakers are seeking to limit immunization exemptions on religious and philosophical grounds.

Republicans in New York, New Jersey and Arizona are also opposing Democratic-sponsored bills that would make it harder for parents to get exemptions from vaccinating their kids. Republicans in Mississippi and West Virginia have instead introduced bills that would expand vaccine exemptions in those states, Politico reported.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:48 AM on April 18 [16 favorites]


btw all, today's my birthday, the first time it's coincided with a big day in this hellsaga. Crossing fingers that the report is actually my cake. (is that how we do this?)
posted by martin q blank at 6:51 AM on April 18 [48 favorites]


Happy birthday, MQB!
posted by slater at 6:54 AM on April 18 [8 favorites]


When did vaccines become politicized? Amid a measles outbreak, suddenly Republicans support anti-vaxxers

It's a new thread, so a good time for my occasional citation of cleek's law, one of the best summations of modern movement conservatism's depravity:
Today’s conservatism is the opposite of what liberals want today, updated daily.

And that's from 2010, when Republicans were mainly about obstructing Obama.
posted by Gelatin at 6:57 AM on April 18 [38 favorites]


That was disgraceful, and the press were pissed.

It closed with Barr refusing to answer the question: (paraphrase) “What do you say to those who think you are just spinning an unseen report in favor of the president?” and Rosenstein breaks into a grin as they walk offstage.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 6:59 AM on April 18 [34 favorites]


Live tweeted thread from @ddale8 / Daniel Dale for those just wanting the highlights from the Barr PR gig.
posted by Buntix at 7:00 AM on April 18 [6 favorites]


There are no highlights.
posted by odinsdream at 7:00 AM on April 18 [24 favorites]


Now the real question: how many more weeks will Democrats offer Barr to produce the full report before issuing a subpoena? 1? 12? 100?
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:01 AM on April 18 [9 favorites]


I'm watching on NBC, and they are pushing back big time. Saying there are several people who have been indicted already. That Barr's speech is unprecedented
posted by mumimor at 7:01 AM on April 18 [11 favorites]


@mkraju, quoting Barr: Report lays out 10 accounts of Trump actions over obstruction. Barr says that “the deputy attorney general and I” determined that there was NOT sufficient evidence to establish that Trump obstructed justice. Barr says Trump had “non-corrupt motives”. Barr disagreed w/Mueller: “Although the Deputy Attorney General and I disagreed with some of the Special Counsel’s legal theories and felt that some of the episodes examined did not amount to obstruction as a matter of law, we did not rely solely on that in making our decision”

Sounds like his argument boils down to "the President is allowed to declare something to be a witch hunt and obstruct if it bothers him." That disagreement with Mueller's legal conclusions is the space to watch.

@emptywheel: Good news, boys and girls. If you grow up to be President you can't obstruct justice so long as you're frustrated.

The press conference ended as he was being asked about the propriety of this effort to come out and spin the report by saying "no collusion" over and over again before any of us can read it.

@kylegriffin1: Nicolle Wallace on Barr's 'no collusion' remarks: "No legal presentation presents its conclusion 6 times. A political messenger ... underscores the central message, particularly if it's on shaky ground, multiple times." She calls it "an extraordinary thing to witness."

@pbump: I did a shot each time Rod Rosenstein moved any individual muscle and I've never been more sober.

And now we wait.
posted by zachlipton at 7:01 AM on April 18 [48 favorites]


Has Barr done enough to be indicted himself?
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:02 AM on April 18 [23 favorites]


wow how the narcissism has crept into Barr w/ regard to the President being so sad and angry about the investigations and when he got questioned by reporters on why Trump's emotions were so important he was like it is a Fact this investigation has Angered God.

I mean I get they have to address his emotional state when he was busy obstructing but the reporter was right that it was weird to foreground how sad Trump was and how mean the press was to him.
posted by angrycat at 7:04 AM on April 18 [12 favorites]


It's hard to understand why Barr took this job. Maybe he was just in a bad place, and really needed a pardon.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:05 AM on April 18 [10 favorites]


It seemed to me that Barr was very careful in his statement about what "illegal" meant in the context of WikiLeaks, before saying that no one from the campaign "illegally" coordinated with WikiLeaks. Given what we already know about Roger Stone and WikiLeaks, that section of the report should make for interesting reading.
posted by ContinuousWave at 7:05 AM on April 18 [6 favorites]


From Nadler just now:

It is clear Congress and the American people must hear from Special Counsel Robert Mueller in person to better understand his findings. We are now requesting Mueller to appear before @HouseJudiciary as soon as possible.
posted by bcd at 7:07 AM on April 18 [75 favorites]


In light of Bill Barr's recent remarks I just want to remind people that the following six members of the Trump campaign have been convicted or indicted in court of crimes relating to Russia.

Senior Campaign Foreign Policy Advisor George Papadopoulos
Former US National Security Advisor for the Trump administration Michael Flynn
Deputy Campaign Manager Rick Gates
Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort
Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen.
Campaign Advisor Roger Stone

All of them knew that Russia was helping Trump and all of them lied about it.

Manafort was sharing proprietary campaign polling data with a man connected to Russian intelligence.

In addition an American named Richard Pinedo has been convicted of selling the Russian trolls Americans' bank account information. (Pinedo said that he's been threatened since pleading guilty: "I've been told that if I ever leave the country, the Russians will poison me.”)

So when Barr says that there was no finding of any "collusion" by any Americans, he is lying.
posted by OnceUponATime at 7:10 AM on April 18 [111 favorites]


@charlie_savage [transcript attached]: Embedded in Barr remarks is an important qualifier: Trump campaign collusion with WikiLeaks could not be an illegal conspiracy because WL publication of the emails was not a crime since WL didn't help hack them.

I think this is a key bit on the "what's criminal vs what's acceptable for a President" front. But beyond that, it means the entire defense seems to rest on WikiLeaks. Barr's statement says the report "did not find that any person associated with the Trump campaign illegally participated in the dissemination of the materials." So they legally participated (see also: Robert Stone)? And the only thing making that not criminal is that the publisher didn't participate in the criminal hacking? So the only thing making that not criminal rests on Julian Assange, the guy just indicted for participating in criminal hacking in another situation?
posted by zachlipton at 7:11 AM on April 18 [12 favorites]


The Media Today: Reporters prepare to speedread the Mueller report (Jon Allsop, Columbia Journalism Review)
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:12 AM on April 18 [1 favorite]


Given what we already know about Roger Stone and WikiLeaks, that section of the report should make for interesting reading.

Get out your ruler. As Stone’s case is still ongoing, that part of the report is likely to be among the redacted portions.
posted by notyou at 7:12 AM on April 18 [4 favorites]


I'm beginning to wrap my head around what the Attorney General just did. He argued that you can tell the President didn't have a malign intent to obstruct the Mueller investigation, simply based on his public treatment of the Mueller investigation. Barr's argument is: Just take a look at all the nice things the President has said about the Mueller investigation, and you'll surely agree there's no chance the President wanted to obstruct it.

That is what just happened on this damn timeline.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:12 AM on April 18 [39 favorites]


It's hard to understand why Barr took this job. Maybe he was just in a bad place, and really needed a pardon.
I'm sure it's not so hard to understand if you're maybe . . a Mercer, a Koch, Alfa Bank, or any of assorted Russian oligarchs.
posted by Harry Caul at 7:13 AM on April 18 [8 favorites]


Marcy Wheeler's live-tweeting of Barr's press conference is a dose of (snarky) sanity:
—Once again, Barr is quoting sentence fragments, not entire sentences.
—Now Barr using a word that Mueller did not: Cooperation.
—Reminder: 3 Trump campaign officials unknowingly worked with IRA trolls.
—Reminder: Mueller did find evidence Stone successfully optimized release of stolen emails.
—The way Barr just avoided implicating Stone there was really really really corrupt.
—Funny: Barr doesn't mention the ongoing investigations into Manafort, per prosecutors.
—So the report was redacted by March 29.
The President has been delaying since then, then, not just Barr.
—Barr's not answering the real question: The Q is whether Mueller didn't come to conclusion because it's not constitutionally proper.
—Rosenstein makes a weird side-eye look when Barr claims that Mueller was okay with Barr making the decision.
When did vaccines become politicized?

While the anti-vax movement is very much homegrown Western stupidity and virtually every public debate becomes politicized these days, Putin's troll propaganda machine has been amplifying it for a while now.
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:15 AM on April 18 [34 favorites]


Columbia Journalism Review has a Mueller report live blog, in which they currently note Vice News is going read the whole thing out loud in a livestream, and that NPR is directing their news room to not say "Mueller Time".
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:16 AM on April 18 [3 favorites]


When you’re too corrupt for even FOX.

Michael M. Grynbaum (NYT)
Chris Wallace on Fox: "The Attorney General seemed almost to be acting as the counselor for the defense, the counselor for the president, rather than the Attorney General, talking about his motives, his emotions... Really, as I say, making a case for the president."
posted by chris24 at 7:18 AM on April 18 [35 favorites]


Has Barr done enough to be indicted himself?

Seems like giving Trump's personal lawyer a copy of the report earlier in the week is kinda dodgy...

Mueller report: Barr accused of helping Donald Trump ahead of release [bbc]
Speaking at a press conference before the release, Mr Barr described redactions to the report as "limited".

He also confirmed Mr Trump's personal lawyers got a copy of the redacted report earlier this week and said members of congressional committees from both parties would be given almost completely unredacted copies to review.
posted by Buntix at 7:19 AM on April 18 [7 favorites]


Congress readies for Mueller Report to be delivered on CDs (Taylor Hatmaker, TechCrunch)
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:19 AM on April 18


Reporter: "Why is Robert Mueller not here, it's his report?"

Barr: "No its not, it's a report he did for me as the Attorney General"

It takes a special kind of person to show up at the 11th hour and claim ownership of a 2 year endeavor.
posted by jasondigitized at 7:19 AM on April 18 [110 favorites]


Any benefit of the doubt given to Rod Rosenstein should now have evaporated as he literally stood behind today's debacle. Why did Rosenstein appoint a Special Counsel? He did it to cover his ass. He's very good at it. That's why he is still employed.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:21 AM on April 18 [8 favorites]


I assume someone will look into whether this is important, but Barr said he shared the redacted report with Trump's personal lawyers under rules relating to an "Independent Counsel," but Mueller was appointed under the Special Counsel rules, not the Independent Counsel rules.
posted by stopgap at 7:21 AM on April 18 [22 favorites]


Here's a transcript of Barr's remarks. I want to look at this bit:
In assessing the President’s actions discussed in the report, it is important to bear in mind the context. President Trump faced an unprecedented situation. As he entered into office, and sought to perform his responsibilities as President, federal agents and prosecutors were scrutinizing his conduct before and after taking office, and the conduct of some of his associates. At the same time, there was relentless speculation in the news media about the President’s personal culpability. Yet, as he said from the beginning, there was in fact no collusion. And as the Special Counsel’s report acknowledges, there is substantial evidence to show that the President was frustrated and angered by a sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents, and fueled by illegal leaks. Nonetheless, the White House fully cooperated with the Special Counsel’s investigation, providing unfettered access to campaign and White House documents, directing senior aides to testify freely, and asserting no privilege claims. And at the same time, the President took no act that in fact deprived the Special Counsel of the documents and witnesses necessary to complete his investigation. Apart from whether the acts were obstructive, this evidence of non-corrupt motives weighs heavily against any allegation that the President had a corrupt intent to obstruct the investigation.
It's not true of course. The President was never interviewed for one thing, which would be important in determining what his motives actually were. But the idea that Trump's motives weren't corrupt because he was "frustrated and angered" is madness. Most people are frustrated and angered that they're under criminal investigation. It's not a process usually associated with happiness and joy. Most people don't channel that frustration into firing the people investigating them and whatever the 10 obstructive acts will be. It's yet another example of infantalizing the president and treating him as unable to be responsible for his actions because, gosh, he just can't control his emotions.

@samstein: I simply don’t understand how you can actually claim that Trump "took no act that in fact deprived the Special Counsel” of witnesses when Trump REFUSED TO SIT DOWN FOR AN INTERVIEW WITH THE SPECIAL COUNSEL!!
posted by zachlipton at 7:25 AM on April 18 [75 favorites]


“When the president d̶o̶e̶s̶ ̶i̶t̶ has his feelings hurt, that means it’s not illegal."
posted by chris24 at 7:25 AM on April 18 [24 favorites]


For the record, here are Barr's prepared remarks from this morning, which includes this tell: "[T]he Special Counsel’s report did not find that any person associated with the Trump campaign illegally participated in the dissemination of the materials."

Luppen B. Luppe/@nycsouthpaw points out: "Close reading would suggest that they participated, just not illegally "

Just Security's Ryan Goodman adds: "Exactly. Plus illegality -- on their theory, as stated by Barr -- turns on whether Trump campaign associates participated in underlying hacking conspiracy."

And the Guardian's Jon Swaine notes: "Section of Barr's remarks in which, despite sleight of hand, he left open the possibility that Mueller did find Trump associates were involved in the dissemination of hacked emails by WikiLeaks" (e.g. Roger Stone, whose section of the Mueller report is likely to be heavily redacted since he's facing trial in November this year).
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:26 AM on April 18 [9 favorites]


Australia Says It's "Ready To Confirm" A Key Meeting That Led To The Investigation Into Trump's Russia Links
Heavily-redacted documents released to BuzzFeed News show Australia's former high commissioner wrote a three-page cable to the United States about his London meeting with a Trump campaign adviser.
A senior Australian diplomat has said the government is "now ready to confirm" a series of events in 2016 between the country's high commissioner to the UK and a Trump campaign adviser, which led to US authorities investigating Donald Trump's links with Russia.
The release of the Australian diplomatic documents comes as a redacted copy of the final Mueller report is expected to be released on Thursday.
The London meeting between former high commissioner Alexander Downer and Trump adviser George Papadopoulos was first reported by the New York Times in December 2017, reportedly revealing how Downer had been told by Papadopoulos that Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Until now, the Australian government and Downer have refused to confirm or give any details about the meeting central to the beginning of the Trump-Russia investigation, repeatedly citing the need to preserve national security.
But in a letter sent to Australia's Information Commissioner after a 15 month-long FOI battle with BuzzFeed News, a senior foreign official said his department was ready to confirm the meeting and release redacted documents, because Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation was now finished.
"I have again reviewed these matters and, while standing by the validity of the original decisions at the time they were made, the Department has reassessed its position in relation to Mr Di Stefano's three requests in light of the recent conclusion of the U.S. Special Counsel's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential Election," the official wrote to Australia's Information Commissioner Gillian Cameron.
"Notably, in light of the conclusion of that investigation, the Department is now ready to confirm that a meeting occurred between Mr Downer and Mr Papdopolous (sic), on 10 May 2016, whilst Mr Downer was High Commissioner to the United Kingdom."
Included in the documents released to BuzzFeed News is a calendar invite, and a diplomatic cable Downer wrote about the meeting. The senior foreign official said Downer's cable had been heavily-redacted because the full contents could "reasonably be expected" to damage Australia's relationship with the United States.
posted by scalefree at 7:26 AM on April 18 [18 favorites]


Barr basically said, "You have to understand this was really hard for Trump, and it was so mean and just, golly, can you imagine? Therefore, he did not obstruct justice. QED."

It's fucking absurd and he knows it. He's playing to an audience of one, and he's doing so unabashedly.
posted by odinsdream at 7:27 AM on April 18 [26 favorites]


Apart from whether the acts were obstructive, this evidence of non-corrupt motives weighs heavily against any allegation that the President had a corrupt intent to obstruct the investigation.

I think it is extremely telling that the difference between corrupt and non-corrupt obstruction is being drawn here. Is the suggestion that it would be acceptable for a subject of an active investigation to obstruct that investigation based their own subjective view of the validity of that investigation? I think it is fair to say that would be breathtakingly novel.
posted by jaduncan at 7:29 AM on April 18 [25 favorites]


Australia Says It's "Ready To Confirm" A Key Meeting That Led To The Investigation Into Trump's Russia Links
Heavily-redacted documents released to BuzzFeed News show Australia's former high commissioner wrote a three-page cable to the United States about his London meeting with a Trump campaign adviser.

It seems to me that the International Society (whatever that is) is not going to let Barr/Trump get away with this.
posted by mumimor at 7:29 AM on April 18 [5 favorites]


This is a gaslight. He told Lester Holt on TV. Rosentein has a document in a safe.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 7:29 AM on April 18 [15 favorites]


Barr said he shared the redacted report with Trump's personal lawyers under rules relating to an "Independent Counsel,

When did that occur? I thought the supposed delay for releasing the report was the time needed to properly redact it? If that was finished so it could be give to the White House, why don't we have it?
posted by bluecore at 7:32 AM on April 18 [2 favorites]


An exasperated Jeffrey Toobin on CNN: “So the President was frustrated? That’s not evidence towards innocence. That’s evidence towards guilt! Happy people don’t obstruct justice!”
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:34 AM on April 18 [74 favorites]


Nearly everything Barr has said or communicated regarding Trump has been gaslighting.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:34 AM on April 18 [29 favorites]


@jonathanvswan: Trump’s personal lawyer Jay Sekulow just told me he first saw the Mueller report on Tuesday afternoon. Trump’s legal team, including the Raskins, made two visits to the Justice Department to view the report securely — late Tuesday and early Wednesday, Sekulow said.

Presumably the 2 extra days were to add in extra redactions suggested by Trump's lawyers or something...
posted by Buntix at 7:34 AM on April 18 [5 favorites]


Who is the guy to the left of Barr? His face suddenly got really red.

Anyway, my instinct is that this didn't work. If even Fox didn't all jump for it, it didn't work. Barr's first appearance was probably a huge mistake, because journalists who were duped then now feel they really need to be aware.
posted by mumimor at 7:37 AM on April 18 [7 favorites]


But I think there’s an audience of one that loved it.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:38 AM on April 18 [12 favorites]


Here's Ruben Bolling's two cents via Tom the Dancing Bug.

Today we are all Mrs. Barr.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:40 AM on April 18 [16 favorites]


The Attorney General tells us that, based purely on the public record, Trump clearly had no malign intent. This is different to my experience of these past two years. Compared to Mr Barr, I witnessed a far malignier Trump.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:41 AM on April 18 [18 favorites]


The Attorney General tells us that, based purely on the public record, Trump clearly had no malign intent. This is different to my experience of the past two years. Compared to Mr Barr, I witnessed a far malignier Trump.

Yes, it's a good job he never expressed any opinion that might look prejudicial towards the GREATEST WITCH HUNT IN HISTORY (etc).
posted by jaduncan at 7:42 AM on April 18 [10 favorites]


What is that audience of one going to do, like, today in his appearance, when he learns that Barr pleased no one else?
posted by angrycat at 7:43 AM on April 18 [11 favorites]


Any benefit of the doubt given to Rod Rosenstein should now have evaporated as he literally stood behind today's debacle.

This shouldn't be surprising. Rosenstein is the guy who loyally penned the grounds for dismissing Comey at Trump's request that kicked off the whole obstruction investigation.
posted by JackFlash at 7:44 AM on April 18 [6 favorites]


In assessing the President’s actions discussed in the report, it is important to bear in mind the context. President Trump faced an unprecedented situation.

It's true that gaining the office of president as a result of election interference by one of the United States' geopolitical enemies is, at least so far as we know, unprecedented. It's only too bad that these several years later, Trump acting like a compromised foreign agent, and Republicans acting to cover up Trump's crimes, is far from an unprecedented situation.
posted by Gelatin at 7:45 AM on April 18 [17 favorites]


Who is the guy to the left of Barr? His face suddenly got really red.

U.S. Acting Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General Ed O’Callaghan, Rosenstein's top deputy, as megathread regulars will remember. Prior to joining the DOH, his main claim to fame was trying to shut down the "Troopergate" ethics probe of then-governor Sarah Palin (Newsweek).
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:50 AM on April 18 [7 favorites]


U.S. Acting Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General Ed O’Callaghan, Rosenstein's top deputy, as megathread regulars will remember. Prior to joining the DOH, his main claim to fame was trying to shut down the "Troopergate" ethics probe of then-governor Sarah Palin (Newsweek).
So just an allround bad guy, defending indefensibles and protecting big finance. Still, he was embarrassed by the blatant lying of the Attorney General of the United States of America
posted by mumimor at 7:56 AM on April 18 [4 favorites]


On MSNBC, Ari Melber notes that while the Attorney General was happy to talk about the Russian citizens and entities charged by Mueller, there are some names that he declined to mention in his pre-presentation of Mueller's report: Roger Stone. Michael Cohen. Paul Manafort. Rick Gates. George Papadopoulos. Michael Flynn. "It's more than strange. It is, and I use this term carefully, suspicious."
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:58 AM on April 18 [35 favorites]


The Report has been posted.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 8:03 AM on April 18 [46 favorites]


Still, he was embarrassed by the blatant lying of the Attorney General of the United States of America

Or he had an attack of gas.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:05 AM on April 18 [5 favorites]




I hope that someone will ask Trump today if he's already read the report, just to find out what lies he uses in his response.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:08 AM on April 18 [6 favorites]


"Well, special counsel Mueller did not indicate that his purpose was to leave the decision to Congress,” Barr said.

“I didn’t talk to him [Mueller] directly about the fact that we were making the decision, but I am told that his reaction to that was that it was my prerogative as attorney general to make that decision.”


"I am told ..." Wait, Barr is relying on some rumor that Mueller approved of Barr's decision. "I am told ..." is a classic Trumpian rhetorical gimmick for completely made-up facts. That certainly would be an interesting question for Mueller before the congressional committee.
posted by JackFlash at 8:09 AM on April 18 [15 favorites]


The PDF does not appear to be searchable. Awesome.
posted by BungaDunga at 8:10 AM on April 18 [10 favorites]


*Jeopardy theme*
posted by Melismata at 8:10 AM on April 18 [5 favorites]




PDF is all images (as they often are). Making it searchable seems to be a standard feature of Adobe Acrobat, but I'm guessing it's labor intensive.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:12 AM on April 18 [1 favorite]


I skipped to the end, it has an appendix of cases referred out of Mueller's office. There are a dozen separate cases that are redacted, and two that are visible: Cohen and Greg Craig.
posted by BungaDunga at 8:12 AM on April 18 [13 favorites]


I jumped to the first section that is about the Trump campaign, and I wouldn't describe the redactions as "light."
posted by diogenes at 8:13 AM on April 18 [5 favorites]


""The investigation also identified numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump Campaign."
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:14 AM on April 18 [23 favorites]


Just for fun I did the invert the colors and zoom thing, and while there are some shapes visible it doesn't seem like they trivially messed up the redaction.
posted by Kikujiro's Summer at 8:17 AM on April 18 [2 favorites]


Trump's written responses to Mueller's questionnaire are 90% "I do not recall."
posted by BungaDunga at 8:19 AM on April 18 [5 favorites]


Strap in, people. This is going to be a hell of a day.
posted by StrawberryPie at 8:20 AM on April 18 [4 favorites]


You mean, his lawyers written responses.
posted by Gray Duck at 8:21 AM on April 18 [3 favorites]


PDF is all images (as they often are). Making it searchable seems to be a standard feature of Adobe Acrobat, but I'm guessing it's labor intensive.

It's trivial when making PDFs of a document composed on a word processor. My assumption is that they wanted to be absolutely sure there would be no errors allowing access to the redacted text, and frustrating reporters who want to search for key phrases or copy-and-paste key passages was a bonus.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:22 AM on April 18 [10 favorites]


There's literally hundreds of pages in the report about contacts between the Russian government and the Trump Campaign.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:22 AM on April 18 [24 favorites]


According to notes written by Hunt, when Sessions told the President that a Special Counsel has been appointed, the President slumped back in his chair and said, "Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I'm fucked."
Teddy Schleifer from Recode quoting the Mueller Report (no page number given.)
posted by bluecore at 8:22 AM on April 18 [47 favorites]


"We viewed the written answers to be inadequate." - page C-2.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 8:22 AM on April 18 [18 favorites]




The BBC reports that Mike Pompeo's bluster has affronted Kim Jong-un: North Korea Demands Removal of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo From Talks. This follows yesterday's news of Kim's inspection and direction of a "new tactical guided weapons firing test" (CNN). (I wonder if Kim's annoyed this will all be buried by the redacted Mueller report release in the news cycle.)
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:26 AM on April 18 [3 favorites]


(Can we please get page numbers for quotations?)
posted by gucci mane at 8:26 AM on April 18 [9 favorites]


Redacted names in the Glossary of Referenced Persons:

Graff, Rhona Senior vice-president and executive assistant ….
REDACTED - HARM TO ONGOING MATTER
Hawker, Jonathan Public relations…

Katsyv, Peter Russian businessman…
REDACTED - HARM TO ONGOING MATTER
Kaveladze, Irakli Vice President…

Mnuchin, Steven Secretary of the Treasury…
REDACTED - HARM TO ONGOING MATTER
Muller-Maguh, Andrew Member of hacker association…

Given that the glossary is helpfully alphabetized, would it be safe to say that the third redacted name might be Muller, Robert? Who might the other people be?

edit - Appendix B, pg 401
posted by Gray Duck at 8:27 AM on April 18 [11 favorites]


Weren't we promised color coding of the redactions? Obviously a minor quibble, but even about the tiniest things Barr seems to lie as constantly as his new client.
posted by bcd at 8:29 AM on April 18 [2 favorites]


"Donald Trump Jr. had direct electronic communications with WikiLeaks during the campaign period." (p. 59)
posted by ascii at 8:29 AM on April 18 [33 favorites]


The obstruction of justice conclusion (Volume II, page 182):
Because we determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment, we did not draw ultimate conclusions about the President's conduct. The evidence we obtained about the President's actions and intent presents difficult issues that would need to be resolved if we were making a traditional prosecutorial judgment. At the same time, 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, we are unable to reach that judgment. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.
posted by parallellines at 8:31 AM on April 18 [36 favorites]


There's an entire third person who Trump interacted with that might be obstructiony who is entirely redacted due to "harm to an ongoing matter": "Flynn, Manafort, and REDACTED".
posted by BungaDunga at 8:32 AM on April 18 [8 favorites]


According to notes written by Hunt, when Sessions told the President that a Special Counsel has been appointed, the President slumped back in his chair and said, "Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I'm fucked."

Since the searchable PDF has been posted - this quote is on PDF page number 290 (page 78 of Volume II.)
posted by bluecore at 8:32 AM on April 18 [17 favorites]


According to the metadata the PDF was created on a RICHO MP C6502, so if any rogue WH staffer is wondering which copier/printer's memory banks to poke around in that's a start.
posted by mikepop at 8:32 AM on April 18 [21 favorites]


I'm not lawyer but my reading of that is: dude obstructed justice but he's the president so its not our job.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:33 AM on April 18 [9 favorites]


Because we determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment

Well, that was quite the call.
posted by jaduncan at 8:33 AM on April 18 [17 favorites]


Has Barr done enough to be indicted himself?.

I think I'm beginning to like the scenario wherein Trump does survive long enough to run again in 2020, but that pretty much everyone around him is either indited, on the run or already incarcerated. He'll end up giving a speech naked wrapped in a flag.
posted by philip-random at 8:33 AM on April 18 [5 favorites]


Page 110: "Trump Jr. invited campaign chairman Paul Manafort and senior advisor Jared Kushner to attend the meeting, and both attended. Members ofthe Campaign discussed the meeting before it occurred, and Michael Cohen recalled that Trump Jr. may have told candidate Trump about an upcoming meeting to receive adverse information about Clinton, without linking the meeting to Russia. According to written answers submitted by President Trump, he has no recollection of learning of the meeting at the time, and the Office found no documentary evidence showing that he was made aware of the meeting--or its Russian connection-before it occurred."
posted by Harry Caul at 8:35 AM on April 18 [6 favorites]


according to @emptywheel:" Again, this is an impeachment referral."

https://twitter.com/emptywheel
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:35 AM on April 18 [18 favorites]


Brian Beutler
"Although the investigation established the 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…"

That’s the prefix to Barr’s NO COLLUSION partial sentence.
posted by chris24 at 8:36 AM on April 18 [59 favorites]


bcd: Weren't we promised color coding of the redactions? Obviously a minor quibble, but even about the tiniest things Barr seems to lie as constantly as his new client.

The redactions are "color coded" insofar as they begin with labels of different colors. For instance, something redacted as "Investigative Technique" is solid black with the yellow words "Investigative Technique" printed over the start of the redaction, while "Personal Information" is a green label.

It looks like the most common by far is "Harm to Ongoing Matter", whose label uses white text and is sometimes abbreviated "HOM".
posted by InTheYear2017 at 8:36 AM on April 18 [2 favorites]


There's an entire third person who Trump interacted with that might be obstructiony who is entirely redacted due to "harm to an ongoing matter": "Flynn, Manafort, and REDACTED".

This begins on page 120. It details Trump's interactions with three possible witnesses: Flynn, Manafort, and... REDACTED. Certainly not Cohen, who is mentioned also. Roger Stone's name is largely redacted throughout, so it could be him.
posted by BungaDunga at 8:37 AM on April 18 [4 favorites]


It looks like the most common by far is "Harm to Ongoing Matter", whose label uses white text and is sometimes abbreviated "HOM".

THAT is a major statement in itself. It means this isn't the end of investigations, but just the end of one phase of many.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:38 AM on April 18 [20 favorites]


According to notes written by Hunt, when Sessions told the President that a Special Counsel has been appointed, the President slumped back in his chair and said, "Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I'm fucked."

IANAL, but wouldn't this incident seem to be evidence of consciousness of guilt?
posted by Gelatin at 8:40 AM on April 18 [28 favorites]


In the table of contents, 4.b.ii one of the "Application to Certain Individuals" entries is redacted with the "Personal Privacy" label as opposed to another who is "HOM". Who could get a pass on privacy grounds here? Like is this "random low-level staffer who we determined should not be dragged into this" or "Trump family member we want to protect" territory?
posted by mikepop at 8:41 AM on April 18 [2 favorites]


IANAL, but wouldn't this incident seem to be evidence of consciousness of guilt?

No. It would be evidence of consciousness that you're fucked if the police decide to target you.
posted by The World Famous at 8:44 AM on April 18 [4 favorites]


IANAL, but wouldn't this incident seem to be evidence of consciousness of guilt?
The President returned to the consequences of the appointment and said, "Everyone tells me if you get one of these independent counsels it ruins your presidency. It takes years and years and I won't be able to do anything. This is the worst thing that ever happened to me."
So, not really. Having an independent counsel does, indeed, suck. Even if you're innocent.
posted by BungaDunga at 8:45 AM on April 18 [5 favorites]


Just to center ourselves, I would remind everyone that the entire meeting with Russians in Trump Tower was in violation of 52 USC 30121 and the subsequent conspiracy and lies violations of 18 USC 371, and our good friend 18 USC 1001 ( the Martha Stewart "Never Fib to a Fed law... )
posted by mikelieman at 8:45 AM on April 18 [31 favorites]


Reading the account of the Trump Tower meeting, all I can think is that if we had a functioning government, Kushner and DJT Jr. would be fucked six ways to Sunday. These guys knew exactly what they were doing.
posted by azpenguin at 8:46 AM on April 18 [29 favorites]


Vol II, Page 117:
The President then asked, "What-about these notes? Why do you take notes? Lawyers don' t take notes. I never had a lawyer who took notes." McGahn responded that he keeps notes because he is a "real lawyer" and explained that notes create a record and are not a bad thing. The President said, " I've had a lot of great lawyers, like Roy Cohn. He did not take notes."
Of course Trump follows the Stringer Bell school of, "you don't take notes of a criminal fucking conspiracy".
posted by bcd at 8:47 AM on April 18 [90 favorites]


How is the shit documented on Pages 62 and 63 not outright criminal behaviour??
posted by odinsdream at 8:48 AM on April 18 [3 favorites]


Just to center ourselves, I would remind everyone that the entire meeting with Russians in Trump Tower was in violation of 52 USC 30121 and the subsequent conspiracy and lies violations of 18 USC 371, and our good friend 18 USC 1001 ( the Martha Stewart "Never Fib to a Fed law... )

But since Mueller confirmed on the record that there will be no more indictments, probably safe to assume that those crimes will go un-prosecuted.
posted by The World Famous at 8:48 AM on April 18 [5 favorites]


Just to center ourselves, I would remind everyone that the entire meeting with Russians in Trump Tower was in violation of 52 USC 30121 and the subsequent conspiracy and lies violations of 18 USC 371, and our good friend 18 USC 1001 ( the Martha Stewart "Never Fib to a Fed law... )
posted by mikelieman at 8:45 AM on April 18 [3 favorites −] Favorite added! [!]

It's so frustrating that none of this really needs a special council. It's out there, and if anything worked, Trump would be in jail already. I'm not an American but I can understand the frustration some of you have with the Democrats and with the legal system.
posted by mumimor at 8:49 AM on April 18 [19 favorites]


probably safe to assume that those crimes will go un-prosecuted.
... by Robert Mueller's Special Counsel. There are a lot of other investigations happening.
posted by eclectist at 8:50 AM on April 18 [16 favorites]


From the Mueller report:
Finally, we concluded that in the rare case in which a criminal investigation of the President's conduct is justified, inquiries to determine whether the President acted for a corrupt motive should not impermissibly chill his performance of his constitutionally assigned duties. 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.

CONCLUSION

Because we determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment, we did not draw ultimate conclusions about the President's conduct. The evidence we obtained about the President's actions and intent presents difficult issues that would need to be resolved if we were making a traditional prosecutorial judgment. At the same time, 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, we are unable to reach that judgment. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.
To paraphrase Mueller: I am prohibited from charging the President with a crime, but I am encouraging Congress to read my report and consider whether the President is guilty of a crime. Because, based on my judgement of the evidence, I am certainly not exonerating him.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:51 AM on April 18 [142 favorites]


My interpretation of the obstruction of justice section of the report is that Mueller believes that the Special Council does not have the constitutional authority to make a prosecutorial judgment against the President. That is the job of Congress, and none of the President's official powers allow for obstruction, or prevent Congress from fully investigating corrupt acts. There is clearly enough evidence here for further investigation by Congress, and it is their responsibility to place a limit on obstructive acts by the President.
posted by parallellines at 8:54 AM on April 18 [15 favorites]


How is the shit documented on Pages 62 and 63 not outright criminal behaviour??

Smith is dead, which probably makes everything much more complicated if Mueller had wanted to prosecute anyone for that particular conspiracy. Also, Flynn is cooperating.
posted by BungaDunga at 8:55 AM on April 18 [2 favorites]


Friendly reminder that when you get to the Trump Moscow parts, it's important to note that Aras Agalarov, the local developer the Trump organization chose to work on this project, is a completely bizarre choice for a project of this scope and size. He has no relevant experience that would lead him to be selected.
posted by odinsdream at 8:55 AM on April 18 [5 favorites]


Jeffrey Toobin on CNN: "If this isn't Obstruction of Justice, I'd like to know what Obstruction of Justice is."
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:55 AM on April 18 [31 favorites]


The pee tape is in the footnotes and of questionable existence.
posted by zachlipton at 8:55 AM on April 18 [11 favorites]


On the subject of pages 62 and 63,
Michael Flynn-who would later serve as National Security Advisor in
the Trump Administration- recalled that Trump made this request repeatedly, and Flynn subsequently contacted multiple people in an effort to obtain the emails.265
Barbara Ledeen and Peter Smith were among the people contacted by Flynn
Maybe this was known before, but for me this is a new explicit connection of dots: that Peter Smith's search for the emails was directed by the campaign.
posted by Jpfed at 8:55 AM on April 18 [20 favorites]


For those of us not able to link to the report at the moment, can somebody summarize what's on pages 62 and 63?
posted by Rykey at 8:58 AM on April 18


Exactly, I mean, that right there is acknowledgement that Trump was attempting to direct a crime: he was constantly asking his staff to "find the missing emails" which was undertaken by several layers of the organization and would've involved hacking or working with hackers, and they even EXPLICITLY KNEW this fact. The only reason it seems like this *might* not matter is because they failed. It was all a bunch of idiots who don't know the first thing about the "dark web" and were just grifting.
posted by odinsdream at 8:59 AM on April 18 [11 favorites]


It looks like Mueller laid out a roadmap for impeachment, at the very least for obstruction. He even explicitly stated that congress has the authority to come to a final conclusion on the issue.

I'm sure Democrats will wait until Mueller testifies--Nadler requested that it happens before May 23--before making a decision on impeachment. But it looks like there are plenty of reasons to open proceedings.
posted by davedave at 9:00 AM on April 18 [9 favorites]


Rykey: the section is titled "Campaign Efforts to Obtain Deleted Clinton Emails" and relates how Trump was directing his staff to accomplish this goal, which they were attempting to do by fundraising and using Barbara Leeden and Peter Smith as kind of "contractors" to perform this work.
posted by odinsdream at 9:01 AM on April 18 [5 favorites]


For those of us not able to link to the report at the moment, can somebody summarize what's on pages 62 and 63?

Trump ordered Flynn to get Clinton's emails, and Flynn approached Barbara Ledeen and Peter Smith for this purpose.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:01 AM on April 18 [6 favorites]


odinsdream How is the shit documented on Pages 62 and 63 not outright criminal behaviour??

Now might be a good time to talk about evidentiary standards.

In criminal matters in the US, we have Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, Probable Cause and Reasonable Suspicion.

Before we put someone in prison, we'd better be damned certain that they did the crime, and there's no other possible explanation to explain the evidence.

But this is not a criminal trial, this is an employment decision.

If I suspect my kids' babysitter is stoned on the couch instead of watching my kids, I don't need to prove it Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.

Reasonable Suspicion is sufficient.
posted by ascii at 9:02 AM on April 18 [32 favorites]


I'm twelve years old, so I searched the report for more obscenities. The single F-bomb has already been noted, but I liked this bit on page 300:
[McGahn] called his lawyer, drove to the White House, packed up his office, prepared to submit a resignation letter with his chief of staff, told Priebus that the President had asked him to "do crazy shit," and informed Priebus and Bannon that he was leaving. Those acts would be a highly unusual reaction to a request to convey information to the Department of Justice.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:02 AM on April 18 [54 favorites]


Graff, Rhona Senior vice-president and executive assistant ….
REDACTED - HARM TO ONGOING MATTER
Hawker, Jonathan Public relations…


I hope to god this is Graham, Lindsey
posted by fluttering hellfire at 9:04 AM on April 18 [84 favorites]


Sekulow just confirmed on MSNBC live that they had the report on Tuesday.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:05 AM on April 18 [2 favorites]


[McGahn] called his lawyer, drove to the White House, packed up his office, prepared to submit a resignation letter with his chief of staff, told Priebus that the President had asked him to "do crazy shit," and informed Priebus and Bannon that he was leaving. Those acts would be a highly unusual reaction to a request to convey information to the Department of Justice.
Woah. Thats much juicier than I had expected. This will be an interesting holiday.
posted by mumimor at 9:08 AM on April 18 [11 favorites]


Has Barr done enough to be indicted himself?

Yes. He won't be, though.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 9:10 AM on April 18 [16 favorites]


I hope to god that Graham, Lindsey read that, did the math on alphabetization, and shat out an intact whole pineapple.

The rest of this is Gangster 101. People knew that Al Capone ordered horrific and violent crimes, but they couldn't prove it to evidentiary standards. But they _could_ link him to tax evasion.

Which is, coincidentally, something whose related filings Trump is fighting desperately to keep hidden.
posted by delfin at 9:11 AM on April 18 [56 favorites]


Former FBI agent Asha Rangappa: "Note: Barr conflated the term "collusion" with "conspiracy." The former describes a kind of behavior (secret coordinated activity for a common goal) and the latter is a narrowly defined crime. Actions that do not meet the criminal definition of "conspiracy" can still be collusion"

From the Mueller report:
In evaluating whether evidence about collective action of multiple individuals constituted a crime, we applied the framework of conspiracy law, not the concept of "collusion." In so doing, the Office recognized that the word "collud[e]" was used in communications with the Acting Attorney General confirming certain aspects of the investigation's scope and that the term has frequently been invoked in public reporting about the investigation. But collusion is not a specific offense or theory of liability found in the United States Code, nor is it a term of art in federal criminal law. For those reasons, the Office's focus in analyzing questions of joint criminal liability was on conspiracy as defined in federal law. In connection with that analysis, we addressed the factual question whether members of the Trump Campaign "coordinat[ed]"— a term that appears in the appointment order-with Russian election interference activities. Like collusion, "coordination" does not have a settled definition in federal criminal law. We understood coordination to require an agreement—tacit or express—between the Trump Campaign and the Russian government on election interference. That requires more than the two parties taking actions that were informed by or responsive to the other's actions or interests. We applied the term coordination in that sense when stating in the report that the investigation did not establish that the Trump Campaign coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.
(Mueller Report, Introduction to Volume 1, page 2)
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:11 AM on April 18 [14 favorites]


Jeffrey Toobin on CNN notes, and the report agrees, that the crime of Obstruction of Justice does not require that said obstruction be successful... because if it required that, by definition, it could never be prosecuted!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:12 AM on April 18 [18 favorites]


oh. my god. Footnote 338, asides and contextual details mine:
In July 2018, the Office [of special counsel] received an unsolicited email purporting to be from Erchova [wife of Dmitry Klokov, who was attempting to arrange the SECOND iteration of the Trump Moscow project], in which she wrote that "[a]t the end of 2015 and beginning of 2016 I was asked by my ex-husband to contact Ivanka Trump ... and offer cooperation to Trump's team on behalf of the Russian officials." The email claimed that the officials wanted to offer candidate Trump "land in Crimea among other things and unofficial meetings with Putin." In order to vet the email's claims, the Office responded requesting more details. The office did not receive any reply.
Totally great follow-up on this, Office of Special Counsel. Very professional and thorough.
posted by odinsdream at 9:13 AM on April 18 [36 favorites]


As I'm reading through this, I'm feeling this sense of relief at having this all officially on the record, and in a form that Trump can't afford to deny (because if he says it's unreliable he can't also say that it clears him.)

Peter Smith. Manafort. Kilimnik. Erik Prince. It's so, so dirty. And it's all out there. And you've got Trump toady William Barr standing up there saying it's all true.

Finally.
posted by OnceUponATime at 9:13 AM on April 18 [18 favorites]


In Vol. 2, Pages 25 and 26:
Immediately after discussing the sanctions with McFarland on December 29, 2016, Flynn
called Kislyak and requested that Russia respond to the sanctions only in a reciprocal manner,
without escalating the situation.91 After the call, Flynn briefed McFarland on its substance.92
Flynn told McFarland that the Russian response to the sanctions was not going to be escalatory
because Russia wanted a good relationship with the Trump Administration.93 On December 30,
2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia would not take retaliatory measures

in response to the sanctions at that time and would instead "plan ... further steps to restore RussianUS relations based on the policies of the Trump Administration."94 Following that announcement,
the President-Elect tweeted, "Great move on delay (by V. Putin) - I always knew he was very
smart! " 95
On December 31, 2016, Kislyak called Flynn and told him that Flynn's request had been
received at the highest levels and Russia had chosen not to retaliate in response to the request.96

Later that day, Flynn told McFarland about this follow-up conversation with Kislyak and Russia's
decision not to escalate the sanctions situation based on Flynn' s request.97 McFarland recalled
that Flynn thought his phone call had made a difference.98 Flynn spoke with other incoming
Administration officials that day, but does not recall whether they discussed the sanctions.99
Flynn recalled discussing the sanctions issue with incoming Administration official
Stephen Bannon the next day. 10° Flynn said that Bannon appeared to know about Flynn's
conversations with Kislyak, and he and Bannon agreed that they had "stopped the train on Russia's
response" to the sanctions. 101 On January 3, 2017, Flynn saw the President-Elect in person and
thought they discussed the Russian reaction to the sanctions, but Flynn did not have a specific
recollection of telling the President-Elect about the substance of his calls with Kislyak. 102
Emphasis mine because HOW IS THIS NOT "MEMBERS OF THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN" INTERACTING WITH "MEMBERS OF THE RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT"?!
posted by gucci mane at 9:14 AM on April 18 [34 favorites]


On an encouraging sidenote, today a new DM group appeared at my workplace: 'Impeach Trump'. It's quite active. I used to feel suspiciously alone in my political views there the last two years. Not anymore.
posted by Harry Caul at 9:14 AM on April 18 [13 favorites]


in a form that Trump can't afford to deny

We have dozens of instances of Trump contradicting himself within 2 minutes of any given claim. He will have no cognitive difficulty in simultaneously claiming the report is full of lies and that it completely exonerates him (even though it does no such thing).
posted by suelac at 9:16 AM on April 18 [13 favorites]


Ivanka Trump forwarded the email to Cohen. He told the Office that, after receiving this inquiry, he had conducted an internet search for Klokov's name and concluded (incorrectly) that Klokov was a former Olympic weightlifter.
The best people.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:16 AM on April 18 [38 favorites]


It's like, a police officer sees a guy walking down the street carrying a safe, and he's like "Whoa, what's going on", and the guy's like "Oh, this is just my walking around safe", and the cop is like "Yeah, okay, whatever" and that's it
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 9:17 AM on April 18 [38 favorites]


From the Mueller report:
...the President had a motive to put the FBI's Russia investigation behind him. The evidence does not establish that the termination of Comey was designed to cover up a conspiracy between the Trump Campaign and Russia: As described in Volume I, the evidence uncovered in the investigation did not establish that the President or those close to him were involved in the charged Russian computer-hacking or active-measure conspiracies, or that the President otherwise had an unlawful relationship with any Russian official. But the evidence does indicate that a thorough FBI investigation would uncover facts about the campaign and the President personally that the President could have understood to be crimes or that would give rise to personal and political concerns.
The crime is Obstruction of Justice. There's your motive.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:18 AM on April 18 [71 favorites]


We have dozens of instances of Trump contradicting himself within 2 minutes of any given claim. He will have no cognitive difficulty in simultaneously claiming the report is full of lies and that it completely exonerates him (even though it does no such thing).

Okay, I mean he can say it. But it doesn't make any damn sense, and it's not going to fool anyone except those who want to be fooled.

The smarter defense is the one that Bannon effectively gave in "Fire And Fury" (for which he was clearly the major source) and the one that Barr is making now -- "Trump was too stupid to collude."

But at least that concedes that what happened, really happened.
posted by OnceUponATime at 9:19 AM on April 18 [1 favorite]


As I'm reading through this, I'm feeling this sense of relief at having this all officially on the record, and in a form that Trump can't afford to deny (because if he says it's unreliable he can't also say that it clears him.)

Since we know Team Trump had the report days ago, the leads reported in the previous megathread that Trump's advisers were leery of having Trump lean heavily on "the report exonerates me!" is exactly that -- they probably knew how damaging it would be and how hollow Trump reversing himself back to "totally dishonest witch hunt!" would sound to anyone who isn't a hardcore cultist already.
posted by Gelatin at 9:21 AM on April 18 [4 favorites]


Don't forget to write your representatives and ask that they fucking do something with this.
posted by odinsdream at 9:24 AM on April 18 [14 favorites]


But it doesn't make any damn sense, and it's not going to fool anyone except those who want to be fooled.

I agree with your point, but the problem is that "those who want to be fooled" are Trump's base—and they, and the power they wield over our political system, are, in fact, the root of this entire hellscape of a timeline.
posted by Rykey at 9:24 AM on April 18 [12 favorites]


On January 11, 2016, Cohen emailed the office of Dmitry Peskov, the Russian government's press secretary, indicating that he desired contact with Sergei Ivanov, Putin's chief of staff. Cohen erroneously used the email address "Pr_peskova@prpress.gof.ru" instead of "Pr_peskova@prpress.gov.ru," so the email apparently did not go through.

lol
posted by theodolite at 9:27 AM on April 18 [20 favorites]


Don't forget to write your representatives and ask that they fucking do something with this.

This report is so damning it basically forces their hand.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:27 AM on April 18 [3 favorites]


The only thing that will force the Democrats’ hands is the belief that 67 Senators will convict the President of high crimes and misdemeanors. Democrats are not the limiting factor here. Republican Senators will decide the outcome of this.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:30 AM on April 18 [38 favorites]


Don't forget to write your representatives and ask that they fucking do something with this.

I live in Vermont. I think I'm good, and that's a nice feeling.
posted by terrapin at 9:31 AM on April 18 [3 favorites]


Then make them defend it.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 9:32 AM on April 18 [13 favorites]


Really, contact them anyway.
posted by odinsdream at 9:33 AM on April 18 [25 favorites]


This report is so damning it basically forces their hand.

and, much as I've generally argued against hyperbole when it comes to working the case against Trump (ie: side with the angels, let the other side cover themselves with muck), now feels the time to make things EXPLICIT. In other words, say it in so many words:

"Dear Representative: This Report Is So Damning It Forces Your Fucking Hand"

(though you probably don't need the F-word).
posted by philip-random at 9:34 AM on April 18 [9 favorites]




What do you call Donald Trump after 66 Senators vote to convict him of high crimes and misdemeanors?

Mr President.

I know, it's not very funny.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:36 AM on April 18 [53 favorites]


Just as a casual—and possibly topic-adjacent—observation, I keep thinking that "I didn't conspire with Russia, it's only a coincidence that my personal interests align with Russia's" doesn't exactly put a positive spin on the situation.
posted by Flexagon at 9:37 AM on April 18 [7 favorites]


If Nancy Pelosi pulls that 'not worth it' claim again I will burst into flames.

Pelosi's still tacking to the prevailing political winds, supporting the (somewhat) more aggressive Nadler and Schiff. Here's her statement retweeting Nadler's earlier: "AG Barr has confirmed the staggering partisan effort by the Trump Admin to spin public’s view of the #MuellerReport – complete with acknowledgment that the Trump team received a sneak preview. It’s more urgent than ever that Special Counsel Mueller testify before Congress."

And here's her joint statement with Schumer from this morning: Pelosi, Schumer Call For Special Counsel Mueller to Provide Public Testimony In House and Senate (She also tweeted, "Attorney General Barr’s partisan behavior has triggered a crisis of independence & impartiality." FWIW)

The U.S. Capitol Switchboard is 202-224-3121, and FaxZero offers a free service to contact your representatives and senators
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:38 AM on April 18 [7 favorites]


What do you call Donald Trump after 66 Senators vote to convict him of high crimes and misdemeanors? Mr President.

We have an election in 18 months. I don't care about Republican senators anymore. I care about voters.
posted by OnceUponATime at 9:39 AM on April 18 [10 favorites]


New York Times headline: "A Cloud Over Trump’s Presidency Is Lifted"

That's a headline from March 24.
posted by parallellines at 9:39 AM on April 18 [28 favorites]


Here is an ActBlue link where you can donate now to the 2020 Democratic Nominee for President, whoever that may be. I set up a recurring donation.
posted by OnceUponATime at 9:40 AM on April 18 [9 favorites]


Gelatin: Put pressure on Republicans to convict, and get public opinion on the Democratic side. Though admittedly, the Democratic leadership has generally been lousy at that task since, oh, my entire political memory.

Something that just occurred to me... could the House pass a resolution expressing the sense that the Senate would never convict no matter how obviously guilty the president is? I feel like that sort of thing is the best middle ground between impeachment and non-impeachment. Basically, you decline to impeach, but you emphasize the reasoning in clear terms to the American people.

Because when it comes to 2020 I remain terrified of the Senate simply timing any verdict so that "Trump Found Not Guilty" becomes the headline on voters' minds the week before they cast ballots. Right now, most polls find a majority of Americans consider Trump corrupt, and I feel like that number is more vulnerable to falling than to rising. Also, following the acquittal, a nontrivial contingent on the left would become disillusioned: "Goddamn it Democrats, you had one job, the man is obviously guilty and you still couldn't get him out of office!"

That may sound absurd now, but I can imagine some action or event by Senate Democrats serving as the impeachment equivalent of "Shoulda campaigned in Wisconsin" and focusing blame on the wrong party, per Murc's Law.

A counterpoint: Today's events reinforce that Trump loves making the unforced error of proclaiming innocence when keeping his mouth shut would be better. From a strategic perspective, Barr probably should never have had this conference, and certainly not used the language he did. If, as a result of impeachment hearings, the entire Republican caucus in both houses is made to sing the No Collusion song and dance the Witch Hunt dance while Trump spills more damning rants, their case could look ever more ridiculous, and the percent of Americans considering the regime guilty could climb higher. Plus, contrary to some conventional assumptions, Trump tends not to fight strongly when he feels truly cornered or dominated; a besieged Trump is good for everytone.

But a thing about "Make Republicans defend him!" is that I believe that almost the entire set of Americans who are currently unsure whether the Republican Party is totally compromised/corrupt would also accept, with a shrug, whatever finding was reached. In other words, how many people gain information that is both true and new to them when they see impeachment proceedings and the subsequent not-guilty verdict?
posted by InTheYear2017 at 9:41 AM on April 18 [15 favorites]


Vol 2 Page 157: Mueller anticipates and rebuts Barr's decision that obstruction of justice did not occur because there was no underlying crime:
Personal criminal conduct can furnish strong evidence that the individual had an improper obstructive purpose, see, e.g. , United States v. Willoughby, 860 F.2d 15, 24 (2d Cir. 1988), or that he contemplated an effect on an official proceeding, see, e.g., United States v. Binday, 804 F.3d 558, 591 (2d Cir. 2015). But proof of such a crime is not an element of an obstruction offense. See United States v. Greer, 872 F.3d 790, 798 (6th Cir. 2017) (stating, in applying the obstruction sentencing guideline, that "obstruction of a criminal investigation is punishable even if the prosecution is ultimately unsuccessful or even if the investigation ultimately reveals no underlying crime").
posted by Jpfed at 9:41 AM on April 18 [38 favorites]


We have an election in 18 months. I don't care about Republican senators anymore. I care about voters.

I disagree. We have a moral obligation to try to separate Donald Trump and The Nuclear Football as soon as is feasible. It will become clear whether or not we are able to persuade those Republican Senators to convict. If so, impeach. If not, vote.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:42 AM on April 18 [34 favorites]


We have an election in 18 months. I don't care about Republican senators anymore. I care about voters.

I disagree as well, that election may not even legitimately occur, unless justice is meted out upon this wanna-be dictator asap. Democracy does not have a chance without the rule of law being exercised.
posted by Harry Caul at 9:45 AM on April 18 [12 favorites]


@maggienyt: Mueller report descriptions of Trump telling aides to do things to interfere with the probe and them not listening is a microcosm of what takes place weekly at WH - Trump orders aides to do things, they walk out of meetings and look at each other and don’t follow directives...... and that is still true in Mulvaney era.

So, uh, who is the President? And since when is “my staff didn’t follow my orders to commit crimes” a defense?
posted by zachlipton at 9:46 AM on April 18 [66 favorites]


totally exonerated

Yeah, the report literally says "does not exonerate him".

Yeah, the report has a plethora of evidence of wrongdoing.

But I don't need to read a word of the report.

Satellites in space can see hundreds of redactions to protect "ongoing matters".

If there's this much shit still being investigated, how can anyone say exonerate with a straight face?
posted by ascii at 9:46 AM on April 18 [24 favorites]


At a certain point it becomes the moral duty of Democrats in Congress to uphold their role as a check on the power of the executive, whether or not Republicans choose to do the same.
posted by parallellines at 9:50 AM on April 18 [13 favorites]


2020...I mean even this morning at the Wounded Warriors event Trump made a joke about staying in office longer.

ACT NOW
posted by fluttering hellfire at 9:52 AM on April 18 [9 favorites]


Don't worry, the headline on NPR.org is: "Mueller team couldn't rule out obstruction...or establish it."

WTF!
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:52 AM on April 18 [18 favorites]


After Clinton was impeached but not convicted, his popularity skyrocketed. Let us learn from history.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:53 AM on April 18 [1 favorite]


@parallellines: Agreed, and that point will come soon, but it's not quite here yet.
posted by M-x shell at 9:53 AM on April 18


Mueller team couldn't rule out obstruction...or establish it.

...they literally couldn’t establish it because their Departmental policy prohibited them from doing so...
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:54 AM on April 18 [14 favorites]


MisantropicPainforest: according to @emptywheel:" Again, this is an impeachment referral."

East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94: To paraphrase Mueller: I am prohibited from charging the President with a crime, but I am encouraging Congress to read my report and consider whether the President is guilty of a crime. Because, based on my judgement of the evidence, I am certainly not exonerating him.

As it was with Nixon ( Investigate Russia.org, Oct. 31, 2018, quoting from a Washington Post article)
Jaworski faced a problem similar to one that may confront Mueller: He had relevant evidence but not, Jaworski concluded, the constitutional authority to indict a sitting president. Congress had the authority to impeach Nixon, but not the evidence. In the end, the House committee sought access to evidence gathered by prosecutors, the grand jury adopted the road map, and Sirica and the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia authorized its transmittal under seal.
Fingers crossed we get to the Watergate moment, where the GOP realizes that Nixon can no longer be excused or shielded, before 2020.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:56 AM on April 18 [22 favorites]


The constitution needs to be amended so that sitting presidents can be indicted.
posted by gucci mane at 9:58 AM on April 18 [27 favorites]


Ari Melber on MSNBC brilliantly remembers the Barr four-page letter:
The Special Counsel's decision to describe the facts of his obstruction investigation without reaching any legal conclusions leaves it to the Attorney General to determine whether the conduct described in the report constitutes a crime.
That's a lie. Mueller said that the Department of Justice, under current policies, could not determine that the President committed a crime. He did not punt his job to the Attorney General. He punted it to Congress. Barr's finding of "no obstruction" is worthless, and is its very own kind of obstruction of justice.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:58 AM on April 18 [52 favorites]


After Clinton was impeached but not convicted, his popularity skyrocketed. Let us learn from history.

Aside from the vast difference in crimes and general public sentiment, here is a chart of Clinton's approval rating. I don't see any inflection point after impeachment - he was just a popular President overall and the economy was booming.
posted by parallellines at 9:59 AM on April 18 [31 favorites]




The Juiciest Bits From the Mueller Report [UPDATING] (Rafi Schwartz, Splinter News)
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:09 AM on April 18 [2 favorites]


Fingers crossed we get to the Watergate moment, where the GOP realizes that Nixon can no longer be excused or shielded, before 2020.

Which would require a chain of events similar to Watergate, in which (a) a "Smoking Gun" paper or recording trail sufficient to prove criminal activity beyond doubt would be allowed to exist, (b) suppression of that evidence would be overturned by courts similar to the result of United States v. Nixon, and double-digit GOP Senators would find the courage to echo the likes of Charles Wiggins and say "the facts then known to me have now changed."

Which would require far more faith than I have in either Team Trump's ineptitude (surely even they recognize that without the shotgun blast that was the "Nixon says 'pay them'" tape becoming available, Nixon might well have served his full second term, and thus would not be careless enough to allow such a thing to exist today), our current Supreme Court's composition, or our current GOP Senate's composition.
posted by delfin at 10:16 AM on April 18 [4 favorites]


The constitution needs to be amended so that sitting presidents can be indicted.

The Constitution says nothing about it directly. The DoJ's own policies say they won't, but SCOTUS might decide that they can. Congress could, by statute, stand up another independent prosecutor and set it outside the DoJ's normal chain of command (like Starr was), with an explicit requirement to ignore that policy. Of course, depending on the SCOTUS make-up at the time such an indictment was tested, it might be ruled unconstitutional, but it's never been tested.

You'd likely either have to make it a Senate-confirmed position or make the person in charge answerable to being fired by the President, to abide by the "principal officer" issue. That said, the succession could be set in law and a firing could be used to automatically trigger Congress' spending powers to really ruin the President's day.
posted by BungaDunga at 10:16 AM on April 18 [7 favorites]


I hope to god this is Graham, Lindsey

Recall that Graham was also hacked (CNN article, autoplaying video), although those emails were never released. There are a number of possible reasons why Graham's name might appear in the report.
posted by compartment at 10:17 AM on April 18 [8 favorites]


Not mentioned here yet, but called out by TPM:
At a press conference immediately following Comey’s firing, [Sarah Huckabee] Sanders told a reporter that “countless members of the FBI” had expressed a loss of faith in the FBI director prior to his termination. When questioned by Mueller’s team, she reportedly said that it was a “slip of the tongue” comment she made in the “heat of the moment” and was factually baseless.
That's like one of those "slips" where you stumble and catch yourself repeatedly before falling down seven flights of stairs.
posted by mikepop at 10:20 AM on April 18 [38 favorites]


here is a chart of Clinton's approval rating. I don't see any inflection point after impeachment - he was just a popular President overall and the economy was booming.

It's true that it's not as prominent as I thought, but on Gallup he does go from a +30 rating (63-33) to a +40 rating (68-28).
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:21 AM on April 18 [2 favorites]


Emphasis mine because HOW IS THIS NOT "MEMBERS OF THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN" INTERACTING WITH "MEMBERS OF THE RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT"?!

It is, but it's not members of the Trump campaign having conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.
posted by The World Famous at 10:21 AM on April 18 [2 favorites]


@philip_elliott: As AG, Jeff Sessions carried with him a resignation letter every time he visited the White House for a full year, per Mueller report (p96).

Totally normal behavior here.
posted by zachlipton at 10:23 AM on April 18 [74 favorites]


Jeremy Bash on MSNBC: "I would summarize Volume II by saying the President's behavior was squarely illegal, but not chargable [by DOJ] ... The report notes that no person is above the law, and the two examples given are Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon, one of whom was impeached, and the other who was forced out of office prior to impeachment."
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:26 AM on April 18 [16 favorites]


It's true that it's not as prominent as I thought, but on Gallup he does go from a +30 rating (63-33) to a +40 rating (68-28).

And a week after that +40, he was back down to a +27 (62-35). I'm not seeing it.
posted by parallellines at 10:28 AM on April 18 [1 favorite]


Vol II, Page 2:
Third, we considered whether to evaluate the conduct we investigated under the Justice Manual standards governing prosecution and declination decisions, but we determined not to apply an approach that could potentially result in a judgment that the President committed crimes. The threshold step under the Justice Manual standards is to assess whether a person's conduct "constitutes a federal offense." U.S. Dep't of Justice, Justice Manual§ 9-27.220 (2018) (Justice Manual). Fairness concerns counseled against potentially reaching that judgment when no charges can be brought. The ordinary means for an individual to respond to an accusation is through a speedy and public trial, with all the procedural protections that surround a criminal case. An individual who believes he was wrongly accused can use that process to seek to clear his name. In
contrast, a prosecutor's judgment that crimes were committed, but that no charges will be brought, affords no such adversarial opportunity for public name-clearing before an impartial adjudicator.
Mueller decided up front that, since policy forbade him from indicting Trump, that they would not judge whether he committed any crimes. Barr lied even more than I original thought. It isn't even "not enough evidence to indict but certainly not exonerated". With indictment never on the table, the report literally could not be more damning.
posted by bcd at 10:29 AM on April 18 [77 favorites]


It also evinces a consideration of the President's interests that makes the characterization of the investigation as a WITCH HUNT even more ridiculous.
posted by Jpfed at 10:31 AM on April 18 [15 favorites]


As I understand it, Bob Mueller is now a private citizen? It's time for this private citizen to appear before a House committee, under oath, and say what he clearly wanted to say in his report, but was prohibited from doing so: the President is a crook.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:35 AM on April 18 [9 favorites]


No, he still works for the Justice Department.
posted by OnceUponATime at 10:37 AM on April 18 [5 favorites]


The Irony of Mueller-Report Profiteering (Ian Bogost, The Atlantic)
Ebook promos and paperbacks of the special counsel’s report encapsulate the investigation’s theme: The government is for sale.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:39 AM on April 18 [2 favorites]


Barr said this morning he wouldn't object to Mueller testifying, although we know what a promise from these guys is worth.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:39 AM on April 18 [1 favorite]


No, he still works for the Justice Department.

Maybe he should retire. It's not like he'll ever have the chance to catch a bigger fish.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:40 AM on April 18 [5 favorites]


Read Robert Mueller’s Written Summaries of His Russia Report (Madeleine Carlisle & Olivia Paschal, The Atlantic)

The Executive Summaries to both parts, full text minus redacted parts, plus links to relevant op-eds and articles. Should work with a screen reader.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:43 AM on April 18 [16 favorites]


we determined not to apply an approach that could potentially result in a judgment that the President committed crimes

OK, that snippet officially broke through my report induced mental fog!
posted by diogenes at 10:52 AM on April 18 [19 favorites]


Towards the end of the Executive Summary, Vol II, emphasis mine:

"Soon after the firing of Comey and the appointment of the Special Counsel, however, the President became aware that his own conduct was being investigated in an obstruction-of-justice inquiry. At that point, the President engaged in a second phase of conduct, involving public attacks on the investigation, non-public efforts to control it, and efforts in both public and private to encourage witnesses not to cooperate with the investigation. Judgments about the nature of the President's motives during each phase would be informed by the totality of the evidence."

That seems rather damning, right?
posted by Fritzle at 10:54 AM on April 18 [64 favorites]


The key passage to cite any time a Trump apologist tries to make hay of all the documents that the campaign and administration turned over:
Further, the Office learned that some of the individuals we interviewed or whose conduct we investigated—including some associated with the Trump Campaign—deleted relevant communications or communicated during the relevant period using applications that feature encryption or that do not provide for long-term retention of data or communications records.

...

Accordingly, while this report embodies factual and legal determinations that the Office believes to be accurate and complete to the greatest extent possible, given these identified gaps, the Office cannot rule out the possibility that the unavailable information would shed additional light on (or cast in a new light) the events describe in the report.
Mueller Report, p.10. Multiple people associated with the Trump campaign either deleted relevant records or used self-destructing apps, likely in order to evade records requests. I very much wish the report specifically named the offenders here.

Reading Trump's (lawyers') written responses to the questions makes me think that the investigation's single biggest mistake was not forcing Trump to sit down for a videotaped interview under oath. Either his answers (or evasions) would have been damaging or the demand would have provoked Trump into doing something obviously illegal such as firing Mueller.

Assuming Assange doesn't flip in an unexpected way, I think the only way out of this is the 2020 election, barring Trump's death or irrefutable evidence of mental decline (e.g. repeatedly forgetting where he is during rallies or something like that). The congressional investigations and state criminal cases against him and his company will be unlikely to come to a head before the election, although they may sway a lot of voters if clear evidence of fraud is uncovered, as seems likely. But the Republican Senate seems 100% ride-or-die for him at this point.

We may or may not get an impeachment trial (and we've argued the political wisdom of that to death; I express no opinion on that here), but even if we get a trial, conviction seems unlikely, and I don't think this report changes that. It's just not strongly worded enough. There's no single, clear statement that says "were this not the President, we would definitely be pursuing criminal charges, but because it's the President, it's up to Congress to pursue those charges through impeachment." Hell I don't think the report even uses the word impeachment, instead dancing around it with phrases like "Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the President's corrupt exercise of the powers of office."
posted by jedicus at 10:56 AM on April 18 [24 favorites]


So, in summary:

Mueller: We chose a process that makes it impossible for us to accuse Trump of a crime regardless of the evidence. Here's the evidence that he committed crimes. Congress, you're up.

Barr: Mueller didn't accuse Trump of any crimes. Case closed!

Pelosi: ?
posted by diogenes at 10:59 AM on April 18 [62 favorites]


Barr said he didn't mind Mueller personally testifying , which I took to mean he won't be allowed while he's a DoJ employee.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 11:00 AM on April 18 [1 favorite]


the investigation's single biggest mistake was not forcing Trump to sit down for a videotaped interview under oath

Maybe. But if they had tried, we would probably not be seeing the report right now. We'd be following an endless series of litigation over whether or not Mueller can compel Trump to testify (or plead the 5th). It seems to me possible that Mueller didn't want to bottle up the entire report just to wait for that. Does the report go into any detail on that decision?
posted by BungaDunga at 11:00 AM on April 18 [6 favorites]


There's no single, clear statement that says "were this not the President, we would definitely be pursuing criminal charges"

There's no such statement because they chose a process that intentionally prevented them from making such a statement.
posted by diogenes at 11:02 AM on April 18 [11 favorites]


That is the exact reason they decided to give up and publish the report: they were mostly done, and they didn’t want to hold the whole thing up for months fighting through the courts.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 11:02 AM on April 18 [4 favorites]


For clarity when referencing the report, and to avoid the confusion I had when browsing it on my computer: It's in two volumes, the internal numbering starts over for Volume II, and there are four lettered Appendices (A, B, C, D).

So "page X of the Mueller report", as a phrase by itself, always needs clarification, because it could mean that page of the first volume (from pages 1 to 199), or of the second (numbered from 1 to 182), or the PDF's numbering of the entire report (which goes from 1 to 448, including appendices and each volume's table of contents and hence not corresponding to any of the internal numbering).
posted by InTheYear2017 at 11:08 AM on April 18 [22 favorites]


@philip_elliott: As AG, Jeff Sessions carried with him a resignation letter every time he visited the White House for a full year, per Mueller report (p96).

p. 96 says "for the rest of the year" starting on July 26. That's not even half a year. Still crazy, but not a full year.
posted by The World Famous at 11:11 AM on April 18 [7 favorites]


the President engaged in a second phase of conduct, involving public attacks on the investigation, non-public efforts to control it, and efforts in both public and private to encourage witnesses not to cooperate with the investigation.

And yet Barr claimed “Nonetheless, the White House fully cooperated with the Special Counsel’s investigation.” Seems like it’s worth calling in to testify on why encouraging witnesses not to cooperate is full cooperation.
posted by zachlipton at 11:15 AM on April 18 [31 favorites]


I wonder what the world looked like from inside the investigation. I would have thought a clear "...hence the lack of judgement in this report should not be construed as supporting evidence of innocence" would have been a belt-and-braces bit of wording and obvious to people working adjacent to an industry that can question what the meaning of "is" is. I guess insight into that will be provided by citizen Mueller when he testifies.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 11:16 AM on April 18 [3 favorites]


There's no such statement because they chose a process that intentionally prevented them from making such a statement.

I know. And because they chose that process (rightly or wrongly), the report's effect will necessarily be blunted. The complexity of the report's conclusions combined with Barr's preemptive lying mean that the general public's takeaway will be that it was a lot of noise over nothing. It absolutely isn't that, but it takes a lawyer or a very informed reader to understand the subtext of the report's conclusions. The vast majority of the public will hear that a two year investigation ended without a conclusion that Trump broke the law, therefore he's innocent.

That is the exact reason they decided to give up [on compelling Trump to testify] and publish the report: they were mostly done, and they didn’t want to hold the whole thing up for months fighting through the courts

A report with complex conclusions that most people can't or won't follow, that doesn't mention impeachment, and whose primary direct contribution from Trump is a bunch of boring "I don't recalls" that were clearly drafted by his lawyers. I think the fight and delay would have been worth it to get Trump's typical self-contradictory dissembling on video that could be played on endless repeat. If the SCO had jumped straight to a subpoena right out of the gate instead of wasting months trying to secure a voluntary interview, it might not have even delayed the overall process.
posted by jedicus at 11:16 AM on April 18 [5 favorites]


"Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I'm fucked."

Hot damn I am saving this Trump quote one for future use.
posted by GoblinHoney at 11:18 AM on April 18 [24 favorites]


Barr said he didn't mind Mueller personally testifying , which I took to mean he won't be allowed while he's a DoJ employee.

Just heard this on NPR and that was the first thing I thought.
posted by terrapin at 11:19 AM on April 18 [2 favorites]


Quick take from Richard Hasen: All the Mistakes Mueller Made in Declining to Prosecute Donald Trump Jr. He focuses on campaign finance law.
posted by zachlipton at 11:22 AM on April 18 [7 favorites]


"Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I'm fucked."

This may be the most important line in the whole report.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:26 AM on April 18 [43 favorites]


And here comes the pack journalism:
Politico: An annotated guide to the redacted Mueller report.

Oxymoronically, the WaPo advertises in a blast e-mail, "Our reporters are annotating the full, redacted Mueller report. Read it here."

The NYT also has an ongoing live-blog/analysis of the redacted report.

CNN also has a live-blog/news roundup of all things Mueller report–related.
The problem with this kind of approach is that the majority of the narrative has been public, between Mueller's "speaking indictments" and the news media's coverage (particularly leaks from assorted parties in Trumpland who were either trying to cover their asses or backstab each other).

And we're still getting shitty headlines like CNN's No Collusion In RNC Platform Change On Ukraine, Report Says when the article quotes the Mueller report once again unable to conclude something—“[T]he investigation did not establish that one campaign official's efforts to dilute a portion of the Republican Party platform on providing assistance to Ukraine were undertaken at the behest of candidate Trump or Russia"—which is emphatically not the same as disproving it.
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:28 AM on April 18 [5 favorites]


@BySteveReilly: The Special Counsel's Office made 14 referrals of evidence of potential criminal activity to outside offices. Only two are publicly known at this point.
[screenshots of relevant report pages on tweet]

Wonder how much it's possible to glean based on what else Mueller was known to be investigating that isn't in the unredacted text.

There doesn't seem to be any mention of Cambridge Analytica, and only one passing reference to Farage, so I guess there's some small hope that one of the investigations involves that. Though, not sure how much direct involvement they had with the actual Trump campaign.
posted by Buntix at 11:29 AM on April 18 [4 favorites]


I think the only way out of this is the 2020 election

The president's own consigliere has warned the public that Trump will not leave office voluntarily. Congressional testimony and subpoenas related to those interviews may offer a way out that restores the rule of law and saves the republic. Given what has so far happened to whistleblowers and law enforcement officials whose actions do not align with the president, hopes for a fair election in 2020 seem a dim prospect.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:33 AM on April 18 [13 favorites]


The vast majority of the public will hear that a two year investigation ended without a conclusion that Trump broke the law, therefore he's innocent.

If that happens, it will be because Democratic House leadership fucked up and let it happen.
posted by diogenes at 11:39 AM on April 18 [8 favorites]


To me, this is the heart of the second volume (Page 2): “we determined not to apply an approach that could potentially result in a judgment that the President committed crimes.” Mueller decided at the outset that he would never determine that Trump committed any crimes. He had reasons for that, sure, but the entire investigation was based on the idea that the President is above the law. He’d tell us if they decided Trump didn’t break the law, but would never consider if he did. Then Barr took that and twisted it into lies that everyone spread for weeks.

The fix was in from the start. We do not have a government that is capable of even considering whether the President broke the law. And had Mueller said so from the start, he could have saved us a lot of time by letting Congress get on with it and not creating a product that would obviously be read in bad faith.

But there’s a logic in what Mueller is saying, as hilzoy notes:
[according to Mueller] It would be unfair to determine that the President had committed a crime and not prosecute, since he would have no way to clear his name.

It would not be similarly unfair to say that we had found that the President had NOT committed a crime, if that was what the evidence showed.

But it didn't, so we can't.

Doesn't this mean: we think the evidence shows that the President committed crimes, but can't say so?
Surely the logical conclusion of Mueller saying “we can’t say yes, but we’d say no if it was true” is that he’d say yes if he could?
posted by zachlipton at 11:41 AM on April 18 [65 favorites]


If that happens, it will be because Democratic House leadership fucked up and let it happen.

I would counter that it is because journalism is intertwined with capitalism now.
posted by terrapin at 11:44 AM on April 18 [23 favorites]


"This is the end of my presidency. I'm fucked."

This sure doesn't sound like the resident narcissist. At all.
posted by artdrectr at 11:44 AM on April 18 [7 favorites]


Surely the logical conclusion of Mueller saying “we can’t say yes, but we’d say no if it was true” is that he’d say yes if he could?

Exactly, and it's up to the House to make this clear and create the conditions for him to say yes. I don't know exactly how that will work, but I'm pretty sure it involves impeachment.
posted by diogenes at 11:45 AM on April 18 [1 favorite]


The report on Nixon was written to be read sequentially, a couple small statements of fact with supporting footnotes at the bottom, written almost like a children's book leading to an inescapable conclusion.

This report? It's dense and complicated with lots of moving parts. Some sentences I'll read three or four times and still am not sure I'm parsing them right. To my mind, that's a hot mess.

I find a lot of Mueller's decisions inexcusable. His decision not to indict, which is simply a DOJ guideline, not written law. His decision not to come to conclusions, which almost guarantees no action can be taken from the report.

When Trump said "I'm fucked. My presidency is over." It suggests the real story is very clear and damaging. How did that get lost?
posted by xammerboy at 11:47 AM on April 18 [27 favorites]


Can’t the House just have Mueller on the stand in front of them and ask him “did the president commit any crimes”?
posted by gucci mane at 11:48 AM on April 18 [5 favorites]


Can’t the House just have Mueller on the stand in front of them and ask him “did the president commit any crimes”?

I think he'd just say that isn't something he can decide. Congress has to decide. On the other hand, if they asked him that question as part of deciding (i.e. impeachment), I think that would change the equation.

It just seems like there has to be some process that doesn't put Trump above the law.
posted by diogenes at 11:49 AM on April 18 [6 favorites]


Surely the logical conclusion of Mueller saying “we can’t say yes, but we’d say no if it was true” is that he’d say yes if he could?

It isn't a binary choice. If Mueller believed it was uncertain whether Trump had committed a crime, by those ground rules, he'd also not say the evidence cleared him.

Obviously he committed multiple crimes - but as an abstract matter, I think that's all we can read from that specific detail.
posted by bcd at 11:49 AM on April 18 [1 favorite]


I think they can, but then can't Mueller say that he cannot draw any conclusions either way because Trump is a sitting President? Or would that be perjury?
posted by all about eevee at 11:49 AM on April 18


I have one other bone to pick. The report says the president is not above the law. Then it says the DOJ can't arrest him for crimes. Then it hands an ambiguous report to a divided congress and senate. How is the president not above the law?
posted by xammerboy at 11:51 AM on April 18 [6 favorites]


And had Mueller said so from the start, he could have saved us a lot of time by letting Congress get on with it and not creating a product that would obviously be read in bad faith.

With the GOP in control of both houses? You already know how that would have gone. This process may have been the best option available given the circumstances.

It's up to the newly formed Congress to take up the baton.
posted by notyou at 11:51 AM on April 18 [12 favorites]


The Special Counsel's Office made 14 referrals of evidence of potential criminal activity to outside offices. Only two are publicly known at this point.

I have no doubts that the people involved in those other 12 referrals have now been made aware of the evidence against them.
posted by C'est la D.C. at 11:56 AM on April 18


When Trump said "I'm fucked. My presidency is over." It suggests the real story is very clear and damaging. How did that get lost?

Not to suggest he's actually innocent, but isn't that the proper reaction if an innocent person discovers the feds are investigating them as well? The process could derail a hypothetical pure-as-the-driven-snow administration for a long while too.
posted by bcd at 11:57 AM on April 18 [8 favorites]


I just tried to imagine how things might have gone down had Rosenstein tapped Barr instead of Mueller for Special Counsel, and my brain broke
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:01 PM on April 18 [12 favorites]


Not to suggest he's actually innocent, but isn't that the proper reaction if an innocent person discovers the feds are investigating them as well? The process could derail a hypothetical pure-as-the-driven-snow administration for a long while too.

The full paragraph actually puts it in that context -- he specifically says he's "fucked" because past presidents who had special counsels appointed had their administrations derailed by the investigations. It's still a great soundbyte and his subsequent stonewalling of Mueller's team shows that he wasn't exactly approaching this as someone with nothing to hide.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:05 PM on April 18 [11 favorites]


President Trump did nothing wrong, I think (Alexandra Petri, WaPo)
*Attorney General William P. Barr steps to the lectern.*
[…]
The good news is that, although the Russian government did interfere in the 2016 election with hacking and disinformation campaigns, it did not do so literally at the behest of the Trump campaign, in my opinion. Was that the opinion of the Mueller team? Who can say? But if it wasn’t, it should have been, I think. Make no mistake, Russia did interfere to help him, but this effort was just sort of a fun lagniappe. Nobody asked for it.

Really, it was like when you are just sitting on a couch trying to have a nice time and your cat unexpectedly brings you a dead bird. (In this scenario, the dead bird is the American people.) You did not expect it! You don’t even want it. But the cat seemed to think it was a nice gesture. Well, that is how Donald Trump feels about winning this election. In brief, this was not at all coordinated. Anyway, as I think anyone who has been watching the Trump presidency can see, this is not a man who expected to win.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 12:07 PM on April 18 [25 favorites]


When Trump said "I'm fucked. My presidency is over." It suggests the real story is very clear and damaging.

Which is the point Josh Marshall has been making since the election, with his Event Horizon Theory of Trump's wrongdoing.

We can't see what Trump did, but we can see the outlines of it due to the activity around it, and that activity suggests that there's something huge that Trump and his closest people are absolutely desperate to keep hidden.
posted by Gelatin at 12:11 PM on April 18 [52 favorites]


> I have one other bone to pick. The report says the president is not above the law. Then it says the DOJ can't arrest him for crimes. Then it hands an ambiguous report to a divided congress and senate. How is the president not above the law?

Our legal system is predicated on the idea that no one is above the law, and admitting that there are in fact people above the law requires admitting that our system is, deep down, something other than a liberal democracy — that there’s an element of Caesarism to it, where we have written laws that mostly govern the society, but where also the word of the executive is itself law.

But we can’t actually admit that that element of Caesarism exists, because it really is incompatible with the legal processes that apply to everyone but the executive, and therefore if we say it out loud we expose the legal processes on which the continued operation of society depends to serious and dangerous accusations of illegitimacy.

The way to square this circle is to say (or imply) that the executive is not formally above the law, even though there exist no real material way to prosecute crimes when the executive commits them. By focusing on the way that equality before the law exists on paper, we are saved the (genuinely disruptive, possibly impossible) work of realizing equality before the law in the actual world.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 12:17 PM on April 18 [28 favorites]


that activity suggests that there's something huge that Trump and his closest people are absolutely desperate to keep hidden.

Poop tape.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:18 PM on April 18 [11 favorites]


Any word from Pelosi today?
posted by Harry Caul at 12:23 PM on April 18 [1 favorite]


we can’t actually admit that that element of Caesarism exists, because it really is incompatible with the legal processes that apply to everyone but the executive

well, now that everyone (well, let's be honest, every republican) knows what you can get away with as president and still face no consequences, and that you really *would* effectively be above the law, can you imagine the floodgates it opens post-trump?

mark my words-- trump 2.0 is in his B-school cafeteria right now, reading this shit and getting all sorts of fuckin ideas.
posted by wibari at 12:26 PM on April 18 [19 favorites]


simply a DOJ guideline, not written law.

It's a DoJ rule that was binding on Mueller's team, unless he got permission from the AG or the acting AG to suspend it. If he violated that rule without permission, the AG would be able to fire him for cause.
posted by BungaDunga at 12:26 PM on April 18 [6 favorites]


Any word from Pelosi today?

She issued a joint statement with Schumer calling for Mueller to testify publicly, which I think is the correct next move.
posted by Justinian at 12:26 PM on April 18 [17 favorites]


well, now that everyone (well, let's be honest, every republican) knows what you can get away with as president and still face no consequences, and that you really *would* effectively be above the law, can you imagine the floodgates it opens post-trump?

Nobody was prosecuted for Bush's torture regime either, Iran-Contra was closed up by Barr's pardons. This goes back a long way.
posted by BungaDunga at 12:28 PM on April 18 [24 favorites]


The Mueller Report Is an Impeachment Referral (Yoni Appelbaum, The Atlantic)
A basic principle lies at the heart of the American criminal-justice system: The accused is entitled to a fair defense and a chance to clear his name. Every American is entitled to this protection, from the humblest citizen all the way up to the chief executive. And that, Mueller explained in his report, is why criminal allegations against a sitting president should be considered by Congress and not the Justice Department. The Mueller report, in short, is an impeachment referral.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:28 PM on April 18 [37 favorites]


> mark my words-- trump 2.0 is in his B-school cafeteria right now, reading this shit and getting all sorts of fuckin ideas.

Trump 2.0 was reagan. trump 1.0 was nixon. we are now on the fourth major revision of trump.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 12:31 PM on April 18 [32 favorites]


I feel like the ultimate conclusion is not that complicated and is what we’ve known all along: Russia interfered to get Trump elected, and Trump repeatedly lied and tried to shut down the investigation to cover it up. That’s all Democrats need to say, repeatedly. Remember that a key part of the investigation was Mueller charging Russian operatives for their crimes. Trump’s efforts to stop the investigation would have protected them just the same. He’s been on their side publicly and privately since the campaign.

Trump tried to cover up the crimes of Russian hackers. It’s that simple.
posted by zachlipton at 12:41 PM on April 18 [70 favorites]


that activity suggests that there's something huge that Trump and his closest people are absolutely desperate to keep hidden.
Yes, and we know what it is, and knew all along. The Trump Crime Family are criminals. And so are a whole huge bunch of Republicans. Some of the crimes are related and some are not, it doesn't really matter.
The problem here is that the crimes are so huge and wide-reaching that uncovering them will be a huge challenge to American democracy. If the president and all of his cabinet and half or more of all senators and representatives are involved, how do you even deal with that? How does democracy continue after that?
It's not only a challenge for the Republicans, it's a problem for everyone, everyone who ever voted R, but also for the Democrats. It may seem easy to just say their opponents are crooks, but it is so off limits that it is almost impossible.
posted by mumimor at 12:41 PM on April 18 [16 favorites]




I feel like the ultimate conclusion is not that complicated and is what we’ve known all along: Russia interfered to get Trump elected, and Trump repeatedly lied and tried to shut down the investigation to cover it up. That’s all Democrats need to say, repeatedly.

It'll have the additional advantage of really getting under Trump's skin -- hearing over and over that he wouldn't have won except for the Russkies' help.

Hearing it from someone other than Putin, I mean.
posted by Gelatin at 12:43 PM on April 18 [9 favorites]


The most charitable reading that I can come up with is Russia wanted to help Trump and Trump wanted Russia’s help but the morons and flunkies he surrounds himself with were too fucking stupid to pull it off.

And Barr is pretty transparently putting a narrative of “no crime” into the proceedings to subvert any attempt at impeachment. And the low bar established by Clinton’s impeachment means Trump will walk.

The Republicans pushed everything off on Mueller because it kept their hands clean and meant they didn’t have to perform serious oversight and actually unearth corruption by the executive because it would have jeopardized their tax cuts and appointments of conservative judges.

Impeachment on Russia is a loser for the Democrats. Best bet is to move on to tax returns and expose Trump’s emoluments violations or his statements about pardoning ICE officials if they violate the law for him. That is what he can be impeached for and that is where the damage can be pursued at this point.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 12:43 PM on April 18 [11 favorites]


I keep remember John Brennan saying:

""Frequently, people who go along a treasonous path do not know they are on a treasonous path until it is too late"

And ex-CIA agent Glenn Carle saying:

"It also seems certain that Trump is uncontrollable and would not ever consider himself a spy, but many spies don't consider themselves spies and often don't even know that they're spies. And intelligence services couldn’t care less about that.

What matters to them is exploiting people, and that is what is happening here."

And Clint Watts saying:

"In Trump and his campaign, Mr. Putin spotted a golden opportunity — an easily ingratiated celebrity motivated by fame and fortune, a foreign policy novice surrounded by unscreened opportunists open to manipulation and unaware of Russia’s long run game of subversion."

And way back in August, 2016, former CIA Director Michael Morell saying:

"In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation."
posted by OnceUponATime at 12:45 PM on April 18 [77 favorites]


Here are a couple of good, long and thorough Twitter threads on the report:

Seth Abramson: "This thread chronicles—in real time—the release of the Mueller Report, with news and analysis from a @Newsweek columnist and @NYTimes bestselling author (Proof of Collusion). Please retweet this thread widely for those you think might benefit from it."

(Here are links to skip ahead to Barr's presser and the report.)

Jared Yates Sexton: "All right. I just finished the Mueller Report. I'm going to combine the most shocking and important revelations in one thread. Long and short: there was collusion, there was obstruction, Donald Trump needs to be removed from office. Immediately. 1/"
posted by homunculus at 12:47 PM on April 18 [30 favorites]


Just Security: The (Redacted) Mueller Report: First Takes from the Experts
Asha Rangappa: "Notably, the report extensively challenges the legal basis of the DOJ policy as well as Trump’s (i.e., Barr’s) Article II defense. It also makes an affirmative case for Congress’ authority to investigate obstruction of justice by the president and observes that the president could be exposed to criminal liability once he leaves office, thereby justifying a full investigation and gathering of evidence. In doing so, Mueller makes clear that his findings were intended for independent evaluation by Congress, or by future prosecutors — not by Barr himself."

Harvard Law Prof. Alex Whiting: "[T]he report is dismissive of any statutory or constitutional barriers to a criminal obstruction charge against the President. The sole question is whether the evidence would be sufficient to bring a charge. [W]ith respect to the question of evidence, the report lays out a pattern of acts by the President to interfere with or end the investigation based on substantial and corroborated evidence."

Former Obama NSC official Tess Bridgeman: "[I]t is striking that the report lays out in great factual detail Russia’s sweeping interference in the 2016 U.S. elections (which was already established) and the “numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump Campaign,” but draws conclusions only about criminal charging decisions. The report also provides a road map to issues that were not able to be conclusively settled during the course of the Special Counsel’s investigation. The upshot: It is still up to Congress to investigate the non-criminal aspects of Russia’s election interference and the Trump campaign’s role, to hold accountable those who participated in and knowingly benefited from a foreign state’s attempts to subvert our democratic processes, and to pass legislation that could help secure our elections from future interference."
A screengrab of all the pages of the Mueller report, showing the redactions

John Brennan yesterday on MSNBC: "If we see a lot of roller-brushing, it’s what they call it in the redaction business, of pages that are totally blacked out ... I think it reflects then the guidance that was given by Barr, and I think there will be legitimate cries of a cover-up."
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:51 PM on April 18 [17 favorites]


Trump tried to cover up the crimes of Russian hackers. It’s that simple.
. . and to stop any investigation that could expose a zillion crimes he's been committing since before he was born. Covering up and obstructing is as common to Trump daily as golf.
posted by Harry Caul at 12:51 PM on April 18 [11 favorites]


@danabashcnn: House Majority @LeaderHoyer just told me : “Based on what we have seen to date, going forward on impeachment is not worthwhile at this point. Very frankly, there is an election in 18 months and the American people will make a judgement,”

And there it is. The President is above the law because no institution is capable of handling this moment.
posted by zachlipton at 12:54 PM on April 18 [70 favorites]


He's above the law because Republicans in the Senate have chosen to put him there. Period. It's up to us now.

But I'm not heartbroken because we had a free and fair election in 2018 and I believe we can have one again.

And once Trump is out of office, there are dozens of things besides "collusion" he can likely be charged with. Money laundering, for starters.
posted by OnceUponATime at 12:57 PM on April 18 [14 favorites]


House Majority @LeaderHoyer just told me : “Based on what we have seen to date, going forward on impeachment is not worthwhile at this point. Very frankly, there is an election in 18 months and the American people will make a judgement”

Here's Hoyer's contact info, 'cos he needs to hear that he's going to be primaried hard if he sticks to that line and will be a lame duck long before the 2020 elections:
Washington, DC Office: Phone - (202) 225-4131 /Fax - (202) 225-4300

Northern Office, Greenbelt, MD: Phone - (301) 474-0119 / Fax - (301) 474-4697

Southern Office: White Plains, MD: Phone - (301) 843-1577 / Fax - (301) 843-1331

Majority Leader’s Office: Phone - (202) 225-3130
The Dem establishment needs to be every bit as wary of pissing off their constituents as congressional GOPers are.
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:03 PM on April 18 [30 favorites]


And once Trump is out of office, there are dozens of things besides "collusion" he can likely be charged with. Money laundering, for starters.

And in particular, things like New York State Insurance Fraud, that he unambiguously cannot pardon. I still see Donald’s long-term future as prison or exile.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:05 PM on April 18 [7 favorites]


If anyone would like an appropriate Mueller investigation t-shirt, Raygun has you covered.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 1:07 PM on April 18 [7 favorites]


House Majority @LeaderHoyer just told me : “Based on what we have seen to date, going forward on impeachment is not worthwhile at this point. Very frankly, there is an election in 18 months and the American people will make a judgement”

Greg Sargent: This needs to be understood as straight-up abdication on the part of @LeaderHoyer himself. Note that he's even taking an impeachment *inquiry* off the table. Remarkable cowardice and dereliction of basic duty.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:09 PM on April 18 [59 favorites]


Progressive (lowercase p) liberal -- not registered with any party -- here who dislikes the Democratic leadership.... and I still agree with them on not pushing for impeachment. An impeachment process will not generate a conviction in the Senate, and can backfire. Use the House to investigate, subpoena, and report on the findings. Then work hard to take control of the White House and Senate in 2020 armed with truth.
posted by terrapin at 1:12 PM on April 18 [18 favorites]


“we determined not to apply an approach that could potentially result in a judgment that the President committed crimes.”

WHich brings us back to Rule 1: never, ever, trust a Republican.

Mueller decided from the beginning that he would not conduct a real investigation, and surprise, he didn't. Its round #54334532 of Lucy and the football with the Democrats playing the role of Charlie Brown and confident that **this time** the Republicans won't screw them over.

Pelosi and every other Democrat should have been screaming from the very beginning that given Mueller's long history of being a Republican his investigation was nothing but a coverup, because that's exactly what it was.

Mueller started out determined not to find any evidence of crimes by the President, and gee what a surprise, he found no crimes by the President. And in so doing he blunted and diluted outrage against Trump for two solid years and is now giving Trump exactly the sort of vague foggy crap that can be easily spun into "I'm totally innocent!" which, of course is exactly what Trump is doing.

If our system is set up in such a way that the Democrats couldn't arrange for a Starr type super hostile dig into every possible crime type investigation then our system is broken and that should have been their message from the outset. Instead we got mealy mouthed BS about trusting Muller and trusting the system and, what a surprise, yet again we got burned and Trump got a huge PR victory he can strut and crow about until his inevitable re-election.

Good job Democrats!
posted by sotonohito at 1:15 PM on April 18 [37 favorites]


Brian Beutler:
Some things Democrats could say if they weren’t terrified of doing the right thing:

“The president and his cronies desperately wanted Putin’s help and then they committed crime after crime to cover it up. This report confirms our worst fears.”

“The president has spent two years shouting No Collusion. This report makes clear once and for all that he was lying.”

“Special Counsel Mueller wrote an impeachment referral but the attorney general intercepted it and lied about its contents to protect the president.”

Instead we get Hoyer’s nonsense and a raft of statements that ignore the abundant collusion documented in the report. Because they’re scared the truth might lead them to impeachment. It’s pathetic. It lets the country down. And it reinforces Trump’s sense of his own impunity.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:16 PM on April 18 [67 favorites]


Based on what we have seen to date, going forward on impeachment is not worthwhile at this point.

Why would you say that a few hours after we learn that the conclusion of the Special Counsel is essentially an impeachment referral?
posted by diogenes at 1:21 PM on April 18 [17 favorites]


What I just wrote to my reps Nadler, Gillibrand and Schumer:

“Majority Leader Hoyer's statement that it's not worth even pursuing an impeachment inquiry is reprehensible and a complete abdication of Congress and Democrats’ constitutional duty. Forget an election 18 months from now, we just had an election 5 months ago where tens of millions voted to hold Trump responsible. That's the only reason Hoyer is Majority Leader now and not the powerless figure he apparently wants to go back to. As your constituent I will not vote in future elections for Democrats who dismiss their duties to the republic. Every day Trump stays in power is another day for a further catastrophe. And even if not impeached or convicted, an inquiry will yield evidence of wrongdoing that will help prevent reelection. Do your job!”
posted by chris24 at 1:21 PM on April 18 [47 favorites]


Instead we get Hoyer’s nonsense and a raft of statements that ignore the abundant collusion documented in the report. Because they’re scared the truth might lead them to impeachment.

I disagree. They're scared the media will cover the case as a he-said, she-said, bringing Rudy Giuliani on to spin Trump's case and presenting his lies on an equal footing with the preponderance of evidence that Trump is a crook.

Just like they've been doing since Trump rode the escalator.

Their cowardice is shameful, but they aren't wrong in understanding the so-called "liberal media" won't have their back -- major outlets are still giving credence to Barr's partisan obstructionism in pretending the report found no criminal activity, despite being suckered by Barr once before.

We shouldn't let the media off the hook for its culpability in enabling Trump's cover-up.
posted by Gelatin at 1:22 PM on April 18 [13 favorites]


This is how I feel as well, Gelatin. The media is the unknown, and how they report will set how the American people respond. And so far the media has thrown up misleading headlines, and the American people (mostly) aren't choosing to read beyond those.
posted by terrapin at 1:26 PM on April 18 [1 favorite]


[I know it's difficult not to bring comparisons to previous administrations in, but those are all fights we've had many times before. Let's keep this reasonably focused, please. I'm not modding it as if it were a catch-all, but please don't use that as an excuse to start up the same repetitive arguments. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 1:27 PM on April 18 [6 favorites]


Yet another smoking gun is the fact that both Manafort and Gates knew that Kilimnik was a spy for the Russian government, yet shared the internal campaign polling data with him even knowing this. They did this because Manafort is a fucking baby who got hurt in a business transaction and wanted to show his previous business partner how cool and awesome he could be for Russia.
posted by odinsdream at 1:32 PM on April 18 [10 favorites]


John Dean on CNN: “The Attorney General violated all the norms established after Watergate and brought us right back to that dark time.”
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:35 PM on April 18 [29 favorites]


Rep. Hoyer, an hour ago: "The #MuellerReport makes clear Russia “interfered in the 2016 presidential election in a sweeping & systematic fashion” and does not make a determination regarding obstruction of justice; the report does not exonerate POTUS."

Here's his wishy-washy statement—"House Democrats, while continuing to move forward with our agenda of opportunity and economic growth for the people, will do our part responsibly by investigating whether obstruction of justice occurred and the scope of Russian interference. To that end, Special Counsel Mueller ought to testify before Congress and explain his findings in greater detail."

Majority Leader’s Office: Phone - (202) 225-3130

It was absurdly easy contacting Hoyer's office—I got through on the first try and told his staffer that he'll be primaried if he doesn't do better. His line should be tied up with irate constituents irate that he's unable to even speak the i-word.
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:36 PM on April 18 [6 favorites]


Congratulations Steny Hoyer! You've got me seriously considering changing my registration from Democrat, quitting my Democratic Town Committee, and joining the DSA. I never much liked the phrase "The lesser of two evils is still evil," but it's suddenly growing on me.
posted by diogenes at 1:37 PM on April 18 [10 favorites]


From the report:
Immediately upon joining the Campaign, Manafort directed Gates to prepare for his review separate memoranda adressed to Deripaska, Akhmetov, Serhiy Lyovochkin, and Boris Kolesnikov (TOTALLY NORMAL THING TO DO) the last three being Ukranian oligarchs who were senior Opposition Bloc officials. The memoranda described Manafort's appointment to the Trump Campaign and indicated his willingness to consult on Ukranian politics in the future. On March 30, 2016, Gates emailed the memoranda and a press release announcing Manafort's appointment to Kilimnik for translation and dissemination. Manafort later followed up with Kilimnik to ensure his messages had been delivered, emailing on April 11, 2016 to ask whether Kilimnik had shown "our friends" the media coverage of his new role. Kilimnik replied, "Absolutely. Every article." Manafort further asked: "How do we use to get whole. Has Ovd [Oleg DVladimirovich Deripaska] operation seen? Kilimnik wrote back the same day, "Yes, I have been sending everything to Victor [Boyarkin, Deripaska's deputy], who has been forwarding the coverage directly to OVD."
What a fucking piece of shit. What a fucking baby.
posted by odinsdream at 1:39 PM on April 18 [18 favorites]


As a committed fan of voting for the lesser evil, what gets me is that "we can't stop Team Evil from doing corruption, let's just vote them out in two years" isn't even lesser evil. It's exactly the same amount of evil happening in those two years, just with a hope of maybe cutting it short at the end.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:40 PM on April 18 [28 favorites]


There's a lot of media focus on the obstruction volume -- where it's an impeachment referral -- and on the Burn After Reading elements of the first volume, but the chilling aspect is that Russia had a preferred outcome for the 2016 election, took steps to get that outcome, and got that outcome, and that there is no way to make a direct causal link for the final step.

As others have said, it's political malpractice to assume that the 2020 election will remove the incumbent, given that the last one was so manipulable even when Obama had authority over the executive branch. If he's essentially told that he can commit impeachable acts with impunity, he's going to keep doing them, and so can any other president.
posted by holgate at 1:41 PM on April 18 [67 favorites]


terrapin The media is the unknown, and how they report will set how the American people respond.

While I agree wholly with the latter part of that statement, I must disagree completely with the former.

The media is not unknown. The media will not be openly and blatantly pro-Republican, but they will report this in the same covert pro-Republican manner they have reported every other thing for literally my entire life. They will invite Republicans to talk about the report, and will not invite Democrats. If they do invite Democrats to talk it will be a ratio of one Democrat to a minimum of two Republicans.

They will hire actual, literal, Republican operatives as reporters and fail to disclose the partisan affiliation of those Republican operatives. They will hire FOX News personalities and fail to disclose that (see: NPR and Mara Liasson). They will do this in the belief that they are liberal, and must therefore compensate for that dire liberal bias by giving lots of Republicans plenty of space to present their case without contradiction.

They will, in other words, report this as if it proved Trump was entirely, 100%, innocent in all matters and anyone who thinks otherwise is a conspiracy theorist and probably a Communist. We saw this in the "liberal" New York Times and its headline ("A Cloud Over Trump’s Presidency Is Lifted") way back when Barr first started lying about the content of the report.

On FOX every "liberal" paper pushing the Trump is innocent lie will be trumpeted as "even the liberal NYT/CNN/MSNBC/whatever admits the President is innocent" and that will become the dominant narrative.

The media is not unknown. It's either actively Republican or it's captured and effectively Republican.
posted by sotonohito at 1:44 PM on April 18 [56 favorites]


Republicans ain't gonna vote to convict. So. I mean. That's it. Talk to me when Mitch McConnell and Lindsay Graham change their positions. In the meantime, there is no point in getting mad at Democrats about it. If there were even half a chance of conviction in the Senate, the House would impeach in a heartbeat. So get mad at the people who are the actual roadblock. Getting mad at Democrats feels like victim blaming.

Anyway, here's a statement from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler.
“Even in its incomplete form, the Mueller report outlines disturbing evidence that President Trump engaged in obstruction of justice and other misconduct.

“The report concluded there was ‘substantial evidence’ that President Trump attempted to prevent an investigation into his campaign and his own conduct. Contrary to the Attorney General’s statement this morning that the White House ‘fully cooperated’ with the investigation, the report makes clear that the President refused to be interviewed by the Special Counsel and refused to provide written answers to follow-up questions; and his associates destroyed evidence relevant to the Russia investigation.

“The Special Counsel determined that he would not make a traditional charging decision in part because of the Department of Justice policy that a sitting President could not be indicted. Rather, the Special Counsel’s office conducted an incredibly thorough investigation in order to preserve the evidence for future investigators. The Special Counsel made clear that he did not exonerate the President. The responsibility now falls to Congress to hold the President accountable for his actions.
posted by OnceUponATime at 1:46 PM on April 18 [29 favorites]


> Congratulations Steny Hoyer! You've got me seriously considering changing my registration from Democrat, quitting my Democratic Town Committee, and joining the DSA. I never much liked the phrase "The lesser of two evils is still evil," but it's suddenly growing on me.

The great thing about the DSA is that you can join it without changing your registration from Democrat or quitting your positions in Democratic Party institutions.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 1:48 PM on April 18 [21 favorites]


do we have to spend the entirety of Mueller Day having the same argument about quixotic impeachments we've had literally a thousand billion times before
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:49 PM on April 18 [20 favorites]


Yes, we do.
posted by all about eevee at 1:50 PM on April 18 [17 favorites]


But I'm not heartbroken because we had a free and fair election in 2018 and I believe we can have one again.

Voter Suppression During the 2018 Midterm Elections (American Progress report, posted on November 20, 2018): "This year — perhaps uncoincidentally — severe voter suppression occurred in states with highly competitive political races, including Georgia, Texas, Florida, and North Dakota."

We can't forget about the voter roll purges, the stricter voter ID measures, the machine malfunctions, the poll site closures & long lines, all of that, please!
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:51 PM on April 18 [36 favorites]


And so far the media has thrown up misleading headlines, and the American people (mostly) aren't choosing to read beyond those.

Speaking of misleading headlines, CNN has posted another one: Carter Page Didn’t Coordinate With Russians Despite Ties to Russian Spies, Mueller Says

Once again, Mueller's report sticks to very legalistic constraints when establishing facts: "Russian intelligence officials had formed relationships with Page in 2008 and 2013 and Russian officials may have focused on Page in 2016 because of his affiliation with the Campaign. However, the investigation did not establish that Page coordinated with the Russian government in its efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election." (Emphasis added, because this is Mueller's constant refrain.)

One interesting detail, however, is Page's qualified corroboration of the Steele Dossier:
During one of Page’s multiple interviews with investigators in 2017, he appears to have partially confirmed a detail that first appeared in the controversial Trump-Russia dossier.

The dossier said Page met the president of Rosneft, a state-run oil company, and discussed a deal for Trump to lift US sanctions in exchange for future energy cooperation between the two countries.

What's in the report: Special counsel Robert Mueller's report said Page actually met Andrey Baranov, Rosneft's head of investor relations. Page told investigators they “might have mentioned the possibility of a sale of a stake in Rosneft in passing.” But Page has always vehemently denied brokering any quid-pro-quo regarding Trump and Rosneft.
That's by no means a definitive link, of course, but Mueller isn't claiming it is. Any reasonable person would fine it incriminatingly suspicious, though.
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:51 PM on April 18 [6 favorites]


They're scared the media will cover the case as a he-said, she-said

For what it's worth, it's been interesting watching the banner headlines at NY Times, WaPo and CNN evolve over the course of the day. Immediately after the report came out, all three had wishy-washy headlines which basically followed Barr's spin on things. Times and WaPo have rewritten multiple times during the day and are currently much more directly damning of Trump: "Mueller Report Reveals Trump’s Efforts to Thwart Russian Inquiry" and "Mueller lays out obstruction evidence against Trump", and even CNN's meh "Mueller report: What we've learned" is sub-headed "Trump Tried To Remove Mueller."

For most of the morning I worried the skim-reading majority would come away with the impression that the Mueller report was just a big fat nothing, but it's looking like there was just too much in there to hand-wave away.

(Haven't had the stomach to check Fox News, though.)
posted by ook at 1:53 PM on April 18 [9 favorites]


Fox's headline: "Mueller report reveals top Trump advisers resisting, defying president's requests on probe"
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:54 PM on April 18 [10 favorites]


do we have to spend the entirety of Mueller Day having the same argument about quixotic impeachments we've had literally a thousand billion times before

We didn’t have the (redacted) Mueller Report before detailing hundreds of pages of high crimes and misdemeanors.
posted by chris24 at 1:55 PM on April 18 [11 favorites]


> do we have to spend the entirety of Mueller Day having the same argument about quixotic impeachments we've had literally a thousand billion times before.

we shouldn’t spend the entirety of the day on them, but we should at least have them.

A quixotic impeachment isn’t necessarily about removing our President from office. It’s about forcing more investigations and doing them through a public process that even our captured media outlets can’t ignore. It’s a tool to both focus and produce mass public dissent against our President.

Yes, I know: Clinton. Quixotic impeachment did not help the Republicans remove Clinton... but 1: Clinton’s not a mob boss beholden to hostile foreign governments, 2: although the Clinton impeachment didn’t result in Clinton’s impeachment, it did result in the man who should have been his successor distancing himself from him despite his popularity, naming a wet sack of a right-winger as his Vice Presidential candidate, and coming so close to losing the election of 2000 that it was relatively easy for a gang of right wing judges and thugs to steal it.

Beyond this: if we have an impeachment process, we likely won’t get a conviction and removal from office. but if we don’t have an impeachment process, we definitely won’t get a conviction and removal from office. A party on the attack knows to work every angle, even the low probability of success ones... because a low probability of success is nevertheless a possibility of success.

The only argument against impeachment that resonates for me is the argument that Barr should be impeached first. Impeaching Barr first both serves as a venue to gather [more dirt on / loud public dissent against] our President, and may also put the fear of God into anyone else who might think it’s acceptable to toady for him.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 1:58 PM on April 18 [57 favorites]


Kevin Drum, Mother Jones: Mueller Found “Corrupt Intent” Repeatedly in Donald Trump’s Actions Toward the Russia Investigation

He highlights this quote from the report, which:
The Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) has issued an opinion finding that “the indictment or criminal prosecution of a sitting President would impermissibly undermine the capacity of the executive branch to perform its constitutionally assigned functions” in violation of “the constitutional separation of powers.” Given the role of the Special Counsel as an attorney in the Department of Justice [...] this Office accepted OLC’s legal conclusion for the purpose of exercising prosecutorial jurisdiction.
... Sure, his hands were tied, but that's not exactly a profile in courage there for the Mueller investigation.
posted by RedOrGreen at 2:00 PM on April 18 [13 favorites]


I just called and you can still get through to Hoyer on the 202-225-3130 number so light it up.
posted by chris24 at 2:01 PM on April 18 [7 favorites]


Saving democracy needs to involve eliminating gerrymandering.
posted by terrapin at 2:01 PM on April 18 [8 favorites]


Saving democracy needs to involve eliminating the power of the bourgeoisie.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 2:02 PM on April 18 [18 favorites]


tl;dr: The Mueller report is, as sad as it makes me personally, exactly what I should have expected. Donald is not the cause, but a symptom of our current troubles. Let's fix that instead of hoping for a legalistic solution.

tl:
It is a referral for impeachment. What can be done with that in this environment? Very little.

The rule of law should be absolute. We certainly push this rhetorical perspective. However, the current environment stands directly opposed to this.

It offends me as much as the next person but I think we (speaking as a progressive-leaning liberal type) need to look at crafting a convincing narrative that appeals across class / region / what-have-you. Litigating this may or may not remove Donald from office before 2020, but if the goal is a liberal/progressive democracy, we need to make that our focus.

I admit buying into the idea that this investigation would bring down the wrath of the plebiscite. I think I was wrong. The electorate's decisions on this matter was made up even before the 2020 election. This report is purposely inconclusive. As always, the law is not objective, but a reflection of the society that interprets it.
posted by Fezboy! at 2:06 PM on April 18 [8 favorites]


Fox's headline: "Mueller report reveals top Trump advisers resisting, defying president's requests on probe"

posted by prize bull octorok at 1:54 PM on April 18 [3 favorites +] [!]

They say that like it's a bad thing...
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:09 PM on April 18 [4 favorites]


I think the most relevant piece of data we have regarding impeachment is exactly what happened when the summary of the report was released. The media fell all over itself to report exactly what Barr wanted them to say.

What do you think would happen when the Senate fails to convict? The majority of the voting public only follows the gist of the news. What do you think they’ll get out of “no evidence of wrongdoing informs a party line vote in the Senate; Democrats fail to impeach Trump in what President calls the legitimate defeat of the greatest witch-hunt in history”?

There’s a real chance that a failed impeachment could fuck us over right and proper and I’m even more certain of it now after what shaped the narrative the past few weeks. Congress should investigate the shit out of all of this but impeachment strikes me as at best a terrifying gamble.
posted by lydhre at 2:10 PM on April 18 [10 favorites]


it’s about forcing more investigations and doing them through a public process

And the investigation has more or less been done. Everybody is comfortable with the apocryphal boiling frog, and that had a fraction of this report dropped without all the previous reporting or the other impeachment-worthy stuff, it would have a much greater impact. Everybody accepts that the Wikileaks dripfeed of hacked emails kept the press chasing.

So there's no reason why the House can't do that itself. If there's going to be a fight over access to grand jury evidence, you can still call up every witness quoted in the obstruction section, read out the relevant passages, ask "is that true?" and "do you think that was an abuse of office, and if not, why not?" and move on to the next one. Pretty sure you can sustain that for a few months.
posted by holgate at 2:10 PM on April 18 [7 favorites]


Congress can't impeach the president because congress is too corrrupt because congress can't impeach the president because congress is too corrupt...
posted by runcibleshaw at 2:12 PM on April 18 [6 favorites]


And the investigation has more or less been done.

It really hasn't. Even this heavily redacted version of Mueller's report shows substantial non-cooperation and interference from the Trump administration, in large part because Mueller's ability to force compliance upon them was relatively limited. The House is moving more slowly than most of us would like but they are steadily ramping up demands for compliance from the executive and we're at the point where they'll have to start jailing motherfuckers for contempt at this rate.

There's still a lot we don't know. We know a lot about what we don't know, but that's not quite the same thing.
posted by mightygodking at 2:14 PM on April 18 [37 favorites]


The saddest thing about Hoyer's mealy-mouthed statement is that the truth is right there for him to say, with but a small adjustment:

"Based on what we have seen to date, the GOP Senators hold party above country and wouldn't convict Trump even if he admitted collusion openly."

If the obstacle is the Republican Senate caucus -- and it is -- put the blame where it belongs. Don't piss on our heads about "lack of cause" or "not worth it" or "just go vote" and tell me that it's raining democracy and fairness.
posted by delfin at 2:18 PM on April 18 [88 favorites]


Don't piss on our heads about "lack of cause" or "not worth it" or "just go vote" and tell me that it's raining democracy and fairness.

Okay, that I can agree with.
posted by OnceUponATime at 2:19 PM on April 18 [19 favorites]


What do you think would happen when the Senate fails to convict?

What do you think would happen when the House decides impeachment is a waste of time? A bunch of potential voters see that Democrats will sit on their hands even when in possession of a 400 page document laying out how Republicans worked with a foreign power to manipulate the electorate then illegally impeded the investigation into their activities. If my representatives are telling me it's not worth it to cast a vote in the House or the Senate, how are they gonna convince me to cast a vote on election day?
posted by parallellines at 2:22 PM on April 18 [37 favorites]


We need to be precise about the terms impeachment and conviction and removal from office. Bill Clinton was impeached by the House, but not convicted by the Senate. When you say Trump can't be impeached, that's just wrong. He clearly would lose a real vote on his fitness for office in the House. It's exceedingly unlikely that he would be convicted by the Senate and removed from office. But he's a lock for impeachment.

[edited to fix a typo and unclear language]
posted by vibrotronica at 2:25 PM on April 18 [14 favorites]


Fox's headline: "Mueller report reveals top Trump advisers resisting, defying president's requests on probe"

Imagine how that will go over with Trump in light of the Daily Beast's recent article: Trump Tells Aides: ‘Keep an Eye’ on Fox News, Make Sure It Stays Loyal to Me—Even before publicly freaking out about Bernie Sanders’ town hall, the president has long kept tabs on whether the network was going wobbly on him.
“Keep an eye on it,” Trump started telling aides, according to two people with direct knowledge of his directive, in conversations about what was going on behind-the-scenes at Fox, and if there was any cause for concern for even the slightest positive coverage of any Democrat.[…]

[P]rivately, President Trump had been raising these questions of institutional loyalty, on-and-off, since at least the middle of last year. Several people who’ve heard him do this view it as more of a gutcheck than a loss of faith, and as yet another indication that Trump can interpret even the smallest deviations as a slight or a betrayal.
It's standard operating procedure in Trumpworld for one faction to boost their standing with Trump by backstabbing another. In particular, Fox highlights the Mueller report's account of the passive resistance of Don McGahn, Rick Dearborn, and Corey Lewandowski (the last of whom still pops up at his old employer CNN).
posted by Doktor Zed at 2:26 PM on April 18 [1 favorite]


I was listening to NPR on my drive home from work today and the reporter said something about them not being able to charge Trump Jr. for receiving and tweeting about hacked info because he didn't do the hacking himself. WTF? I don't get it. If someone comes to me and tells me they've got stolen property (like hacked info) and they want to give it to me so I can use it couldn't I get busted for receiving stolen property? And why doesn't this apply to those Trump guys? Lock them all up!
posted by mareli at 2:26 PM on April 18 [5 favorites]


Saving democracy needs to involve eliminating the power of the bourgeoisie.

If Robert Reich is to be believed, a long-term campaign of economic and social attacks against a prosperous, liberal middle class are probably what weakened our democracy in the first place. Trump and the Republican Party have been on the front lines of that war for decades, slowly replacing a capitalist system with a state-run economy that integrates corporatism, while successfully branding themselves as labor-friendly.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 2:29 PM on April 18 [32 favorites]


If someone comes to me and tells me they've got stolen property (like hacked info) and they want to give it to me so I can use it couldn't I get busted for receiving stolen property? And why doesn't this apply to those Trump guys?

Campaign finance law aside, this is not unlike what reporters do every day. People hand them obviously stolen information and they use it to sell papers.
posted by BungaDunga at 2:30 PM on April 18 [4 favorites]


I'm actually a bit surprised by the coverage today - I think the weight of the report is too much to ignore.

The NYT's current front page: Mueller Details Multiple Contacts With Russians and Trump’s Efforts to Thwart Inquiry; Cites Legal Constraints in Declining to Charge, but Does Not Exonerate
Robert S. Mueller III cataloged in his report the attempts by President Trump to escape an inquiry that imperiled his presidency from the start. The report does not find that Mr. Trump or his aides conspired with Russians, but it lays bare how Mr. Trump was elected with a foreign power’s help.
Washington Post goes with:
Mueller lays out obstruction evidence against Trump
Report rejects idea that Trump is shielded from obstruction laws
Mueller report finds 10 episodes of suspicious behavior by Trump
Analysis: What Barr buried, misrepresented or ignored
posted by RedOrGreen at 2:35 PM on April 18 [12 favorites]


I really hate this line of reasoning that goes "We can't impeach because the GOP senate won't go along with it for partisan reasons and then everyone will know our system is broken". Because acknowledging the system is broken is worse than trying to fix the fucking thing. If you preemptively decide not to fight because your opponent will fight back, you're always going to lose. I can only surmise the Democratic leadership keeps losing because they want to. It's easier than doing their job.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 2:38 PM on April 18 [52 favorites]


If you preemptively decide not to fight because your opponent will fight back, you're always going to lose. I can only surmise the Democratic leadership keeps losing because they want to. It's easier than doing their job.

Holding your colleagues accountable is flat out rude! After all, you work with them every day, you've been networking with them for years, you go to the same parties, you make the same amount of money, your kids hang out with their kids, and you all belong to the same tight social class with its own exclusive set of shared interests. Why would you want to piss off your golf buddies or threaten to put them in jail?

(This is why I only trust the handful of politicians who are clearly, consistently committed to a positive ideology with a clear program of action.)
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 2:44 PM on April 18 [18 favorites]


vibrotronica: He clearly would lose a real vote on his fitness for office in the House. It's exceedingly unlikely that he would be convicted by the Senate and removed from office. But he's a lock for impeachment.

Eh, I wouldn't be so certain about that. But to be clear: while I've been very bearish on here about impeachment, I do think that the instant the House starts officially considering the matter, it becomes critical that it be passed. A failed vote in the House would be much worse than the to-be-expected failed vote in the Senate, because of the combination of disillusionment on the left and celebration on the right that "even the Democrats!" didn't find him impeachable. (Also, they would have to try again just to regain the lost political capital.) This possibility, however small, adds to my hesitancy in pushing that ball to begin with.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 2:50 PM on April 18 [8 favorites]


Jamelle Bouie (NYT)
“We shouldn’t impeach because it isn’t what the voters want” is an extremely blinkered vision of politics that presupposes a world where public opinion cannot be moved and political parties cannot shape the political landscape through coordinated action.
• “We shouldn’t impeach because the Senate won’t convict” is an instrumentalist vision of politics that treats it primarily as a tool for removal & ignores the importance of the PROCESS of impeachment as well as the fact that lawmakers have constitutional responsibilities.
• “We shouldn’t impeach because it will make Trump more popular/help him win reelection” is pure conjecture without any evidence other than the half-remembered outcome of the Clinton impeachment. Give it 2 minutes thought and it doesn’t hold together.
• The president of the United States shows open contempt for the Constitution, is flagrantly corrupt, and has repeatedly ordered high level aides to lie and break the law on his behalf, to conceal potential wrongdoing.
• His behavior has rendered him one of the most unpopular presidents of the modern era, deeply opposed by a majority of the public.
• It is virtually certain that an impeachment investigation would uncover even more corrupt and nearly criminal behavior that would diminish his standing even further.
• And in the face of all of that, a surprisingly large number of people—including high-level opposition leadership—have convinced themselves that impeachment isn’t just ineffective, but might even help Trump win reelection.
• 2020 will be about Trump. And the way things are going—the way his opponents refuse to tackle him directly—we will fight that election on his terms, and we will lose as a result.
posted by chris24 at 2:50 PM on April 18 [87 favorites]


Barr’s Narrative of Victimhood -- The attorney general’s presentation will likely please the president, but does little for the credibility of the Department of Justice. (David A. Graham, staff writer at The Atlantic, April 18, 2019)

In short: instead of instilling public faith in the process or answering questions from the press in this morning's presser, Barr was there to paint Trump the real victim of the Mueller Report. "Put yourself in the poor president’s shoes, Barr pleaded:"
In assessing the President’s actions discussed in the report, it is important to bear in mind the context. President Trump faced an unprecedented situation. As he entered into office, and sought to perform his responsibilities as President, federal agents and prosecutors were scrutinizing his conduct before and after taking office, and the conduct of some of his associates. At the same time, there was relentless speculation in the news media about the President’s personal culpability. Yet, as he said from the beginning, there was in fact no collusion. And as the Special Counsel’s report acknowledges, there is substantial evidence to show that the President was frustrated and angered by a sincere belief that the investigation was undermining his presidency, propelled by his political opponents, and fueled by illegal leaks.
This was part of Barr's pre-release statement.

And the emphasis is mine -- this is language of a defending lawyer, making closing (or opening?) statements.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:59 PM on April 18 [20 favorites]


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes: "While I understand the political reality of the Senate + election considerations, upon reading this DoJ report, which explicitly names Congress in determining obstruction, I cannot see a reason for us to abdicate from our constitutionally mandated responsibility to investigate."
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 3:13 PM on April 18 [154 favorites]


Draw up your articles of impeachment: We do not believe it is acceptable for a president to do the following:

1. Separate children from asylum seeking families without plans for re-uniting them.
2. Lie to the people about their relationship to Russia during a cyber-attack.
3. Repeatedly order aides to commit crimes, and then punish them for not doing so.

If you need to curry favor with Republican swing voters, keep it simple, and plainly state the high crimes most anyone would agree are not something a president should do. If you don't want it to impact the election, then just start the impeachment process and do it quickly. There's not a lot to debate here.

And then let the Magaheads go to their saner relatives and bitch and moan about how illegals don't deserve children, that lying to the press isn't a crime, that no one actually committed crimes, etc. If I were a moderate Republican, that would probably close the case for me that the party is no longer what it purports to be.

This is being presented to the public as a complicated legal question. Make this simple. Would you want a man who did these things working for you? Well, do you?
posted by xammerboy at 3:50 PM on April 18 [38 favorites]


• His behavior has rendered him one of the most unpopular presidents of the modern era, deeply opposed by a majority of the public.
• It is virtually certain that an impeachment investigation would uncover even more corrupt and nearly criminal behavior that would diminish his standing even further.


Bouie's playing fast and loose with the general popularity poll without looking at the breakdown here, which is causing him to miss some things. Yes, Trump is deeply unpopular in the general - but looking at the breakdown by political affiliation, this is because he's deeply unpopular with Democratic voters and unpopular with "independents". But when you look at his popularity with Republicans? It's through the roof. Which is why he not only has a ceiling for the general popularity poll, but a floor as well - he's never been above water, yes, but he also doesn't really dip below 35% either.

Given that, as well as everything we already know, it's unlikely that the Republican base will break with him absent something truly earth-shattering. (Case in point - the person leading the AL-Sen polls for the GOP is Roy Moore.) And the GOP is no longer truly playing for the popular vote - they're just going to try to win by any means necessary. Which means that if revealing his corruption will do nothing to his standing with his base (or worse, as we saw with the Kavanaugh hearings, actually mobilize and reinforce them), such hearings would wind up being a wash.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:53 PM on April 18 [6 favorites]


Max Berger
Look what happened after the Barr cover-up letter swindled the press and impeachment seemed over: Trump was unleashed. He threatened to shut down the border. He told CBP to ignore the law.

We need impeachment hearings to hold him accountable and on defense. #TimeToImpeach

- - -

Dan Pfeiffer (Pod Save America)
Here are some thoughts about what Democrats can do going forward: First, don't take impeachment off the table. It's premature and stupid. (also muzzle Steny Hoyer)
• Second, get Mueller to the hill as soon as humanly possible to explain the report and then subpoena Barr to hold him to account for his lies and misdeeds in tthe handling of the report.
• Third, after that hearing begin proceedings to impeach or censure Barr. His conduct is beyond the pale and threatens the long term independence of the role of AG. It cannot go un-acknowledged.
• Fourth, plot out 9 months of high profile, newsmaking hearings with witnesses like Don Jr., Kushner etc. Every time the story is about to fade, another hearing happens. Control the narrative for as long as possible.
• Finally, Democratic candidates and Dem-aligned superpacs should use their messaging firepower to focus on the issues that matter to voters like taxes and health care that the media does a piss poor job of covering.
posted by chris24 at 3:55 PM on April 18 [82 favorites]


I don't know all the rules that govern congressional actions, but it seems to me like the reasonable thing to do at this point, rather than publicly ruling out an impeachment and signalling to the voting public that you're prepared to let Trump and his flunkies to skate on all these egregious offenses, is to launch an "impeachment inquiry" and to use all the subpoena powers and televised hearings available to unearth whatever incriminating evidence can be found, not just about coordination with Russia and obstruction of the Mueller investigation, but about all the other forms of corruption as well. Then, if it still seems politically untenable to hold an impeachment vote, then don't. But to rule out the impeachment right now, moments after this detailed narrative of Trump's historical misdeeds has been released, is all but guaranteed to dampen the political fervour among members of the public that would be necessary for an impeachment vote to succeed.
posted by Dr. Send at 3:55 PM on April 18 [7 favorites]


This is being presented to the public as a complicated legal question. Make this simple. Would you want a man who did these things working for you? Well, do you?

The problem, unfortunately, is that there is about 40% of the population that, in some form or another, will easily respond in the affirmative, whether it be saying that those things are great in of themselves, or that they are willing to overlook them if he'll give them what they want.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:57 PM on April 18 [6 favorites]


I can only surmise the Democratic leadership keeps losing because they want to. It's easier than doing their job.

Their job is not easy. Losing is, literally, easier. And I totally agree - they want to lose. I agree with that because I've seen them lose for 40 fucking years. We've covered the greatest hits - Arms-for-Hostages, Iran-Contra, Gulf War I, War on Drugs, Gulf War II, Taxpayer-funded Torture chambers, Rolling Obama / Stolen SCOTUS seats- Democrats do nothing about this except fire up the base at voting season. This isn't new by any stretch - it's the EXACT SAME playbook they were using under Reagan! It doesn't fucking work!!

But This. This grotesque charade is SO too far. Refusing to impeach after this extreme shitshow is the fucking end. And their stated reason is that they don't think they'd get re-elected! Heads up, Democratic so-called Leadership: you get your Better Jobs shit off my fucking lawn and never darken my newsfeed with it again so help me dog I will never let anyone forget your cowardice at this Death of The Rule of Law.

Republicans we've covered - their complicity is beyond suspicous and their criminal obstruction obvious. Corporate News is the oil slick of garbage that got us in this jam. But you - Congressional Democrats - I expect better from you. MUCH better. Get your squeaky white milquetoast losers off my screen because they're not getting my vote and they're not getting any fucking offices until you put up the fucking fight we demand from you. FIGHT! FOR! US! YOU! BASTARDS!
posted by petebest at 3:57 PM on April 18 [46 favorites]


Bouie's playing fast and loose with the general popularity poll without looking at the breakdown here

And why is this obvious fact that Rs like him and Ds really don’t and Inds mostly don’t playing fast and loose? Everyone knows that. Who the fuck cares about Rs? They’ll vote for him regardless. They’re a cult. You win by motivating your base, not worrying about his. WTF are we even doing if we’re not gonna do shit because Republicans won’t go along with it.
posted by chris24 at 3:58 PM on April 18 [21 favorites]


I see ditching Trump as paramount to the survival of our democracy. The two main ways of this happening are election loss and impeachment/conviction. The first (dicey as election security may be) is obviously 5000% more tenable than the second.

If impeachment should go forward, it's for some combination of two reasons: because it will help cause Trump to lose re-election, and because it's simply the right thing to do. The third answer of "because we have to get rid of criminal presidents" isn't a factor in play because "get rid" remains almost (almost!) impossible.

If doing the right thing does in fact have a perverse, counterproductive effect on election outcomes -- if (BIG if because have absolutely no idea) it distinctly boosts chances for Republicans -- then I'm against it. The alternative argument that this is a hill worth dying on is precisely the logic of voting for a third-party candidate.

But there's some fairly sharp reasons to think the opposite is true, and that this is a cake we can have and eat. Especially if high-profile Dems like AOC are able to hammer, hammer, hammer the message to the public that Senate Republicans are entirely divorced from reality in favor of Trump cultism. Impeachment will be a shout to the heavens, and I very strongly welcome it if it's understood and expressed on those terms.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 4:12 PM on April 18 [4 favorites]


I'm with petebest on this, right now is the time for us to see the Democratic leaders fight like their lives depend on it. Cause from here on in, unless they do fight, we're heading for political arrests and entire one-party control of the government. Oh, and climate crisis, yeah.
posted by odinsdream at 4:14 PM on April 18 [22 favorites]


Daniel Dale, Washington correspondent for the Toronto Star. (threadreader) and (the twitter thread).
The report also says that people being investigated, "including some associated with the Trump Campaign," "deleted relevant communications." The report says there are "gaps" in the special counsel's knowledge, and they can't "rule out the possibility" that there is more.
posted by adamvasco at 4:18 PM on April 18 [3 favorites]


As linked above, this is the threadreaderapp version of the Jared Yates Sexton summary of the Mueller Report.

It is concise. These are a few of the comments.

Perhaps the most critical piece of information is that the Trump Campaign knew that the DNC emails were going to be released before they were. They had an active, multi-pronged plan in place to capitalize off the communications stolen by the Russian government. 5/

Mueller found that Donald Trump, himself, knew that Wikileaks had the DNC emails before they were released and was in contact with campaign members and people outside of campaign and planned how to capitalize off their release. 6/

Trump's call for Russia to find Clinton's emails was fruitful. Within hours they followed his call and worked to find them. Despite saying it was just a TV stunt, he repeated the call off-camera. It was collusion in real time and in the light of public. No other way to say it 7/
...

Paul Manafort was especially lousy in the collusion front. He obviously had financial incentive and discussed battleground states with Russian individual, including Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, leading to suspicion that there were targeted efforts or interference. 9/
...

In terms of obstruction, it is quite obvious that Mueller was communicating that there were SEVERAL instances of obstruction, SEVERAL instances of attempted obstruction, and that Congress should address the issue. 11/
...

In collusion, Mueller repeatedly mentions that he was hindered by the Trump team either lying or else not providing information. He said they destroyed evidence and stonewalled him. That's why he couldn't establish the charge in totality. 22/

In terms of obstruction, Mueller was clearly putting the matter in the hands of Congress. This is a full and explicit layout of impeachable, high crimes. He was not intending Barr to steamroll over this thing. Not at all. 23/

What's more, Barr not only lied, it appears he actively obstructed justice by misrepresenting the report in his summary. This wasn't just a partisan structuring, it was an attempt to try and save Donald Trump and the administration. 24/

posted by petebest at 4:19 PM on April 18 [56 favorites]


I cannot see a reason for us to abdicate from our constitutionally mandated responsibility to investigate."

Yes, this is what I don't get. Congress has vast inherent powers and something of a bully pulpit. Investigate, investigate, investigate; summon witnesses; subpoena documents; hold press conferences explaining what you're doing. Investigation is a necessary prelude to impeaching officials, which is one of Congress' duties. It only becomes a “political” prosecution if the decisions are made along party lines, without considering the facts. That doesn't need to happen in the House unless Democrats let their actions be dictated by Republicans' likely rejection in the Senate. Perversely, abstention for fear of apparent partisanship is the most partisan thing the Democrats could do.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:21 PM on April 18 [40 favorites]


There were 7 Benghazi investigations. Who won in 2016? Rs.

Clinton’s impeachment supposedly really hurt Rs. Who won in 2000? Rs.

Investigations do not damage the party investigating. And impeachments without convictions don’t mean you lose the next election.
posted by chris24 at 4:32 PM on April 18 [84 favorites]


If doing the right thing does in fact have a perverse, counterproductive effect on election outcomes -- if (BIG if because have absolutely no idea) it distinctly boosts chances for Republicans -- then I'm against it

Can anybody explain the theory that focusing on Trump's lies, bad acts, and crimes would hurt Democrats?
posted by diogenes at 4:35 PM on April 18 [2 favorites]


Can anybody explain the theory that focusing on Trump's lies, bad acts, and crimes would hurt Democrats?

The argument is that a failed impeachment (which, given how the GOP is behaving, is pretty much guaranteed) would invigorate the Republican base, while demoralizing the Democratic one.
posted by NoxAeternum at 4:39 PM on April 18 [4 favorites]


His base will be fired up regardless. Our base will be pissed at a R Senate ignoring obvious crimes.

And our base is bigger. Even with Russia and Comey and misogyny and and and we got 3 million more votes. Investigate, fight, fire up the base.
posted by chris24 at 4:48 PM on April 18 [45 favorites]


There are also swing voters out there that don't like Trump, but they're tired of politics because everyone's so negative and the media's so negative and it's so awkward talking to people at the kids' soccer game, and why can't we just have a You're Ok I'm Ok Let's Lower Everybody's Taxes And Have Some Ice Cream kind of candidate? And I've met these people. I just don't know how the numbers work out.

But there's no reason Democrats can't campaign on other issues in 2020 while undertaking an investigation, especially if the nominee isn't part of the investigation. What, are Republicans going to run attack ads saying "Crazy Democrats are impeaching our president! So uncivil!" Well, maybe they would.

I mean, if a Republican (Mueller) basically gives you permission to discuss impeachment and you can't say yes, I just dunno...
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 4:51 PM on April 18 [10 favorites]


Investigations do not damage the party investigating.

Investigations don't damage Republicans because it's not about rational investigation, it's about tribal harassment of the other. Benghazi was clearly bullshit but that wasn't the point. The same isn't true for liberal voters.
posted by Candleman at 4:55 PM on April 18 [5 favorites]


Yeah, the argument that “Impeachment will give the Republicans fodder for negative ads!” is pretty weak considering Republicans have no problem simply making shit up for negative attack ads.
posted by ejs at 4:56 PM on April 18 [21 favorites]


My book report on ‘The Mueller Report’ (Alexandra Petri, WaPo)
I enjoyed reading “The Mueller Report,” a book that contained 448 pages, each more exciting than the last, as well as more than 1,000 footnotes! The book was published in 2019, meaning it is relevant to our times, and it contained many themes and symbolism which I will explain in the course of this report. At the back it also included a list of characters. Some people just skimmed through this report to come to conclusions they already had, but I did not, as this report will show.

“The Mueller Report” is about a man who wanted to find information, but really, I think, what he found was the American Dream. It is exactly like “The Great Gatsby,” a book about a man who pretends to have more money than he actually has and turns out to owe everything he has to sinister forces but for whom you ultimately feel pity because he is lonely even though he has a big house, in that both that book and this one are about a narrator who is trying to find out information about one thing and ultimately discovers something else.

Basically, the American Dream is elusive to lots of people, and some people would say that it does not exist at all, which is also what people in this book say about collusion, which shows parallelism.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 5:22 PM on April 18 [24 favorites]


You know, I really don't have much of a taste for Alexanda Petri today.
posted by M-x shell at 5:29 PM on April 18 [38 favorites]


Investigations don't damage Republicans because it's not about rational investigation, it's about tribal harassment of the other. Benghazi was clearly bullshit but that wasn't the point. The same isn't true for liberal voters.

If you follow the logic, liberal voters are in favor of rational investigation. In which case it's hard to think of anything that they'd approve of more than further digging on Trump. Mueller's conclusion is basically "we couldn't prove it 100% with the available evidence", which doesn't mean there isn't more evidence to be found.
posted by AdamCSnider at 5:35 PM on April 18 [6 favorites]


So if Democrats are going to be all "oversight is hard fml" are they going to focus on election security and eliminating foreign interference, or is that also too poltiical? If there's going to be only upside for Russia, won't other countries favored by the Trump admin want to keep the lootboxes flowing via dark money or other means? Saudis, DPRK, etc?
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:41 PM on April 18 [4 favorites]


One of Mueller's main statements, one of his primary determinations, that I'm sure he had decided on BEFORE he even TOOK this case on, was that he would not be the one who would determine whether or not the president could do his job.

He left this task (or passed the ball, or abdicated this responsibility, how ever you want to see it) to congress. The house can investigate this, they have hundreds of pages worth of material, any ONE of which could spark endless investigations.

STOP ABOUT THE SENATE. JUST STOP.

If Trump is the existential threat to democracy the Democrats claim, they have been given hundreds of pages worth of material that could throw monkey wrench after monkey wrench into his presidency. Just like, a fucking stream of endless monkey wrenches. How big is the White House, when the walls are closing in on you?

If this presidency is truly the existential threat that Democrats have been claiming, all of the "acting heads" that are there to hobble the departments they are supposed to be chairing, all of the REPEATED violence against immigrants, the new claims of the need to spy on disabled people to find "cheats", all of the endless cuts to government done in the name of the rich, they would be using ANY WEAPON in their arsenal.

If they refuse to take this chance, I can only come to the conclusion that, if they are not COMPLICIT, they are FINE with the way this government is operating.

This is a come to Jesus moment for Democrats.
posted by FireballForever at 5:41 PM on April 18 [48 favorites]


@MuellerFBI

"Wow! This really blew up.

I don't have a soundcloud but ..."
posted by srboisvert at 5:42 PM on April 18 [15 favorites]


Nobody really knows what the hell impeachment proceedings would do. An incompetent impeachment that focuses on technicalities might fire up the Rs based on victimhood and demoralize the Dems. An impeachment with decent messaging about hostile foreign powers, nobody being above the law, and obvious kleptocracy might bring out the Dems and damage Rs by forcing the senate to vote down obvious crimes. It depends what the committees find and how they keep the spotlight on the crimes found. At the least it keeps Trump braying about witch hunts rather what his base loves (non-white immigrant hate).
posted by benzenedream at 5:47 PM on April 18 [8 favorites]


> Can anybody explain the theory that focusing on Trump's lies, bad acts, and crimes would hurt Democrats?

Focusing on Trump's lies, bad acts, and crimes as a campaign strategy for a candidate for the Presidency in 2020 would hurt that candidate, because increasing the public's exposure to images and video clips of Trump makes him seem more powerful, and because fear of powerful bad men isn't a good way to motivate people to vote against those powerful bad men. Instead, it motivates people to keep their heads down, avoid politics, avoid anything that could attract the attention of the bad man and his followers.

However, investigating our President's lies, bad acts, and crimes as part of actions leading up to (if necessary) the impeachment of our President for those lies, bad acts, and crimes is a solemn duty for Congress, as in the final analysis the Constitution grants them the power of oversight over the executive branch. It is their job to do it. If, for perceived partisan reasons, they refuse to do their duty, they are derelict and should be replaced.

The thing is, a congressional investigation and if necessary impeachment of our President is to the benefit of the Democrats in Congress, because they can thereby show that they are serious people who care about their Constitutionally-defined role, who take the well-being of the nation seriously, and who take their own jobs seriously. (It is, I suppose, also to the benefit of any Republican congressmembers who are willing to care about their Constitutionally-defined role, who take the well-being of the nation seriously, and who take their own jobs seriously — but I don't think any of those exist.)

It is also to the benefit of the Democratic Party 2020 Presidential candidates. This is because, safe in the knowledge that the Democratic members of Congress are doing their jobs and investigating our President's lies, bad acts, and crimes, they are freed up to run campaigns wherein they outline their positive visions for the future, rather than campaigns where they just tell people that the bad man is bad.

Needless to say, AOC won me over with her statement that:
While I understand the political reality of the Senate + election considerations, upon reading this DoJ report, which explicitly names Congress in determining obstruction, I cannot see a reason for us to abdicate from our constitutionally mandated responsibility to investigate.
The reasoning and also political positioning in that statement are unassailable. It's time for the Democratic Party members of Congress to do their freaking jobs instead of releasing statements that boil down to "we are feckless and safely ignored."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that "we are feckless and safely ignored" is a stance that has literally never won any vote ever.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 5:53 PM on April 18 [55 favorites]


chris24: Our base will be pissed at a R Senate ignoring obvious crimes.

Yes, but how many would have learned something new from it? That's the key question. It's a matter of people whose behavior would be changed by Republican inaction, versus people whose behavior would be changed by Democratic inaction. Neither such group of people ought to exist at all -- if the Senate acquitting Trump angers you into voting (or into voting differently), then you have already not been paying attention to the nature of the parties. And likewise if your vote is changed by Democrats not impeaching. But some people exist in both groups, and it all rests in their hands. If those groups are in fact small or they cancel each other out, then impeachment is a must because the "Defeat Trump" priority then gives way to the "Act On Responsibility and Principle" priority, which is otherwise second on the list.

There may emerge a media narrative of "Republicans: Will They Put Country Before Party And Find Him Guilty?" Or there could be one of "Trump: Is He Guilty Or Not? Only The Senate Decides For Sure!" This is the question.

Another critical point is that impeachment is just one kind of thing, not the sum of everything. Latching onto it emotionally is just a variation on Mueller Will Save Us. If it, specifically, never materializes, the House continues to pursue numerous avenues. To pick just one example, while I definitely, wish they'd moved faster on the taxes, they absolutely deserve credit for currently tackling that head of the hydra.

A sentiment I've seen here is "Republicans made all that hay from Benghazi while Democrats don't even impeach smh". Those are comparing entirely different things -- there was never a Benghazi Impeachment and the House has enagaged in lots of substantive hearings and investigations, such as the Cohen testimony a little while ago. The only reason that sentiment seems non-fallacious at first is our mental equation of "impeachment" with "oversight". Let's not be [whichever sports fans are the ones famous for dwelling in disappointment as much as possible] here.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 5:57 PM on April 18 [5 favorites]


I've just heard a theory that the timing, coinciding with the easter/passover holiday, is either very fortunate or cynically planned. I know that no-one's at the capitol, but I really doubt that Pelosi, Schiff, Shumer et al are too busy making sand castles on the beach to be bothered with any of this. No-one is taking a holiday right now.
posted by adept256 at 6:19 PM on April 18 [2 favorites]


Whether to begin impeachment proceedings is not a hard choice. We don’t know what the result will be. It good be good or bad for Trump. But what we do know is that it would be really bad to allow these crimes to go unpunished. And these crimes are monumental.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:24 PM on April 18 [20 favorites]


One doesn't even need to formally instigate impeachment proceedings, simple "doing due diligence following up issues raised by the Mueller report" is enough of a smoke screen to keep things running in public turning over rocks to see what crawls out
posted by mbo at 6:27 PM on April 18 [14 favorites]


Mueller's conclusion is basically "we couldn't prove it 100% with the available evidence"

Mueller's conclusion was that the Trump administration destroyed evidence and refused requests for information so he was specifically not exonerated from the obstruction charges. Also here's a mountain of examples where he obstructed justice.

Also that he was not set up to indict Trump from the start, which, okay I guess he could have MENTIONED THAT.
posted by petebest at 6:39 PM on April 18 [12 favorites]


Burr Briefed White House on FBI Targets (CNN (via))

The Mueller report says that Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) “appeared to brief the White House counsel’s office about the targets of the FBI’s Russia investigation in March 2017,” CNN reports.

The report states that FBI Director James Comey briefed the Gang of Eight — the Intelligence Committee and congressional leaders — about the investigation on March 9, 2017.

The week after, the White House counsel’s office was briefed by Burr on the “existence of 4-5 targets.”


Let's all remember Dick Burr, chairmain of the Senate Intelligence "oversight" committee from the recent chart-topping smash, "Trump A-OK, Nothing To See Here" headlines, Senate Intelligence chairman: No evidence of Trump-Russia collusion

This is _such_ bullshit.
posted by petebest at 6:52 PM on April 18 [18 favorites]


Partway through the report, but still haven't seen any follow-up on the mysterious Feb 2017 Russian Embassy hamburger tweet. Maybe it's in one of the redacted bits?
posted by triggerfinger at 6:55 PM on April 18 [2 favorites]


I've just heard a theory that the timing, coinciding with the easter/passover holiday, is either very fortunate or cynically planned. I know that no-one's at the capitol, but I really doubt that Pelosi, Schiff, Shumer et al are too busy making sand castles on the beach to be bothered with any of this. No-one is taking a holiday right now.

In a better world in which religious people actually hewed to the principles they claim to value, it would be a very unfortunate time for Trump, because every minister, pastor, priest and rabbi would spend the weekend declaiming against the wickedness on display.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:59 PM on April 18 [8 favorites]


Buzzfeed, Ben Smith, How We Characterized Michael Cohen’s Testimony: An update on our Jan. 19 story about the Trump Moscow lies.
Today, with the release of the Mueller report, we know which characterization Carr was disputing: Specifically, that the series of interactions between Trump, Cohen, and their lawyers did not, in the prosecutors’ view, amount to Trump “directing” Cohen to lie.

As Mueller’s team wrote in the report: “While there is evidence ... that the president knew Cohen provided false testimony to Congress ... the evidence to us does not establish the president directed or aided Cohen's false testimony."

As a matter of what constitutes a crime, Mueller has the last word, and his characterization has the force of law. (We’ll be updating our original story with a link to this piece.)

But that isn’t the only question. So I’d also like to share an accounting of how we came to our characterization, to give our audience and people who reasonably raised questions about our reporting as much information as possible about how the story came to be.
...
Our story was based on detailed information from senior law enforcement sources. That reporting included documents — specifically, pages of notes that were taken during an interview of Cohen by the FBI. In those notes, one law enforcement source wrote that “DJT personally asked Cohen to say negotiations ended in January and White House counsel office knew Cohen would give false testimony to Congress. Sanctioned by DJT. Joint lawyer team reviewed letter Cohen sent to SSCI about his testimony about Trump Tower moscow, et al, knowing it contained lies.”

The law enforcement source also wrote: “Cohen told OSC” — the Office of Special Counsel — “he was asked to lie by DJT/DJT Jr., lawyers.”
...
The facts of Cohen’s lies and his interactions with Trump are, largely, now settled. Our sources — federal law enforcement officials — interpreted the evidence Cohen presented as meaning that the president “directed” Cohen to lie. We now know that Mueller did not.
What the everloving fuck? Cohen didn’t even go as far as these notes indicate in his public testimony.
posted by zachlipton at 6:59 PM on April 18 [19 favorites]


"The President's efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests," Mueller says in the report.

  • The President's
  • - the chief executive, nuclear football guy, mmkay
  • efforts to
  • - things he did, things he said, orders he gave, implied threats, what-have-yous
  • influence the investigation
  • - *record scratch* say what? Like ... is it even arguable that the person under investigation was influencing said investigation towards their own indictment? Well then, how is this not the exact same thing as obstruction? HOW. Obstruction doesn't require success it simply requires "interference, through words or actions, with the proper operations of a court or officers of the court."

    I don't know what the fuck Mueller & Co are doing here. Maybe sotonohito's right.
    posted by petebest at 7:19 PM on April 18 [11 favorites]


    @samstein: Several lawmakers said they had no clue why Hoyer went out and said impeachment was off the table. An aide said it was “off message.” Others said they got no guidance from leadership about messaging the Mueller report even though everyone knew it was coming.

    This is astonishingly moronic.
    posted by zachlipton at 7:25 PM on April 18 [50 favorites]


    Courthouse News’s Adam Klasfeld spotted something interesting:
    #AlwaysReadTheFootnotes MUELLER, p. 390, footnote 19911091: "A possible remedy through impeachment for abuses of power would not substitute for potential criminal liability after a President leaves office."
    1091 A possible remedy through impeachment for abuses of power would not substitute for potential criminal liability after a President leaves office. Impeachment would remove a President from office, but would not address the underlying culpability of the conduct or serve the usual purposes of the criminal law. Indeed, the Impeachment Judgment Clause recognizes that criminal law plays an independent role in addressing an official's conduct, distinct from the political remedy of impeachment. See U.S. CONST. ART. l, § 3, cl. 7. Impeachment is also a drastic and rarely invoked remedy, and Congress is not restricted to relying only on impeachment, rather than making criminal law applicable to a former President, as OLC has recognized. A Sitting President's Amenability to Indictment and Criminal Prosecution, 24 Op. O.L.C. at 255 ("Recognizing an immunity from prosecution for a sitting President would not preclude such prosecution once the President's term is over or he is otherwise removed from office by resignation or impeachment.").
    This report allegedly containing "TOTAL AND COMPLETE EXONERATION" of the president describes the law of impeachment 10 times, largely (but not exclusively) in footnotes.
    If Mueller can break out the i-word, why can't the Dem leadership?
    posted by Doktor Zed at 7:36 PM on April 18 [58 favorites]


    See also Mueller, Vol. II, page 1, footnote 4: "OLC Op. at 255 ("Recognizing an immunity from prosecution for a sitting President would not preclude such prosecution once the President's term is over or he is otherwise removed from office by resignation or impeachment")" (Sitting President's Amenability to Indictment and Criminal Prosecution.)
    posted by Doktor Zed at 7:41 PM on April 18 [3 favorites]


    I think the choice not to impeach prioritizes a short-term good -- salving the fear that today's moderate and left-leaning voters are, on balance, Over It -- over a long-term good -- establishing that our constitution still works. If we can no longer believe that it does, if we no longer have a legal and nonviolent way to jettison a truly bad actor who came to power dishonestly before he lets go of the reins on his own, we are all going to be worse off, in so many ways.
    posted by eirias at 7:51 PM on April 18 [22 favorites]


    I don't know what the fuck Mueller & Co are doing here

    Obstruction (the crime) requires corrupt intent as well as influence. Mueller decided not to come to a conclusion whether Trump's influence and intent amounted to the crime of obstruction because he was not going to indict anyway. But, he includes lots of evidence of both and waggles his eyebrows a bit and expects the reader to draw their own conclusions- he can talk about influence, because influence isn't itself a crime. But he's purposely gagged himself from calling it obstruction (that is, concluding that Trump had corrupt intent).
    posted by BungaDunga at 7:54 PM on April 18 [6 favorites]


    As ever, Doctor Chuck Tingle works fast, putting out a new tingler today: REDACTED IN THE BUTT BY REDACTED UNDER THE TROMP ADMINISTRATION.
    posted by Capt. Renault at 8:00 PM on April 18 [24 favorites]


    Whether to begin impeachment proceedings is not a hard choice.

    One doesn't even need to formally instigate impeachment proceedings, simple "doing due diligence following up issues raised by the Mueller report" is enough of a smoke screen to keep things running in public turning over rocks to see what crawls out.


    The constitution doesn't really specify "impeachment proceedings" though. Basically, impeachment in the House and conviction in the Senate are just resolutions like any other. There are certainly House rules that currently exist that would govern an impeachment process, but these are just rules, and the majority party can change them like any other rule as it pleases. So while something with pomp that follows the existing House impeachment rules would be the most official "impeachment proceedings," all the myriad ongoing investigations by the various House committees are basically the same sorts of proceedings you would get in some more officially designated "impeachment" hearing. Congress already has all the subpoena and other powers it might need, so my guess is that the Democratic leadership simply plans to chug away with the already adequately-powered existing investigations, with no real need to formally declare anything "impeachment proceedings" until evidence and public opinion suffices (in their minds) to put on the formal hat.

    Incidentally, if anyone wanted to know what the existing rules are (which again, exist purely at the whim of the majority parties in the House and Senate), Findlaw has a decent account:
    Both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate have the right to make their own rules governing their procedure, and to change those rules. Under current rules, the actual impeachment inquiry begins in the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives. That Committee holds hearings, takes evidence, and hears testimony of witnesses concerning matters relevant to the inquiry. Typically, as occurred in the case of President Nixon, there will also be a Minority Counsel who serves the interest of the party not controlling Congress.

    Witnesses are interrogated by the Committee Counsel, the Minority Counsel, and each of the members of the House Judiciary Committee. The Committee formulates Articles of Impeachment which could contain multiple counts. The Committee votes on the Articles of Impeachment and the results of the vote are reported to the House as a whole. The matter is then referred to the whole House which debates the matter and votes on the Articles of Impeachment, which may or may not be changed. If the Articles of Impeachment are approved, the matter is sent to the Senate for trial.

    The trial in the Senate is handled by "Managers" from the House of Representatives, with the assistance of attorneys employed for the prosecution of the impeachment case. The Senate sits as a jury. (In the past the Senate has heard judicial impeachments by appointing a subcommittee especially for that purpose, which then reports its findings to the Senate as a whole.) The Senate would then debate the matter, and vote, each individual Senator voting whether to convict the President and remove him from office, or against conviction. If more than two-thirds of the Senators present vote to convict, the President would be removed from office.
    Again, the main upshot is that they make their own rules, so any kinds of proceedings are possible, irrespective of past practice and preexisting rules; the only necessary act is writing a resolution and voting on it.
    posted by chortly at 8:25 PM on April 18 [11 favorites]


    Lawfare, there-are-ten-bylines-here, What Mueller Found on Russia and on Obstruction: A First Analysis—it's Lawfare's take on the document.

    There's a ton here, and it would do a disservice to try to summarize it, but I do want to raise one thing it mentions briefly: what happened to the counterintelligence investigation? Mueller narrowly focuses on making prosecutorial judgements: did this or that rise to the level of a crime for which someone can be indicted? But the investigation the FBI started was broader than that. Sections of the report address Russia's actions, but the focus is always on criminal conduct. As the Lawfare gang writes:
    What’s more, it is almost entirely devoid of discussion of the counterintelligence equities at issue in the Russia matter. This is a prosecutor’s report, focused entirely on application of fact to criminal laws and to assessment of whether legal standards were met. Whether this absence is because the counterintelligence elements of the investigation were handled in some other format or because they were entirely sublimated to the criminal investigation is unclear. But this is a document summarizing a criminal probe and the thinking of the prosecutors who ran it—not a document describing the management of threats to the country.
    So where did the counterintelligence elements of the investigation go? There's a wide range of conduct, the kind that the FBI doesn't like to talk about that much, that are of concern to the government from a counterintelligence perspective yet isn't criminal. Lawfare wrote about that a few weeks ago in To Understand Mueller’s Work, Focus on Counterintelligence. So where'd that go?
    posted by zachlipton at 9:30 PM on April 18 [24 favorites]


    From the letter appointing Mueller as Special Counsel:
    (b) The Special Counsel is authorized to conduct the investigation confirmed by then-FBI Director James 8. Corney in testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on March 20, 2017, including:

    (i) any links and/or coordination bet ween the Russian government and individuals
    associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and
    (ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and
    (iii) any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. § 600.4(a).

    (c) If the Special Counsel believes it is necessary and appropriate, the Special Counsel is authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising from the investigation of these matters.

    (d) Sections 600.4 through 600.10 of Title 28 of the Code of Federal Regulations are applicable to the Special Counsel.
    posted by kirkaracha at 9:43 PM on April 18 [6 favorites]


    Could someone please explain to me in simple words how Trump going on TV to ask Russia to get Clinton's emails followed almost immediately by Russia trying to get Clinton's emails is not cooperation or coordination?
    posted by kirkaracha at 9:48 PM on April 18 [10 favorites]


    Could someone please explain to me in simple words how Trump going on TV to ask Russia to get Clinton's emails followed almost immediately by Russia trying to get Clinton's emails is not cooperation or coordination?

    From the report (Vol I, page 2): "We understand coordination to require an agreement—tacit or express—between the Trump Campaign and the Russian government on election interference. This requires more than the two parties taking actions that were informed by or responsive to the other's actions or interests. We applied the term coordination in that sense when stating in the report that the investigation did not establish the Trump Campaign coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities."

    In short, they defined the terms from the start to say that "coordination" doesn't include what happened: publicly asking for Russia to do something and then Russia doing it. Turns out you can come to any conclusion you want if you start by defining words to mean what you want them to mean.
    posted by zachlipton at 9:55 PM on April 18 [26 favorites]


    "When I use a word," Trumpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less."

    "The question is," said Mueller, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

    "The question is," said Trumpty Dumpty, "which is to be master—that's all."
    posted by kirkaracha at 10:25 PM on April 18 [19 favorites]


    What does a tacit agreement look like, if not this? I suppose the missing ingredient is a quid pro quo. I'm trying to remember where these events fall in relation to the sudden changes to Ukraine policy in the GOP platform.
    posted by Piso Mojado at 10:40 PM on April 18


    Mueller Report's Episodes of Potential Obstruction of Justice:

    I apologize for the length of this post, but it's useful to have a bulleted list:

    1. Misleading statements about his ties to Russia
    - Trump casts doubt during campaign about whether Russia was involved in email leaks while campaign seeks information from Wiki-Leaks.
    - Trump insists he has no ties to Russia while organization pursues licensing deal with Russia for Trump Tower Moscow.

    2. Asking Comey to end an investigation
    - Trump tells Comey to end investigation into Flynn, because he is a good guy.

    3. Attempts to stop Sessions from recusing himself from the Russia investigation
    - Trump tells his lawyer McGahn to stop Sessions from recusing himself from the Russia investigation.

    4. Trying to get Sessions to resume control of the inquiry
    - Trump personally tells Sessions to unrecuse himself from the investigation.
    - Trump begins an effort to get Sessions to resign.

    5. Reacting to the disclosure that his campaign was under investigation
    - The president tells C.I.A. director, Mike Pompeo and Comey to publicly knock down the notion that his campaign coordinated with the Russians.

    6. Firing Comey
    - The President tells NBC News he fired Comey because of Russia
    - Trump tells people he decided to fire Comey regardless of independent job performance recommendations

    7. Reacting to the Mueller appointment and trying to fire him
    - Trump tries to force Mr. McGahn to have the Justice Department fire Mr. Mueller multiple times.

    8. Misleading statement about meeting with Russians
    - Trump crafts his son's statement regarding meeting with Russians, only mentioning it being about adoptions, not Clinton.

    10. Trying to oust Sessions
    - Trump dictates a message to Sessions, asking him to publicly say the investigation is unfair and that the president is innocent.

    11. Talking to witnesses about testimony
    - Trump orders aides to disavow Trump tried to fire special counsel.
    - Trump threatens to fire lawyer McGahn if he refuses to rebut news publicly.

    12. Interacting with his personal lawyer
    - Trump's lawyer tells Cohen to stay on message in regards to Trump Tower Project.
    - Trump publicly calls Cohen a rat after cooperating with prosecutors.
    posted by xammerboy at 10:54 PM on April 18 [50 favorites]


    I suppose the missing ingredient is a quid pro quo.

    It sure looks like a tacit agreement. Trump surely delivered on ending Russian sanctions, which is exactly what Russia asked his campaign team to do at Trump Tower. But can you prove it?
    posted by xammerboy at 11:02 PM on April 18 [7 favorites]


    Mueller's report would have signaled the end for anyone other than Trump
    Guardian analysis by Jon Swaine.
    It's a very succinct and clear piece and includes this lovely bit:
    Mueller confirmed on Thursday that he considered prosecuting Trump Jr for taking the meeting but ultimately declined. Among other factors, Mueller explained, he would have had a difficult task proving that Donald Jr had a “culpable mental state”.

    Not, one might think, anything to boast about.

    Yet with a brass neck shinier than the interior of his father’s home, Trump Jr on Thursday could not contain his joy at getting away with it. “Better luck next hoax,” he said to his critics. We won. Tough luck. Get over it.
    posted by mumimor at 1:35 AM on April 19 [23 favorites]


    Still going through my morning "paper":
    'Whimsical, uninformed': French ambassador's parting verdict on Trump
    Gérard Araud compares regime to court of Louis XIV and warns UK over post-Brexit trade
    “It’s like [trying] to analyse the court of Louis XIV,” Araud said. “You have an old king, a bit whimsical, unpredictable, uninformed, but he wants to be the one deciding.”

    Like the Sun King who dominated France in the 17th and 18th centuries, Trump “doesn’t want to appear under any influence and he wants to show it”, Araud said.

    He portrayed the current situation as the opposite extreme of the meticulous though sometimes ponderous decision-making process pursued by the previous administration.

    “Obama was the ultimate bureaucrat: you know every night he was going to bed with 60 pages and in the morning they were coming back all annotated by the president,” he said. For decisions such as the troop surge in Afghanistan, there were months of meetings between the relevant government departments.

    Now that inter-agency process is largely dead, killed off and replaced by John Bolton, the ultra-hawkish national security adviser, while other centres of power in the state department and Pentagon are withering, weakened by multiple unfilled senior positions, and top officials serving in acting capacity only, without Senate confirmation.

    “Actually, we don’t have interlocutors,” Araud said. “[When] we have people to talk to, they are acting, so they don’t have real authority or access. Basically, the consequence is that there is only one centre of power: the White House.
    posted by mumimor at 1:46 AM on April 19 [15 favorites]


    But a thing about "Make Republicans defend him!" is that I believe that almost the entire set of Americans who are currently unsure whether the Republican Party is totally compromised/corrupt would also accept, with a shrug, whatever finding was reached. In other words, how many people gain information that is both true and new to them when they see impeachment proceedings and the subsequent not-guilty verdict?

    Exactly! I am listening to the latest Ana Marie Cox With Friends Like These podcast. I was feeling very pro impeachment, as I have been for some time, when Rick Wilson, Republican operative and writer, pointed out that the minute the House begins impeachment the Trump 2020 campaign will raise millions and millions and millions of dollars from his base rushing to defend him. (Wilson actually used the B word, for billions.)

    From Politico: Money has long been a key factor in political success: The more candidates raise, the more they have to spend on advertising, door-knocking and other important campaign functions. ... While the Democrats gear up for a primary, their ultimate opponent is working on his own campaign. President Donald Trump has amassed $40.8 million in his campaign account as of the end of March, and Trump is rapidly raising and spending money for a campaign infrastructure to take on the eventual Democratic nominee — more than a year before the Democratic primary is through. So Trump has twice as much as the top D primary fundraiser already.

    Is it obviously the moral action to impeach knowing that A. The Senate will never vote to remove Trump from office and B. Impeachment will fill Trump's campaign coffers even more, giving him a huge financial edge in the election, which increases the odds that he wins the election? Because his reelection would mean C. More children in more cages, as well as another four years of destroying our democracy, loading the courts with scary/retro/anti-female, -PoC, -LQBTQ judges, and coming up with additional ways to be shitty to basically everyone: our environment, our laws, our citizens, our residents, our allies, you name it.

    Under the circumstances, that is not a gamble I would be willing to take. I think Congress needs to aggressively investigate Trump and all of his officials and associates; all of his companies; all of his properties, etc., and prosecute when that is possible. Meanwhile, from now until election day D candidates and the national Democratic leaders need to trumpet that Trump and his cronies are crooks while also talking about the most important (few) issues that voters care about. And that mostly means health care, IMO.
    posted by Bella Donna at 2:20 AM on April 19 [10 favorites]


    NYTimes has a neat graphic showing which parts of the report are redacted See Which Sections of the
    Mueller Report Were Redacted

    One part that is heavily redacted is "Mueller’s decision on whether or not to bring charges", and I think this is probably the most suspicious part. The others are understandable in relation to intelligence and ongoing investigations.
    posted by mumimor at 2:55 AM on April 19 [15 favorites]


    From Reuters: The United Constitutional Patriots, who claim to be mainly military veterans, have been patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border near Sunland Park, New Mexico, since late February in search of illegal border crossers.

    They post near daily videos showing members dressed in camouflage and armed with semi-automatic rifles holding groups of migrants, many of them Central American families seeking asylum, until U.S. Border Patrol agents arrive to arrest them.

    The small volunteer group says it is helping Border Patrol deal with a surge in undocumented migrants but civil rights organizations like the ACLU say it is a “fascist militia organization” operating outside the law.

    “We cannot allow racist and armed vigilantes to kidnap and detain people seeking asylum,” the ACLU said in a letter to New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and Attorney General Hector Balderas.

    posted by Bella Donna at 3:32 AM on April 19 [24 favorites]


    If they're going to get him on something, they're going to get him on obstruction.

    Of course, the issue here is that Trump didn't successfully obstruct the investigation in any meaningful way. He sure as heck wanted to, and he looked for every angle to do so, going as far as directing people - but his lieutenants refused to comply.

    Trump felt it was a witch hunt and wanted to shut it down is different than Trump was trying to hide things and shut the investigation down to prevent those things from being disclosed.

    At its core, Mueller determined there wasn't collusion, and that overall, the actions of the Trump team were ham handed and sloppy attempts at stopping an investigation they thought was unjust. The resulting actions to stop the investigation could very well be interpreted as either obstruction, or, defensive moves.
    posted by tgrundke at 4:00 AM on April 19 [1 favorite]


    I knew the UCP story Bella Donna links to would get buried in yesterday's Mueller news drop, but it's alarming as hell. Former military and cops, holding migrants at gunpoint and "commanding" them, just to help out the existing legal authorities? This is some brownshirt shit, and it must be dealt with as a crime.
    posted by Rykey at 4:10 AM on April 19 [49 favorites]


    Nadler on Good Morning America just now: subpoena will come in the next couple of hours
    posted by XMLicious at 4:18 AM on April 19 [11 favorites]


    At its core, Mueller determined there wasn't collusion, and that overall, the actions of the Trump team were ham handed and sloppy attempts at stopping an investigation they thought was unjust. The resulting actions to stop the investigation could very well be interpreted as either obstruction, or, defensive moves.

    But Mueller specifically did not look at “collusion” he looked at criminal conspiracy and concluded he didn’t have the evidence to determine it was a conspiracy (direct coordination of the parties). He also said there was a lot of missing or obscured evidence that could lead in a different direction.

    It sounds like obstruction, to Mueller, requires corrupt intent. But, like NPRs definition of lying, I’m not sure why we need to know what is in someone’s heart when we can see what they are doing.

    This is such a disturbing example of power and money shielding a criminal from consequences that it makes me ill. I want congress to act to restore our faith in government (if that’s possible).
    posted by rainydayfilms at 4:46 AM on April 19 [11 favorites]


    Obstruction to Barr requires corrupt intent (and a Democratic Party affiliation). To Mueller it was an entirely academic question because he wasn't allowed to charge it, so he limited himself to compiling evidence and then told Congress that it's their job to decide whether it proved a high crime and/or misdemeanor.

    (Also Mueller never affirmatively found "no collusion" and pointedly mentions areas where he was unable to fully explore what happened because the Trump camp lied, refused to cooperate or concealed evidence, which sounds a lot like successful obstruction)
    posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:00 AM on April 19 [15 favorites]


    Meredith Shiner
    Former Senator Bill Nelson claimed Russian hackers had gained access to Florida election systems. He was mocked. The Mueller Report confirms this happened. Think about how close his race was and the gubernatorial!
    Mother Jones: Mueller Report Bolsters Claims That Russia Penetrated Election Systems in Florida
    posted by chris24 at 5:09 AM on April 19 [64 favorites]


    Elizabeth de la Vega
    If you think the party that finds it politically inconvenient to begin an impeachment inquiry in the face of overwhelming evidence of Trump's abuses of power will allow him to be indicted federally if they do defeat him in 2020, think again. They won't --politically inconvenient.
    posted by chris24 at 5:18 AM on April 19 [19 favorites]


    The UCP militia on the border story is horrifying, but not unusual, or new. Border militia groups have been taking the same actions for years. Mother Jones recently (2016) covered a group, by joining one undercover. There are also interviews with some of similar groups in recent documentaries, like Katheryn Bigelow's Cartel Land, 2015, which partly follows the Arizona Border Recon, another vigilante group.
    posted by Harry Caul at 5:19 AM on April 19 [7 favorites]




    I imagine that if Mueller had actually tried to impeach Trump, he'd be called out for gross abuse of power.
    posted by ZeusHumms at 5:21 AM on April 19


    But Mueller specifically did not look at “collusion” he looked at criminal conspiracy and concluded he didn’t have the evidence to determine it was a conspiracy (direct coordination of the parties).

    Even beyond that it was a specific category of conspiracy that he found insufficient evidence for, involving the Russian government as one of the other parties among further details. I noted with interest (though without any legal expertise) that at Barr's spin conference yesterday morning he appeared to very specifically delineate the IRA, for example, as a separate entity from the Russian government.

    So that seems like it leaves open the possibility of sufficient evidence for conspiracies involving Russian entities that don't count as the Russian government. Sort of like how Judge Ellis, who presided over a Manafort case, insisted that prosecutors not use the term “oligarch”. And of course it seems like there might be evidence of conspiracies that don't involve any Russians at all.

    As far as “either obstruction, or, defensive moves” that sounds like a false dichotomy to me. Clumsily abusing power in a defensive move could certainly also count as criminal obstruction of justice, I'd think.
    posted by XMLicious at 5:24 AM on April 19 [3 favorites]


    A few words on timing from 1998, and some wild speculation:
    The Starr Report was released on September 11, 1998.
    The House Judiciary Committee (Hyde) talked a lot about impeachment but didn't do anything before the election, because they already had the Starr Report. This was a different approach than Rodino's Judiciary Committee took in 1974. After the election (they lost 5 seats), they reported out 4 articles of impeachment on December 15. The House approved 2 of the articles on December 19.
    The Senate trial ran from January 7, 1999 through February 12. Part time, with open and closed sessions, but about 5-6 weeks.

    In this case, House Judiciary Committee (Nadler) will do their own investigation; they've said as much yesterday. It'll probably take through the summer, at least. If the House does go forward with impeachment, the timing around the election could be interesting (but probably won't be):
    The senators are going to have to stay in town for the trial. This will be inconvenient for the Democratic senators who are running for President (which is all of them), which to my mind makes it more likely McConnell will let it go forward. If the trial doesn't get started until the winter, this will pull them off the campaign trail. Most primaries are in March.

    If it drags on long enough, some ambitious Republican senators (which is all of them) will see the opportunity to get Trump out of the way, bar him from office, and go to an wide-open party convention with no nominee. This is unlikely, but I'll bet you Ted Cruz, Mitt Romney and Marco Rubio are looking at the convention rules now, if they haven't already. You'd think it would backfire, but if you're secure enough in your own seat, this might be as close as you'd ever get.
    posted by Huffy Puffy at 5:31 AM on April 19 [7 favorites]


    Eliza Relman and Sonam Sheth for Business Insider: "Mueller referred 14 criminal matters to other prosecutors, but only 2 of them are public so far"
    The two criminal investigations we know of that were referred by Mueller are those dealing with Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former lawyer, and Gregory Craig, the former White House counsel under former President Barack Obama.
    Wasn't Maria Butina's case a Mueller referral? Or did it originate in another jurisdiction? I was really joping we'd learn more about her interactions with the NRA (and about NRA campaign spending) in this report. Or at least about her and Torshin's interactioms with the Trump family.

    Besides the obstruction of justice stuff, before the report came out I said I was most interested in learning more about the nuclear plan Flynn, Bannon et al had for Saudi Arabia, and about the role of Cambridge Analytica. I am super disappointed that stuff isn't in there.

    I am hoping that means these matters have been referred out to other offices for further investigation rather than that they were ignored. If they are indeed the subjects of ongoing investigations, of course, anything about them would be redacted from this report (or not included in the first place.)

    I can see where the Saudi Arabia stuff might be something Mueller sees as peripheral to his "Russian election interference investigation" mandate (though Russian companies were allegedly involved) and thus a good candidate for a referral.

    But Cambridge Analytica? Cambridge Analytica had previously been led by Steve Bannon, and had direct links to Russia. It "used Russian researchers to gather its data, (and) openly shared information" with entities linked to the Russian intelligence agency FSB. At the same time, it “tested US voter opinion on Putin’s leadership, and hired hackers from Russia.“ Those quotes are per Andrew Wylie, a former employee who testified before Congress. And the CEO of Cambridge Analytica reached out to Assange about getting copies of the emails. And the business model of Cambridge Analytica closely resembles that of the Internet Research Agency -- they had overlapping actvities. And Sam Patten, who worked with Manafort and admitted in his guilty plea that he had illegally steered donations from Ukranian oligarchs to the Trump inaugural committee, was also employed by Cambridge Analytica's parent company Why no mention of Cambridge Analytica in the Mueller report?

    And that is really just the tip of the iceberg.

    Because they weren't formally part of the campaign... only contracted to do most of the media strategy? Would that be reason enough for Mueller to refer this out?

    If we don't ever learn more about Cambridge Analytica, I think it will indicate that there has been at least a partially successful cover up.
    posted by OnceUponATime at 5:35 AM on April 19 [27 favorites]


    Sarah Kendzior, as usual, brings the goods.

    Fighting only the battles that you know you will win is a sure way of ensuring you lose. Preemptive surrender, in a rapidly consolidating autocracy, is permanent surrender. . . . Our media is largely sponsored by dictators or dictated by sponsors. It is critical that officials present evidence to the public directly.

    I myself am sympathetic to strategic concerns but Kendzior makes a persuasive argument that there is no rational alternative to public hearings (which it sounds like we will have) and impeachment.
    posted by 6thsense at 5:36 AM on April 19 [77 favorites]


    I guess we have another Times headline we can add to “Investigating Donald Trump, F.B.I. Sees No Clear Link to Russia” and “Donald the Dove, Hillary the Hawk” infamy.

    March 25: “Mueller Finds No Trump-Russia Conspiracy”

    Yet today...

    April 19: “Mueller Report Lays Out Russian Contacts And Trump’s Frantic Efforts to Foil Inquiry”
    posted by chris24 at 6:10 AM on April 19 [23 favorites]




    Am I missing something, or are there not many mentions of Bannon in all this? I know he was more on the white supremacy side of the team than the corrupt grifter side of the team, but surely he knew what was happening?
    posted by harriet vane at 6:59 AM on April 19 [1 favorite]


    Bannon joined the campaign late. He appears to have been fairly forthcoming on what Erik Prince was up to.
    posted by holgate at 7:03 AM on April 19 [1 favorite]


    There looks to be a significant amount redacted about Bannon and Eric Prince working with mutual associates, starting around Vol I, p 147.
    posted by Harry Caul at 7:04 AM on April 19 [5 favorites]


    Ashley Feinberg (HuffPo)
    just had a vision of trump at a rally screaming "if there was really a crime, the democrats would have impeached"
    posted by chris24 at 7:19 AM on April 19 [34 favorites]


    Bella Donna: I was feeling very pro impeachment, as I have been for some time, when Rick Wilson, Republican operative and writer, pointed out that the minute the House begins impeachment the Trump 2020 campaign will raise millions and millions and millions of dollars from his base rushing to defend him.

    While that's definitely true, I actually think that, at that stage of the process, the Democratic side would benefit even more, especially in terms of voter enthusiasm.

    I'm seeing a widespread sense among Dems and would-be Dems that (though I personally disagree) a failure to impeach is inexcusable, though this may just be an Internet Liberal Bubble thing. Impeaching would flip this around fast, and the momentum would, I think, turn against Trump hard.

    (One reason is that while the fascist mentality of Trump and co always straddles the line between "We are all-powerful" and "We are in terrible danger", it prefers the first narrative to the second. Trump has a better path to victory if the economy does well and the press is good than if he's forced into the mode of ranting about fake news, witch hunts, and his usual xenophobic scaremongering. Contrary to some common assumptions, he's not more of a danger when cornered; in a weird way, impeachment will help the country's marginalized because it will make him feel a little smaller, and will suck up more of his energy otherwise devoted to the fascism.)

    The worrying part to me about impeachment isn't the momentum it gives Republicans, or any public perception by the mushy middle that Democrats were now getting too aggressive and political and can't we just have nice things again. That would be a thing for sure, but I think leftward-base enthusiasm overwhelms that. Nope... per and old adage about falling, the worrying part is the sudden stop at the end.

    I've seen people outside of here speculate that McConnell might just refuse to take up the issue even after the House passed it, a Merrick Garland 2.0 situation with even more flagrant ignorance of Constitutional duty. But I don't think he would, because he's smarter than that. I'd perversely hope he would block it, because it would be a fantastic demonstration of his venality, specifically, in a way that Republicans voting to acquit (which they have every Constitutional right to do) would not be. So: once he puts it on the calendar, yeah, that's a fair bit of pain for Senate Republicans, to confront all these issues in debate. But after that, their pain is over with the bliss of ~!~vindication~!~.

    We've just gotta prepare the public for that last part. If enough Dems can bring themselves to say "The other side simply does not operate in good faith", my confidence is raised. My concern is that this won't happen, the process will be perceived as muddled, parts of the left will be disappointed that Pelosi didn't do The One Obvious Thing that would secure victory (just as certain parts are disappointed that impeachment didn't happen immediately), and the right will crow victory because the media failed to shame them (and inform the public) with a "He's Clearly Guilty, What Happens Next?" narrative, opting for a different kind of horse-race instead.

    Regardless, I lean about 65% in favor of pushing this rock and starting the avalanche; the winds are favorable.
    posted by InTheYear2017 at 7:20 AM on April 19 [10 favorites]


    Nice to see CNN's Wolf Blitzer choosing to quote the President's use of "bullshit" without self-censorship. I hope other journalists follow suit. I want people to be uncomfortable and angry about this President's words.
    posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:31 AM on April 19 [12 favorites]


    Assuming their assumptions that the Senate would not convict are true, the Democrats have the choice of two different Trump attack lines in 2020:

    1. "The Democrats spent two years saying I was colluding with Russia. If they though it was so bad, why didn't they impeach me?"

    2. "The Democrats tried to impeach me, but couldn't get it done, thanks to my beautiful Senate! Losers!"

    Which one would you rather defend against?

    The point is, initiating an impeachment investigation allows the Democratic Party to choose the battlefield. Otherwise, Trump chooses the battlefield.
    posted by vibrotronica at 7:35 AM on April 19 [34 favorites]


    I imagine that if Mueller had actually tried to impeach Trump, he'd be called out for gross abuse of power.

    Only the House of Representatives can impeach. I agree that Mueller would've gotten a lot of heat for trying to subpoena or indict Trump. (Which doesn't mean he shouldn't have done those things.)
    posted by kirkaracha at 7:36 AM on April 19 [1 favorite]


    There's a scene in The Informant! (Possibly actually happened) where the FBI decides they don't have enough to nail ADG and other companies for price fixing because the members of the conspiracy didn't actually say the words that they were in agreement. Even though they clearly were in agreement there was not enough certainty for the FBI to go ahead with arrests. In a comical fashion, their informant Mark Whitacre ends up getting the group on tape saying they were all in agreement without him saying it first.
    And that's how you break the law to become president and get away with it
    posted by Green With You at 7:36 AM on April 19 [8 favorites]


    Nice to see CNN's Wolf Blitzer choosing to quote the President's use of "bullshit" without self-censorship.

    That's part of a very authentic multi-part rant about "the Crazy Mueller Report", "18 Angry Democrat Trump Haters", "an Illegally Started Hoax", etc. from @realDonaldTrump that, two hours remains incomplete. Daniel Dale drily remarks that Trump has since left for his golf club. (And Kyle Griffin marks today's occasion of Trump's 182nd day at a Trump golf club and 244th day at a Trump property as president.)
    posted by Doktor Zed at 7:45 AM on April 19 [6 favorites]


    Democrats Impeachment Panic is Endangering the Country (Brain Beutler, Crooked Media)

    "At some point soon, Democratic leaders will have to reckon with the fact that the founders created the impeachment power for precisely this moment. That impeachment is their basic obligation."

    "And if the Mueller report makes one thing clear it’s that if Democrats fail to meet that obligation, Trump won’t be chastened—to the contrary, he will be more emboldened in his abuses of power, and the country will be in even greater danger."
    posted by diogenes at 7:48 AM on April 19 [55 favorites]


    If the house moves to impeach, and millions flow into Trump's campaign, and he is convicted, or is primaried or otherwise loses the nomination, isn't that money wasted, in the sense that it won't be used against the democratic candidate? That could be a tactical win
    posted by M-x shell at 7:52 AM on April 19 [12 favorites]


    So I don't know who (if anyone) would benefit politically from Articles of Impeachment. I very much doubt any of the other folks commenting do either. I am certain, however, that pre-empively dismissing impeachment as an option, the way Hoyer has done, is strategically terrible. Whether or not the game plan involves impeachment, it should absolutely include continued investigation with impeachment always presented as an option. Whether or not they actually impeach, well, everyone here's gone over why that's a good idea or a bad idea or whatever, but surely the House Committees should be continuing investigations. And you don't get people to take your investigation seriously if you pre-emptively say you're not going to follow the only possible remedy for malfeasance you turn up.

    The investigations are important ethically because they bear witness to immoral acts. They're important politically because, as we saw in 2016, a low but persistent hum of suspicion of corruption is pretty effective at moving the middle. They''re important tactically because they keep the administration on the defensive and distracted from doing the horrible things they do when they think they're not threatened.

    I don't know whether an impeachment is anyone's actual long-term plan, but no matter what the House actually plans to do, there should be message discipline that it remains an option to be considered, because that's the only way to make sure the media keeps paying attention.
    posted by jackbishop at 7:55 AM on April 19 [23 favorites]


    Republican Group Will Run Fox News Ad Urging GOP to Hold Trump Accountable (Newsweek)

    Here's the group, here's the ad.

    It features clips of Steve Chabot (R-OH), Fred Upton (R-MI), John Thune (R-SD), and Rob Portman (R-OH)--they're all still in office, though Thune and Portman are senators now--talking about obstructing justice. The YouTube video has about 3,400 views. After I watched it, YouTube suggested I watch something called 'Ben Shapiro Destroys Socialism.' I declined.
    posted by box at 7:59 AM on April 19 [23 favorites]


    They could just put socialism on the top shelf, safely out of Shapiro's reach.
    posted by delfin at 8:06 AM on April 19 [25 favorites]


    Brian Fallon
    NEW POLL: When provided the arguments for and against adding seats to the Supreme Court, Democrats support the idea 75-25 and independents support it 55-45.
    posted by chris24 at 8:25 AM on April 19 [25 favorites]


    that young Ben Shapiro really needs to stop destroying things ...

    But seriously, assuming that there is still a viable something-or-other called Conservatism once (if) all this Trump foofurrah finally plays out, I fear it's going to involve this guy's ongoing fast-talking for decades to come. Shapiro's not exactly a Never Trumper, but he didn't vote for him and has always maintained a distance.
    posted by philip-random at 8:31 AM on April 19


    Jake Sherman:
    NEW.. PELOSI announces Monday conference call in letter to democrats and says this:

    The Mueller report states, "We concluded Congress has authority to prohibit a president's corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice," which "accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law." Congress will not be silent.
    posted by Jpfed at 8:39 AM on April 19 [50 favorites]


    So, maybe Hoyer really was just talking out of his ass?

    If Pelosi's pledging further action (and implying impeachment, albeit without using the word directly), I'm a LOT less freaked-out.
    posted by schmod at 8:51 AM on April 19 [13 favorites]


    I would be a little surprised if the Monday call will turn out to be to the effect of "we're going to impeach now". I am going to speculate that they're not going to try to impeach right away; rather, they're going to encourage Nadler and Schiff to press on with their investigations and, if Mueller's testimony before Nadler is suitably compelling, use that as the starting point for impeachment.

    The report is complex, nuanced, and incomplete, and more to the point, it's a lot of *text*, so most people will process it through their preferred news sources' filter (summaries, "takeaways", etc). But when Mueller testifies before Nadler, that's something that can be televised or streamed in raw video form. If it's anything like as dramatic as Comey's testimony was, it will be something that will be a lot easier to point to as an impetus for impeachment than the report itself.
    posted by Jpfed at 9:01 AM on April 19 [33 favorites]


    As I stated above, proceeding with impeachment for the Russia stuff right now is a loser. Ben Shapiro’s take of “immoral but not illegal” is about the best we can hope for from Republicans. The Senate will squash articles of impeachment and do so with a smirk on Mitch McConnell’s smarmy-ass turtle-face.

    HOWEVER.

    If the House can unearth emoluments violations (this is why the tax returns are so important!) and they can unearth promises of pardons to administration in exchange for breaking the law, then there is a very strong impeachment case to be made.

    To win, Democrats need to make a distinction that impeachment isn’t about policy but behavior. Right now, the GOP will bang the “they’re jealous of our policy wins and will do anything to stop us” drum in order to distract their base.
    posted by Big Al 8000 at 9:36 AM on April 19 [8 favorites]


    White House deputy press secretary says they plan to refuse to comply with Nadler's subpoenas.
    posted by contraption at 9:43 AM on April 19 [6 favorites]


    The others are understandable in relation to intelligence and ongoing investigations.

    Given how shady Barr has been with this whole episode unfortunately we can't say this about the redactions. In a normal situation with a real AG and a functioning political process we would of course be able to reasonably assume that HOM and IT redactions truly are what they purport to be, and even if we might have curiosity about what's under them, we acknowledge that professionals have decided they can't be public. With this situation, however, we're forced to consider the ulterior motive for literally every single redaction, even the smallest of which could drastically change the meaning of a given section.
    posted by odinsdream at 9:46 AM on April 19 [13 favorites]


    April 19: “Mueller Report Lays Out Russian Contacts And Trump’s Frantic Efforts to Foil Inquiry”

    But on the NYT Opinion page today: Barr Is Right About Everything. Admit You Were Wrong.—After Trump’s vindication, the liberal media and its allies in government should face a reckoning. I’m not holding my breath. by contributing opinion writer Christopher Buskirk, author of the forthcoming Trump vs. the Leviathan, just in case there was any doubt about his Trumpist credentials. (Yes, cancel your subscriptions.)
    posted by Doktor Zed at 9:47 AM on April 19 [6 favorites]


    What does a tacit agreement look like, if not this? I suppose the missing ingredient is a quid pro quo. I'm trying to remember where these events fall in relation to the sudden changes to Ukraine policy in the GOP platform.

    Here's the quid pro quo I see, clearly laid out in the report, and I'm only halfway through it:

    * Trump wanted to build Trump Tower Moscow (round 2) which involved...
    * Promises of further development and property rights opportunities in Crimea...
    * Which Russia wanted to invade but was stymied by various US sanctions and threats...
    * Which the Trump campaign watered-down in the RNC platform and later...
    * Helped remove the sanctions entirely on specific individuals like...
    * Oleg Deripaska whom Manafort was trying to get back into good graces with

    The problem here is that we have TONS of grifters operating at all levels of the campaign, none of whom are *necessarily* the single person pulling the strings to make all of this stuff go the way they need it to go. It's not exactly a mafia style arrangement, it's not exactly a crime family, it's this morass of grifters all trying to get paid and pulling what strings they can.
    posted by odinsdream at 9:53 AM on April 19 [22 favorites]


    The case against Trump could not be clearer morally or politically. What is one to make of an unwillingness to go after a party that systematically puts kids in cages, and orders subordinates to break the law as normal operating procedure? Or an unwillingness to call out a president who funded his campaign, in part, by stealing money from his own charity for war veterans? Grossly incompetent? Morally bankrupt? Nerveless?

    You do not find out that your political opponent has been found stealing candy from a baby on video and then debate whether or not it's worthwhile to press the issue. You do not hide from making your argument to the people that they would be better off with healthcare, education, and a temperate planet. If you are not up for this challenge, you have no business in politics. Politics is making a case, and when that case is as clear cut as today's, you don't hesitate.

    Has it really been the case that when Democrats make a fair argument for a position one wouldn't really think the public is ready for they lose? Buttigieg is making an argument for court packing, and the majority is behind him. Cortez brought up the idea of taxing income at 70% for the rich and the majority is behind her. Bernie showed us universal healthcare was really popular after all. How many times does this lesson need to be learned?

    But instead of moving forward, I see Democrats go on tv and call their own policy platform too radical for the people. The party leadership tells the people they don't think the evidence is clear cut enough to impeach Trump. They don't believe in a Green New Deal. This is utter stupidity, and I refuse to be told it is really fifth dimensional chess I don't understand.
    posted by xammerboy at 9:57 AM on April 19 [52 favorites]


    First year House Dems taking the charge, and being refreshingly clear in their intent and leadership on dealing with our national crisis. Impeach + MF = Congressional Duty. < Vox:Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says it’s time to investigate Trump for impeachment
    posted by Harry Caul at 10:06 AM on April 19 [10 favorites]


    Nice to see CNN's Wolf Blitzer choosing to quote the President's use of "bullshit" without self-censorship.

    One tweet I read asked if Trump kisses his wife with that mouth. Or her body double.

    I remember when the NYTimes censored some of his previous comments, which led to enough outrage for editors to review and edit old pieces to put the uncensored language back in.

    People should know the character and mental health of someone who can singularly vaporize millions at the touch of a button. If you use certain language to characterize women, say, or the results of an independent legal investigation, that reflects on who you are as a person, how you treat others, how you value truth, and how honest you are about reality. People should know about these things.

    Still, evangelical Christians seem to be behind Trump, ride or die, and they aren't watching CNN or reading the NYTimes, bastions of fake news that they are, so while it's great that some in the media are choosing to report language in a more honest way, I doubt that reporting gets relayed to his base in any way that will change their opinion of him.

    If it was Pat Robertson on the 700 Club reporting on the language Trump uses, without censorship, I'd perk up with some measure of interest and hope.
    posted by They sucked his brains out! at 10:11 AM on April 19 [3 favorites]


    It's been clear for a while that we need to fight not only 99% of the Republican party establishment, but also 70% of the Democratic establishment to veer away from our current oligarchy.
    posted by benzenedream at 10:12 AM on April 19 [38 favorites]


    Republicans don't care about any of this. They applaud it, so impeachment will backfire.

    I agree with this, but only up to a point. I think we've so far made it easy to conveniently overlook Trump's crimes by (A) focusing solely on Russia, (B) Waiting for the Mueller report, and (C) making all of these charges needlessly complex.

    There are two swing Republican cohorts to my mind. I will call them "Soccer Moms" and "Clueless". Soccer Moms care about being clean cut, following norms, and being respectable. They are the Blue New Wave. Clueless just want to avoid conflict and confusion. They ultimately want their political decisions made for them.

    If you want to swing Soccer Moms, you need to make them feel dirty. You need to show them the pictures of the kids in cages, and you need to show them that their orderly life of rules and easy moral justification and superiority is at risk. Their greatest fear is getting serious and deserving side eye from their social peers.

    If you want to swing Clueless you need to make your case very, very simple and black and white. They voted for Trump because they heard Hillary called them deplorable, and what is health care anyway? Democrats are very bad at reaching this group, but with Trump they really have a chance to soundbite their messaging in terms Clueless understands.

    It doesn't have to be impeachment, but that forum would be a great opportunity, to my mind, to put forward your message to these two groups, even if impeachment is doomed to fail. Simply get across that he is socially unacceptable and is morally unfit in a black and white manner. That would be my strategy, and I would push as hard at it as possible, rather than attempt a strategy of pulling all my punches, thinking that what people really want is some kind of watered down, milquetoast respectability.
    posted by xammerboy at 10:29 AM on April 19 [11 favorites]


    MSNBC has been talking to Trump country diner-goer's all day about how nobody cares about the Mueller report and it's just time to move on. So I guess the media narrative is pretty well set.
    posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 10:35 AM on April 19 [5 favorites]


    Was the rapid response activated for today or is that not a thing anymore?
    posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 10:39 AM on April 19 [1 favorite]


    The Mueller report, on the obstruction side at least, boils down to one question: Trump orders his employees to break the law. Sometimes by violating human rights. When they don't, he threatens and fires them. Is that okay?

    Hopefully, the impeachment investigation will not just be about the Mueller report, but rather treat is as one among many bullet points. The other bullet points would include putting kids in cages, paying no taxes illegally, stealing from vets, and lying to the public as a high crime.
    posted by xammerboy at 10:52 AM on April 19 [15 favorites]


    Was the rapid response activated for today or is that not a thing anymore?

    It might still be lurching along in zombie form, but it's not a thing in any sense that matters. It was activated a few weeks ago to little fanfare.
    posted by diogenes at 11:06 AM on April 19 [4 favorites]


    “He doesn’t have to say ‘let’s obstruct justice’ for it to be a crime.” — Lindsey Graham, 1999

    “If the report indicates no collusion found by Mueller, done, over, for me.” — Lindsey Graham, 2019
    posted by kirkaracha at 11:07 AM on April 19 [18 favorites]


    If the sticking point about impeachment is the effect the Senate's refusal to convict would have on the 2020 election, and as Huffy Puffy mentions upthread, removals from office can take a long time to carry out...

    Why don't the Dems start the impeachment process, constantly amplifying the findings of their hearings and investigations to the public, while at the same time ramping up efforts to defeat Trump in 2020, with the goal of getting Trump out off office before taking the vote on impeachment? That way, the impeachment proceedings would themselves, in effect, serve as campaign messaging for Dem candidates.

    Yes, there are lots of "what ifs" here, and yes, the Republicans will scream bloody murder that the Dems are playing dirty, but there always are anyhow, and they always will anyhow. Even if Trump gets (shudder) re-elected, then finish the impeachment proceedings and re-group for 2022/2024. Not a perfect plan, but it's all I've got.
    posted by Rykey at 11:17 AM on April 19 [7 favorites]


    Good news: Steny Hoyer is now facing the first serious primary challenger he's seen in decades. Her name is Mckayla Wilkes, and she's a 28-year-old progressive woman of color. Her platform is excellent.
    posted by Faint of Butt at 11:21 AM on April 19 [80 favorites]


    If they aren't going to go for impeachment, why did we all knock doors and mobilize for a democratic house last year? Removal from office is unlikely re:Senate, but if you don't bother to do the job we blue waved you into office to do, why tf would we even show up to vote in 2020?
    posted by fluttering hellfire at 11:22 AM on April 19 [38 favorites]


    “Total Bullshit”: Trump Lashes Out at Mueller Report (Inae Oh, Mother Jones)
    The president also asserted, without evidence, that witnesses had fabricated notes they used to document conversations with him. “Watch out for people that take so-called ‘notes,’ when the notes never existed until needed,” Trump tweeted, a reference to those in his inner circle who recorded events involving the president as they happened. The special counsel relied on such notes, including one document from former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ then-chief of staff that recorded Trump saying “I’m fucked” upon learning of Robert Mueller’s appointment as special counsel. […]

    Trump’s denunciation of note-takers also underscores an account in the Mueller report that the president once complained to former White House counsel Don McGahn that he had been taking notes of their conversation. “I’ve had a lot of great lawyers, like Roy Cohn. He did not take notes,” Trump said, according to the report. […]
    Interesting point. What he says isn't impossible; but there are reasons behind taking notes, and he always provides those reasons. Also, who's to say that Roy Cohn didn't take notes privately when no one was looking?
    posted by ZeusHumms at 11:23 AM on April 19 [4 favorites]


    While NPR was entertaining the delusions of the spokeswoman for the president's campaign, she contended that continuing to discuss the contents of the report was anathema to positive D election results in 2020. I don't think it is, because of that soccer mom contingent. If something gross enough to alienate them from wanting to be associated with the administration can be unearthed, the conversation will likely become about the thing itself instead of "isn't it so mean and divisive that they found it". After a non-stop litany of scandals and instances of corruption, there are some people that may be tired after paying even casual, spotty attention to real news. We have our differences when it comes to pursuing impeachment, but I agree that the party needs to dig into this with both hands.
    posted by Selena777 at 11:26 AM on April 19 [3 favorites]


    Interesting point. What he says isn't impossible; but there are reasons behind taking notes, and he always provides those reasons. Also, who's to say that Roy Cohn didn't take notes privately when no one was looking?

    Maybe he was like Cohen and recorded instead.
    posted by srboisvert at 11:26 AM on April 19 [4 favorites]


    Good news: Steny Hoyer is now facing the first serious primary challenger he's seen in decades. Her name is Mckayla Wilkes, and she's a 28-year-old progressive woman of color.

    Good, because it seems like Hoyer has been an especially nasty piece of shit towards young, progressive women of color since the freshman class was sworn it. Publicly at least, it feels like he's been spending more time attacking them than bigoted old conservative white men, or at least in his free time away from kneecapping the various working groups headed by progressive WoC to prevent them from subpoenaing and questioning dirty motherfuckers like the oil and gas industries.
    posted by zombieflanders at 11:30 AM on April 19 [23 favorites]


    Remember that Steny Hoyer does the DCCC's dirty work trying to pressure progressive candidates to drop out
    posted by fluttering hellfire at 11:31 AM on April 19 [21 favorites]


    Landspeed record from total exoneration to total bullshit.

    And on Cohn...

    Matthew Miller (MSNBC) retweeted Joshua Zietz
    It really doesn’t get enough attention that Trump’s model for a good lawyer is one of the most loathsome figures in both American legal and political history.
    - Joshua Zeitz (Politico)
    Roy Cohn, who served as chief counsel to disgraced Senator Joseph McCarthy, was disbarred in 1986 by a five-judge panel in New York for misappropriating client funds, compelling a client to change his will (and name him a beneficiary), and lying on his bar application. -
    posted by chris24 at 11:32 AM on April 19 [48 favorites]


    The unfortunate truth is that for impeachment to succeed, you have to overcome confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance before any of the stuff Trump has done will stick in the conscience of many (most?) Republicans. Trump has spent the last two years inoculating them with “Fake News” and “No Collusion”. They want to believe he’s innocent so they won’t believe otherwise.
    posted by Big Al 8000 at 11:42 AM on April 19 [1 favorite]


    To my pint above, this is the top trending article in my Apple News feed.

    That is some next-level denialism right there.
    posted by Big Al 8000 at 11:46 AM on April 19 [4 favorites]


    From Nancy Pelosi's email newsletter this morning:
    On Thursday, the Mueller Report was released, which does not exonerate the President. Instead, it concludes that the Trump team was aware of and openly supportive of Russian attempts to interfere in the election because they “expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts.” Further, it lays out ten instances of the President trying to obstruct the investigation — and explicitly states that the decision not to charge the President was guided by a Trump Administration DOJ policy, not a lack of evidence.

    Disturbingly, Attorney General Barr deliberately distorted significant portions of the Mueller Report, which have resulted in a crisis of confidence in his independence and impartiality. The only way to begin restoring public trust in the handling of the Special Counsel’s investigation is for Special Counsel Mueller himself to provide public testimony in the House and Senate as soon as possible. The American people deserve to hear the truth.

    The integrity of our democracy is at stake. The Congress will continue to uphold our constitutional duty to hold the President accountable for his deceit, lies and improper behavior. No one is above the law.
    Personally, I think the Democrats are avoiding SAYING that they're working on impeachment, while going ahead and just continuing the process without explicitly naming the process right now. (Steny Honer aside.)

    I can honestly see an advantage to this approach (run a bunch of investigations, and THEN announce impeachment proceedings when you've got all the evidence out to the public already) rather than talking up impeachment a lot at the start: it gives the less-attentive parts of the public time to assimilate each newly investigated crime, and for those people (and the Rule of Law Republicans - thanks, box!) to pressure the Republican majority in the Senate to act.

    I mean, of course, I know he's committed a zillion obviously impeachable acts already. But we've seen big changes in the way the press is reporting the Mueller report in just the few hours since it's been released. I think investigations are the best move forward right now, and it sounds like Pelosi is planning to keep going with them - as are Waters, Nadler, Cummings, Neal, Schiff, and a bunch of other individual Representatives.
    posted by kristi at 11:50 AM on April 19 [31 favorites]


    Impeachment can succeed in the House. Conviction and removal will fail in the Senate. Democrats have the House and should do their jobs.
    posted by fluttering hellfire at 11:51 AM on April 19 [28 favorites]


    I read a summary last night that went something like this:
    Our country was the target of a Russian military operation, and while the Trump campaign may -- MAY -- not have actually helped organize it (despite their best efforts), they did publicly invite and celebrate it, they did everything they could to maximally profit from it, and they lied repeatedly about all this for years.
    Democrats need to have a pithy summary like this, and preface everything with it.
    posted by bjrubble at 11:53 AM on April 19 [101 favorites]


    Also, I would love to see someone Ctrl-F "no evidence" on every purported "news" article since the Barr letter, and publicly shame every reporter whose name appears on the byline.

    As far as journalistic malpractice goes, I find it hard to think of a more blatant and clear-cut example. And it's everywhere.
    posted by bjrubble at 11:56 AM on April 19 [7 favorites]


    Can we retire "soccer mom"? It's part of that perennial, anti-women low-level radiation field. Male Trump supporters are not defined by their parenthood.
    posted by Iris Gambol at 12:00 PM on April 19 [70 favorites]


    If you still have a local newspaper, consider writing a letter to the editor about the Mueller report and impeachment. Or, if you have any pull (or credentials that an editor might be impressed by), submit an op-ed. Even if newspaper readers tilt older and conservative (but I suspect not nearly as skewed as Fox News watchers), it still matters. Get it into print that local person living in that local area supports impeachment or at least further investigation. In some respects, the smaller and more obscure the better I would guess. My city's newspaper is more likely to publish a letter from me than the L.A. Times.
    posted by spamandkimchi at 12:03 PM on April 19 [12 favorites]


    Male Trump supporters are not defined by their parenthood.

    "lawnmower dads"
    posted by Faint of Butt at 12:08 PM on April 19 [14 favorites]


    Super-recent; soccer mom has a wikipedia page and an urban dictionary entry. (Also, punching down vs. punching up.)
    posted by Iris Gambol at 12:11 PM on April 19 [3 favorites]


    Sarah Sanders keeps digging herself in deeper after Mueller showed she lied (Aaron Rupar, Vox)

    The press secretary is now lying about lies.
    posted by Barack Spinoza at 12:11 PM on April 19 [16 favorites]


    And yet she was invited to spread her propaganda not just by FNC, but NBC and CBS as well, in both evening and morning primetime talk show slots.
    posted by zombieflanders at 12:13 PM on April 19 [16 favorites]


    To my point above, this is the top trending article in my Apple News feed.

    That is some next-level denialism right there.


    At the top of this op-ed:
    Editor's Note: Scott Jennings, a CNN contributor, is a former special assistant to President George W. Bush and former campaign adviser to Sen. Mitch McConnell. He is a partner at RunSwitch Public Relations in Louisville, Kentucky. Follow him on Twitter @ScottJenningsKY. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion articles on CNN.
    posted by ZeusHumms at 12:16 PM on April 19 [2 favorites]


    I ... think that the last uncountable number of Scaramuccis have deeply entrenched us in a cycle where

    1. Many pols on both sides express "concern" or somesuch at the blatant illegality and horror of what's clear and how it's just unacceptable!

    2. The next day we get series of "increasingly isolated" articles, demonstrating how ignorant and crazy and all the Dumpster is; then

    3. Ooooh, shiny! Something else crazy happens (North Korea, childnapping, climate, terror, whatever), the clock ticks past another Scaramucci, and in the meantime we have internalized and accepted the unacceptable again, and

    4. We still have a Dumpster fire destroying the country from the inside out. With our assent.

    Impeachment should absolutely happen. It has to happen.

    But we've already boiled the "this has to stop" frog, and too many people have made handwavy noises about the Senate or elections or or or or and waited for this too to pass. And the media will just plan their next "both sides do things" article.
    posted by Dashy at 12:39 PM on April 19 [11 favorites]


    I was rereading the Clint Watts piece in NYT pointed out by OnceUponATime upthread right before going on to click on the Buskirk article (also in NYT, but I refuse to link to it here), and then out of morbid curiousity I looked at the reader responses to Buskirk. The coincidence that followed could not be more striking. Clint Watts wrote last year:
    Mr. Putin has succeeded where his Soviet forefathers failed by leveraging money and cyberspace to subtly infiltrate and influence Americans while maintaining plausible deniability of their efforts. And the Kremlin’s ground game “cut outs” — intermediaries who facilitate communication between agents — conducted a more complex game.
    And here is the 2nd response I read on the Buskirk article:
    Wow-- thanks Christopher. Nice job, and kudos to the NYT for publishing your piece even though it probably grates on them.

    The thing that finally won me over to Trump during the Republican primaries was when he asked, Wouldn't it be nice to get along with Russia? There is no organic reason for the US to be enemies with that country. Forget all the cold war stuff, and just think about it. Nothing wrong w/the Russians.

    So for me, the biggest downside of all this Russia collusion business has been the harmful effect it must have had on our President's ability to improve that relationship. I've often thought he should just blow off the Mueller thing and it's media clowns, and invite Putin to the WH for a beer. Freak out, folks. This is what I'm doing.

    Everybody needs to move on now.
    Whether this reader is a useful idiot or a cut-out, I have no idea, but the continued effectiveness of Russian disinformation campaigns on this country is obvious and depressing.
    posted by StrawberryPie at 12:45 PM on April 19 [20 favorites]


    Nothing will make me happier than if someone leaks the unredacted report this weekend, before Trump's people have time to organize a coherent defense, and the BS they drop today becomes their famous last words.
    posted by saysthis at 12:47 PM on April 19 [13 favorites]


    Apropos the question of impeachment, Jeet Heer posted a short Twitter thread laying out a concise reason for. Unrolled version available here but it's short enough to post inline:
    1. It's worth unpacking Nancy Pelosi's case against impeachment: "You're wasting your time, unless the evidence is so conclusive that the Republicans will understand." She's giving the GOP veto power over impeachment.
    2. If you say, "we won't impeach unless we have GOP buy-in" you are saying "impeachment decision won't be made on the merit but on whether GOP wants to." Bu we already know where GOP stands: he can shoot someone on 7th Ave. & they will stick to him.
    3. The Mueller report is only the latest it of evidence that Trump has committed acts that at the least merit an impeachment process. But Dem leadership has handed over veto on initiating that process to Trump's own party.
    4. Mueller has given a roadmap to impeachment & Trump a roadmap for future Republican presidents to commit crimes: keep GOP on your side and there will be no impeachment. That's a terrible precedence.
    5. It's worth noting that this is asymmetrical surrender. The GOP won't extend the same courtesy to Dems. They impeached Clinton for far lesser offences.

    posted by StrawberryPie at 12:55 PM on April 19 [38 favorites]


    I remember about a year ago when an acquaintance began explaining how he'd been learning on the internet how great Russia was. He really had been learning that it was the land of plenty.
    posted by angrycat at 1:08 PM on April 19 [7 favorites]


    The way I see it, if impeachment is such a pointless, risky, failing strategy for the Democrats, then the Republicans would be arguing strongly in favor of us doing it and falling on our faces. Instead, they seem to be very happy with our current waffling and indecision.

    I mean, we should do the right thing for its own sake (and hold impeachment hearings), but when it's hard to figure out what the right thing is, rule of thumb, figure out what the Republicans want, do the opposite.
    posted by xigxag at 1:08 PM on April 19 [13 favorites]


    The fact that Trump was in a flop sweat yesterday and this morning at the prospect of further investigations seems a good argument for doing it.
    posted by chris24 at 1:18 PM on April 19 [35 favorites]


    In case you're not frustrated enough, Romney's response to the report starts with "It is good news that there was insufficient evidence to charge the President... with having obstructed justice."

    I guess he missed the part of the report that says "we determined not to apply an approach that could potentially result in a judgment that the President committed crimes."

    If you're Mueller, and you wanted to write a report that led to the truth, you failed if your report allows a Senator to proclaim the opposite of what you intended. If your goal was to muddy the waters, you succeeded admirably.
    posted by diogenes at 1:35 PM on April 19 [6 favorites]


    Elizabeth Warren tweeted support for impeachment proceedings, and that lady has my vote.
    posted by angrycat at 1:49 PM on April 19 [56 favorites]


    First question for Mueller testimony: "If Donald Trump were applying for a job at the FBI is there anything in your report that would prevent you from hiring him?"
    posted by M-x shell at 1:49 PM on April 19 [51 favorites]


    Elizabeth Warren's post is the most uncompromising stance on impeachment I've seen so far from a Dem senator or a presidential candidate:
    The Mueller report lays out facts showing that a hostile foreign government attacked our 2016 election to help Donald Trump and Donald Trump welcomed that help. Once elected, Donald Trump obstructed the investigation into that attack.

    Mueller put the next step in the hands of Congress: “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 correct process for exercising that authority is impeachment.

    To ignore a President’s repeated efforts to obstruct an investigation into his own disloyal behavior would inflict great and lasting damage on this country, and it would suggest that both the current and future Presidents would be free to abuse their power in similar ways.

    The severity of this misconduct demands that elected officials in both parties set aside political considerations and do their constitutional duty. That means the House should initiate impeachment proceedings against the President of the United States.
    Incidentally, she was in Romney's home turf of Salt Lake City on Wednesday.
    posted by Doktor Zed at 1:52 PM on April 19 [96 favorites]


    Noah Berlatsky:
    I don't really understand why Dems think an impeachment would harm them. Trump's extremely unpopular. It's clear he committed impeachable offenses. make the case and let the Republicans staple themselves to him if they want.
    posted by chris24 at 1:55 PM on April 19 [44 favorites]


    They're extrapolating from the Clinton debacle in the 90s. Everybody fights the last war.
    posted by Justinian at 2:16 PM on April 19 [13 favorites]


    NBC News, The counterintelligence investigation of the Trump team and Russia hasn't stopped

    NYT op-ed, Joshua A. Geltzer and Ryan Goodman, Mueller Hints at a National-Security Nightmare: The missing piece of the report is a counterintelligence investigation that should set off alarm bells about our democracy and security.
    The stark reality is that one might have a moderate to high confidence that decisions are being made by an American president who, in the process of getting elected and after assuming office, has acted with the interests of an often-hostile foreign power influencing him.

    And that conclusion is deeply worrisome as a national security matter.

    A failure by political leaders to condemn the activities of a Trump campaign that openly welcomed Russian hacking and privately encouraged timely releases of damaging information about the campaign’s opponent would put our nation at further risk.
    posted by zachlipton at 2:16 PM on April 19 [16 favorites]


    In case you're not frustrated enough, Romney's response to the report

    On the plus side, he's graduated from "concerned" to "sickened" and "appalled"?
    posted by Slothrup at 2:21 PM on April 19 [4 favorites]


    That's part of a very authentic multi-part rant about "the Crazy Mueller Report", "18 Angry Democrat Trump Haters", "an Illegally Started Hoax", etc. from @realDonaldTrump that, two hours remains incomplete. Daniel Dale drily remarks that Trump has since left for his golf club.

    Nine hours later, after a leisurely round or two of golf with Rush Limbaugh and some other friends, Trump finished his rant, complaining about how the Mueller probe was a "big, fat, waste of time, energy and money" (which, he omits, seized $46 million in assets from his former campaign manager, finishing well in the black). More ominously, he threatens, "It is now finally time to turn the tables and bring justice to some very sick and dangerous people who have committed very serious crimes, perhaps even Spying or Treason." That "perhaps" is doing a lot of work to prevent Trump's Mirror from shattering under the pressure he's feeling.

    He's now calling the NYT and WaPo "the Enemy of the People" again.
    posted by Doktor Zed at 2:31 PM on April 19 [16 favorites]


    Fun fact - the Kremlin also has not gotten the message that Manafort covered the cost of the investigation.
    posted by Selena777 at 2:37 PM on April 19 [3 favorites]


    Politico, Trump campaign punishes Don McGahn's law firm
    Campaign officials and advisers cast the decision to hire Nathan Groth – a former lawyer for the Republican National Committee and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker – as a money-saving move, supported by the businessman-turned-president who loves to cut costs.

    But close Trump advisers say the decision also stems from disappointment with the White House’s former top attorney and current Jones Day partner, Don McGahn, whose behavior has irked the president and some of his family members.

    Taking business away from Jones Day is payback, these advisers say, for McGahn’s soured relationship with the Trump family and a handful articles in high-profile newspapers that the family blames, unfairly or not, on the former White House counsel. “Why in the world would you want to put your enemy on the payroll?” said one adviser close to the White House. “They do not want to reward his firm. Trump arrived at that point long ago, but the security clearance memo stories put a fine point on it.”
    In other news, Trump now has the first Presidential retweet of the phrase “circle jerk.”
    posted by zachlipton at 2:40 PM on April 19 [15 favorites]


    Switching to a cheap lawyer to own the libs! It's tough working with the mob, I guess.

    At any rate, McGahn doesn't need Trump.
    posted by rhizome at 2:54 PM on April 19 [6 favorites]


    Udall, Heinrich Statement on Militia Group Illegally Operating in New Mexico

    WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) issued the following statement in response to reports of a militia group illegally detaining migrant families and asylum seekers at the border in New Mexico:

    “Reports of a militia group illegally operating in New Mexico and intimidating asylum seekers must be immediately investigated by the proper authorities. Vigilante groups attempting to utilize authorities reserved for law enforcement cannot be tolerated. Threatening innocent children and families fleeing violence and seeking asylum is unacceptable and flies in the face of our values as a state and a nation. We will closely monitor this situation and work with local and federal authorities to ensure a full investigation, and that public safety and the rule of law is upheld.”


    Whether or not livestreamed mass kidnapping at gunpoint leads to arrests should be a good barometer of the continued existence of the rule of law in New Mexico.
    posted by Rust Moranis at 3:13 PM on April 19 [42 favorites]


    Samuel Sinyangwe
    Warren is the probably the only candidate running right now with the guts to hold the Trump administration criminally accountable for its actions.
    posted by chris24 at 3:23 PM on April 19 [40 favorites]


    Elizabeth Warren is unflappable and I desperately hope she becomes our next president.
    posted by triggerfinger at 3:29 PM on April 19 [69 favorites]


    Just finished reading the report. Here is my two sentence summary:

    Trump acted as an unwitting agent of Russia. Embarrassed, he obstructed justice to cover that up.
    posted by OnceUponATime at 3:46 PM on April 19 [78 favorites]


    (Manafort and Gates were of course witting agents of the Yanukovych government. I still think Bannon and Cambridge Analytica might be witting agents of someone connected to Russia too, and I really want someone to tell me they are still under investigation, along with the NRA and possible Trump Org money laundering.)
    posted by OnceUponATime at 3:55 PM on April 19 [18 favorites]


    It's still not clear how all of this shakes out with respect to the rule of law in the US. Talking about how impeachment affects electoral prospects already cedes it. The Democratic Party has two options at this point:
    • Come at the King and not miss.
    • Find a hostile foreign power that doesn't appreciate economic nationalism to prop up campaign coffers.
    Best to come at the king and not miss, if you support the basic idea of America, but America isn't sacred and will go sooner or later, so maybe a Beijing-funded harm reduction strategy would buy a bit more time for a less-catastrophic transition to a full automation economy.

    If the Democrats go with the idea that they can only be funded legally by the US people, while Republicans are allowed to seek global funding and assistance and receive due deference if it brings the desired result, they are as much to blame as 45 for what happens.

    The 2020 elections will decide whether this is an anomaly or the new normal, and the rest of the world, both enemies and allies, will adjust accordingly. All the countries currently sitting out the current presidency will have to take a position eventually.
    posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 4:04 PM on April 19 [6 favorites]


    All of those other pending investigations are now under the direction of Bill Barr. All of the federal attorneys work for Bill Barr. The director of the FBI works for Bill Barr.
    posted by JackFlash at 4:07 PM on April 19 [13 favorites]


    > Whether or not livestreamed mass kidnapping at gunpoint leads to arrests should be a good barometer of the continued existence of the rule of law in New Mexico.

    Incidentally, one way to get around posse comitatus would be to determine that a state of insurrection or lawlessness exists that state authorities can't or won't deal with.
    posted by BungaDunga at 4:25 PM on April 19 [4 favorites]


    We all need to move the Overton window on the fact that the Republican party simply has no place in our collective future. They are a failed criminal organization and we must quickly start building the consensus and narrative structure of a future in which they don't have any political or social power. This is not easily done, but with the scope of their complicity this effort is necessary if we are to seek justice through impeachment and criminal indictments. We all know this goes deeper than it currently appears, everyone can see it as they're gripped in terror or complacency at what our current reality is. If they can't find a narrative to make sense of such a world, they're not going to be able to support justice, no matter how right it would be to pursue. I feel similarly about the Green New Deal. We're at the stage of making this a conceivable future.
    posted by odinsdream at 4:28 PM on April 19 [26 favorites]


    Trump acted as an unwitting agent of Russia. Embarrassed, he obstructed justice to cover that up.

    The problem is the report is incomplete, because Mueller acknowledges Trump campaign principals and associates destroyed relevant evidence. We, and Mueller, are unable to say whether Trump was witting or unwitting, or to what extend he aided the attack on America. Because his campaign destroyed evidence. That's a pattern of conduct that normally gives rise to an adverse inference instruction in other legal contexts. It's perfectly valid, and appropriate, to conclude that the reason for the destruction was to hide the extend of the conspiracy, and indeed to frustrate a later investigation exactly like Mueller's, which succeeded.

    By every standard other than "beyond a reasonable doubt", Trump actively participated in a treason conspiracy with a hostile power to steal the election, and obstructed justice to cover it up. If "preponderance" is 51% likelihood, and "beyond a reasonable doubt" is, let's call it, 90% likely, Mueller laid out 89% likelihood that there was a conspiracy.
    posted by T.D. Strange at 4:34 PM on April 19 [15 favorites]


    There are so many good reasons not to talk about impeachment! (Alexandra Petri, WaPo)
    — “Impeach” is a pretty strong word, even when not followed by that other word Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) used, which was much, much too strong and very unpresidential.

    — Besides, if you say the word “impeach” three times, Newt Gingrich will appear in your house and you will have to include him in your evening plans. […]

    — There is an election in the future.

    — (Technically, there is no time when there isn’t an election in the future, and I think we should remember that more.)

    — Look, impeachment is for if the American people put someone in office who turns out to be unfit for the job. But in this case, some number of American people enthusiastically elected someone who was already obviously unfit for the job, so impeachment — even if the president had done a crime — feels almost disrespectful to their wishes.

    — If I took one thing from that Niemoller quote, it is that you need to wait for them to come for at least two groups before you say anything.
    posted by Johnny Wallflower at 4:35 PM on April 19 [20 favorites]


    Elizabeth Warren tweeted support for impeachment proceedings, and that lady has my vote.

    Mine, too. It is comforting to see someone with guts.
    posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 4:41 PM on April 19 [14 favorites]


    Trump acted as an unwitting agent of Russia. Embarrassed, he obstructed justice to cover that up.

    I'm definitely not conceding "unwitting."
    posted by diogenes at 4:54 PM on April 19 [19 favorites]


    The Trump team was aware of and openly supportive of Russian attempts to interfere in the election because they “expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts.”

    The report calls this out as being illegal. The only reason Mueller didn't indict Jr. was that he felt he couldn't prove Jr. knew it was illegal, which actually matters in campaign finance law. Now that's taking the concept of idiot proofing your campaign to a new level.
    posted by xammerboy at 4:54 PM on April 19 [17 favorites]


    Trump acted as an unwitting agent of Russia. Embarrassed, he obstructed justice to cover that up.
    I'm definitely not conceding "unwitting."
    I'm definitely not conceding "embarrassed".
    posted by mazola at 4:56 PM on April 19 [21 favorites]


    At least we all agree that he's an agent of Russia and obstructed justice to cover it up :)
    posted by diogenes at 4:58 PM on April 19 [9 favorites]


    Mitt 'Shame Scallops' Romney has no dignity.
    posted by fluttering hellfire at 5:02 PM on April 19 [2 favorites]


    Let me just correct the error in footnote 239, v1 p58:

    Candidate Trump can be heard off camera making graphic statements about women admitting to sexually assaulting women.

    There. Far more accurate.
    posted by adept256 at 5:10 PM on April 19 [23 favorites]


    I'm definitely not conceding "unwitting."
    I'm definitely not conceding "embarrassed".


    It's worth considering that his base are probably happier with him being a conscious actor (however dubious and/or criminal his acts) than a useful idiot.
    posted by philip-random at 5:25 PM on April 19 [5 favorites]


    Per public statements from Rudy Giuliani (and possibly others), wasn't there supposed to be a written rebuttal by the White House/Trump's lawyers in response to the Mueller report? As of three days ago, they supposedly were putting the "finishing touches" on it, though it sounds like the page count will be significantly lower than originally touted.

    Has anyone seen/heard any more recent news about this? Are they still planning on putting it out, or have they punted on that?
    posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 5:27 PM on April 19 [2 favorites]


    Sean Maloney D NY-08 just begging to be primaried to Joy Reid
    posted by fluttering hellfire at 5:32 PM on April 19 [2 favorites]


    If I was asking the questions when Mueller testifies, it would go something like this:

    Me: If you believed that there was evidence that the president committed a crime, would you have said so in your report?
    Mueller: No (followed by explanation of why he left that determination to Congress).
    Me: If you believed that there wasn't evidence that the president committed a crime, would you have said that in your report.
    Mueller: Yes (followed by him reading the passage of the report that says as much).
    Me: I leave the rest of this logic exercise to the listeners.

    Everybody: Yay! Yay for diogenes! We win! It's all over now!
    posted by diogenes at 5:33 PM on April 19 [30 favorites]




    It's pretty much what Diogenes said. Mueller was pretty clear: "I'm not allowed to indict the president. I also won't say someone committed a crime without indicting them, because that's not fair, a person should get their day in court if accused. But I definitely won't say he didn't commit a crime." The subtext is very clearly "BECAUSE HE HELLA DID". It's a shame how many reporters are falling down on this.
    posted by uosuaq at 6:01 PM on April 19 [54 favorites]


    Tbe other thing the media isn't quite covering is Mueller's view of the obstruction as being in two phases: the first to obstruct the investigation into Russia (including the Comey firing) followed by the effort to obstruct Mueller's obstruction investigation. That is that a lot of the obstruction was to cover up Trump's prior obstruction, which makes both parts of the obstruction look even more criminal.
    posted by BungaDunga at 6:10 PM on April 19 [4 favorites]


    The first question to Mueller when before the House Judiciary should be “If Trump wasn’t president with what you and OLC think is exception from indictment, would you have indicted him for Obstruction?”
    posted by chris24 at 6:20 PM on April 19 [3 favorites]


    If he weren’t President, none of the abuses of his constitutional powers would have been possible, so no. The report says as much.
    posted by The World Famous at 6:33 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]


    Warren was just on Maddow and fantastic in explaining exactly why she was for impeachment. Great framing and rationale.

    And then Eric Swalwell gets on and is waffly about needing to get the unredacted Mueller report and hear from Mueller before thinking about it.
    posted by chris24 at 6:52 PM on April 19 [10 favorites]


    I sure hope Democrats don't waste their time in any questioning of Mueller trying to "gotcha" on this particular aspect. He was extremely clear in the report that he's not going to make such a statement. He didn't do it in a public DoJ work product, he's not going to do it in sworn testimony. In fact I'm not sure what is particularly gained by having Mueller testify about the actual report content a long as he's a DoJ employee.
    posted by odinsdream at 7:01 PM on April 19 [10 favorites]


    We, and Mueller, are unable to say whether Trump was witting or unwitting,

    This is the part that sold me on "unwitting" in the sense that most of these guys, including Trump, were just tools. (Which doesn't make any of this okay. They let themselves be used.)
    As soon as news broke that Trump had been elected President, Russian government officials and prominent Russian businessmen began trying to make inroads into the new Administration. They appeared not to have preexisting contacts and struggled to connect with senior officials around the President-Elect.
    It really seems like all the people who approached Don Jr, Kushner, Papadopoulos, even Cohen... they were dangling lures. Which those guys nibbled at. But the Russians were never able to completely reel any of them in. There are lots of stories in the report of Trump people turning down meetings because meeting with Russians while people were already accusing Trump of being Putin's puppet would look bad. (The Trump Tower meeting was in June, before that was a big story.)

    They do seem somewhat conscious that Russians were trying to exploit them...
    During this period of time [Aug 2016] the Campaign received a request for a high-level Campaign official to meet with an officer at a Russian state-owned bank "to discuss an offer [that officer] claims to be carrying from President Putin to meet with" candidate Trump. [...] Copying Manafort and Gates, Kushner responded, "Pass on this. A lot of people come claiming to carry messages. Very few are able to verify. For now I think we decline such meetings. Most likely these people go back home and claim they have special access to gain importance for themselves. Be careful."
    The people reaching out to them were working on behalf of Putin but not directly FOR Putin...
    Petr Aven, a Russian national who heads Alfa-Bank, Russia's largest commercial bank, described to the Office interactions with Putin during this time period that might account for the flurry of Russian activity. Aven told the Office that he is one of approximately 50 wealthy Russian businessmen who regularly meet with Putin in the Kremlin; these 50 men are often referred to as "oligarchs." Aven told the Office that he met on a quarterly basis with Putin, including in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2016, shortly after the U.S. presidential election. According to Aven, although Putin did not expressly direct him to reach out to the Trump Transition Team, Aven understood that Putin expected him to try to respond to the concerns he had raised"
    So a bunch of oligarchs at that point all independently take the initiative to reach out to Trump people, who blow a lot of them off because they don't believe most of them really speak for Putin.

    Of course, whenever they were convinced that the person approaching them REALLY WAS connected to Putin... they took the meeting. But the connections were always a little disappointing to them, because all of these guys were at one or two removes at least, kind of acting on their own initiative. Several of them dangled the possibility of a personal meeting with Putin, but never came through.

    But the eagerness with which all of these guys pursued THAT bait is totally damning.
    posted by OnceUponATime at 7:15 PM on April 19 [20 favorites]


    This is what Kislyak explained to Kushner when he asked for a direct back channel to Putin. You don't collude face to face. You have go betweens. You think I want to deal with you? You don't ask me for dirt. You use code and hints. You think I'm meeting with your campaign about adoptions? It's too bad Donald has to stay in a room just upstairs for this exact reason, as he understands all this stuff intuitively.

    And... it works, apparently.
    posted by xammerboy at 7:29 PM on April 19 [7 favorites]


    The bait for Trump himself was "Trump Tower Moscow," and he took it hook, line, and sinker.
    posted by OnceUponATime at 7:37 PM on April 19 [7 favorites]


    The President retweeted a thing that referred to the DNC as a "circle jerk" so yeah I'd say it's going well over there
    posted by tivalasvegas at 7:39 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]


    Sort of like the realization that there was a new blue wave came a few days after the fact, it's starting to look like the media is slowly waking up to the fact that the Mueller report is explicitly saying Trump committed a lot of impeachable crimes. There's a growing consensus that Barr may have committed a crime. It will be interesting to see where we're at three or four days from now.
    posted by xammerboy at 7:40 PM on April 19 [22 favorites]


    Quinta Jurecic made a helpful chart of the possible obstruction charges Mueller considered, color-coded to show the instances where he appears to conclude all three prongs of the statute were violated. As you can see, that’s eight different charges where he seems to be saying Trump committed all three elements.
    posted by zachlipton at 7:43 PM on April 19 [45 favorites]


    You don't ask me for dirt. You use code and hints.

    Or if you want to pass on a message that there is a pee tape without saying there is a pee tape, you might say, for example, "Stopped flow of tapes from Russia but not sure if there's anything else. Just so you know ...." (page 239)
    posted by stopgap at 7:44 PM on April 19 [8 favorites]


    that’s eight different charges where he seems to be saying Trump committed all three elements.

    Which could lead to up to 40 years in prison. Wow, better not lose in 2020.
    posted by xammerboy at 8:13 PM on April 19 [2 favorites]


    It's literally the case that Trump ran for president in the first place as a massive grift that involved not only self-enrichment, but gaining practical immunity from prosecution. His entire life has been a series of con games and he was literally out of other practical cons when he ran. He's in it for his literal life right now and this is a dangerous inflection point.
    posted by odinsdream at 8:54 PM on April 19 [12 favorites]


    Nah, he just ran as a vanity thing and then caught the damn car. And now we're all stuck in the car with him.

    Also there's a cliff that was approaching but we already drove off it and are currently in midair, Wile E. Coyote style.
    posted by tivalasvegas at 9:09 PM on April 19 [42 favorites]


    Also there's a cliff that was approaching but we already drove off it and are currently in midair, Wile E. Coyote style.

    This is a really useful and evocative metaphor. The anti-impeachment Dems' argument is basically "don't look down or gravity will kick in and we'll fall."
    posted by contraption at 9:26 PM on April 19 [34 favorites]


    This is the part that sold me on "unwitting" in the sense that most of these guys, including Trump, were just tools. (Which doesn't make any of this okay. They let themselves be used.)

    See, for me, ALL of this, ALL of it, is undermined by the use of Signal and other encryption and the intentional destruction of evidence.

    Yes, there's arguments for use of these technologies for dissidents and activists and others seeking shelter from government reprisals...but Trump used these technologies to thwart the US intelligence apparatus he sought to lead in favor of a foreign power. We know they conceived of this in real time. It was intentional. We will never know the content of those messages, which very well may go the the very heart of intent and an intentional agreement to subvert US democracy, because they chose to conceal, in James Comey's words. That's treason. That's the conspiracy. In intent. And they destroyed evidence to hide it. This is a proven fact. It's "witting". Even if not intent to commit treason, its so overt as to be indistinguishable. And "asymptotic treason" but never getting to cross the line of "actual treason" cannot be the standard by which we judge the President.
    posted by T.D. Strange at 10:29 PM on April 19 [58 favorites]


    Trump acted as an unwitting agent of Russia.

    Oh bullshit. You don't get involved in a hotel deal where a mysterious newly created Russian company fronts all the money and you get $400 million for nothing (while dealing with a blacklisted Russian bank) without having a clue that you may be expected to reciprocate.
    posted by benzenedream at 11:23 PM on April 19 [40 favorites]


    I think what we see is that the entire Republican establishment has been corrupt for decades, and that some time ago Putin and his corruption crossed into and mixed with their corruption. When we saw the passing of the Magnitsky Act, Putin went apeshit because how dare you, we have all been doing this very same thing! and he set out to both explicitly put one of his own into power and to let it be known across the Republican establishment that he had their receipts and would use them.

    Which brings me to the Dems. Quite a few Dems got nice and comfy and intertwined with their friends across the aisle over the past many years, so much so that it's now become "not worth it" to impeach Trump for some of them, because to do so means to bring down the whole Republican party, which will inevitably, unpredictably, and very messily drag down also a bunch of these compromised Dems. The ones who've made long careers out of politics. You know, the ones in charge of the impeachment process. So for them, why not just drag this out and look to beat Trump in 2020, keeping their sinecures (and keeping their own corruption on the dl)?

    What I'm getting at is that very many of our governmental representatives have been monumentally corrupt for so long, and that this was one of the key "preexisting conditions" which Putin was able to latch on to. There are just enough Democrats in high places who are wolves in sheeps' clothing working with the Putin/Trump-led Republicans, consciously or not, because they cannot afford to have the truth about themselves be known, maybe even to themselves. They're the 3rd-way frogs who've been boiling so long in the waters of bipartisanship and compromise that they've become unbenownst to themselves that sad traitorous mutant version of a Democrat, the Lieberman.

    This is the level of corruption we've been living with lo these many many years while telling ourselves we lived under law and order in the land of the free.

    It'll be the AOCs and Ilhans and other leftist, liberal, and progressive newcomers not tied to this institutionalized corruption that will have to lead impeachment decisions, the Democratic party, and the nation. Because more of the same will yield ... more of the same.
    posted by riverlife at 11:48 PM on April 19 [56 favorites]


    ThinkProgress has noticed inconsistencies between Erik Prince’s congressional testimony and the findings of the Mueller report. Prince’s “congressional testimony suggests that he and Dmitriev, a close Putin ally, were simply like-minded businessmen chatting over beers. But the Mueller report paints them as cutouts forging a secret backchannel between the Kremlin and Trump Tower. Even if their meeting was banal, however, the inconsistencies between Prince’s congressional testimony and his statements to the special counsel could land him in legal peril. Mueller indicted former Trump aides Roger Stone and Michael Cohen for making false statements to Congress. Now, with the Mueller report in hand, House Democrats are increasingly flexing their oversight muscles.” Make it so, Congress.
    posted by Bella Donna at 2:24 AM on April 20 [21 favorites]


    Video of Warren about impeachment on Maddow last night.
    posted by chris24 at 3:33 AM on April 20 [14 favorites]


    Video of Barbara Jordan on impeachment in 1974.
    posted by 6thsense at 5:00 AM on April 20 [10 favorites]


    Video of Warren about impeachment on Maddow last night.

    Elizabeth Warren is fearless - that video makes the case for impeachment in a powerful and convincing way.
    posted by bluesky43 at 5:15 AM on April 20 [11 favorites]


    and Barbara Jordan is fearless - that video makes the case for impeachment in a powerful and convincing way in 1974.
    posted by bluesky43 at 5:23 AM on April 20 [8 favorites]


    OnceUponATime makes some well-reasoned points, and I think that those points are largely in keeping with Mueller's conclusions. Nothing rose to the point of knowingly aiding any of Russia's interference operations. But it seems to me that Trump and multiple members of his campaign absolutely were "witting" actors.

    Trump Jr., Manafort, Kushner, Flynn, Papadapoulos and others were all aware the Russian government itself had A) reached out to help and B) had the power to help. Through the mere act of being receptive, they communicated something extremely valuable to the Russian government: "We know you're trying to help. When you act, we can see you helping. We would be advantaged by that help, and when this is all said and done, we will be in a position to help you." On multiple occasions, this is almost literally what was communicated: Trump Jr. acknowledged in the Trump Tower meeting that they could "revisit the issue if and when they were in the white house". As Manafort worked with Deripaska's cutouts, he was practically begging to feed them information. The campaign was attempting to set up a meeting between Trump and Putin. And Trump himself, all throughout the campaign, sent signals that he wanted the "relationship" with Russia to be much better.

    If Trump knew about any of the overtures offering help, he was "witting". And while there's no definitive proof he did, it's extremely difficult for me to believe he did not.

    Post script: There was no need for any quid pro quo. Both sides could accept deferred payment, and I think on some level they trusted eachother to do so. And it happened. Flynn gets on the phone with the Russian Ambassador after the election and tells him to cool it on reciprocal sanctions. After Trump is in, his administration slow walks implementation of Congressional sanctions. They didn't need to agree on any specific transaction here; it's enough that someone did you a huge favor and then in return, down the road, you pay that favor back without being specifically asked to.
    posted by Room 101 at 5:31 AM on April 20 [11 favorites]


    and then in return, down the road, you pay that favor back without being specifically asked to.

    Or...being specifically asked to, but with nobody taking notes. (Lack of evidence != evidence of lack)

    "Someday, and that day may never come, I'll call upon you to do a service for me. But until that day, accept this justice as a gift on my daughter's wedding day."

    Trade out a few nouns & adjectives, and Vlad's your uncle.
    posted by perspicio at 5:46 AM on April 20 [2 favorites]


    Sean Maloney D NY-08 just begging to be primaried to Joy Reid

    Sean Maloney has the lopsided smirk of a DreamWorks character.

    Also, I learned at Seder last night that I may be distantly related to Jared Kushner, on my mother's side. I'm not happy about this.
    posted by Faint of Butt at 5:50 AM on April 20 [5 favorites]


    Paul Waldman:
    Just so we’re clear: If Dems advocate for impeachment, the election will be a referendum on impeachment. If Dems table impeachment and say let the voters decide, then the election will be a referendum on impeachment.
    posted by chris24 at 6:16 AM on April 20 [44 favorites]


    Axios made a nice tool for searching the Mueller Report."[Axios] categorized each passage of the text to note what events, people, organization and places are mentioned. We ended up categorizing over 2,500 bits of text, and found over 400 unique entities."
    posted by MonkeyToes at 6:16 AM on April 20 [8 favorites]


    In all of this I've yet to understand what they actually thought was so important to get in "Hillary's emails" ... They drank the Republican kool-aid on this and went searching so hard for something that seems to have never existed in the first place. This report is the first time I think I've seen it explained that the "damaging info" they were promised in the face-to-face Trump Tower meeting was just that Ben Browder was accused of breaking Russian laws (hilariously useless accusation there, if you know anything about who he is to Russia) and then donating money to Democratic candidates in the US (a completely legal, normal thing to do). Even Jared caught on to this huge nothing-burger during the meeting, when he messaged "waste of time" and tried to get two executive assistants to call him out of the meeting.

    What I don't understand is what they thought they were going to get before the meeting.
    posted by odinsdream at 7:14 AM on April 20 [4 favorites]


    They were going to be honored to witness Jr. finally be showered with long absent father praise.
    posted by Harry Caul at 7:17 AM on April 20 [2 favorites]


    In all of this I've yet to understand what they actually thought was so important to get in "Hillary's emails"

    They assume everyone else is as corrupt as they are, so of course they thought there would be tons of illegal stuff Hillary tried to hide by saying these were personal emails.

    Remember, pretty much every email we’ve seen from Trump & Co. has been incriminating. “If it’s what you say I love it!” etc. It’s all projection.
    posted by chris24 at 7:20 AM on April 20 [35 favorites]


    The worst of it all was that the Obama administration - including Hillary - seems to have been the least corrupt in a long time. It's hard to believe in honesty, but one must.
    posted by Devonian at 7:29 AM on April 20 [3 favorites]


    A company that wanted to build a 500-person ICE detention center in Wisconsin withdrew its plans because of local zoning issues.
    posted by adamg at 7:37 AM on April 20 [6 favorites]


    odinsdream: Ben Browder was accused of breaking Russian laws (hilariously useless accusation there, if you know anything about who he is to Russia) and then donating money to Democratic candidates in the US (a completely legal, normal thing to do).

    I think you mean Bill Browder (Ben Browder is the actor who played John Chrichton in Farscape).
    posted by InTheYear2017 at 7:41 AM on April 20 [13 favorites]


    Access to the Butter Emails server would've given them a treasure trove of information to dig through -- how Hillary thinks, how she plans, how she operates, whom she relies upon, what she had her hand in as SoS, what she didn't, whom she had contact with, whom she worked with. Information to mine and refine to be able to paint Hillary as corrupt and incompetent, using the tiniest of pretexts to support those claims. Even if it was all strictly personal emails, they could embarrass and harass her in a myriad of ways; any crumbs they could turn into SCANDAL! would be a huge bonus.

    You know, the kind of thing that they're accusing Hillary's campaign of having done. SPYING ON OUR CAMPAIGN! Which is, of course, OKIYAR.
    posted by delfin at 7:51 AM on April 20 [9 favorites]


    In all of this I've yet to understand what they actually thought was so important to get in "Hillary's emails"

    The content didn't matter. Feeding the media hunger to "get" Clinton did. All we saw in Podesta's emails was mediocre pasta, and the NYT treated it like Watergate anyway, to the exclusion of all other topics. They needed to keep the fake scandal going as long as possible.
    posted by T.D. Strange at 7:55 AM on April 20 [27 favorites]


    I do mean Bill Browder, and I have been rewatching Farscape. Also, I'm not totally sure whether Bill Browder is a US citizen, I was recalling maybe he was a UK citizen, which would put donations to US campaigns into an illegal category, which is *still* not "dirt on Hillary" it would be dirt on Bill Browder.
    posted by odinsdream at 8:48 AM on April 20 [2 favorites]


    I'm not totally sure whether Bill Browder is a US citizen, I was recalling maybe he was a UK citizen, which would put donations to US campaigns into an illegal category

    You are repeating a Trump lie via Putin. Browder was accused by Putin of not paying $400 million in taxes in Russia. Apparently Browder wasn't playing by typical Russian mafia rules and paying off the right people. This dispute is behind the murder of Magnitsky by Putin and the enactment of the Magnitsky Act putting sanctions on Russian oligarchs.

    It was Putin himself who first made the absurd accusation that the $400 million somehow ended up in Clinton's campaign fund. Trump then dutifully repeated his master's accusation many times during the campaign.

    Browder was born in New Jersey but later renounced his US citizenship and became a British citizen. Browder made no contributions to the Clinton campaign. However, there were several US employees of Browder's US business in New York who made contributions to the Clinton campaign. There's nothing illegal about that.

    It is weird the way all the crooked Clinton myths have permeated even this forum. "Hey, everyone knows she's crooked, so any plausible accusation must have a grain of truth."
    posted by JackFlash at 9:15 AM on April 20 [62 favorites]


    After Putin tried to rehash the claims about Browder funnelling money to the Clinton campaign at the Helsinki press conference with Trump, Browder defended himself in Time magazine: I'm Bill Browder. Here's the Biggest Mistake Putin Made When Trying to Get Access to Me Through Trump . In his account of Putin's longstanding with feud with him, he stated bluntly, "I’ve never made a political donation to Hillary Clinton or any other political candidate."

    c.f. PolitiFact: Putin's Pants-on-Fire claim about $400 million donation to Clinton from Bill Browder partners
    posted by Doktor Zed at 9:20 AM on April 20 [17 favorites]


    The anti-impeachment Dems' argument...

    I still believe Dem leadership is gulling Trump. Clinton's impeachment only took 5 months, so any "but mah elections" complaints are less than credible. It could be smart money for Chuck 'n Nance to hang back and let other people bring the pressure, which will be necessary.

    "You come at the king, you best not miss" is not just a pat Twitter response: if impeachment is attempted and fails, The Trump Administration will create an open door to become monumentally, historically, worse than Hitler bad! Stephen-Miller-is-just-hitting-his-stride bad.

    Impeachment is the process, we get one shot, and public opinion will have a lot to do with how Congress votes. Everybody (at least a supermajority) needs to be behind it.

    Don't despair
    posted by rhizome at 9:46 AM on April 20 [4 favorites]


    From the Raleigh News Observer: The Mueller report released Thursday found that Russian spies successfully hacked into a U.S. voting software company during the 2016 elections, and North Carolina officials think there’s a chance it was software that’s in use here.

    The N.C. Board of Elections now has sent a letter to VR Systems, whose voting software was used by 21 North Carolina counties in 2016. The letter, which was first reported by WRAL, asks the company to “provide immediate, written insurance regarding the security of your network.”

    The Mueller report didn’t specifically name the company. But VR Systems confirmed in a written statement that it’s the company in question. The company’s software can’t be used to count or change votes. Instead, it manages the electronic polling books used to check in voters, to make sure people don’t vote twice. The Mueller report found that “Russian cyber actors in 2016 targeted” the company, and “installed malware on the company network.”

    Durham County, which had numerous problems and delays in the 2016 elections, was using the company’s check-in software at the time. The Mueller report does not go into the full extent of the hacking, and while it does say at least one Florida county was hacked, the report does not name any North Carolina successes for the hackers.


    Susan Greenhalgh (@SEGreenhalgh) has a long Twitter thread about election irregularities in NC and how "there was no investigation from the state and the DHS and FBI can't investigate unless the state identifies a possible crime. We need to change the culture so that irregularities will be considered promptly in the lens of the possibility of interference and investigated."
    posted by Bella Donna at 9:47 AM on April 20 [14 favorites]


    "You come at the king, you best not miss" is not just a pat Twitter response: if impeachment is attempted and fails, The Trump Administration will create an open door to become monumentally, historically, worse than Hitler bad! Stephen-Miller-is-just-hitting-his-stride bad.

    What does "failing" mean? Because acquittal is near-guaranteed. We essentially have to imagine the Constitution states "No Senator shall vote to convict a president of the same faction or party", or else in our conversation about this stuff, we'll be giving low-information voters the wrong impression about the significance of a verdict.

    Still, this is an age of miracles and wonder! I can envision the tide turning so hard that even Republicans abandon him. And I think the area of Trumpian malfeasance that most promises this would be, not finances or foreign ties, but anything of a sexual nature. The Mueller report seemed to affirm that Trump and Cohen, at the least, thought "tapes" existed. And there's the extensive record of Trump's horrible comments -- not just the Access Hollywood thing, but about young women and even girls. And there's his relationships to Jeffrey Epstein and Cindy Yang, and some very blurry, circumstantial evidence that Mar-a-Lago sent "models/escorts" the way of one or both of those people. I think Epstein should be called to testify, at least in a closed-door context. I know, I know, I know about numbers being set in stone, but think there's a genuine possibility of something sick enough to lose all but the hardest core of the base.

    But of course, as a counterpoint: Roy goddamn Moore. So, as usual, that's one for the magic 8-ball.
    posted by InTheYear2017 at 10:03 AM on April 20 [4 favorites]


    The Mueller Report Demands an Impeachment Inquiry (Susan Hennessey and Quinta Jurecic, Lawfare)
    The problem is that impeachment isn’t a purely political matter—though certainly it is political in part. It’s a constitutional expression of the separation of powers, of Congress’s ability to check a chief executive overrunning the bounds of his power. It’s also, under the OLC memo, the only release valve in the constitutional structure for the urgent and mounting pressure of an executive who may have committed serious wrongdoing. To say that the appropriate course is to simply wait for the next presidential election in 18 months, is to offer a judgment that—even in light of his conduct as described by Mueller—Trump is not truly unfit for the office. It is to say he is no different from, say, Vice President Mike Pence, who would take his place, or any other Republican for that matter. It is to say that what matters is winning elections, even if it risks further institutional harms.
    posted by BungaDunga at 10:07 AM on April 20 [12 favorites]


    Rick Hasen on Why Mueller Should Have Gone After Don Jr.
    It was surprising to see that not only did Mueller not attempt to indict Donald Trump Jr. for this conduct, but he didn’t even call him before the grand jury. This is especially surprising given that one of the reasons that Mueller gives for not prosecuting Donald Trump Jr. is lack of evidence of willfulness, the kind of mental state that you need in order for there to be criminal campaign-finance violation. And of course bringing someone under oath before a grand jury is a way to get that kind of information.

    So why not bring Trump Jr. before the grand jury?
    It’s inexplicable to me why, if one of his problems is lack of evidence, he’s not seeking to get that evidence using the powers that he has. I think the answer must be that having called Donald Trump Jr. to the grand jury would have provoked Trump, and probably Mueller did not want to do that.
    Rick Hasen is a professor of law and political science at the University of California, Irvine.
    posted by kirkaracha at 10:26 AM on April 20 [19 favorites]


    In no way am I saying I believe Browder is responsible for illegal behavior. I was correcting my earlier comment when I said him donating to US president campaigns would be legal, which it wouldn't be if he was a UK citizen. I'd kindly ask you to not be so rough with me just for trying to discuss the nuance of a situation and the hypotheticals raised by the report. In no way am I trying to "spread a Trump lie via Putin."
    posted by odinsdream at 11:06 AM on April 20 [8 favorites]




    So why not bring Trump Jr. before the grand jury?

    Emptywheel said (somewhere I can't find right now) that she thinks Don Jr. telegraphed or actually communicated an intent to take the 5th in front of a GJ.
    posted by rhizome at 11:13 AM on April 20 [2 favorites]


    Question: "Do you think there should be a conversation about impeachment right now?"

    Sen. Cory Booker: "No."


    Profile in courage right there
    posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 11:19 AM on April 20 [16 favorites]


    Booker fumbled his response. He immediately went on to say, "I think right now we should continue this investigation, I think Mueller should come before and testify." (blah blah "pursue the facts" blah blah "read the report" blah blah.) There's no strategic value to taking impeachment off the table immediately since it concedes leverage to Team Trump, which right now is pressing their advantage by declaring exoneration and calling for the investigation of the investigators, from Christopher Steele onwards.

    Another profile in courage comes from Maine Public Radio: Collins Says Mueller Report Points To 'Serious Threat To Our Democratic Institution'
    “The Russians were determined to try to influence public opinion and interfere in our elections, and that is a serious threat to our democratic institution,” Collins says.

    She says the attempts by the President to have Mueller fired are disturbing, saying “He was not only very upset by the special counsel’s investigations, but tried several times through intermediaries to end it, and it is an unflattering portrayal of the President.”

    Collins also says the report opens up several additional areas for the [Senate Intelligence] committee to explore as part of its investigation of Russian efforts to influence U.S. elections.

    “It is very clear that this report appears to have changed very few minds in Washington,” she says. “I, personally, found the report to be a very thorough undertaking.”
    And Pennsylvania's spineless Pat Toomey posted a statement to Facebook in which he said that "all Americans should be pleased that the Special Counsel concluded there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia" and that he was "pleased that the report does not have any redactions based on executive privilege".
    posted by Doktor Zed at 11:31 AM on April 20 [1 favorite]


    Emptywheel said (somewhere I can't find right now) that she thinks Don Jr. telegraphed or actually communicated an intent to take the 5th in front of a GJ.

    And if he’d been forced to actually do that, it would now be a part of the public record. Instead, we get Jr. crowing about being acquitted by virtue of not even being questioned.
    posted by SakuraK at 11:32 AM on April 20 [8 favorites]


    What did Flynn give up that got him such a marshmallow sentence?
    posted by fluttering hellfire at 11:42 AM on April 20 [6 favorites]


    A couple of podcast recommendations:

    Behind the Bastards with Robert Evans usually tells the story of the biggest bastards in history, and this week they have a Mueller report special. A common theme that arises is that their comedian guest all arrive at the parallels between whatever POS they're talking about and Trump. It's not a big setup for that punchline, it's just that when you're chatting about total assholes, the deja vu is inevitable.

    Look for their episode on Trump Univeristy, it's even worse than you imagined.

    Mueller She Wrote is a binder full of women who have been podcasting about the investigation since it began. They've been doing a daily show for the patreon subscribers up until now, they've gone completely silent. They don't want to get caught up in the initial flurry of hot takes. They're not saying anything until they've digested their mental food. We can expect that on sunday.

    Check out their archive before then, some of the best reporting I've heard. I switched to them when the PSA guys became too annoying.

    Speaking of Crooked, With Friends Like These has a good interview with Rick Wilson, a rehabilitated republican asshole.
    posted by adept256 at 11:52 AM on April 20 [17 favorites]




    [Couple of comments deleted. We're not gonna dig into "Jimmy Carter: threat or menace" in this thread, just make a separate thread if people want to talk about that.]
    posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:12 PM on April 20 [12 favorites]



    The United States Owes the World $1 Trillion [Foreign Policy]
    By failing to live up to its international climate change agreements, the United States has cost the world a bundle in damage.
    posted by hugbucket at 12:15 PM on April 20 [9 favorites]


    Behind the Bastards podcast just released an episode on the Muller Report and going deep in it. Listening to it gave me a clearer idea of Muller's viewpoint and how it is just telling Congress to do its job.
    posted by kanata at 1:04 PM on April 20 [4 favorites]


    I think Josh Marshall's summary from TPM an hour ago is a pretty good pithy summary and talking point for anyone that wants my vote:
    The simple takeaway from the Mueller Report is the President betrayed his country and spent two years lying and breaking the law to try to hide that fact. He should resign and be tried for his crimes.
    Sooooo right now that's just Warren, right?
    posted by lazaruslong at 1:29 PM on April 20 [45 favorites]


    A Technical and Cultural Assessment of the Mueller Report PDF
    • If Mueller delivered a "born digital" PDF to Justice, that file was printed and scanned back into a set of low-quality images for release; a disservice to all future users of the document, and also a violation of Section 508 regulations.
    • If Mueller delivered a paper document to the Department of Justice which was subsequently scanned, DoJ's treatment of the document is more understandable, but still non-conforming with Section 508.
    ...
    We assess that the document was most likely scanned twice, with redactions being added to the first scanned document using software.This implies that the document may have been provided to DoJ on paper rather than as an electronic document. If it was provided by Mueller to DoJ electronically, then printing it just to scan it back into another, far larger and less capable PDF is difficult to understand.
    posted by kirkaracha at 1:31 PM on April 20 [11 favorites]


    "“There are definitely days when I wake up now and I am, like, I am not equipped to do this,” Innamorato said later. “But I’ll figure it out. It’s a system. There are rules. It’s imperfect because it’s run by human beings, and I’ll figure it out.”

    These Women Where Elected As Democratic Socialists, Now They're Trying To Figure Out What That Means

    this is honestly terrific
    posted by The Whelk at 1:48 PM on April 20 [31 favorites]


    And if he’d been forced to actually do that, it would now be a part of the public record.

    Maybe not. It would have been part of the Grand Jury records, which would still be redacted. The transcript of him taking the 5th would be, and I think the fact of it would arguably be, and Barr would have no qualms in redacting it.
    posted by BungaDunga at 1:56 PM on April 20 [2 favorites]


    Emptywheel said (somewhere I can't find right now) that she thinks Don Jr. telegraphed or actually communicated an intent to take the 5th in front of a GJ.

    The evidence of Junior violating 52 USC 30121, 18 USC 371, and 18 USC 1001 is so straightforward there was no reason to question him.
    posted by mikelieman at 2:07 PM on April 20 [5 favorites]


    And Pennsylvania's spineless Pat Toomey posted a statement to Facebook in which he said that "all Americans should be pleased that the Special Counsel concluded there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia"

    I also would have been very pleased to learn that, assuming it were true. Unfortunately, the Special Counsel concluded no such thing, so my pleasure at his purely hypothetical conclusion is itself purely hypothetical.
    posted by wierdo at 2:21 PM on April 20 [7 favorites]


    That DSA article The Whelk posted is so fantastic! Imagine: Representatives who actually believe they were hired to Be Representative For Their Constituents, like they got into these jobs and are actually just doing them and the media is all "omg this new thing!"
    posted by odinsdream at 2:24 PM on April 20 [24 favorites]


    On page 20 of the report: "the pertinent activities of Michael Cohen , Richard Gates, (redacted) , Roger Stone, and (redacted space) (redacted space JUST big enough for the word "Jr" on the next line). That last one is defintely Don Jr, right?
    posted by jenfullmoon at 2:47 PM on April 20 [2 favorites]


    It would fit alphabetically, too.
    posted by odinsdream at 2:54 PM on April 20


    So would “Sr.” :)
    posted by Barack Spinoza at 2:56 PM on April 20 [4 favorites]


    Are we to assume that Personal Privacy therefore relates to the Trump family members throughout the report?
    posted by odinsdream at 2:59 PM on April 20 [1 favorite]


    Who is alphabetically between Gates and Stone?. Manafort, Kushner.
    posted by fluttering hellfire at 3:04 PM on April 20 [2 favorites]


    Are we to assume that Personal Privacy therefore relates to the Trump family members throughout the report?

    There are other uses of Personal Privacy, for example masking the identity of a cloud service provider used by the DNC (Vol 1 pp 49-50).

    Also, if it is Jr. (or Kushner), then note that Personal Privacy (as opposed to Harm to Ongoing Matter) suggests that there wasn't a case referred out against them.
    posted by jedicus at 3:06 PM on April 20 [1 favorite]


    House Judiciary Committee Democrats said Friday that they’ve engaged with the Justice Department about preliminary arrangements for special counsel Robert Mueller to testify next month.

    I'm sure I'd understand better if I was a lawyer, but it seems like they could have anticipated wanting Mueller to testify and maybe started this process sooner.

    The committee has yet to set an official date for Mueller to come in, but Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) has indicated he wants Mueller to testify no later than May 23.

    Recent history suggests that the DOJ will be super cooperative and they will definitely just show up if you politely give them a deadline. After all, they've seen the repercussions of missing a deadline (i.e. a new deadline).
    posted by diogenes at 3:08 PM on April 20 [2 favorites]


    Why would they need to redact Manafort in that section? It therefore has to be Kushner.
    posted by odinsdream at 3:10 PM on April 20 [1 favorite]


    One thing the Report clarifies is that the House definitely needs to get his fucking tax returns since for some reason Mueller didn’t investigate his finances at all to see if he was beholden to Russia or the Russian mob. Another thing an impeachment inquiry can dig into.
    posted by chris24 at 3:12 PM on April 20 [38 favorites]


    FBI arrests member of rightwing militia accused of detaining migrants: Larry Mitchell Hopkins accused of illegal weapons possession after videos apparently showed men stopping migrants in New Mexico

    FBI's message: the next time you livestream yourself kidnapping a few hundred terrified civilians at gunpoint, make sure it's legal for you to carry that AR.
    posted by Rust Moranis at 3:24 PM on April 20 [59 favorites]


    Also, if it is Jr. (or Kushner), then note that Personal Privacy (as opposed to Harm to Ongoing Matter) suggests that there wasn't a case referred out against them.

    I believe, and I could be wrong here, that the Harm sections are only referring to existing indictments. IANAL
    posted by waitingtoderail at 5:00 PM on April 20 [1 favorite]


    David Jolly:
    Hate to frame it this way, but the inevitable finality facing House Dems is they either punish Trump for his acts of obstruction as detailed in the Mueller report, or history records that Congress sided with Bill Barr's conclusion that Trump's actions were legally permissible.
    posted by chris24 at 5:24 PM on April 20 [51 favorites]


    Republican discussed violent attacks and surveillance with right-wingers - Washington state representative Matt Shea exchanged messages with far-right figures, chat records obtained by the Guardian reveal

    You may remember Matt from such hits as “biblical basis for war”, ”kill all the (leftist) males”, and recommending using zip ties so tight around a woman’s genitals that she could be hoisted up a flag pole.

    These are the people Republicans elect.
    posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 5:36 PM on April 20 [28 favorites]


    David Neiwert: "Border militias are back in the news, thanks to the most recent incident in which they have detained border crossers. Where did these border militias come from? What are they really about? And why do they have such a history of criminality and death attached to them? Long thread follows." Unrolled thread.
    posted by MonkeyToes at 5:37 PM on April 20 [17 favorites]


    If it was provided by Mueller to DoJ electronically, then printing it just to scan it back into another, far larger and less capable PDF is difficult to understand

    There are a lot of incidents of information leakage due to unexpected things in a PDF. If you want to really be sure there isn't anything lurking there, that is the way to do it.
    posted by Bovine Love at 6:03 PM on April 20 [27 favorites]


    That thread on the formation and history of border militias deserves to be a whole article on its own. Highly recommended reading.
    posted by odinsdream at 7:34 PM on April 20 [12 favorites]


    We're about 600 comments in and nobody has mentioned Weld, yet. FTA:
    “One of the questions is how many Democrats are going to say, I would like to cast a vote directly against Mr. Trump instead of throwing a dart at one of 15 — very good — but still one of 15 Democratic candidates,”
    I'm starting to think I just might do this for a few reasons. Starting with I expect 45 to win re-election.

    * I will vote for any Democrat who emerges from the primary process. And, though I have some preferences, anyone who gets through will get my support.
    * If the Dems are still deeply fragmented at that point, it doesn't bode well anyway. If one or two front runners have emerged, my vote is maybe more effective elsewhere.
    * I vote in California. I would love to see Trump lose the primary there. Long shot, but possible? Hell, many of us thought Trump was impossible. It would really stick in Trump's craw. I expect it would make him lash out in a way that might be very self-destructive.
    * Just making 45 have to run against a competent politician (not great, Weld's Libertarian run was not a good look) is a good thing. Less time to fuck up the country. Maybe it'll stress him just that little bit more.
    posted by Gotanda at 7:59 PM on April 20 [14 favorites]


    Asked if she'll always tell the truth, Trump Re-election Campaign spokeswoman Kayleigh Mcenany says: "I could only hope to be as truthful as I think Press Secretary Sarah Sanders has been."

    So, that right there is probably the most truthful statement you are going to hear from the mouth of Kayleigh McEnany in the next 18 months.
    posted by JackFlash at 8:46 PM on April 20 [40 favorites]


    Hate to frame it this way, but the inevitable finality facing House Dems is they either punish Trump for his acts of obstruction as detailed in the Mueller report, or history records that Congress sided with Bill Barr's conclusion that Trump's actions were legally permissible.

    I don't know what other way there is to frame it, and it is absolutely insane that our political class think they can just muddle through Trump and then get "back to normal".
    posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 1:28 AM on April 21 [15 favorites]


    But VR Systems confirmed in a written statement that it’s the company in question... The Mueller report found that “Russian cyber actors in 2016 targeted” the company, and “installed malware on the company network.”

    Durham County, which had numerous problems and delays in the 2016 elections, was using the company’s check-in software at the time.


    It is the complete pinnacle of Repub wrongness...

    Why is a private company involved in the process? (graft for repub buddies) Of course little two bit companies are going to be more susceptible than strong US Fed controlled infrastructure.
    Why do we need a fancy "check in" control system? That's what election volunteers and officials can do, with a phone book style printed list... easy. BUT THE VOTING THEFT MUST BE CONTROLLED oh noes FUD did you hear some dude voted twice, for Hillary?!?!...
    And without all these hoops how do we stop non-repub voters from voting?

    There is not one right thing going on in this scenario.
    posted by Meatbomb at 2:10 AM on April 21 [4 favorites]


    From the UNITED STATES’ MEMORANDUM IN AID OF SENTENCING for defendant Mariia Butina (seen via a Rachel Maddow tweet):

    In one of those proposals, sent to the Russian Official on November 10, 2016, she noted that its goal would be to “use the existing personal groundwork” she and the Russian Official had laid “in establishing informal relationships in U.S. political circles . . . for the purpose of assessing, monitoring, forecasting, and developing the policies of the [Russian Federation] vis-a-vis” the U.S. government. Butina also noted: During the last 5 years, [Russian Official] and Butina have constantly worked on establishing unofficial contact, based on common views and a system of conservative values, with a number of key [Political Party 1] organizations in the US, including the executive level of [Political Party 1], its intellectual establishment and [Political Party 1] organizations.

    On the following day, November 11, the defendant provided the Russian Official with the name of an individual she claimed was being considered for Secretary of State. She asked the Russian Official to seek the input of the Russian government on the name she provided and told him, “our opinion will be taken into consideration” in the United States.


    At first I found it hard to believe that "our opinion will be taken into consideration" was anything but Butina bullshitting her contacts. Then I remembered that Trump let three Mar-a-Lago buddies review and eventually edit "a $10 billion government contract to overhaul electronic health records for veterans even though they had no prior experience in the field." That Trump tapped a real estate lawyer who was a member of one of Trump's private golf clubs for ambassador to Romania. Of course, as you all know, he famously hired Paul Manafort to work without pay, and Manafort may not have been the only campaign official to work without pay. Also, that Don Jr. attempted to find someone to do that actual work of being President so his dad could just be the figurehead (sorry, cannot find the link).

    TL;DR: Sounds legit!
    posted by Bella Donna at 2:11 AM on April 21 [16 favorites]


    Huh. That's pretty interesting in light of this story from March 2018...

    The Daily Beast summarizing Wall Street Journal reporting...
    Russian Trolls Tried to Sink Romney’s Secretary of State Bid, Too

    Russian online trolls tried to brand Mitt Romney a “two headed snake” and a “globalist puppet” as they flooded the internet in late 2016 in a bid to prevent him from becoming Donald Trump's secretary of State. An analysis by The Wall Street Journal shows now-deleted posts urged people to join a protest outside Trump Tower and also shared a petition in an attempt to block the 2012 presidential candidate from being chosen for the top job shortly after Trump’s election victory. The analysis comes alongside a report in The New Yorker that cites a Christopher Steele memo—based on contact with a “senior Russian official”—alleging that the Kremlin pressured Trump to choose a candidate for the job who was more favorable to Russia than Romney was perceived to be. Trump ultimately chose former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, who previously said he has a “very close relationship with” Russian President Vladimir Putin.
    posted by OnceUponATime at 2:27 AM on April 21 [13 favorites]


    Following the report's mention of Florida, it's kind of astonishing how little coverage the Russian hacking of election-related systems in multiple states has had compared to either their Internet troll operation or the penetration of DNC/Podesta servers.

    Are reporters wary of giving a false impression that data was changed when (officially, as far as we know, and I take this with a big spoon of salt) it was not? Because that applies to the DNC server too -- in both cases, just seeing secret data and leaving it untouched is valuable for the Kremlin. It's not impossible that specific voters were targeted on social media based, e.g, a party affiliation stored in a hacked county database.

    Is there a similar worry that readers would too-easily conflate registration/rolls with the vote tabulation, which also was officially not touched (although I'm similarly unsure if we can trust that to be the case) and is broadly understood as what "real" tampering with an election means? Because conflation between the DNC server and Hillary's private one is also a challenge inherent to those stories.

    Plus, as far as I'm concerned, the registration/tabulation distinction is smaller than some would paint it; a vote lost to "Sorry, you're not in our system" is almost the same as one lost by direct digital deletion (granting the existence of provisional ballots). Republican suppression relies in part on refusal to acknowledge the equivalence between pruning a leaf and pruning the branch further up the chain of causation.

    Or... is the story just too scary to face head-on?
    posted by InTheYear2017 at 3:53 AM on April 21 [22 favorites]


    Here's a refresher from Dec 2016, on Paul Ryan's connection to hackers and shenanigans in Florida races at that time Milwaukee-Journal Sentinel

    "The Congressional Leadership Fund, which is endorsed by Ryan, a Janesville Republican, and other House GOP leaders, ran an ad that targeted Florida Democrat Joe Garcia and used material allegedly exposed by a group of hackers operating under the name Guccifer 2.0. Garcia, who lost his race to Republican Carlos Curbelo, also made use of hacked material in criticizing his opponent in the Democratic primary, Annette Taddeo, according to the Times.

    The Leadership Fund ad cites a "Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee internal document" as among its source materials, along with other sources like a story in the Miami Herald."
    posted by Harry Caul at 4:51 AM on April 21 [4 favorites]


    Asked if she'll always tell the truth, Trump Re-election Campaign spokeswoman Kayleigh Mcenany says: "I could only hope to be as truthful as I think Press Secretary Sarah Sanders has been."

    This is your occasional reminder that when the so-called elite political press took its cue from conservative media -- again -- and rushed to its fainting couches over Naomi Wolf allegedly criticizing Sanders' appearance -- she didn't -- it conveniently avoided confronting the fact that Wolf called Sanders a liar and, by implication, the DC media stenographers for a liar.
    posted by Gelatin at 5:56 AM on April 21 [9 favorites]


    Usual caveats about looking at averages, not just one poll, etc. etc., but he’s down to 37% in the first poll post-release, a 3% drop from April 15th, and a 6% drop from after the Barr letter last month.

    Reuters: Trump approval drops 3 points to 2019 low after release of Mueller report

    And he’s railing about investigations again this morning on Twitter. Which again, one of the best reasons to continue to investigate him and open an impeachment inquiry is that he’s so clearly scared by it. He’s dirty, we’ll find dirt, and it keeps him on the defensive. If we don’t, he’ll claim vindication and go after the investigators and Clinton.
    posted by chris24 at 5:58 AM on April 21 [25 favorites]


    I was recalling maybe he was a UK citizen, which would put donations to US campaigns into an illegal category, which is *still* not "dirt on Hillary" it would be dirt on Bill Browder.

    Just as an FYI citizens of other countries can donate to US campaigns if they are US residents (There are 13 million of us).
    posted by srboisvert at 6:03 AM on April 21 [12 favorites]


    How you know the Mueller Report doesn't show exoneration but rather that he's a traitorous fuck; now they're explicitly saying it's fine to be a traitorous fuck.

    Jake Tapper
    In our interview airing on @CNNSotu at 9 am ET, in response to criticism from @mittromney that Trump team was willing to accept help from Russia, Trump attorney @RudyGiuliani says there’s “nothing wrong” with a campaign accepting help from Russia. Tune in —



    Always inevitable we’d get to collusion is fine.
    posted by chris24 at 6:05 AM on April 21 [57 favorites]


    I decided to read some books about climate change to cheer myself up, and so I'm seeing everything through that lens, and one of my thoughts is how are we going to take on the corporate powers that be and reduce carbon emissions if we can't move to impeach when we have an ineluctable mountain of evidence of impeachable offenses before us? We're supposed to be a nation of laws; if we don't even have that, how are we going to surmount the obstacles presented by climate change in the next decade?

    Happy Holidays!
    posted by angrycat at 6:14 AM on April 21 [12 favorites]


    one of my thoughts is how are we going to take on the corporate powers that be and reduce carbon emissions if we can't move to impeach when we have an ineluctable mountain of evidence of impeachable offenses before us? We're supposed to be a nation of laws; if we don't even have that, how are we going to surmount the obstacles presented by climate change in the next decade?

    Primary out 70% of elected democrats.
    posted by Rust Moranis at 6:18 AM on April 21 [35 favorites]


    Pretty much, yes.
    posted by odinsdream at 6:20 AM on April 21


    Gelatin: This is your occasional reminder that when the so-called elite political press took its cue from conservative media -- again -- and rushed to its fainting couches over Naomi Wolf allegedly criticizing Sanders' appearance -- she didn't -- it conveniently avoided confronting the fact that Wolf called Sanders a liar and, by implication, the DC media stenographers for a liar.

    Heh, looks like I've got a new regular thread chore! I think you mean Michelle Wolf (Naomi Wolf is a feminist author who advised Gore and Bill).
    posted by InTheYear2017 at 6:39 AM on April 21 [17 favorites]


    The calm, steadying hand of normal leadership:

    Trump mistakenly tweets millions dead in Sri Lanka explosions on Easter Sunday (USA Today)
    posted by Barack Spinoza at 7:10 AM on April 21 [9 favorites]


    Having the Senate Republicans on the record as voting to acquit for impeachment is ammunition for the 2020 elections. Why is the Democratic party willing to forfeit that weapon, despite it having no cost. It would literally take them an afternoon. Pass it, punt it to the Senate, watch it go down, then start making campaign ads.

    Mitch McConnell is up for re-election in 2020.

    WTF is going on here, this political calculus makes no sense.
    posted by butterstick at 7:28 AM on April 21 [30 favorites]


    Loony leftist update, labor edition!
    JANE MCALEVEY ON HOW TO ORGANIZE FOR POWER



    The workers report low wages, scarce benefits, and unstable working conditions, calling the conditions unfitting of a museum that was founded to celebrate the labor struggles of immigrant families: Tenement Museum Workers Vote to Unionize

    Union busting by Boeing results in shoddy manufacturing

    The history of communists in the labor movement is complicated. It should neither be romanticized nor handwaved away. THREAD

    Stop and Shop strike continues "In nearly 30 years, we haven’t seen a strike as effective and devastating as this one,"
    posted by The Whelk at 7:37 AM on April 21 [27 favorites]


    @JuliusGoat:
    I’ve got news for Democrats: if after the last three years somebody is going to get angry that the president has been impeached? That isn’t a vote you were ever getting.

    Those voices can be safely ignored.
    posted by chris24 at 7:40 AM on April 21 [61 favorites]


    JANE MCALEVEY ON HOW TO ORGANIZE FOR POWER

    I was just listening to McAlevy on The Dig and am convinced that we will be much better off once we clone her and use those clones to replace Chuck and Nancy. She is a tough, clear-eyed tactician who is obsessively focused on building organizational power and using it to advance progressive goals.
    posted by contraption at 7:50 AM on April 21 [3 favorites]


    WTF is going on here, this political calculus makes no sense.

    It makes sense if they're complicit. Which they are if they don't start and vote for impeachment in the House.

    I think the progressive folk out there like us are maybe miscalculating on how much of the Democratic party actually also needs to be replaced ASAP to get justice and save our planet.
    posted by odinsdream at 7:52 AM on April 21 [19 favorites]


    Just as an FYI citizens of other countries can donate to US campaigns if they are US residents (There are 13 million of us).

    Good point. The election donation law only applies to foreign nationals. A green card holder is not a foreign national because they are a permanent US resident.
    posted by JackFlash at 7:56 AM on April 21


    Everybody should be calling their representatives, hounding them about the report and its conclusions and impeachment.
    posted by gucci mane at 8:01 AM on April 21 [9 favorites]


    US citizens living abroad (whether or not dual citizens) are also allowed to donate money, as far as I know. Periodically Republicans attempt to disenfranchise us (I know, shocking) because expats tend to vote for the Democratic Party.

    Democrats Abroad is the official Democratic Party arm for the millions of Americans living outside the United States. We strive to provide Americans abroad a Democratic voice in our government and elect Democratic candidates by mobilizing the overseas vote. Democrats Abroad has 42 country committees throughout Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. These country committees keep Americans abroad informed of their rights and help them participate in the U.S. political process. Our members live in more than 190 countries around the globe and vote in every state and Congressional district in the U.S.
    posted by Bella Donna at 8:05 AM on April 21 [4 favorites]


    Kyle Griffin (MSNBC):
    Elijah Cummings says that even if the House moves to impeach Trump and the Senate votes against it, "history would smile upon us for standing up for the Constitution."
    VIDEO
    posted by chris24 at 8:05 AM on April 21 [63 favorites]


    It would literally take them an afternoon. Pass it, punt it to the Senate

    This is exactly the wrong way to go about it, because it would be seen as a transparent political ploy. The right way is a wide-ranging House investigation with gavel-to-gavel coverage, concluding with an impeachment referral. Get the facts out there without letting Trump control the news cycle.
    posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:13 AM on April 21 [55 favorites]


    I think the progressive folk out there like us are maybe miscalculating on how much of the Democratic party actually also needs to be replaced ASAP to get justice and save our planet.

    Impeachment saves the planet if it saves 2020. That's it. The party is currently crunching its calculus, and I think some of their numbers are probably incorrect. I think it does save 2020. But the underlying rationale is not wrong. The climate can't afford a political party tilting at windmills because of "principles".

    This is different from the failure to prosecute war criminals and recession architects, and it's different from the push for healthcare reform that gave us Obamacare. All of those things either would have, or did, cost major political capital. Democrats lost seats to the ACA pushback --- but they also directly saved lives. In some other timeline, perhaps they lost even more seats and actually locked Donald Rumsfeld or Phil Gramm behind bars.

    But impeachment is a statement, a grand gesture, a yell at the skies. It will save lives because it will save the election and establish a strong precedent for future rule of law. (A muted one, because the precedent will be that if you're as bad as Trump, you have to endure a big nasty trial that spells out all your evils, and in the end you get off.) But if there was really good reason to think that the gamble pays the other way, then it would be a very bad idea. I think this Vox piece is worth a read.
    posted by InTheYear2017 at 8:14 AM on April 21 [5 favorites]


    Everybody should be calling their representatives, hounding them about the report and its conclusions and impeachment.

    Nadler, Schumer and Gillibrand are mine and I’ve been using ResistBot to send them messages daily. It makes it very easy to do. Today’s message if it might help others compose theirs:

    “An impeachment inquiry needs to be started immediately. Without one, we are effectively saying we will never impeach a president. If not now, with this president and crimes, when? We will be excusing traitorous if not technically treasonous crimes. And we will be letting a lawless president get away with even more and be effectively above the law. If we don't fight this battle, we will be defending against his attacks on the investigators and Clinton. And there's so much more criminal activity to be found and confirmed, including his finances and possible ties to Russia/Russian mob and money laundering. Any Democrat who does not support proceedings will not have my vote or donations in the future. Their primary opponents will. Do your job!”
    posted by chris24 at 8:17 AM on April 21 [31 favorites]


    Appending to what I wrote -- I think the biggest mistake Ezra Klein made in the piece I linked is imagining that the economy will be good in 2020, when just about all the experts say we're due for a recession. That fact strengthens my resolve a lot. A combination of impeachment and recession will put the regime in such a bad position that even the proverbial "just start a war!" won't save them, I think.

    And just to play my broken record more: If impeachment happens (or even if it doesn't, really) your coworkers in water-cooler conversations are going to have to be persuaded that one of the two major political parties operates in bad faith and does not care about rules, while the other one does. One of them kicked out Al Franken and the other stuck to Roy Moore. Ergo, any ultimate verdict is meaningless unless it is (miracle of miracles) a finding of guilt.
    posted by InTheYear2017 at 8:27 AM on April 21 [3 favorites]


    In moral philosophy there is a distinction between "consequentialist" or "utilitarian" ethics (the right thing to do is thing thing which you estimate will increase happiness or prevent suffering overall to the greatest degree) and "deontological" ethics (the right thing to do is to stick to your principles -- most of which can be expressed explicitly in terms of respecting various rights -- even if it seems possible or likely that it could backfire and accidentally harm innocent people.)

    If you would like to understand this debate I can recommend the book "Moral Tribes" by Joshua Greene. It's been raging for millenia, and is still not settled because both approaches sometimes lead to terrible outcomes.

    Anyway, I think that's the root of the impeachment debate. Politicians tend to be more utilitarian (after all they are held responsible for the consequences of their decisions) and activists tend to be more deontological -- committment to principles is what makes them activists.

    I guess my point is... consider that people who disagree with you on this issue may not be unethical. They may may be just as strongly committed to their ethical framework as you are to yours. And if you want to argue that yours is better, be prepared for the fact that no one has won that argument yet in the thousands of years it has been going on.
    posted by OnceUponATime at 8:36 AM on April 21 [36 favorites]


    But impeachment is a statement, a grand gesture, a yell at the skies.

    I don't understand the calculus where the folks who support impeachment are considered to only support that and no more. I support impeachment, calls for him to resign, and criminal indictments and his arrest.
    posted by odinsdream at 8:40 AM on April 21 [29 favorites]


    (If you prefer your moral philosophy lessons in sitcom form, "The Good Place" is also a good survey of this debate.)
    posted by OnceUponATime at 8:41 AM on April 21 [8 favorites]


    I’m think it’s clear that impeachment is the right decision under both viewpoints. Definitely the right thing to do on principle. And also the right thing to do consequentially. He’s hugely unpopular, investigating these and additional crimes will damage him, prevent him from going full dictator, and there’s no proof it will hurt Dems. Benghazi investigated 7 times? Rs win all branches of government. Clinton impeached? Rs win all branches of government.
    posted by chris24 at 8:46 AM on April 21 [6 favorites]


    NYT graphics
    Mueller Report Shows Depth of Connections Between Trump
    Campaign and Russians.
    posted by adamvasco at 8:46 AM on April 21 [6 favorites]


    that no one has won that argument yet in the thousands of years it has been going on.

    The only utilitarian argument against impeachment is that it will cause a Trump win in 2020, which is not actually a fact. It is a fear.
    posted by benzenedream at 8:57 AM on April 21 [14 favorites]


    NYT, How Michael Cohen Turned Against President Trump
    Now, as Mr. Cohen prepares to head to prison in two weeks, dozens of previously unreported emails, text messages and other confidential documents reviewed by The New York Times suggest that his falling out with Mr. Trump may have been avoidable.

    Missed cues, clashing egos, veiled threats and unaddressed money worries all contributed to Mr. Cohen’s halting decision to turn on a man he had long idolized and even once vowed to take a bullet for, according to the documents and interviews with people close to the events. Some of the documents have been turned over to the prosecutors in Manhattan, and a small number were mentioned in the special counsel’s report released on Thursday, which dealt extensively with Mr. Cohen and referred to him more than 800 times.

    Mr. Cohen held out hope for a different outcome until the very end, when he pleaded guilty and confessed to paying the illegal hush money to avert a potential sex scandal during the presidential campaign. Just hours earlier, wracked with indecision, he was still seeking guidance, looking, as one informal adviser put it, “for another way out.”
    This is all written like a mob movie.
    posted by zachlipton at 8:58 AM on April 21 [11 favorites]


    For the consequentialist crowd. Letting him get away with being a traitor and cheating on an election makes it more likely he wins in 2020. Cuz he’ll do it again. And more.

    Charles Pierce
    It should occur to people that, without inflicting the most serious constitutional sanction on the president*, the 2020 election is under extreme peril.
    posted by chris24 at 9:02 AM on April 21 [43 favorites]


    Possibly, but these are practical arguments that folks in the Dem leadership who think impeachment is the wrong thing to do are basing that belief on incorrect assumptions, not arguments that their position is unethical which is what OUAT was pushing back against. If you truly believe that a failed impeachment means Trump gets re-elected in 2020 while not impeaching means a good chance he loses, then the ethical utilitarian position is not to impeach and concentrate on voting him out.

    I tend to agree that Pelosi and Hoyer are drawing too close a parallel between this situation and Clinton's in the 90s. That seems to happen as we age; everything gets compared to something that happened when we were younger even if it isn't totally apt. Look at how often forking boomers go on and on about the various Kennedys!

    The point being, Pelosi and Hoyer are not being bad people with their position though they may well be wrong.
    posted by Justinian at 9:08 AM on April 21 [9 favorites]


    Charles Pierce
    It should occur to people that, without inflicting the most serious constitutional sanction on the president*, the 2020 election is under extreme peril.

    Rudy's "collusion is good" today is an outright admission they're planning on colluding again. That's how they plan on winning reelection, voter suppression, and having Russia hack the Democratic nominee again. When they tell you who they are, believe them. They do not intend on ever facing another free and fair election.
    posted by T.D. Strange at 9:11 AM on April 21 [56 favorites]


    Hey, remember how all those voting systems were hacked but supposedly no votes were changed. In 2020 they could be changed so he wins and it will be Trump’s DOJ investigating after the fact. Sounds safe to me.
    posted by chris24 at 9:11 AM on April 21 [15 favorites]


    and is still not settled because both approaches sometimes lead to terrible outcomes.

    Deontologists: ಠ_ಠ
    posted by Barack Spinoza at 9:14 AM on April 21 [6 favorites]


    Literally why would they not? If no actual consequence occurs as a result of the release of the report, they are clearly above the law, and now they control the law. There would be literally no reason for them not to crime again, even knowing that they would be criming probably anyway cause it's WHO THEY ARE. This is why they are existential threats that need to be urgently removed by any means necessary. It's just that the closest means we currently have that's legitimate within our system of government is forcing impeachment, resignation, and criminal indictments. Literally, if we do not accomplish those goals as soon as possible we are going to be looking at political purges under the color of law currently under their control, in furtherance of a goal of literal one-party rule.
    posted by odinsdream at 9:14 AM on April 21 [25 favorites]


    They already merged the RNC into the Trump campaign. It’s out in the open that they plan on keeping Trump in power for as long as possible.
    posted by gucci mane at 9:25 AM on April 21 [8 favorites]


    NYMag: If Impeaching Trump Is Pointless, Then Bipartisanship Is Worthless
    All of this said, if House Democrats are taking the position that the Republican Party is so corrupt — and our system of checks and balances so obsolete — it isn’t even worth trying to uphold their constitutional responsibility to impeach a lawless president, then they need to acknowledge the radical implications of that stance.

    If there is no bipartisan consensus on upholding the rule of law, then bipartisan consensus is not an end worth pursuing. If the Republican Party can’t be trusted to even consider putting its allegiance to lawfulness above its fealty to Donald Trump, then the GOP is a cancer on the body politic. And if our Constitution has brought us to the point where a non-democratically elected president can promise “Get Out of Jail Free” cards to anyone who violates laws he does not like — without facing any serious threat of removal from office — then our Constitution is obsolete and there is no cause for treating that document, or the established norms of our institutions, with reflexive reverence.

    [...]

    In other words, congressional Democrats’ fatalism about impeachment — and their reverence for institutional norms and the ideal of bipartisanship — are irreconcilable. And that has implications for much more than the debate over filibuster reform. It implies that commitment to small-r republican values requires prioritizing the GOP’s disempowerment over the preservation of institutional norms. If Democrats have the power to reduce the Republicans’ structural advantage in the Senate by granting statehood to D.C. and Puerto Rico on a party-line vote, they must do this. If the conservative judges continue to abet the GOP’s efforts to insulate itself from popular rebuke through voter suppression and gerrymandering, then Democrats must be prepared to reform the judiciary.

    Democrats can insist that impeachment is a hopeless cause. And they can sing paeans to congressional norms and bipartisan comity. But if they do both, they will confirm that their party is just another one of our republic’s failing institutions.
    posted by chris24 at 9:44 AM on April 21 [59 favorites]


    If you've ever played the game of Risk, then you know the most important factor is timing -- when to go for it. Too soon or too late and you will lose. Until it's the time is right, it's best to focus on positioning.

    I think the strategizing about impeachment should (and probably is) considering just that. That's why I am not in favor of impeachment articles coming out too soon. I would prefer it to be more like 6 to 9 months from now, with the time until then spent positioning via hearings and investigations.

    I suspect that's the best timing. But I am certainly open to hearing other points of view regarding the best timing.

    I would not worry too much about losing position by having the timing seem political. Everything about this is already political to the nth degree.
    posted by M-x shell at 10:01 AM on April 21 [9 favorites]


    If you've ever played the game of Risk, then you know the most important factor is timing -- when to go for it. Too soon or too late and you will lose. Until it's the time is right, it's best to focus on positioning.

    The best time to start trying to save the country was any time in the last 30 years. The second best time is now.
    posted by Rust Moranis at 10:04 AM on April 21 [59 favorites]


    Either Trump committed impeachable offenses, or he didn't. Every elected federal legislator should be on the record with an up/down, yes/no vote that identifies them in 2020 and future elections by where they stand on that question.

    If Pelosi and Hoyer are thinking strategy, ignoring their responsibilities for a moment, getting Republicans on the record about open support for a crime boss would help other Democratic Party candidates, who are running in 2020 against Republican incumbents.

    There's more here at stake than just a Presidency, maybe an opportunity to gain a majority in the Senate.
    posted by They sucked his brains out! at 10:24 AM on April 21 [7 favorites]


    The best time to start trying to save the country was any time in the last 30 years. The second best time is now.

    yes. but the issue in this thread right now seems to be what exactly to do now. And given that we're in the midst of a long weekend, it seems a good time to discuss options.

    My angle would be along the lines of whatever-best-doesn't-allow-Trump-and-co-to-frame-the-narrative-ever-again. Which (I suppose counterintuitively) has me leaning toward a NOT declaring anything definitive immediately, but rather getting busy with groundwork in two particular directions:

    1. actually reading the f***ing report in detail and taking a moment or two to actually digest it before committing to any particular strategy

    2. not losing focus on 2020 itself, the elections that must be won, getting the f***ing vote out
    posted by philip-random at 10:34 AM on April 21 [5 favorites]


    It just occurred to me that if you applied the thinking of the current Democratic leadership to the justice system, you would literally never have a trial.
    posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 10:48 AM on April 21 [10 favorites]


    I'm not sure I understand? Probability of conviction is possibly the single most important metric in judging whether someone is taken to trial.
    posted by Justinian at 10:53 AM on April 21 [6 favorites]


    The probability of conviction here on evidence is very high. If you want a similar situation in the justice system it would be a rogue juror threatening jury nullification. I doubt many prosecutors would cave to that.
    posted by chris24 at 11:27 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]


    I suspect that's the best timing. But I am certainly open to hearing other points of view regarding the best timing.

    If we're going with a Risk metaphor, Democratic leaders who aren't immediately onboard with impeachment, resignation and criminal prosecution are the aunt yelling at you kids actually playing Risk to come to dinner already and stop playing your game.

    There are real lives being affected by Trump's continuation of power. Real people are dying, thousands upon thousands are suffering terrible violence as a direct and intentional result of his being in power. This is not a theoretical game of brinkmanship over some obscure political system disagreement.

    This is a criminal who intentionally came to power through an illegitimate process who is using that power to harm people. He must be removed immediately as a bare minimum effort. Restorative justice is where we can talk about "timing" and strategy. We need to remedy harms immediately and prevent further torment.
    posted by odinsdream at 11:35 AM on April 21 [17 favorites]


    You say he "must be removed immediately" but there's, like, zero chance that happens. So what does it actually mean when you say that? What does it mean to say something must happen when you have to know that it isn't going to happen?

    I guess I lean towards the House impeaching Trump... but I'm only something like 60/40 on it because Pelosi has great political instincts and while I think, as I said, she may simply be overfitting the data based on what happened to Clinton it's also possible she is better at politics than we are and there really is a danger of causing Trump to be re-elected. So it's scary either way.

    What I don't understand is people who think this is an easy question and that the answer is definitely to impeach Trump immediately and that this is obvious. It's not. It's a very difficult question.
    posted by Justinian at 11:44 AM on April 21 [15 favorites]


    another thing i think that gets missed in the whole impeachment argument is that if the democrats aren't willing to do this, they run the real risk of being seen as collaborators

    we need an opposition in this country - if the democrats won't be that, who else will?
    posted by pyramid termite at 11:50 AM on April 21 [17 favorites]


    > another thing i think that gets missed in the whole impeachment argument is that if the democrats aren't willing to do this, they run the real risk of being seen as collaborators

    More important than running the risk of being seen as collaborators, they run the risk of actually being accomplices, if maybe unwitting ones.
    posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 11:52 AM on April 21 [24 favorites]


    You say he "must be removed immediately" but there's, like, zero chance that happens. So what does it actually mean when you say that? What does it mean to say something must happen when you have to know that it isn't going to happen?

    I am not being disingenuous, I literally think that is what needs to happen. He needs to be forced to resign, and then he needs to be criminally prosecuted. Those are not in the category of fantasy. Those are real targets that we can and must meet. I'm not saying this as the best political maneuver I'm saying this as a matter of personal survival.
    posted by odinsdream at 11:56 AM on April 21 [15 favorites]


    I'm not sure I understand? Probability of conviction is possibly the single most important metric in judging whether someone is taken to trial.

    I'm saying the probability of conviction held by Steny Hoyer et al is so high, they'd never try a case

    If you only went to trial if you knew beforehand the jury agreed with you, you'd never go to trial
    posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 11:56 AM on April 21 [10 favorites]


    The release of the report has captured the interest of apolitical folks I know more than anything has done since the 2016 elections. What I don’t understand is why hearings in the House aren’t starting first thing Monday morning, before this has all been normalized. The House subpoena for the unredacted report - a document that already exists - should have been issued with a due date of last Friday, not a month from now in mid-May.

    I don’t claim to understand all of the political calculus, but I do think Democratic leaders have failed at pacing their response to this existential crisis. Nobody expects an impeachment vote next week. We do expect our political leaders to begin inquiries, though, understanding that the process takes 6+ months. We’re nearly at the point where Repubs will decree that no investigation can start until after the 2020 elections. Why walk into that buzzsaw willingly by slow-rolling the logical next steps?
    posted by SakuraK at 12:33 PM on April 21 [9 favorites]


    It's also possible she is better at politics than we are and there really is a danger of causing Trump to be re-elected.

    I think the conclusion a lot of people are coming to is that it doesn't really matter whether or not impeachment will be popular. We now know for certain that the President tried to obstruct an investigation into an attack on the United States. Congress is obligated to impeach Trump. It's a constitutional duty. One of the ones they swore to protect.
    posted by xammerboy at 12:36 PM on April 21 [41 favorites]


    I think the process of demanding the unredacted report and then not getting it is to force Barr to commit and crime and impeach/charge him.
    posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:36 PM on April 21 [5 favorites]


    "He needs to be forced to resign"

    How, though?
    posted by Selena777 at 12:48 PM on April 21 [5 favorites]


    I'm not going to pretend to have a detailed action plan and continue to take up so much space on this topic. I've stated what i think is necessary in terms of Overton shift and what actions I'd expect to help move towards justice. If we disagree that's fine.
    posted by odinsdream at 12:51 PM on April 21


    You know, I'm newly angry at Bill Clinton. It's going to be hard to swallow the idea that we're looking comparing that sordid piece of bullshit with, say, the subversion of democracy. Can you imagine being HRC and hearing these comparisons? It's like, we could have had Nixon's disgrace as our historical template but you and your penis had issues.
    posted by angrycat at 12:51 PM on April 21 [19 favorites]


    Also Mayor Pete said on CNN that Bernie voters as well as Trump voters are to blame for the omnishambles, so I guess that's his play.
    posted by angrycat at 1:03 PM on April 21 [7 favorites]


    if only the mods had some way of keeping the candidates themselves from relitigating 2016.
    posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 1:07 PM on April 21 [46 favorites]


    Victoria Nourse, law professor, Georgetown University via Vox:
    “Putin has won.” Election Day 2016, an intercepted message to Kirill Dmitriev, a Russian national “closely connected to Putin.” (On page 149 of the Mueller report.) This line says everything that the American public should remember about the Mueller investigation. Russian interference in the election has been established beyond doubt. Worse, Mueller found that the Trump campaign “expected to benefit” from criminal actions by Russians who successfully targeted the American election. It is not a crime for any citizen to associate with criminals and spies, nor to enjoy their favors, but that is surely too low a standard for a president of the United States.

    Viewing this case through the lens of criminal law is a mistake. The president takes an oath “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” Few constitutionalists believe that the special counsel would indict a sitting president for an ordinary crime. The constitutional power to judge a president is left to Congress. Congress must determine whether there has been a constitutional offense.


    Swedish trivia: The Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter (Daily News) does not call the Mueller Report the Mueller Report. While reading the paper yesterday I discovered DN calls it the Russian Report.
    posted by Bella Donna at 1:14 PM on April 21 [25 favorites]


    I mean, of course Republicans are gonna wanna frame this as the comparison to Clinton, because comparing it to Nixon invites the discussion about the idea that this is an in-party problem. This is not a conversation they want to have.
    posted by Archelaus at 1:14 PM on April 21 [6 favorites]


    He needs to be forced to resign, and then he needs to be criminally prosecuted. Those are not in the category of fantasy.

    Trump is not going to resign except in the eminent certitude of conviction by impeachment. To get there you need 67 votes in the senate.

    So start off with 45 Democrats and two Independents. Now look at the conservative ranking for all the remaining Republicans, from least conservative to most conservative.

    Just to get to 50 votes you need Murkowski and Collins and who else? Rand Paul? None of those three have shown any inclination to impeach even after the Mueller Report.

    Then to get to 60 votes you need a bunch more Republicans down the conservative ranking including Lindsey Graham. How likely is Graham to flip?

    Then to get to 67 votes you need to flip a bunch of Republicans even more conservative than Graham which includes Roy Blunt, John Thune and Richard Burr. And beyond Burr the list gets even worse. This is indeed fantasy land.
    posted by JackFlash at 1:30 PM on April 21 [9 favorites]


    The release of the report has captured the interest of apolitical folks I know more than anything has done since the 2016 elections. What I don’t understand is why hearings in the House aren’t starting first thing Monday morning, before this has all been normalized. The House subpoena for the unredacted report - a document that already exists - should have been issued with a due date of last Friday, not a month from now in mid-May.

    Primarily so that they have the greatest chance of that third branch of government, the judiciary, behind them in any arguments over enforcement of their subpoenas or possible future contempt charges.

    I do agree that they should have witnesses willing to be cooperative testifying by the end of the week, if possible. There is plenty of material to be further elaborated upon in the unredacted report, so testimony on those issues need not wait. The more corroboration of all Trump's malfeasance, the better, even if the Russian cooperation is the most broadly disqualifying.
    posted by wierdo at 1:38 PM on April 21 [2 favorites]


    Then to get to 67 votes you need to flip a bunch of Republicans even more conservative than Graham which includes Roy Blunt, John Thune and Richard Burr. And beyond Burr the list gets even worse. This is indeed fantasy land.

    And all of that political calculus was no doubt in Pelosi’s mind when she said a month ago that she wasn’t planning to drive for impeachment. There’s no way for Dems to make it happen, short of Republicans resigning in the Senate before their term is up and being replaced by Democrats.

    To get Trump out, we need to take the Senate in 2020 and maintain the majority in the House. If we do that, then the idea of Trump winning in 2020 is less of an obstacle to pursuing a Democratic agenda. Even if he wins, if we take the Senate, we can impeach him immediately. Even if he gets acquitted for some Godonlyknowswhat reason, we can render him ultimately powerless, the same way McConnell obstructed Obama. We can block judges, especially Supreme Court nominations, we can pass legislation and override Trump’s vetos, we can do what we need to do. I think it’s even more vital that Democrats win a Senate majority than it is to win the White House. Yeah, it’d be even better if we had both, but if we only get one...pick the Senate.
    posted by Autumnheart at 1:47 PM on April 21 [9 favorites]


    The "realm of fantasy" part is imagining that GOP Senators possess shame or remorse or rational argument capabilities in this matter.

    All of those have been painstakingly whittled out of Republican DNA over the last several decades, by means of neutering the mainstream media, building a separate-and-louder conservative one, and replacing Republicans having traces of those characteristics with hardliner fruit loops.

    Trump could choke an orphan _on the Senate floor_ and still get fifty votes in his favor there. Arguments challenging that should be prepared to provide evidence that Republican Senators value truth in any way over reelection.
    posted by delfin at 1:54 PM on April 21 [3 favorites]


    I realize that I exist in a Twitter bubble, but over the past few days, I have seen numerous people who either previously weren't regularly discussing Democratic 2020 candidates, or were vocally supporting someone else, specifically mention Elizabeth Warren in praise for her moral clarity in calling for impeachment, and her fearlessness in not wasting any time about it.

    This comment isn't about Liz Warren (although I definitely encourage anyone else who's impressed by her reaction to donate in a show of support.) What I'm saying is, even within my bubble, this feels like a significant shift in opinion that seems to suggest many people really agree with what she (and others) are saying about the seriousness of this situation and that regardless of the ultimate outcome, impeachment is necessary because anything less is worse from a morale and precedent-setting standpoint.

    Why now? Again, this shift in opinion seems substantial to me and I feel like if any moment was the one, it's this. A fissure seems to have formed in public opinion, even if it's small, it's bigger than past ones and I think we have to use that momentum and push hard to keep it propagating instead of letting it heal back up by delaying or ignoring the situation at hand.

    And I am frustrated by the foregone conclusion of "the Senate won't convict". Of course I see that is the likely outcome but it's not 100%. Who knows what might come to light during impeachment proceedings? I believe that everyone should have the chance to hear as much detail as possible, for themselves, televised. Maybe enough Senators WILL turn. Maybe the public WILL turn, enough, and start pressuring their Senators enough. I've posted this before but it's been a while and seems relevant again: it takes a relatively small change in public opinion for a tipping point to occur, and you won't know when you're close. I still believe that once that point gets reached, everything could change quickly.

    Impeachment because it's the right thing to do. Not because of any political calculus. I feel these times are too unlike any other to be able to reasonably predict what the outcome will be, so might as well do the right thing. I mean let's not forget how wrong we were in predicting Trump couldn't win the election. We suck at predicting things. So do the right thing.

    (Also, I really think Sarah Kendzior is pretty much always right about things, and she is very much in favor of impeachment for a lot of compelling reasons which she discusses on her podcast Gaslit Nation, which I recommend.)
    posted by robotdevil at 1:58 PM on April 21 [46 favorites]


    Impeachment is a means of bearing witness. Those who do not argue in good faith (R) will not appreciate the purpose, but for many of us it feels necessary to bear witness. The political calculus is real, but downstream.
    posted by stonepharisee at 2:01 PM on April 21 [21 favorites]


    Avoid civil war, avoid/rollback rightwing dictatorship. How? Right now the best plan from our democratic leaders and many thread commenters is: Win uphill and possibly rigged elections in 2020. I'm willing to hear a better plan, is there one?

    Impeachment in the House and Exhoneration in the senate... that ratifies that Putin and Trump won, they got away with it, we already know this in one sense but we resist openly acknowledging that the democratic republic died, and now democrats have to somehow ressurect it. 2018 gives us hope that whatever else is broken elextions can still empower the opposition to dictatorship.

    Democrats are and have been stalling (under the cover of Mueller) on impeachment since winning in 2018 despite abundant public evidenve, to avoid the moment where Republicans (in the senate and in the base) formalize the fait-accompli. we all have to admit that Putin and Trump got away with it and to hope that elections can save us from acknowleging the system is broken and can not fix itself. Unified democratic control of the formal federal aparatus and a actual willingness of those democrats to reform the system to bring democracy to the US and expunge the appointees and decisions of the illegitimate prior regime is needed.

    I think impeachment is necessary, but i think winning the senate is more necessary. I'm unpersuaded that impeachment makes us less likely to win in 2020 and am persuaded that not even trying to impeach and kicking the can past the elections will do more electoral harm than good.

    We are hostages trying to keep up appearances so that our captor doesn't drop the facade of being our uncle...

    Avoid civil war. Escape this rightwing dictatorship. Fight back before its too late.
    posted by Anchorite_of_Palgrave at 2:04 PM on April 21 [11 favorites]


    If we slide to the point where the remedy for a criminal in elected office is seen as voting them out, we've slid too far to come back without a violent revolution.
    posted by odinsdream at 2:06 PM on April 21 [24 favorites]


    And by not impeaching you’re telling the electorate the crimes weren’t crimes and not a big deal and that helps him.

    If Rs refuse to convict, you hang them with it in the election. They just lost 40 seats in the biggest midterm percentage loss in the modern era by Ds running against Trump and people are afraid finding more crimes and highlighting them will help him? He doesn’t have magical political power. He lost the popular vote by 3 million. He only barely won with the help of the FBI, Russia, misogyny after 8 years of D power which it’s always hard to get a third term and with the fundamentals against Clinton. I know some people have PTSD from the election but we need to stop cowering and start using the power we have or else we won’t have it long.

    We are in a war and the only people acting like it right now are Republicans. There’s not one America, there’s two and only one is going to win. And right now the Nazis are because they’re fighting to win while we’re hedging not to lose.
    posted by chris24 at 2:07 PM on April 21 [66 favorites]


    I am grudgingly in favor of impeachment _if and only if_ Dems treat it as the earth-shatteringly-important step that it should be. If it will fail in the Senate, and it will, be prepared to call those Senators cowards and stooges and stand by that defiantly. Say, straight up, that crimes were committed and name those crimes and name the harm done to the American people. Fight like the nation is at stake. Fight like lives are at stake. Attack and refuse to compromise and refuse to apologize. Go all-in or don't bother.

    Which will not happen.

    You cannot win a PR war against shameless liars and cheats and criminals by taking the safe road. So if you're waffling, you're going to lose.
    posted by delfin at 2:10 PM on April 21 [15 favorites]


    They just lost 40 seats in the biggest midterm percentage loss in the modern era by Ds running against Trump

    That's not what happened. Democrats ran on issues, most importantly healthcare. They for the most part did not "run against Trump." For one thing, Trump wasn't on the ballot, neither literally or figuratively.
    posted by JackFlash at 2:19 PM on April 21 [7 favorites]


    Candidates ran locally on issues, pretty much the entire resistance, media and public sphere was about a check on Trump. Which is exactly what should happen now. Candidates can run their campaigns, congresspeople can do their fucking jobs. People can walk and chew gum at the same time.
    posted by chris24 at 2:25 PM on April 21 [16 favorites]


    WaPo, Josh Rogin, No more waivers: The United States will try to force Iranian oil exports to zero
    About one year after the United States decided to leave the Iran nuclear deal, the State Department is set to announce that all countries will have to completely end their imports of Iranian oil or be subject to U.S. sanctions. This is an escalation of the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign, which seeks to force Tehran to end its illicit behavior around the world.

    On Monday morning, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will announce to the media that, as of May 2, the State Department will no longer grant sanctions waivers to any country that is currently importing Iranian crude or condensate, two State Department officials told me. Last November, the State Department issued 180-day waivers to eight countries to give them more time to find alternative sources of oil. Now, their time is running out.
    ...
    Three of the eight countries that received U.S. waivers last November have already reduced their Iranian oil imports to zero: Greece, Italy and Taiwan. The other countries that will now have to cut off Iranian oil imports or be subject to U.S. sanctions are China, India, Turkey, Japan and South Korea.

    China and India are currently the largest importers of Iranian oil. If they don’t go along with Trump’s demands, that could cause tensions in both bilateral relationships and spill over into other issues, like trade. South Korea and Japan are relatively less dependent on Iranian oil and have already been treading lightly. A Turkish official has said the country is “expecting” another waiver, but it isn’t getting one.
    posted by zachlipton at 2:33 PM on April 21 [5 favorites]


    And right now the Nazis are because they’re fighting to win while we’re hedging not to lose.

    We're so far gone down the road to autocracy that it seems like winning or losing an impeachment vote is besides the point.

    Knowing where elected officials stand on the rule of law, their place in it, and their responsibility to defend the Constitution seems to be the salient matters at hand.
    posted by They sucked his brains out! at 2:40 PM on April 21 [30 favorites]


    2018 was basically let the candidates talk about issues, and let rage against Trump juice donations and turnout. We can repeat that winning combo, but letting Trump off the hook and demoralizing our base threatens the second half of that equation.
    posted by chris24 at 2:40 PM on April 21 [10 favorites]


    It's not just the base. If Congress, through impeachment proceedings, can convince enough of the public that the President is in fact a damned crook and a national security hazard, there will be great outrage against the Senators who refuse to convict him.

    Not being in hock to a foreign power is one of the basic qualifications to be president. Show the people who care about such things that Trump is so indebted and you might see more of the silent majority speak up. Remind them that Putin could win the Cold War tomorrow because Trump wouldn't believe the missiles were on the way because "Putin is such a good guy" and they'll make their displeasure known.

    It's dangerous, but populism always is.
    posted by wierdo at 2:51 PM on April 21 [13 favorites]


    Knowing where elected officials stand on the rule of law, their place in it, and their responsibility to defend the Constitution seems to be the salient matters at hand

    I agree. Impeachment is what the information available indicates, so Congress should step to it. If the nation's representatives can't impeach Trump, then that's the kind of country we are. We're already the country that let Trump become president, and we may just be the country that lets him above the law. But, not impeaching is just letting that happen by default.

    What I want to see is a real Republican response to the report. They can't all be gung-ho Rudys, but we gotta start getting people in Congress on record about this, because it'll eventually be an election issue...as it should be. Every incumbent up for re-election in 2020 should be asked this question in that framing: are you willing to give up your seat and seniority to support Trump?
    posted by rhizome at 3:16 PM on April 21 [5 favorites]


    Don’t just call your reps, call your newspaper. They should be calling for resignation. Within a week of the release of the Starr report, over 100 newspapers had called for Clinton’s resignation. Of course Trump won’t listen, but they need to be on record and the public needs to hear them say that. The media just accepting and normalizing Republican malfeasance and bad behavior, that them shredding norms or ignoring the rule of law is just Republicans being Republicans is probably the worst thing the press does. ‘They’re bad so we expect them to be bad and don’t make a big deal of it’ is bullshit. They seemingly only like to hold Ds responsible for their actions, because they know only Ds actually care about doing the right thing and will actually listen.

    From an earlier tweet thread on newpapers and Clinton.

    Eric Boehlert
    It’s not even debatable that if this were Dem POTUS, resignation would be virtually the only media topic

    Jamison Foser
    This is true. USA Today, among many others, called for Bill Clinton to resign when his transgressions were far smaller than Trump’s — and his approval rating was 20 points higher than Trump’s.
    • No, I don’t think Trump would resign if newspapers said he should. But this is a case in which silence = acquiescence, and media elites are sending a signal to the public that none of this is really that bad.
    • This was USA Today’s rationale in calling for Bill Clinton’s resignation. Does anyone want to argue it isn’t ten times more applicable to Trump?
    • Here’s the Hartford Courant 20 years ago. Who wants to argue it doesn’t apply far more today?
    posted by chris24 at 3:24 PM on April 21 [62 favorites]


    Also, framing is important. It wouldn’t be Ds putting the country through an impeachment. It would be Trump and his betrayal of the country and defiance of laws doing so.

    It wouldn’t be R Senators exonerating Trump. It would be partisan hacks ignoring the rule of law to keep a traitorous lawless president in office.
    posted by chris24 at 3:31 PM on April 21 [10 favorites]


    What is our response to our allies if they defy the Iranian oil embargo? The article didn't say exactly. Is this intended to be another wedge between the US and its allies?
    posted by M-x shell at 3:32 PM on April 21 [2 favorites]


    I mean, fuck, yall. Read the conclusion of Mueller's report. Mueller, the Republican FBI guy, is convinced that impeachment is absolutely necessary. That's absolutely what he's saying, that in order to even give our system of justice a fighting chance, we must do so urgently.

    If you're less than enthusiastic about impeachment, realize that Mueller, the one who's actually dealt with the real situation, is already there.
    posted by odinsdream at 3:44 PM on April 21 [31 favorites]


    As Seth Moulton (remember him?) continues to gear up for a presidential run, somebody is gearing up for a primary run against him.
    posted by adamg at 3:50 PM on April 21 [3 favorites]


    Autumnheart and Anchorite-of_Palgrave are right - we need the Senate back no matter what happens with the Presidency. If a Democrat wins the White House, a blue Senate means that progressive (or at least "less harmful") policies are more likely to be enacted. The Republican Senate blocking just about all of what Barack Obama tried to do from 2014 on (see: Garland, Merrick) ought to have been a wakeup call for us Democrats.

    And, if worst comes to worst, a Democratic Senate could impeach Trump and turn him over to the tender mercies of New York AG Letitia James, who has Trump, his Traitor Tots, his "empire" and all in her crosshairs. And state charges cannot be pardoned or wiggled out of.

    We are lucky that the only Democratic Senate seat we really need to worry about is Doug Jones in Alabama (and now that Actual Pedo Roy Moore is running again, Jones might be safer than we think...) unless one of the incumbent Dems runs a terrible campaign. What we need to do is flip more seats like we did in NV and AZ in the midterms.

    The Senate is so important that maybe it's worth it to put energy into that rather than the Presidency. Time to go postcard shopping and prepare for door knocking!
    posted by Rosie M. Banks at 4:04 PM on April 21 [5 favorites]


    The political calculus is real, but downstream.

    I just want to call this out. What is a decision not to impeach Trump going to look like 10 years from now? When a new generation is in high school learning about kids in cages and, hopefully, asking what was wrong with the country? Or learning that Russia influenced the election with Trump as cheerleader and no one did anything?

    This calculus won't be lost on Republican Senators either. This is the kind of vote that can stain the rest of your career down the line if public opinion shifts. There's not a lot of gray area for spin either. You pretty much have to say you know the president worked with Russia, know that he obstructed the investigation, but don't think that's important.

    Don't think you get to walk away from it either. No one gets to say I voted for the Patriot Act but that was because I politically had no choice.
    posted by xammerboy at 4:20 PM on April 21 [20 favorites]


    Brian Beutler (Crooked Media)
    Dems need to recognize that if they ignore the report's implicit call to begin an impeachment hearing, the agenda won't magically turn to health care. It will turn to revenge for the Russia investigation. Crooked: DEMOCRATS’ IMPEACHMENT PANIC IS ENDANGERING THE COUNTRY
    Rep. Jim Jordan
    “Rep. Jim Jordan on plans to investigate the origins of the Russia collusion investigation” VIDEO

    Adam Mazmanian
    retweeted Brian Beutler
    From a purely tactical point of view, the Democrats lose the whip hand if they don’t start impeachment.
    • From 2011-2017, the GOP House kept Obama on defense with a combination of investigations and partisan legislation. It worked really well.
    • If the Dems in Congress don’t attack it frees up bandwidth that will be used against them in the ways @brianbeutler describes.
    • I’m assuming the reluctance to impeach comes from polling data on persuadable voters and on swing districts. My belief is that the middle (if it exists) will move once the process is underway.
    • This is hardly district-by-district analytics but check out Ronald Reagan’s approval numbers during Iran-Contra.
    • The hearings ran from May to August 1987. Hired gun litigators took a big role and backbenchers were sidelined.
    • Of course there are variables and imponderables. Of course Dems could botch the hearings. But in their current posture, the Democrats look like a team sitting on a fourth quarter lead with no plan. That’s a bad place to be.
    posted by chris24 at 4:21 PM on April 21 [32 favorites]


    Is this intended to be another wedge between the US and its allies?

    From our allies standpoint this will be considered outrageous. Iran was complying with the agreement we pushed for, then tore up, and the result is more expensive oil? But the big beneficiary, I think, is Russia. Unless I'm mistaken, they already operate under sanctions and already get most of their oil from Iran. So this probably results in Russia paying less for more oil I would guess.
    posted by xammerboy at 4:24 PM on April 21 [2 favorites]


    He doesn’t have magical political power. He lost the popular vote by 3 million. He only barely won with the help of the FBI, Russia, misogyny after 8 years of D power which it’s always hard to get a third term and with the fundamentals against Clinton.

    This is key. But I think there's more to the story. I don't want to be too hard on gunshy Democrats because ultimately reasoning about this kind of thing involves some kind of model of people a lot of us on metafilter have a limited understanding of: voters who think differently than we do. Like the kind of voter that could actually be undecided or independent in recent years.

    So, yeah, there's Trumpists and Republican enthusiasts who, yes, are authoritarians and have walked with him to intentionally separating families and will walk with him through shooting someone on 5th ave and all the way down to gasing some population, some wringing their hands in impotent dismay while going along anyway, some smiling all the way. But as chris24 points out, that's a minority, one that only barely won the presidency even with countermajoritarian institutions boosting it. And more importantly, this is not a segment that's going to be moved much from where they are by impeachment.

    There's the segment of the population that will never vote for Trump and probably not a lot of Republicans because they're not progressive and/or good at governance enough. Even inside this, not all of us really understand each other well enough -- and there's always the danger of defection into inaction -- but we have some common values and that probably won't change too much come 2020, and this is not a segment that's likely to be moved much by impeachment, only energized.

    But I really don't think I know how to model the independent / undecided voter, and how impeachment will effect them. And it's possible that longtime operators like Pelosi may know a thing or two that I don't.

    My *guess* is that successfully navigating the impeachment waters requires some *substantial* pre-impeachment policy messaging that actually takes (a healthcare system that works better and works for everyone, safety nets and a hand up for those struggling). And then keeping it up during impeachment proceedings.

    And that means getting even theoretically principled media institutions that were all-in on butter emails back in 2016 on board.

    I think impeachment is the right thing to do, I think it's strategically plausible, but if ask yourself how likely it is that, say, the NYT is to really actually be helpful here, I think you get an idea of the magnitude of the challenge. It's an uphill battle, some reticence may be a sign of insight as much or more as a failure of nerve.
    posted by wildblueyonder at 4:24 PM on April 21 [4 favorites]


    Cheri Jacobus:
    Polls show that people who have read the Mueller report are more likely to support impeaching Trump than those who have not. Impeachment hearings will take the place of reading the Mueller report. This ain't hard, folks.
    posted by chris24 at 4:45 PM on April 21 [41 favorites]


    [A few comments removed, please let's not fill time on a Sunday afternoon parsing fuckin' leavened bread just to have something to argue about.]
    posted by cortex (staff) at 4:55 PM on April 21 [14 favorites]


    I can't believe I'm saying this since I mock in my head people who knee-jerk it... but correlation isn't causation. It seems likely to me that the people most likely to read the Mueller report are the people who already hate Trump with the passion of a million burning suns, and are thus already more inclined to support impeaching Trump.
    posted by Justinian at 4:57 PM on April 21 [10 favorites]


    @LOLGOP:
    Democrats didn't raise hell about Merrick Garland because they figured the election would solve it.

    Democrats didn't raise hell about Russian interference because they figured the election will solve it.

    Democrats won't impeach because they figure the election will solve it.
    posted by chris24 at 4:58 PM on April 21 [80 favorites]


    ... but correlation isn't causation. It seems likely to me that the people most likely to read the Mueller report are the people who already hate Trump

    I can’t imagine it would take a decent market-research team more than a couple hours to resolve this head-scratcher.
    posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 5:04 PM on April 21 [1 favorite]


    @realDonaldTrump: How do you impeach a Republican President for a crime that was committed by the Democrats? MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!

    Trump's central campaign message is going to be that he was set up by Democrats. What forum provides the best opportunity to prove to the people this isn't true?
    posted by xammerboy at 5:33 PM on April 21 [10 favorites]


    I think it’s important to note that while, yes, impeachment must be pursued by the House Democrats, if they were to bring it up tomorrow, based on what is in the Mueller report, they will lose. There simply aren’t the votes in the Senate. Right now, Mitt Romney is the template for a “convinceable” Republican and he has already said he doesn’t see the crime. Crucially, he has indicated his disgust and this is a signal that he is open to new evidence.

    Figure out what other Senators are of his mindset and find the evidence. The House needs to kick their investigations (on all fronts) into high gear. Take about six months and turn over all the rocks and expose Trump’s dirty deeds.

    Unfortunately, the Mueller report isn’t the end, it’s the beginning.
    posted by Big Al 8000 at 5:50 PM on April 21 [3 favorites]


    It's true that the Senate as configured will never convict Trump, but impeachment hearings could take a long time. They could take even longer since Trump's minions will be trying to foil any document or witness requests. The public hearing necessary for the house to make the determination of whether to impeach can keep this story front and center with new terrible revelations every week. Maybe it takes so long that there isn't even time to refer it to the Senate before the election, but it needs to start.
    posted by willnot at 5:54 PM on April 21 [14 favorites]


    Exactly. Calling for an impeachment inquiry doesn’t mean we vote Monday. It will mean months of investigations and hearings before a possible vote in the House.
    posted by chris24 at 5:55 PM on April 21 [18 favorites]


    So the twitters are going all in on apologies to Mitt Romney.

    Here's Maggie, for example: "Romney described Russia as the greatest US geopolitical foe in his 2012 presidential campaign, and was broadly mocked. I was among reporters who should have given it more weight."

    No, Maggie, you ignorant twit. Russia is not a great geopolitical power. It is a relatively poor country, not even in the top 10 for GDP, way down below Italy, Canada and Brazil.

    And the Romney prescription at the time. More battleships. That's right, more battleships and rightly mocked by Obama in the debates.

    No, the real geopolitical risk was a compromised president, with the collaboration of a corrupt Republican Party, selling out the country to a weak international player. Just like Clinton warned in the debates.

    Where's your apology to Clinton, Maggie?
    posted by JackFlash at 5:58 PM on April 21 [51 favorites]


    Tactical suggestion:
    1. Start impeachment proceedings now or soon.
    2. Call sitting Senators to testify about what they have witnessed and why/how they will vote. When calling Republican Senators, focus on:
    a. those who are in battleground states with large groups of Trump-hating voters
    b. those who are presently up for election
    c. those that will have to miss campaigning obligations while testifying about why they are spineless.
    3. Order who testifies when based upon having the most damning material being testified about before the election
    4. After the election,
    a. If we gain the Senate and Trump wins, wait to vote until they are seated.
    b. If we do not win the senate and Trump wins, vote immediately after the election.
    c. Whether or not we gain the Senate, if Trump loses, impeach him immediately.
    d. If we gain the Senate and he loses, have the Senate retroactively censure him to whatever extent is possible once they are seated.

    There are tactical issues with giving the Senate time to vote against impeachment. There are no tactical issues with begging the question by having hearings before the election.
    posted by bootlegpop at 6:13 PM on April 21 [9 favorites]


    I can’t find the tweet, but to summarize someone else, Romney wasn’t right in 2012. Russia wasn’t the biggest threat then. And he wasn’t prescient about 2016 unless he wants to own his and Republicans’ responsibility in allowing and helping Russia’s attack to work. Without Republican enabling and embracing, the attack isn’t successful and they’re the third rate power with nukes they’ve always been since the collapse of the Soviet Union and not a threat now.

    And hell yeah, when does Clinton get her kudos for calling it right and saying it right to Trump’s face.
    posted by chris24 at 6:14 PM on April 21 [27 favorites]


    Ah, Maggie. She still hasn't apologized publicly to Michelle Wolf for lying about her act and trying to mobilize the internet against her. That was back when Maggie was still in Trump's media inner circle.

    Romney also went begging to get a high-level job in Trump's crew at the tail end of 2016: the same people he says are corrupted by Russian influence. That should have put to bed any chances at reviving his political career — never mind all of the other stuff about how half the country is dependent on government, binders, what he did at Bain, etc. — but the Maggies of the mainstream media will keep giving him a leg up, nonetheless.
    posted by They sucked his brains out! at 6:17 PM on April 21 [12 favorites]


    Put me down as a moderate pro-impeachmentist.

    I think the Dems are potentially in a corner here. If they don't move to impeach in the House, Trump *will* take that as complete vindication and tweet-crow all the way to Election Day 2020.

    On the other hand, there is the danger of people who aren't politics-obsessives seeing acquittal in the Senate as also vindication. So Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and *all* of the 2020 hopefuls need to come out on message:

    "Robert Muller was very clear that he wasn't going to draw conclusions from his report. He saw his job as finding as many facts as he could about Russian interference in our elections, links between the Trump campaign and the Russian interference efforts, and the ways that Donald Trump tried to shut down the investigation.

    "It is now our constitutional duty to take up this investigation and to conduct public hearings about these matters so that the American people can make up their own mind. We hope that the Senate will then try this case with the seriousness that this attack on our democracy demands.
    posted by tivalasvegas at 6:25 PM on April 21 [14 favorites]


    There will be many other avenues of investigation into Trump's corruption over the next year or more. It's hard to imagine the impact of all of these - along with impeachment proceedings - playing out in public for so long. One can only hope that public opinion will shift and those who are persuadable will stop seeing Trump as a victim and a hero, and instead see him as a grifter and a loser.

    If that happens - and it's big if - Republicans in Congress might start peeling away as well, repudiating Trump in an effort to save their skins.

    Meanwhile Trump jokes about being President for Life.
    posted by 6thsense at 6:30 PM on April 21 [7 favorites]


    As a side note, I'm mediumishly heartened by the fact that per the executive summary, McGahn and others did at times refuse orders, so to speak, because even those craven fascist bootlickers retained some semblance of patriotic respect. Maybe they'll actually be sorta honest if dragged before the House to testify under oath before the public?
    posted by tivalasvegas at 6:31 PM on April 21 [11 favorites]


    They could take even longer since Trump's minions will be trying to foil any document or witness requests. The public hearing necessary for the house to make the determination of whether to impeach can keep this story front and center with new terrible revelations every week.
    The House investigations which are already in progress will do this, which is why the Democrats launched them shortly after they got the legal authority. Starting the impeachment process before anything has come out just increases the odds of Trump & his fellow grifters eking out a “COMPLETE EXONERATION” on insufficient evidence. Remember, impeachment would be nice but most of the electoral wins will happen if it becomes widely recognized both how corrupt & incompetent they are and the degree to which the entire GOP has being shielding them. Making it hard for Senators to pretend they had no idea what was going on is almost as important.
    posted by adamsc at 6:31 PM on April 21 [6 favorites]


    even those craven fascist bootlickers retained some semblance of patriotic respect.

    Nah, they just didn’t want to go to prison for Trump. He might be immune to indictment but they’re not.
    posted by chris24 at 6:33 PM on April 21 [8 favorites]


    Well, you've out-cynical'ed me and... ok, I'm not taking that bet.
    posted by tivalasvegas at 6:36 PM on April 21 [3 favorites]


    One way or another, this election will be about impeachment hearings or lack of impeachment hearings. Any hope of it being about climate change, health care, education, income inequality, or anything else is long gone. Either you are in control of the impeachment narrative or you let Trump set the agenda. I don’t see there is any other path here. The Dem party leaders could literally draw out hearings as long as they want and set up the best sound bites to take place in September and October. Who the candidate is and what message they push matters, but how this is handled matters more.
    posted by Manic Pixie Hollow at 7:01 PM on April 21 [11 favorites]


    NYT, Trump’s Washing Machine Tariffs Stung Consumers While Lifting Corporate Profits
    Research to be released on Monday by the economists Aaron Flaaen, of the Fed, and Ali Hortacsu and Felix Tintelnot, of Chicago, estimates that consumers bore between 125 percent and 225 percent of the costs of the washing machine tariffs. The authors calculate that the tariffs brought in $82 million to the United States Treasury, while raising consumer prices by $1.5 billion.

    And while the tariffs did encourage foreign companies to shift more of their manufacturing to the United States and created about 1,800 new jobs, the researchers conclude that those came at a steep cost: about $817,000 per job.
    ...
    But domestic manufacturers, like Whirlpool, increased prices, too, largely because they could.
    Say it with me now: the art of the deal.
    posted by zachlipton at 7:31 PM on April 21 [28 favorites]


    @LOLGOP:
    By the way, when you say "Let the election rule on Trump's crimes," you actually mean "Let the Electoral College, voter suppression, and an Attorney General who is cool with foreign governments doing anything they can to elect Trump rule on Trump's crimes."
    posted by chris24 at 8:07 PM on April 21 [74 favorites]


    I have a follow-up for Giuliani, or any of the rest of them saying, “There’s nothing wrong with taking information from Russians.”

    Ok, so you're obviously open to accepting their help again in 2020. What are they offering, and what has the administration promised in return?
    posted by dirge at 9:30 PM on April 21 [17 favorites]


    I'm pro-impeachment, make the Republican senators cast their votes.

    When we let republican senators pocket filibuster anonymously, they got to disrupt the obama administration but not face the specific consequences on the campaign trail. Its better to say "so and so filibustered and wouldn't even,let us vote to increase your veterans benefits" but those anonymous fucks did all that and more, because we didn't force them to do it in public.
    posted by Anchorite_of_Palgrave at 9:48 PM on April 21 [12 favorites]


    The first question every journalist asks of every person in this administration should be: “Now that you’ve paid back Oleg Deripaska by removing his sanctions, who will you pay back next and what service did they do for you?” And it would be if the president weren’t a white Republican dude.
    posted by SakuraK at 9:56 PM on April 21 [34 favorites]


    Meanwhile, in Libya, drones seem to have been used by Haftar in bombing Tripoli. The UAE seems to be considered a possible source of the escalation, but there is also this (From the Guardian):

    > The airstrikes on Tripoli, first launched last week, appear to reflect the approval given to Haftar by Donald Trump in a phone call on Monday. The White House did not reveal that this call took place until Friday, four days later.
    posted by stonepharisee at 12:53 AM on April 22 [11 favorites]


    Also Mayor Pete said on CNN that Bernie voters as well as Trump voters are to blame for the omnishambles, so I guess that's his play.

    Not sure if you’re referring to this, but if so it seems a kinda unfair characterization.
    "I think the sense of anger and disaffection that comes from seeing that the numbers are fine, like unemployment's low, like all that, like you said GDP is growing and yet a lot of neighborhoods and families are living like this recovery never even happened. They're stuck," Buttigieg told high school Democrats in Nashua, N.H., on Friday. "It just kind of turns you against the system in general and then you're more likely to want to vote to blow up the system, which could lead you to somebody like Bernie and it could lead you to somebody like Trump. That's how we got where we are."
    He’s pretty clearly imo contrasting the two opposing populist choices and blaming the unequal system which led a lot of people to Trump’s version. He’s being understanding of their concerns. I’m not Team Pete or Team Bernie so I don’t think I’m being biased. And I’m not the only person who thinks this an inaccurate take.

    Nate Silver
    And if I'm playing Early Morning Bad Narrative Cop, this is an extremely weird Narrative coming from some Sanders surrogates. Buttigieg's comments were extremely boilerplate, basically that Trump and Sanders voters both suffer economic anxiety and are disaffected with the system.
    • In fact, Sanders supporters sometimes make arguments like these themselves to claim Bernie will appeal to Trump voters. It's an extremely weird thing to get upset about unless they're deliberately looking to pick a fight with Buttigieg.
    posted by chris24 at 3:58 AM on April 22 [18 favorites]


    Josh Lederman (NBC)
    Also just to put this in context: This came in remarks to high school Democrats in which Buttigieg was effusively praising Sanders’ authenticity and telling kids why as a high schooler he wrote an essay about Sanders and courage
    posted by chris24 at 4:36 AM on April 22 [15 favorites]


    CA + FB, stolen data, and the micro-targeting loop, a disturbing thread from Sara Danner Dukic (via Rick Wilson): Thread/Threadreader.
    posted by MonkeyToes at 4:44 AM on April 22 [11 favorites]




    Elizabeth Warren just released her higher ed plan: free public college, substantial debt relief for people with current student loans, a $50 billion fund to support HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions, and phasing out of federal money going to for-profit colleges.
    posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:04 AM on April 22 [67 favorites]


    Best policies, best leadership thus far. By far.

    She was high on my list from the beginning but not number one. That has changed.
    posted by chris24 at 6:06 AM on April 22 [28 favorites]


    I actually have some concerns about how free public college would work in practice. (Specifically, I'm worried that it would require rules that would force students to finish in a timely fashion, and those rules could hurt students who have unusual or challenging circumstances. I see this pretty often with military funding for higher ed.) But I have a fair amount of faith in Warren's ability to deal with complex issues, so I'm moderately optimistic that the final policy would accomplish what we want it to accomplish.
    posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:10 AM on April 22 [11 favorites]


    Buzzfeed: Trump Is Suing House Democrats To Stop A Subpoena To His Accountant
    President Donald Trump filed a lawsuit against House Democrats on Monday seeking to block a subpoena to his longtime accountant, marking the president's first foray into court to stop Democrats from investigating his finances.[…]

    Trump brought the lawsuit as a private citizen, not as president, which means he's hired outside lawyers to fight the subpoena; the Justice Department isn't involved. He's arguing that the House Oversight Committee, which issued the subpoena to Mazars USA LLP, and committee Chair Elijah Cummings, had "ignored the constitutional limits on Congress' power to investigate."
    Trump’s demanding a temporary restraining order against his accountants releasing his tax returns, a permanent injunction against Cummings, and, naturally, costs and expenses, including attorneys’ fees.
    posted by Doktor Zed at 7:10 AM on April 22 [22 favorites]


    Are there any constitutional limits on the House's subpoena power? I thought it was pretty well-established by the courts that that power was extremely broad, save claims of executive privilege. But if Trump is suing as an individual, is that a card he can play? Probably just planning to tie it up in the courts until after the 2020 election.
    posted by lefty lucky cat at 7:20 AM on April 22 [10 favorites]


    Doktor Zed: Buzzfeed: Trump Is Suing House Democrats To Stop A Subpoena To His Accountant

    That... can't be smart of him, can it? How does such a lawsuit avoid a discovery process? Can he even claim executive privilege in any of it? Is this the result of finally being unshackled from the grip of sensible attorneys?
    posted by InTheYear2017 at 7:25 AM on April 22 [13 favorites]


    President Donald Trump filed a lawsuit against House Democrats on Monday seeking to block a subpoena to his longtime accountant, marking the president's first foray into court to stop Democrats from investigating his finances.[…]

    I'm sure House Democrats are taking note that Trump is absolutely terrified of having his personal finances brought to light.

    Which is why I am not favor of impeaching him right now, but rather using the Mueller report as a springboard for the impeachment process, which involves dragging all of Trump's dirty laundry out into plain view, while loudly predicting that Senate Republicans are too corrupt to convict him for it.
    posted by Gelatin at 7:32 AM on April 22 [45 favorites]


    How does such a lawsuit avoid a discovery process?

    Discovery is not the first phase in a lawsuit, and not all lawsuits involve substantial discovery, not even all successful lawsuits. Trump could theoretically win on an early motion for summary judgment if there are no factual disputes to resolve.

    But even if the case included discovery, discovery probably would not involve the tax records themselves. It's a case about legal power and doesn't (as far as I understand it) depend on the content of the records. But even if the records were subject to discovery, they would almost certainly be subject to a protective order and thus not available to the public.
    posted by jedicus at 7:42 AM on April 22 [7 favorites]


    It's certainly not smart of him from a PR perspective. From his experience as a celebrity, he has to have at least an instinctual awareness of the Streisand effect. His savage desperation about concealment is only stoking a morbid curiosity among the public - even in people who don't really pay attention to politics - about what is in there, which is going to make it even worse when it comes out.
    posted by Selena777 at 8:02 AM on April 22 [3 favorites]


    Court fights over subpoenas can take a very long time. Mueller was trying to subpoena records from the mystery foreign government company since last summer. It wound its way through federal court, appeals court and the Supreme Court and is yet to be resolved. And now Mueller is gone.

    Trump can just run out the clock until the next election.
    posted by JackFlash at 8:07 AM on April 22 [6 favorites]


    I was super excited about Elizabeth Warren's education debt plan as posted above. As I read it I did get a little nervous that she didn't mention Public Service Loan Forgiveness at all, which happens to be the specific program I'm counting on to save my broke ass, and which has been abysmal so far for people applying for forgiveness through it. Then I remembered that it's Elizabeth Warren, who is smart and thorough and can walk and chew gum and the same time and so she's probably already thought of that so I googled "Elizabeth Warren PSLF"

    Warren Joins Gillibrand, Kaine, Colleagues to Introduce New Legislation to Overhaul Flawed Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

    99 percent of Applicants Have Been Rejected Under Current Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program Due to Failed Department of Education Implementation and Eligibility Loopholes; New Bill Would Ensure All Federal Loans and Repayment Plans Qualify and Simplify the Application and Approval Process

    Shout out to Gillibrand and the other Senators on board too of course
    posted by robotdevil at 8:12 AM on April 22 [55 favorites]


    It isn’t a very complicated argument in my mind. The constitution says the only emoluments allowed to the president come from his federal salary. Congress has the right approve or deny emoluments from foreign entities. Since Trump refuses to divest his business holdings, Congress therefore has the right to examine his finances to determine what - if any - emoluments he has accepted from foreign states or entities and if they are acceptable to Congress.
    posted by Big Al 8000 at 8:26 AM on April 22 [48 favorites]



    Which is why I am not favor of impeaching him right now, but rather using the Mueller report as a springboard for the impeachment process, which involves dragging all of Trump's dirty laundry out into plain view, while loudly predicting that Senate Republicans are too corrupt to convict him for it.


    My understanding is that that's how the impeachment process generally does work -- that the House acts as a sort of grand jury, hearing testimony that they then refer (or not) to the Senate for the formal trial. It's not an immediate up-or-down vote.

    I don't think any one is calling for like, a "vote to impeach" Monday after next?

    If I'm wrong, please someone correct me before I say a dumb thing on facebook
    posted by tivalasvegas at 8:39 AM on April 22 [10 favorites]


    The Trump-POTUS vaccine: Pray it inoculates America against another billionaire big business genius (Bob Hennelly, Salon).
    "If Americans learn the lesson of the Trump presidency, that the rich won't save us, we can grab this economy back." […]

    While neoliberals may want to put all the blame on Trump and the Russians for their subversion of the election in 2016, it was only possible because of the systemic and bi-partisan corruption riddled throughout America’s local, county, state and national governments that made us vulnerable in the first place.
    posted by ZeusHumms at 8:41 AM on April 22 [9 favorites]


    Also:

    The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be encreased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.

    Does anyone else read this passage as disallowing the president to pay himself by charging the Secret Secret to stay at his resorts?
    posted by Big Al 8000 at 8:43 AM on April 22 [22 favorites]


    Of course. That's but one of the many, many criminal grifting operations that Trump is directly and transparently implicated in.
    posted by odinsdream at 8:45 AM on April 22 [13 favorites]


    MetaFilter: If I'm wrong, please someone correct me before I say a dumb thing on facebook.
    posted by notyou at 8:47 AM on April 22 [20 favorites]


    My understanding is that that's how the impeachment process generally does work -- that the House acts as a sort of grand jury, hearing testimony that they then refer (or not) to the Senate for the formal trial. It's not an immediate up-or-down vote.

    In 1998, the lame duck Republican Congress impeached Bill Clinton on the basis of the Starr Report (which did not redact grand jury testimony), without holding hearings of its own. The vote wasn't immediate, in part due to the 1998 election and in part due to airstrikes on Iraq, and in that case it was an obviously politicized move that was seen and rejected as such by the majority of the American public, but it goes to show that impeachment is a land of contrasts.
    posted by Gelatin at 8:47 AM on April 22


    1. I'm very in favor of the Democrats who come right out and say yes to impeachment.
    2. For the ones who worry it will hurt them if their being pro-impeachment now will be spun as having improperly pre-judged, they can simply use the structure of impeachment to their advantage: If (as we are often told) impeachment is akin to an indictment or a criminal information/complaint, they can say something like "like an indictment, impeachment comes at the end of an investigation. Do I think we need to pursue that investigation? Absolutely."
    3. If they want go go even further than #2, they could replace the second sentence with "If I had to decide on impeachment based solely on what is in the Mueller report, I'd probably vote yes on impeachment, but the House is entitled to a complete investigation of all potential high crimes and misdemeanors, and the targets of our investigation won't be able to stonewall us they way they often stonewalled the Special Counsel."
    posted by mabelstreet at 8:47 AM on April 22 [10 favorites]


    I don't think any one is calling for like, a "vote to impeach" Monday after next?

    If I'm wrong, please someone correct me before I say a dumb thing on facebook


    I do think this is the source of a significant amount of confusion on the question of whether or not we should proceed with impeachment. Low-information folks who don't really understand how it works are hearing "I want everyone in Congress to say "I hereby declare you impeached! The end!" instead of what it realistically is: an investigative process by which the crimes of the administration and Trump in particular are brought to not only the court of public opinion in an open, transparent way, but by which Congress convinces its own members of the seriousness of the charges, thereby increasing the chance of passing articles of impeachment in both houses.
    posted by odinsdream at 8:49 AM on April 22 [26 favorites]


    I'd like to see Trump impeached, too, but I just don't see it happening.

    As others have pointed out, there just don't appear to be enough votes in the Senate for it to happen. There would need to be a sea change among Republicans to shake loose enough votes; so far this hasn't happened. For whatever morally bankrupt reasons of political calculus, they have apparently decided that the Muller Report isn't going to be clearly fatal to Trump and he's still their guy. Or they're still his.

    TBH, I think they're morons, because the Most Dangerous Course of Action that the Republicans could take would be to suddenly see the light, claim they were just waiting all this time for Mueller to finish his investigation, and speedily impeach Trump. Result: Trump is out of the way, Pence moves up, and they get a solid 18 months of really concerted wrecking in, led by someone who doesn't have any of Trump's glaring mental or emotional impairments. Everything that's wrong with the country they could blame on Trump, while the economy and any other positives he could take credit for. And after and by comparison with Trump, Pence probably would look like a Great Statesman.

    That's a much rougher 2020 election than if a politically wounded Trump sticks around, lashing out more or less at random, and quite possibly losing whatever's left of mind in the process.

    Personally I am very conflicted which is worse for the country. Every month Trump stays in office is objectively bad and damaging to American interests and the future of the American people, full stop. But would 18 more months of Trump be a worthy trade for keeping Pence—who I think is honestly more dangerous—out of 1600 Penn. Ave., and off the 2020 slate, where he could potentially win (and serve until 2028, by which point A Handmaid's Tale looks like a fun bedtime story)? I'm not sure there is an obvious better/worse choice. Though in the spirit of teaching the horse to talk, probably the better option is to impeach, take our chances with Pence, and hope he drops dead—which would, perversely, go a great distance towards convincing me that there is, in fact, a no-shit intercessionary God.

    But anyway, if Congressional Republicans were actually the brilliant strategists that they seem to like to see themselves as, and not blundering malcompetent opportunists simply fighting for short-term gains, they'd take the opportunity the Report provides to put a bullet in Trump and move an establishment player in. But they won't, because they're not. C'est la politique.

    And if the whole party as a whole won't turn on Trump and get rid of him, I doubt that any Republican Senators will suddenly grow a spine and be willing to have an I Am Spartacus moment all on their lonesome, where they know they'll be facing Trump's Crazy Brigades alone if the impeachment attempt fails. Maybe a handful, but not enough. We know from the Kavanaugh confirmations that when the chips are down, even moderates like Collins toe the line.

    So: no impeachment. I don't even think the Democrats will push for it, because they have to know as well as anyone that the votes on the other side of the aisle aren't there, and a failed impeachment attempt might legitimize the president going into 2020. Better for him to be under constant investigation, with a steady dribble of revelations about just how insane he truly is, than to do something that would look like an acquittal to morons low-information voters.
    posted by Kadin2048 at 9:10 AM on April 22 [7 favorites]


    So: no impeachment. I don't even think the Democrats will push for it, because they have to know as well as anyone that the votes on the other side of the aisle aren't there, and a failed impeachment attempt might legitimize the president going into 2020. Better for him to be under constant investigation

    Impeachment proceedings in the House would be constant investigation, when the Judiciary Committee in the House holds hearings to determine whether to put impeachment to a House vote. If that vote passed, the Senate would hold a trial as well but I'm guessing that would be useless since McConnell would either procedurally delay/kill it or make a farce out of it. Of course the Senate would fail to convict, that's a given (I suppose there's an infinitesimal chance the House hearings could reveal criminal behavior even the Republicans couldn't ignore). But it's important, for the 2020 election AND for the health of our political system, that impeachment occurs and Senators are forced to go on record as voting for or against conviction. There's simply no question that Trump's actions as president merit impeachment (not necessarily conviction I will grant)... if they don't, then the process is reduced to nothing but a party weapon.
    posted by lefty lucky cat at 9:25 AM on April 22 [25 favorites]


    tivalasvegas: I don't think any one is calling for like, a "vote to impeach" Monday after next?

    I think a fairly nontrivial group does feel more or less that way. If a Democratic politician were quoted in a headline saying they hope Trump is impeached before autumn, the various webbernet comments would be filled with people characterizing that as a perfect example of Democratic fecklessness and foot-dragging.

    Kadin2048: Everything that's wrong with the country they could blame on Trump, while the economy and any other positives he could take credit for. And after and by comparison with Trump, Pence probably would look like a Great Statesman.

    No party can shed its core that fast. For the Republican Party to become, almost literally, a Never-Trump party would be complete suicide, truly ending the Sixth Party System.

    This is also why I don't fear a (never-ever-gonna-happen-anyway) President Pence to the degree others might. The country already has Pence-style policy in numerous eras, like the now-in-effect military trans ban and the moves against abortion rights. By all accounts he himself is mediocre as a politician, so as much as he wants a (more) Handmaid-esque world, he can't just manifest it by force of will. Instead, he would be spending the few months of his term digging through the massive fallout of whatever it was that removed Trump. The bitterness against him would be enormous, and could easily feed right-wing conspiracy theories that he had orchestrated the whole thing for his own benefit. It's true that he'd get a bit of a Finally A Statesman boost among some beltway talking heads, but their influence shrinks daily.

    (It would be another story if Pence took a time machine to 2015, ran for and somehow won the Republican nomination and presidency. Then he might experience something like the popularity and success of Dubya at his middlest, and with even more horrible theocracy. But a post-Trump Pence is seriously defanged.)
    posted by InTheYear2017 at 9:38 AM on April 22 [5 favorites]


    Nobody is seriously arguing that the Senate will vote to impeach. The question remaining is whether properly drawn out impeachment investigations/proceedings will help or hurt.

    Pence has the charisma of Anthony Perkins, Trump at least taps into a middle class fantasy of avarice and bad taste.
    posted by benzenedream at 9:45 AM on April 22 [6 favorites]


    President Pence in late 2019/very early 2020 means an immediate wide-open primary on the GOP side.
    posted by Huffy Puffy at 9:50 AM on April 22 [12 favorites]


    I just want to announce that I have updated my site to reflect the release of the redacted Mueller report. There are little fixes throughout, but the most thoroughly overhauled section is the "Plausible Explanations" page. While there is a lot that I wish were covered in the report that isn't (or isn't in the public version), I do think Mueller gave us enough to cross off a lot of the possible "theories of the case" that people have been speculating about for a couple of years.

    My slightly longer than two sentence summary goes like this, if I may quote myself...
    The Mueller report concluded that the contacts between the Trump campaign and the various Russian individuals they met or communicated with did not violate election laws or constitute conspiracy to violate those laws. The report did not comment at all on the activities of Cambridge Analytica or the NRA, on activities by countries other than Russia, or on the subject of money laundering.

    The explanation most consistent with the findings of the Mueller report is that Russians were working hard to cultivate members of the Trump campaign (including Trump himself) as unwitting agents, and were at least partially successful in that they were able to establish contact, convey their desires, and make it clear that the campaign could “expect to benefit” from their efforts. While the report determined that this did not rise to the legal standard for “conspiracy” in a way that could be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, it is behavior that is inconsistent with most Americans’ expectations that their elected officials will act in the public interest rather than their own. Afraid that this embarrassing information would become public, President Trump took actions that Congress could legitimately find to be obstruction of justice.
    I support that conclusion with quotes from Mueller's own summaries, and with links the comments by Clint Watts, John Brennan, Michael Morell, et al that I already linked here in a comment upthread.

    I just want to give a shout out to all the journalists, thanks to whom Mueller's conclusions were not a surprise.

    And I want to give a shout out to Metafilter and the participants in the megathread, without whom I personally would never have known about the most of the efforts of those journalists.
    posted by OnceUponATime at 9:56 AM on April 22 [97 favorites]


    As far as impeachment, timing, the deep concern about the mythic independent voter, etc go I feel like I'm caught in a time loop and we're back to the early 2000's when the Democrats were "keeping their powder dry" and couldn't stop whatever the latest horror Junior was inflicting on the nation because they believed they'd only get one chance to do anything and they had to wait until they had something **REALLY** important to spend that chance on.

    I remember the outcome back then: they never actually did anything. It turns out that the time to do something about Junior, per the Democratic leadership, was never.

    And it's beginning to look like the current Democratic leadership has also decided that the time to do something about Trump is never.
    posted by sotonohito at 10:01 AM on April 22 [18 favorites]


    Keep in mind that almost all of the anti-impeachment democrats are long-term entrenched politicians who got elected despite the meddling, interference and corruption. Some of them were even there standing by not doing anything during time the crimes were being committed. Trump didn't really alter their personal political trajectory or station very much and probably in many ways has enhanced their fortune and fortunes via increased fundraising appeal.

    It's pretty understandable for them to say "Don't rock the boat" when they are comfortably inside the boat.
    posted by srboisvert at 10:02 AM on April 22 [9 favorites]


    Buzzfeed: Trump Is Suing House Democrats To Stop A Subpoena To His Accountant

    Cummings responds, “The president has a long history of trying to use baseless lawsuits to attack his adversaries, but there is simply no valid legal basis to interfere with this duly authorized subpoena from Congress. This complaint reads more like political talking points than a reasoned legal brief, and it contains a litany of inaccurate information. The White House is engaged in unprecedented stonewalling on all fronts, and they have refused to produce a single document or witness to the Oversight Committee during this entire year.” (Via ABC)

    And Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano breaks the bad news to the MAGAudience, “The complaint actually asks the court to second guess Congress’s motivation and courts are reluctant to do that because the courts and the Congress are equal branches of government and don’t get in the business of second guessing the motivation of either. […] Congress will have to state for what purpose they want this. It is a low threshold. […] Once they state something even related to a congressional purpose the court, I think, will allow this to go through.” (Via Rawstory)
    posted by Doktor Zed at 10:06 AM on April 22 [20 favorites]


    The Democrat’s policy of “wait until you see the whites of their eyes” is so unnecessary; the Muller report plus current and announced investigations are bloody cannons. You can fire on the enemy in their bunker and do massive damage.
    Come on Democrats, do MASSIVE damage.
    posted by Gadgetenvy at 10:12 AM on April 22 [6 favorites]


    Impeachment proceedings in the House would be constant investigation ...

    There seems to be some confusion about this. Impeachment proceedings do not lead to investigations. Investigations lead to impeachment proceedings. Impeachment proceedings are simply a debate on the floor about whether there is sufficient evidence from the previous investigations to proceed with an impeachment vote.

    This idea that there need to be impeachment proceedings to have investigations is wrong, putting the cart before the horse. Congress is proceeding exactly as required, opening multiple investigations before deciding to impeach.

    If they do decide to vote on impeachment in the House, it is not the opening of investigations. It is the conclusion, involving days of impassioned speeches on both sides. You better have your ducks in a row before you start that, as seen by the results of the Kavanaugh proceedings.
    posted by JackFlash at 10:19 AM on April 22 [23 favorites]


    tivalasvegas: I don't think any one is calling for like, a "vote to impeach" Monday after next?

    OnceUponATime: I think a fairly nontrivial group does feel more or less that way. If a Democratic politician were quoted in a headline saying they hope Trump is impeached before autumn, the various webbernet comments would be filled with people characterizing that as a perfect example of Democratic fecklessness and foot-dragging.


    OnceUponATime, I assume tiva was talking about people in this particular webbernet. I don't think it's helpful to drag in theoretical people from other places to make your argument against.
    posted by diogenes at 10:25 AM on April 22


    Sasha Abramsky, Truthout: What Happens if Trump Breaks All The Laws?

    So far, the bureaucracies and the courts have held him back just enough to preserve at least the tattered remnants of a constitutional system. So far, Trump has been more of a wannabe-dictator than a true tyrant. That could now be changing.

    If Trump believes he, as president, is above the law —if he orders his bureaucrats to violate the law, fires those who refuse to go along, and pardons those yes-men and yes-women who so shamefully carry out his orders — then nothing is left of that system of checks and balances. At that point, we will have fully slid into dictatorship, and Trump’s Führerprinzip — the replacing of loyalty to constitution with loyalty to the person of the leader — will have become the de facto law of the land.

    posted by 6thsense at 10:31 AM on April 22 [17 favorites]


    OnceUponATime: I think a fairly nontrivial group [...]

    The quoted comment was by InTheYear2017, not me.
    posted by OnceUponATime at 10:32 AM on April 22


    Herman Cain withdraws from consideration for the Fed.
    posted by Melismata at 10:32 AM on April 22 [25 favorites]


    To diogenes, tivalasvegas, OnceUponATime: I don't know my exact reasoning but I may have misunderstood the bit about Facebook as a desire to avoid controversy of any sort, so yeah, my mistake there.
    posted by InTheYear2017 at 10:35 AM on April 22 [2 favorites]


    If Trump believes he, as president, is above the law —if he orders his bureaucrats to violate the law, fires those who refuse to go along, and pardons those yes-men and yes-women who so shamefully carry out his orders — then nothing is left of that system of checks and balances.

    I'm confused by the "if" here. He did all of those things weeks ago. (He didn't pardon anybody, but he promised he would.)
    posted by diogenes at 10:37 AM on April 22 [10 favorites]


    angrycat: I decided to read some books about climate change to cheer myself up, and so I'm seeing everything through that lens, and one of my thoughts is how are we going to take on the corporate powers that be and reduce carbon emissions if we can't move to impeach when we have an ineluctable mountain of evidence of impeachable offenses before us?

    As a coalition of progressive states: The United States Climate Alliance is a bipartisan coalition of states and unincorporated self-governing territories in the United States that are committed to upholding the objectives of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change within their borders, by achieving the U.S. goal of reducing greenhouse gas (carbon dioxide equivalent) economy-wide emissions 26–28% from 2005 levels by 2025 and meeting or exceeding the targets of the federal Clean Power Plan. (Wikipedia) It's currently up to 22 states.

    Plans are in development right now at the state level. It won't be easy work, and while it would be AMAZING if it were a national push, this allows each state to develop a unique plan.

    There's also the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda (Wikipedia), consisting of 407 cities and nearly 20% of the U.S. population.
    posted by filthy light thief at 10:45 AM on April 22 [25 favorites]


    More polls out of the early states! Buttigieg may be starting to cannibalize Biden's support. He's clearly in third place now, sometimes a very strong third place.
    posted by Justinian at 10:45 AM on April 22 [5 favorites]


    Mark Joseph Stern: The Supreme Court’s New LGBTQ Cases Could Demolish Sex Discrimination Law As We Know It
    Today’s near-universal acceptance that Title VII bars workplace sexual harassment would probably be shocking to Rep. Howard Smith—just as shocking as the developing consensus that the law bars LGBTQ discrimination. And therein lies the profound danger of the coming Supreme Court cases. If the conservative majority interprets Title VII by speculating how the law was originally understood, it will clear away decades of precedent protecting not just LGBTQ people, but also women, and anyone who does not conform to an employer’s expectations of gender norms. Price Waterhouse will be gone. So will Meritor Savings Bank. So too will thousands of lower courts decisions rooted in the doctrines that courts have developed to interpret the law’s sweeping yet hazy command.

    There is another way. In the absence of any evidence of what Congress meant to do in 1964, judges should look at the text of the law. The statute’s text forbids employers from taking sex into account when penalizing a worker. And no employer can punish an employee on the basis of their LGBTQ status without taking their sex into account.

    Perhaps Chief Justice John Roberts will join the liberals in embracing this definition. During arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, Roberts appeared to embrace the reasoning that anti-gay discrimination is sex discrimination, stating: “If Sue loves Joe and Tom loves Joe, Sue can marry him and Tom can’t. And the difference is based upon their different sex. Why isn’t that a straightforward question of sexual discrimination?” Yet Roberts’ eventual dissent in Obergefell evinced a profound hostility to the rights of sexual minorities and made no mention of the sex discrimination analogy.

    Which way will Roberts lean now? It is a safe bet that his four arch-conservative colleagues are prepared to vote against LGBTQ rights under the pretense of judicial modesty. There is an outside chance that Roberts will resist the urge to cast a political vote and prioritize the text of Title VII instead. But that outcome seems unlikely. Roberts’ Obergefell dissent indicated that the chief justice is unwilling to interpret the laws and the Constitution to safeguard LGBTQ people, even when, as he seemed to admit during oral arguments, there is a strong case for doing so. If he and the conservative justices sever LGBTQ people from Title VII, they will have favored partisan biases over the text of federal law—and launched on assault on federal civil rights law as we know it, one that puts millions of Americans in jeopardy.
    posted by zombieflanders at 10:46 AM on April 22 [14 favorites]


    > Herman Cain withdraws from consideration for the Fed.

    CNN: Herman Cain withdraws from Fed consideration, Trump says
    In a tweet, Trump announced that the former Republican presidential candidate, a "truly wonderful man," has asked not to be nominated for a seat on the board of the world's most influential central bank. ... [Cain] faced an uphill battle largely due to the revival of sexual harassment allegations that effectively ended his 2012 campaign. Cain has continued to deny the claims, most recently on Thursday. But four Republican senators have already said they would not vote to confirm Cain, leaving him no clear path.
    The laws of arithmetic win again.
    posted by RedOrGreen at 10:51 AM on April 22 [3 favorites]


    I've got one more link I want to share. Even though I am going with the formulation "unwitting agent" (because it captures the fact that even though there was never a formal agreement, Trump was acting to advance Russian interests) I am NOT on board with the "no collusion" spin. Because "collusion" is a broader term than "conspiracy to violate election laws."

    Via the Moscow Project...

    MUELLER FOUND EVIDENCE OF COLLUSION
    -Trump knew about Russia’s interference and asked Manafort to keep him “updated” on WikiLeaks.

    -Trump’s campaign chairman discussed the campaign’s strategy for winning Democratic votes in midwestern states and continuously shared polling data with a Russian intelligence agent.

    -The Trump Campaign developed a whole campaign plan based on their knowledge that more WikiLeaks releases were coming.

    -The Trump campaign knew it was coordinating with a Russian “spy.”

    -Russian intelligence gave Roger Stone the Democrats’ turnout model for the “entire presidential campaign.”

    -Trump directed his campaign to get Clinton emails in an effort that included outreach to Russia.
    I am still working on incorporating these points into the "collusion" sections of my own site.
    posted by OnceUponATime at 10:59 AM on April 22 [41 favorites]


    WaPo OpEd by Jennifer Rubin, A brutal Sunday for Trump, has a few choice passages of Kellyanne Conway and Rudy Giuliani lying through their teeth on the Sunday TV shows...

    RADDATZ: Please answer that question, Kellyanne. It’s the only question …

    CHUCK TODD: Why did the president think it was ethical to essentially trumpet what WikiLeaks was doing?

    Which - weak sauce, but I guess some fraction of the country still attaches a lot of importance to what is discussed on these shows?
    posted by RedOrGreen at 11:03 AM on April 22 [5 favorites]


    About one year after the United States decided to leave the Iran nuclear deal, the State Department is set to announce that all countries will have to completely end their imports of Iranian oil or be subject to U.S. sanctions.

    Starting a military war with Iran, while also fighting trade wars against China and Europe, is a pretty bold move. Trump must be terrified of what the subpoenas will uncover, if he's wagging the dog this hard. If Dems don't see the big red flashing alarm over this situation, they should — it really does seem like it is now or never for impeachment.
    posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:05 AM on April 22 [7 favorites]


    News You May Have Missed for 22 April: a few less visible points on the Mueller report, the killing of journalist Lyra McKee, catastrophe in Sri Lanka, Extinction Rebellion, and the order to decolonize the Chagos Islands.
    posted by joannemerriam at 11:06 AM on April 22 [5 favorites]


    electoral-vote.com, re the case for not pursuing impeachment:
    What the Democrats are thinking about is the Bill Clinton impeachment of 1998, which not only failed to secure a conviction, but also ginned up the Democratic base, and so backfired against the Republicans. And that was with a president who did not have Twitter or a penchant for publicly blasting his enemies in coarse language. There is every reason to think that, in the hands of Donald Trump, an impeachment would give him exactly what he needs to drive his base into a frenzy. It might also serve to persuade Independents that the blue team is "just as bad" as the red team, and that both major parties are basically the same. So, the political risks here are significant.

    At the same time, the benefits of impeachment would not appear to be all that great. There is little chance of a conviction, given the GOP-controlled Senate, and even if Trump somehow was removed, it would be with less than a year left in his presidency. You suggest that an impeachment proceeding would allow the Democrats to lay out the evidence against him, but the fact is that everyone who hates Trump already knows what they need to know. An impeachment proceeding would not have much impact in terms of opening voters' eyes, or giving them information they didn't already have.

    The Democratic strategy, as we have pointed out, is effectively to use the 2020 elections to impeach Trump, but with the voters, rather than the Senate, serving as jury. The behavior in the Mueller report is not going to drop off the radar, and while the Democrats don't want to lay the anti-Trump stuff on too thick, there will be a theme of "If you want a corrupt President, vote for Trump, if you want one with integrity, vote for us."

    The blue team also expects that, as in 2018, Trump will drag the overall ticket down. They are looking forward to that. In fact, it might be more correct to say they are drooling. If Mitt Romney or some more normal Republican is atop the ticket, a second blue wave probably becomes less likely.
    posted by springo at 11:10 AM on April 22 [4 favorites]


    Even though I am going with the formulation "unwitting agent" (because it captures the fact that even though there was never a formal agreement, Trump was acting to advance Russian interests)

    I don't understand this reasoning. Unwitting means without being aware, or unintentionally. He knew what Russia was doing for him (and had over him), and he advanced their interests accordingly. How does a formal agreement factor into whether or not he was aware of what was happening? (I get how it factors into provable conspiracy vs collusion.)
    posted by diogenes at 11:15 AM on April 22 [9 favorites]


    > electoral-vote.com, re the case for not pursuing impeachment

    Counterpoint - here's a former Republican writing in to Josh Marshall (TPM Prime, paywall):
    If the Republicans had even 10% of the facts of national betrayal and personal gain that Mueller has provided to the country and the Democrats, the GOP would be wall to wall impeachment/investigation for a simple reason, you don’t have to actually attain your stated goal to politically justify an investigation or impeachment. The prosecuting party simply has to satisfy itself that the process will sufficiently damage the target to justify the risk that you will turn off some voters. ... Sen. Warren is right. Move for impeachment. Energize, persuade and deflate. Those are all different groups but impeachment should be pursued to communicate with all of them.
    posted by RedOrGreen at 11:17 AM on April 22 [26 favorites]


    Here's David Atkins at The American Prospect on The Bad History Informing the Impeachment Debate: tl;dr - both the circumstances of Clinton's impeachment, and the tenor of the (peaceful, prosperous, not nearly as divided politically) times are so different in 1998 than they are now in 2019 that we can't even compare them. Impeaching Trump is nothing like impeaching Clinton and will not have the same blowback. (And, as others in this here thread have pointed out, you don't just say "You're impeached! Bye now!" Just as criminal trials are not Perry Mason. It's a long, patient process. Getting evidence in front of the public is important.)

    Adkins also notes the folly of being afraid of a progressive candidate for 2020. The much-maligned Walter Mondale wasn't even that much of a liberal:
    In 1972 and 1984, conservatives were on the upswing, aided by a Southern strategy that gradually realigned racist Dixiecrats into the GOP fold. Democrats wouldn’t win a majority of the popular vote in a presidential election until 1996—and even when they did, anti-government, anti-regulatory orthodoxy held bipartisan sway. Mondale was a deficit hawk who promised to cut spending; the idea that he turned off centrist voters with his ultra-liberal schemes is ahistorical as well.
    If nothing else, this is a good argument for putting younger (born after 1960, Obama's contemporaries or later) Congresspeople and Senators in office. They won't be imprinted by, and afraid of, memories of the past. I bet you anything that is why Steny Hoyer said "no impeachment" - he's in his late 70's and is probably thinking of the disaster that was the Clinton impeachment, misty water colored memories of Tip-n-Ronnie, etc. Times have changed.
    posted by Rosie M. Banks at 11:39 AM on April 22 [12 favorites]


    Another point to remember is that constant investigation kept Hillary out of the White House, because it fed the narrative consistently that she was corrupt.

    Democrats don't have the advantage of a complicit media willing to tell the truth about Republicans, but House Democrats can certainly drown members of the GOP in investigations and comments, and drive a similar narrative all the way to Election Day. If Trump remains the candidate, he remains a target. Let's make headlines.
    posted by Autumnheart at 11:44 AM on April 22 [34 favorites]


    (After all, Twitter is just as effective a news source as the traditional media these days, so...)
    posted by Autumnheart at 11:45 AM on April 22


    How does a formal agreement factor into whether or not he was aware of what was happening?

    If I say someone is a "Russian agent" you would normally think that person is loyal to Russia. Trump is not loyal to anyone except himself. He was not consciously working to further Russia's ends. He was working to further his own ends. He was aware of what Russia was doing, but he was only dimly aware, if at all, that he was just another one of Russia's tools.

    Timothy Snyder, in The Road to Unfreedom, calls Trump "the payload of a cyberweapon, meant to create chaos and weakness."

    I think that's right. The payload of weapon does a lot of damage. But it does not choose where to do that damage. It does not consciously seek to do damage. It goes where it is pointed and blows itself up in the process of blowing up its target. Russia doesn't care what happens to Trump, as long as he damages America in the process of self destructing.

    He's a tool. And "unwitting agent" is the best way I have found to express that besides actually saying "tool."
    posted by OnceUponATime at 11:48 AM on April 22 [18 favorites]


    Actually everywhere I say "Russia" I should say "Putin." Regular Russian people are people and want all kinds of different things, generally having nothing to do with Trump. The motives I am discussing are Putin's motives.
    posted by OnceUponATime at 12:01 PM on April 22 [21 favorites]


    If I say someone is a "Russian agent" you would normally think that person is loyal to Russia. Trump is not loyal to anyone except himself. He was not consciously working to further Russia's ends.

    Isn't his behavior in Helsinki evidence that he is loyal to Russia and consciously working to further Russia's ends?
    posted by diogenes at 12:03 PM on April 22 [4 favorites]


    Isn't his behavior in Helsinki evidence that he is loyal to Russia and consciously working to further Russia's ends?

    I'd say his behavior there (and repeatedly elsewhere) shows that he's terrified of what Putin has on him and craves what Putin offers him. Evidence that he's capable of loyalty to anything is pretty much zero.
    posted by bcd at 12:13 PM on April 22 [13 favorites]


    Isn't his behavior in Helsinki evidence that he is loyal to Russia and consciously working to further Russia's ends?

    Sort of. I mean, it shows how much under Putin's control Trump is.

    That behavior made him look foolish and weak, and heightened the urgency of the investigations he assumed would be the end of his presidency. Republican senators went on the record criticizing him for that!

    So Putin got Trump to do something which was very much NOT in Trump's own political interests. We don't actually know what they said to each other (because they did not allow witnesses to their meeting) but I think it's likely Putin used some bullshit line as well as maybe some implied threats and bribes to convince Trump that sucking up like that would somehow benefit Trump politically. Yes, you'd have to be an idiot to believe that, but I think Trump is an idiot.

    It's easier for me to believe that Trump bought a line of crap from Putin about how that press conference would benefit them both, than to believe that Trump was actually sacrificing his own political capital to help Putin. Trump does not sacrifice anything for anyone, you know?

    And I think, just like Trump was surprised that Democrats weren't happy about his firing of Comey, he was surprised by the backlash to that summit.
    posted by OnceUponATime at 12:19 PM on April 22 [7 favorites]


    I keep saying the only plausible defense of Trump is the "too stupid to collude" defense.

    I think Trump was too stupid NOT to collude. Some strangers offered him candy, and he willingly got in the van.
    posted by OnceUponATime at 12:21 PM on April 22 [17 favorites]


    If Dems don't see the big red flashing alarm over [the Iran sanctions], they should — it really does seem like it is now or never for impeachment.

    Eh, I don't think the Iranians are interested in a hot war. I mean consider how that plays out for a minute: the US probably doesn't have the motivation for a sustained ground campaign, but fucking other people's shit up from afar—preferably not followed by a ground campaign where we inherit the mess—is basically our specialty. Giving the US an excuse to play Tomahawk target practice with their oil refineries, airfields, power plants, etc. while in the meantime they... what, exactly? Threaten Iraq, which the current administration doesn't give a shit about? Threaten Israel, so they join in the fun? Same with the Saudis. No, my guess is that the Iranians would like the remaining US forces to leave their backyard and mooning the Eye of Sauron that is the US DoD doesn't seem to further that.

    Plus, purely domestically, reducing the supply of petroleum by basically turning off the Iranian taps helps the US petroleum industry, which has recently become big enough to be a net exporter. And while it's largely concentrated in red states, there's quite a bit of drilling and other activity in swing and blue states. So while an oil price runup would probably be bad for American consumers who have no choice but to put gas in their cars, it might actually help key industries and could cause currently-marginal shale areas that have been idled (e.g. 'enhanced recovery' Marcellus formation stuff) to come back online. The calculus there isn't clear-cut, at least.

    Not coincidentally, I think it's this latter reasoning that is the whole point of not renewing the exemptions. It's bad for the Iranians, good for the US oil industry, and creates a media distraction. From the Trump administration's perspective there's no reason not to do it, but on the list of totally geopolitically nonsensical things they've done it's not even top 5.

    However, causing gas prices to shoot up suddenly, right before an election, doesn't seem too bright; one would think that would hurt the incumbent party. But it's possible, given what we've seen elsewhere from Team Trump, that their planning horizon isn't that long.
    posted by Kadin2048 at 12:28 PM on April 22 [4 favorites]


    I'd say his behavior there (and repeatedly elsewhere) shows that he's terrified of what Putin has on him

    Not enough is being made of the fact that every single one of the contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russians involves kompromat. The mere fact that the Trump people were willing to talk to the Russians was dirt the Russians had on them, and therefore Trump began his presidency compromised by a hostile foreign power.

    The so-called "liberal media" is dancing around the subject, but I'll go ahead and say it: Trump's victory was barely legitimate if at all, and his governing style has made his regime even less so. The Mueller report is the final nail in the coffin; Trump's presidency is not legitimate.
    posted by Gelatin at 12:33 PM on April 22 [32 favorites]


    he's terrified of what Putin has on him

    Is anyone speculating that any of this made it into the Mueller Report? This is the most compelling part of the whole scandal.
    posted by chaz at 12:37 PM on April 22 [2 favorites]


    Nancy Pelosi sent out a letter to Democratic colleagues this afternoon in regard to the redacted Mueller Report. The bottom line is that she's still trying to argue for the House to proceed gradually and methodically, even as #ImpeachTrump trends on Twitter:
    While our views range from proceeding to investigate the findings of the Mueller report or proceeding directly to impeachment, we all firmly agree that we should proceed down a path of finding the truth. It is also important to know that the facts regarding holding the President accountable can be gained outside of impeachment hearings. As we proceed to uncover the truth and present additional needed reforms to protect our democracy, we must show the American people we are proceeding free from passion or prejudice, strictly on the presentation of fact.[…]

    Whether currently indictable or not, it is clear that the President has, at a minimum, engaged in highly unethical and unscrupulous behavior which does not bring honor to the office he holds. It is also clear that the Congressional Republicans have an unlimited appetite for such low standards. The GOP should be ashamed of what the Mueller report has revealed, instead of giving the President their blessings.
    This messaging to the media leaves a lot to be desired, e.g. "Pelosi Cautions on Impeachment as She Decries Trump's Ethics" (NYT), "Pelosi tamps down impeachment expectations" (Politico), "Pelosi says Democrats can hold Trump accountable without impeachment hearings" (WaPo), and "Pelosi faces mounting Trump impeachment pressure from Dem ranks after Mueller report" (Fox).
    posted by Doktor Zed at 12:42 PM on April 22 [7 favorites]


    "Congressional Republicans have an unlimited appetite for such low standards" is pretty slick, in my opinion, though others in the party will have to translate it to something bumper-sticker-sized.
    posted by InTheYear2017 at 12:49 PM on April 22 [12 favorites]






    His debt to Putin appears to be the only debt he's ever paid in his life.
    posted by odinsdream at 1:41 PM on April 22 [7 favorites]


    and so backfired against the Republicans.

    Backfired so terribly that they won the Presidency, House and Senate 20 months later.
    posted by chris24 at 1:56 PM on April 22 [13 favorites]


    @scottwongDC [statement attached]: Judiciary Chair @RepJerryNadler issues subpoena for former Trump WH counsel Don McGahn

    Wants documents from him by May 7th and public testimony May 21.
    posted by zachlipton at 2:09 PM on April 22 [25 favorites]


    Wants documents from him by May 7th and public testimony May 21.
    Link to the Subpoena. See page 3, it reads like a laundry list of Obstruction of Justice questions.
    posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 2:13 PM on April 22 [7 favorites]


    WaPo, Trump sues in bid to block congressional subpoena of financial records, in which Trump's legal argument runs into a small problem:
    In Trump’s lawsuit, his attorneys cited a Supreme Court decision called Kilbourn v. Thompson, which found “no express power” in the Constitution for Congress to investigate individuals without pending legislation.

    The problem with that argument, said University of Baltimore Law Professor Charles Tiefer, is that Kilbourn v. Thompson is a case from 1880.

    And it was overruled by a decision in 1927, Tiefer said.

    “It has not been followed for the last 90 years,” Tiefer said of the 1880 decision. Instead, the 1927 ruling found Congress has much wider powers to investigate — and courts since then have let that interpretation stand and even reinforced it.
    We can all thank the Teapot Dome scandal for that.
    posted by zachlipton at 2:15 PM on April 22 [57 favorites]


    Speaking of tax returns, this is curious.

    Folks have looked back at Bernie Sanders' FEC filings for his 2016 campaign. There are a couple of interesting entries. There are two campaign payments totaling almost $450,000 paid to Verso Books. Verso Books is the publisher of Bernie Sanders' book Outsider in the White House.

    Then there is Sanders' recently released tax return for 2016 which shows $840,000 in royalties received for his books.

    Presumably his campaign purchased a lot of his books and gave them out as rewards to certain donors. This wouldn't be too unusual. The unknown question is if any royalties for those books purchased by his campaign flowed to him. That would be converting donor dollars to his own pocket.

    Unfortunately Sanders' Schedule C doesn't break down exactly which books are totaled in his royalties. The royalties on his 2016 tax return could have been for other books he had in the works. And that doesn't indicate what happened to the royalties for his Verso books purchased with campaign funds.

    He reported $10,600 in charity donations, so that is one possibility for the royalties. Or he might have waived his royalties to the publisher in exchange for a lower price on the books his campaign purchased. This might all be perfectly innocent, but an explanation is owed.
    posted by JackFlash at 2:19 PM on April 22 [15 favorites]


    There are multiple lessons from 1998. You could take the lesson that “impeachment talk backfires and costs you seats”, and that is a thing that happened.

    But it’s worth pointing out that at the time, the conventional wisdom was that Clinton was in big big trouble and his presidency might not survive. Remember, the last time anyone had seriously mentioned impeachment before was 1974, and Nixon resigned and the Republicans got wiped out. It was touch and go there for Clinton for a little bit.

    The Starr report hit in midterm election season, and the GOP ran their campaign on the assumption that their impeachment push would get them up to 30 more seats; it wound up costing them 5, and Newt Gingrich resigned as speaker. (Then they decided to do it anyway as lame ducks, the sour-grapesiest of sessions.) They proved to be misguided, but they weren’t stupid. Their lesson from history was that this would benefit them. If they had thought it would backfire, they wouldn’t have done it.

    The other lesson of 1998 is not to trust the conventional wisdom: you really don’t know what’s going to happen, especially if you make a real effort to find facts instead of half-assedly relying on the independent counsel report. These things could go either way, and things can change in a hurry—one way or the other.
    posted by Huffy Puffy at 2:19 PM on April 22 [13 favorites]


    Link to the Subpoena. See page 3, it reads like a laundry list of Obstruction of Justice questions.

    I wonder who drafted that list and whether they're experienced litigators. As a litigator myself, I'm reading them and finding them astonishingly poorly-drafted and far too open to legitimate objections and evasion.
    posted by The World Famous at 2:23 PM on April 22 [8 favorites]


    Backfired so terribly that they won the Presidency, House and Senate 20 months later.

    I dunno about Congress but Gore barely lost (or "lost") the 2000 election and I believe part of the reason is that he backed off too far from Clinton and the administration's accomplishments and choose nominal Democrat and Clinton scold Joe Lieberman as his running mate. If Gore had run on the administration's record and picked one of his other VP finalists like Evan Bayh or Jeanne Shaheen he would've had a more compelling campaign and probably would've won.
    posted by kirkaracha at 2:25 PM on April 22 [13 favorites]


    tl:dr; Impeachment didn't result in a GOP presidential win, Gore's lackluster campaign and VP choice plus the Supreme Court did.
    posted by kirkaracha at 2:27 PM on April 22 [6 favorites]


    tl:dr; Impeachment didn't result in a GOP presidential win, Gore's lackluster campaign and VP choice plus the Supreme Court did.

    Except that those decisions were driven in part by the impeachment - Gore felt he had to make those adjustments because of it.
    posted by NoxAeternum at 2:36 PM on April 22 [7 favorites]


    The lessons that should be taken away from the ‘98 impeachment are as follows:

    1. Circling the wagons and stalling can save your ass.
    2. Bad arguments won’t win in an impeachment proceeding.

    The GOP is following rule #1 and they will highlight anything they think meets the criteria for #2.

    Pelosi is wise to tamp down the talk of impeachment right now — when the GOP accuses the Democrats of fishing for impeachment, she can point to her on-the-record statements and counter with the facts that show impeachable offenses.
    posted by Big Al 8000 at 2:41 PM on April 22 [7 favorites]


    The Democrats would have been much better off forcing Clinton out of office in 1998 and giving Gore two years to show how he could lead.

    I think there is a direct line between Clinton beating the impeachment and DJT winning in 2016.
    posted by Big Al 8000 at 2:44 PM on April 22 [12 favorites]


    The Democratic strategy, as we have pointed out, is effectively to use the 2020 elections to impeach Trump, but with the voters, rather than the Senate, serving as jury.

    This is a great idea except for one thing:

    Most of the crimes Trump is accused of INVOLVE COMPROMISING THE RESULTS OF AN ELECTION.

    We can't defeat him with an even-more compromised election. Don't they see this?
    posted by mmoncur at 2:47 PM on April 22 [67 favorites]


    If you want a historical impeachment parallel, the best may be not Clinton or Nixon, but Andrew Johnson. That's the comparison at the heart of this short January video It's Time to Impeach Trump (from Yoni Appelbaum of the Atlantic Monthly) for anyone interested in a refresher on that story and how it maps onto the present day.
    posted by InTheYear2017 at 2:48 PM on April 22 [6 favorites]


    Speaking of tax returns, this is curious.

    Folks have looked back at Bernie Sanders' FEC filings for his 2016 campaign. There are a couple of interesting entries. There are two campaign payments totaling almost $450,000 paid to Verso Books. Verso Books is the publisher of Bernie Sanders' book Outsider in the White House.

    Then there is Sanders' recently released tax return for 2016 which shows $840,000 in royalties received for his books.


    I don't have access to any special data, but even a cursory glance at basic public information suggests that $6,735 of the $865,484 income from books came from "Outsider in the White House" (Verso, Penguin) while $795,000 was from the advance on "Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In" (Thomas Dunn, Macmillan).
    posted by chortly at 2:52 PM on April 22 [3 favorites]


    The Democrats would have been much better off forcing Clinton out of office in 1998 and giving Gore two years to show how he could lead.


    Agreed. I was just coming into political awareness at the age of 20 when Clinton was being impeached, and did not like that he beat the rap. He did, in fact, commit perjury. Given that it was his second term and Gore was a worthy fill-in, I’ve always felt the Democrats sacrificed moral authority by not impeaching, and probably undermined Gore’s bid two years later.

    Nevertheless, when the rodent fornicating Republicans played their uber-shenanigans in 2000, it completely re-cemented my anti-Republican views. (It also made me lose the very great respect I’d had up to that point for Justice O’Connor.)
    posted by darkstar at 2:53 PM on April 22 [10 favorites]


    The Democratic strategy, as we have pointed out, is effectively to use the 2020 elections to impeach Trump, but with the voters, rather than the Senate, serving as jury.

    1. Communicate to Trump that he is above the law if he wins.
    2. Demonstrate that there are no repercussions for cheating during the election.
    3. Win?
    posted by diogenes at 3:05 PM on April 22 [26 favorites]


    That's one of the strongest arguments for impeachment; the enormous moral hazard created when you say the only remedy for flagrant, widespread obstruction of investigation into conspiring to manipulate an election is... another election. But surely this time it will be fair?
    posted by Justinian at 3:11 PM on April 22 [48 favorites]


    Word from this afternoon's call with the Dem leadership is leaking out, via Politico's Andrew Desiderio:
    NEWS: Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.), Judiciary member, said this on the House Dem call just now, sources tell me & @heatherscope >>

    “We are struggling to justify why we aren’t beginning impeachment proceedings.”

    Demings: “While I understand we need to see the full report and all supporting documents, I BELIEVE we have enough evidence NOW.”

    Emphasis from sources.

    “Mueller didn’t do us any favors,” Demings added, noting that “he left us bread crumbs to follow.”
    "We will hold hearings on what Trump did wrong--including things Mueller didn't even consider (like corruption).
    At the end of the hearings, we will decide what punishment we support."


    "Up to and including impeachment."

    Use the word, Dems, because Trump isn't afraid to.

    Just today, he tweeted early this afternoon "How do you impeach a Republican President for a crime that was committed by the Democrats? MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!" and this morning, "Only high crimes and misdemeanors can lead to impeachment. There were no crimes by me (No Collusion, No Obstruction), so you can’t impeach. It was the Democrats that committed the crimes, not your Republican President! Tables are finally turning on the Witch Hunt!" As with the term "collusion", he's trying to set the debate by taking ownership of the language around it.
    posted by Doktor Zed at 3:19 PM on April 22 [8 favorites]


    Yeah, all this talk of "use the elections to impeach Trump" seems to ignore the question of what is the point of an election. Is it not to elect powerful representatives who can take action on our behalf? Elections are not referendums. It seems like politicians cede much of their power if they think of winning elections as the be-all-and-end-all of their political responsibilities. Politicians are elected to do things, not just to be there as a symbol of what the electorate wants. Did we not elect democrats in 2016 and especially 2018 because we wanted them to do something? What happened to the mandate from the past elections that got every one of today's representatives into office?
    posted by Dr. Send at 3:24 PM on April 22 [43 favorites]


    Re comments by jenfullmoon, odinsdream, Barack Spinoza, and fluttering hellfire above (from 4/20) regarding the identities of the individuals whose names were part of the scope of the special counsel investigation, but were redacted for "personal privacy reasons" (on PDF p. 20, Vol. I p. 12), here's what I've got, after spending way too long looking at the document at 200% and using a ruler:

    1. The first blank might not be for a single person. If it is, almost none of the names in the appendix between "Gates" and "Stone" would be long enough to fill the space (~1.75" by my reckoning), with the tantalizing exception of "Attorney General Jeff Sessions," which would at least explain the recusal. But if it's more than one person, there are other possibilities. Looking at the same range in the appendix, and focusing on what seemed to me to be actual possibilities, you could completely fill the first redacted space with: either Jared Kushner or Stephen Miller, followed by 1/32" for a comma and a space on that line, followed by either Carter Page or Erik Prince. Granted, it's fully-justified text, but they're really close.
    2. The second blank, trailing over onto the following line, is definitely "Donald J. Trump Jr." Since the document doesn't appear to use hyphenation, the last little bit has to be a suffix. We have a couple people who end in III, but that's too big for the space. "Sr." would work, but that suffix is never used anywhere else in the report. So it's almost certainly a person whose name ends in "Jr." (Michael Flynn Jr., John Podesta Jr., Paul Manafort Jr., or DJT Jr.). Space-wise, none of the names other than DJT would fill the space for the first part of the second redaction. "Donald Trump" doesn't quite fill that space, but "Donald J. Trump" does. Although the Mueller report itself favors "Donald Trump Jr." over "Donald J. Trump Jr.," this is a quotation from Rosenstein.

    Other fun stuff (note that, for these, I didn't take my ruler to the list of names before Gates or after Stone; I just used what I had from the analysis above):

    Vol. I, p. 179 - The name of a person who committed a "potential section 1030 violation" and details of that investigation are redacted for personal privacy. The length of the name is consistent with the length of "Donald Trump Jr."
    Vol. I, p. 183 - The name of the Trump campaign affiliate, other than Manafort, Papadopoulos, or Page, who was investigated for possible violation of FARA or section 951, was redacted for personal privacy. The length is consistent with either Carter Page or Erik Prince, but since Page is already named there, it could be Erik Prince.
    Vol. I, p. 194 - This page has details on an obstruction case that was redacted for grand jury reasons, but the name of the target apparently wasn't redacted based on grand jury secrecy, and got redacted for personal privacy. The length of the name would fit either Carter Page or Erik Prince.
    Vol. I, p. 199 - This page has the names of 3 people who gave false statements. I don't know who the first one could be. The second one (like the first) has portions of the substantive paragraph redacted for grand jury reasons. The length of the name would fit either Carter Page or Erik Prince. The substantive paragraph for the third person is redacted only for personal privacy, and the length of the name is consistent with "Donald Trump Jr."
    posted by mabelstreet at 3:43 PM on April 22 [39 favorites]


    Re comments by jenfullmoon, odinsdream, Barack Spinoza, and fluttering hellfire above (from 4/20)

    *cough* *cough*
    posted by Barack Spinoza at 3:54 PM on April 22 [5 favorites]


    Y'all remember Evan McMullin? He weighs in about the Mueller Report.
    posted by Sublimity at 4:31 PM on April 22 [15 favorites]


    I am pleased.
    posted by jenfullmoon at 4:47 PM on April 22 [1 favorite]


    Eh, I don't think the Iranians are interested in a hot war.

    Iran may have no choice: Trump is threatening to bankrupt it. Of course, Trump's threatened sanctions will only be effective if other countries participate, particularly those of the EU. The fear of forcing the Middle East into a war might finally drive the EU out of its geopolitical alliance with the US, which would be bad for almost everybody.

    We possibly go on about Putin too much, but you know who would win from a US-Iran war? Putin. I'm not sure the US could count on its traditional allies if it came to war, not after what happened with the US' other adventures in the Middle East; and Trump seems to have done everything he could to demonstrate that the US wouldn't uphold its military commitments on their behalf. Europe might not even be able to afford the effects of war with Iran: it would be massively disruptive to the flow of oil from the Middle East, what with Iran's forces overlooking every significant waterway. The US is practically self-sufficient in that regard but Europe, particularly in winter, is not. So the war would benefit Russia (and Putin personally) as an oil producer; it would drive Iran further into Russia's arms; and it would further damage the Western alliance.

    If there were a war, though, I don't think it would go the way you expect. Iran is a very unusual country in that it is a modern theocracy with a highly-mobilised populace. Although Iran is a regional superpower, by definition any conflict with the US would be asymmetrical. In that light it's worth noting that the country endured a huge number of casualties during the Iran-Iraq conflict; also that it is thought to be the simulated adversary that inflicted enormous losses on the (simulated) US forces in the Millennium Challenge 2002 war games. I expect the US armed forces learned a lot from that simulation, but Iran probably has too.

    Tl;dr; a war with Iran would be a very bad idea.
    posted by Joe in Australia at 4:57 PM on April 22 [15 favorites]


    The race to the bottom:
    US threatens to veto UN resolution on rape as weapon of war, officials say
    Exclusive: US warns it will reject measure over language on sexual health in latest example of hardline abortion stance
    posted by adamvasco at 5:10 PM on April 22 [29 favorites]


    He's a tool. And "unwitting agent" is the best way I have found to express that besides actually saying "tool."

    Something tells me it's been that way for his entire life. He's practically a force of nature. He's a beacon that radiates wave after wave of grasping need into the void. He emits a sirens call that cries, "Use me, for I am an empty shell personifying greed. I crave nothing but immediate gratification of my desires. I have all of the means of privilege at my disposal without having had to acquire the first bit of competence required in order to accomplish them, for it has been this way forever." From the first time an old shark laid his eyes on him, and reached a clasping hand out, and whispered into his ear with the conviction of a seasoned confidence man, "You are special," it has been so. And it's become so familiar to him that by now, he anticipates the confidence man, he seeks him out, and he prostrates himself at his feet, begging to be used.

    When you reexamine the course of his business career, you get the sense that even his greatest accomplishment, the branding of his own name, was only successful because everyone knew it was a terrific opportunity to ride the gravy train. The people who truly knew him knew that he was, as Rex put it, "a fucking moron", but gladly practiced the sacred art of kayfabe with the knowledge that the rubes, the real marks, wouldn't catch on until it was too late and you'd already jumped off the coattails onto the next great con.

    And then there are those who didn't get off the ride. Michael Cohen? He was too stupid; he believed the Kayfabe. Paul Manafort? Too desperate to let go. Roger Stone? He believed he could ride the dragon. And the Republican Party? Well...
    posted by Room 101 at 5:20 PM on April 22 [58 favorites]


    From CNN town hall, via @onekade:
    An audience member who wants to be a cop just asked Liz Warren what she’s gonna do to protect cops. Her answer is that the system is profoundly unfair and racist. “It is a criminal justice system that has race right at the heart of it, and we need to call it out for what it is.”

    She says we also have to look at what is criminalized, and what’s not, and pivots to talking about how rich people can afford justice and poor people can’t. Then she says we need to restore voting rights to ppl w convictions. This is a good answer to “How will you protect cops?”
    posted by pjenks at 5:29 PM on April 22 [75 favorites]


    pjenks quoting tweeter onekade quoting Liz Warren:This is a good answer to “How will you protect cops?”

    Yesss -- and she followed it up with what I would have said to bring it back to the question: gun control! Reduce the risk (and heck, reduce the implied need for cops to have guns themselves, though I don't think she quite went there, which is fine).
    posted by InTheYear2017 at 5:48 PM on April 22 [23 favorites]


    Meanwhile Klobuchar and her social media team try to get some traction out of her town hall appearance earlier:
    @amyklobuchar If a billionaire can refinance his yacht, students should be able to refinance student loans. It’s that simple #KlobucharTownHall
    posted by pjenks at 5:57 PM on April 22 [3 favorites]


    @amyklobuchar If a billionaire can refinance his yacht, students should be able to refinance student loans. It’s that simple #KlobucharTownHall

    Responding to loan forgiveness by offering... a lower interest rate is a sparkling example of the classic Democratic move of starting the negotation by giving them everything they want.
    posted by dis_integration at 6:09 PM on April 22 [53 favorites]


    This is nice:
    @page88 (Virginia Heffernan, WIRED + more) Now it can be told! @pithywidow & I are thrilled to collaborate w/ @audible on what's turned out to be an amazing feat: The complete audiobook of The Mueller Report—part of an initiative to create a FREE archive of audio-documents in the public interest.
    Audible Link
    Checks out: $0.00
    posted by pjenks at 6:09 PM on April 22 [37 favorites]


    The complete audiobook of The Mueller Report

    Note to Self, do not get into a fight with Jeff Bezos.
    posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 6:37 PM on April 22 [18 favorites]


    How much would it roughly cost to print out the report?
    posted by gucci mane at 6:38 PM on April 22


    Now you don’t have to spend $9.37 for the edition with a forward by Alan Dershowitz.
    posted by Melismata at 6:42 PM on April 22 [1 favorite]


    @renato_mariotti [10:11 AM - 20 Apr 2019]
    I was just told it costs $76 to print (double-sided) and bind the Mueller Report at @FedExOffice. No wonder people are buying copies off of Amazon.
    Washington Post edition on Amazon is $10 and doesn't have anything to do with Alan Dershowitz.
    posted by pjenks at 6:45 PM on April 22 [7 favorites]


    I really want everyone to know that the report is written *to be read*... like, by a layperson. It's meant to be publicly consumed, which makes the redactions so much more maddening. This is not a court case style document full of legalese and archaic, official language. It's readable, it's listenable. Please, please, try to consume it.
    posted by odinsdream at 6:48 PM on April 22 [23 favorites]


    So who's "Kushner's Friend" in the who made introductions between Kushner and Dimitriev around the same time as Eric Prince met in the Seychelles with Dimitriev?
    posted by odinsdream at 7:00 PM on April 22 [1 favorite]


    Mueller did his job; now we the people and our representatives in Congress must do ours. Because our commander-in-chief betrayed us by failing to reject help from a hostile foreign adversary in 2016 and obstructing resulting investigations, we must now reject it ourselves and uphold the rule of law. Our representatives in Congress must hear Mueller and others’ public testimony and commence impeachment proceedings for these patriotic purposes.
    -- Evan "Egg" McMullin saying what the Democrats ought to be saying
    posted by mmoncur at 7:06 PM on April 22 [17 favorites]


    In two separate papers published over the weekend, some of the world’s leading trade economists declared Trump’s tariffs to be the most consequential trade experiment seen since the 1930 Smoot-Hawley tariffs blamed for worsening the Great Depression. They also found the initial cost of Trump’s duties to the U.S. economy was in the billions and being borne largely by American consumers.

    In a study published on Saturday, economists from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Princeton University and Columbia University found that tariffs imposed last year by Trump on products ranging from washing machines and steel to some $250 billion in Chinese imports were costing U.S. companies and consumers $3 billion a month in additional tax costs and companies a further $1.4 billion in deadweight losses. They also were causing the diversion of $165 billion a year in trade leading to significant costs for companies having to reorganize supply chains.

    Significantly, the analysis of import price data by Mary Amiti, Stephen Redding and David Weinstein also found that almost all of the cost of the tariffs was being paid by U.S. consumers and companies. That contradicts Trump’s claim that China is paying the tariffs.


    Meanwhile, Whirlpool took (nyt) this opportunity to raise prices to pad profits to the point that their quarterly earnings were 401% higher than before tariffs.
    posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 7:47 PM on April 22 [38 favorites]


    And speaking of tariffs, farmers hit hard by tariffs are also being devastated by floods, which isn't getting much air play. Currently, the state of infrastructure for moving grain from the midwest around the country is unknown. The total amount of lost crops is unknown. The amount of grain destroyed in silos is unknown. The ability for farmers to get a new crop in time for this year...unknown. Corn and wheat are staples, there has been a fairly big interruption to the process, and nobody knows what to do next, and we don't seem to have any national agencies that are planning for how to manage disruption like this.
    posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 7:58 PM on April 22 [44 favorites]


    CNN: White House tells official not to comply with Democratic subpoena over security clearances
    After a day of tense negotiations, the White House late Monday told the former official, Carl Kline, who now works at the Defense Department, to not appear at Tuesday's deposition, contending that Democrats were seeking access to confidential information that should be off limits.

    The move raises the prospect that the House Oversight Committee could seek to hold Kline in contempt, a step that Chairman Elijah Cummings warned Monday he would take.[…]

    The White House had contended that Kline would not answer questions about individuals' security clearances but would talk more generally about the process -- and pushed for an official from the White House counsel's office to attend Tuesday's interview, something rejected by Cummings, a Maryland Democrat.
    Judging from this case, we can see how Cipollone’s general stonewalling strategy for the Trump White House will shape up.
    posted by Doktor Zed at 8:49 PM on April 22 [13 favorites]




    He's a tool. And "unwitting agent" is the best way I have found to express that besides actually saying "tool."

    This may be all we can ever prove with certainty, but isn't it very likely that Trump was an agent in all but name? We know that you know that we have compromised you. We know that you know what we expect from you.

    I don't ever want to lose sight of the common sense perspective of Trump's actions. This was a guy who probably knew Russia was helping him, probably believed himself compromised, probably was helping in return.

    And may still be deeply compromised. We just don't know. His actions have created that doubt, and that doubt is more than enough reason to get rid of him.
    posted by xammerboy at 10:51 PM on April 22 [7 favorites]


    Evan "Egg" McMullin saying what the Democrats ought to be saying

    Care might be warranted around McMullin, whose views on civil rights and liberties align closely with those of Mike Pence, and whose views on public education align very closely with those of Betsy DeVos. His opposition to Trump is largely opportunistic; his record shows that he is effectively aligned lockstep with Trump on most policy issues, and he seems to feel that Trump is simply the wrong messenger for them. Bertram Gross warned of "friendly fascism" and this man embodies that ideology in many terrifying ways, upon closer inspection.
    posted by They sucked his brains out! at 12:37 AM on April 23 [29 favorites]


    Impeachment is not about punishment, impeachment is about cleansing the office ... The point I'm trying to make is that you don't even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic.

    Lindsey Graham January 16, 1999, courtesy of TDS moment of zen.

    The hypocrisy is no surprise to anyone here, but if we're going to impeach it may be worth curating these 180 soundbites. Make sure all the sunday morning faces have them ready to hand. You just know Lindsey is going to say 'not a crime!' at some point. Be ready.
    posted by adept256 at 12:56 AM on April 23 [16 favorites]


    On Iranian Sanctions:

    For a variety of reasons--all of which boil down to the US overplaying its hand as global hegemon--both our allies and our enemies have been setting up alternate financial institutions to deal with our country's aggressive behavior.

    The main financial transfer system, SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication), has been used by the US to freeze assets of regimes it doesn't like. The most recent case of that: Venezuela. There, especially, our actions spooked others using SWIFT, enough to do something about it.

    As for our rivals: last year, explicitly due to fear of sanctions and tarrifs, China and Russia set up a new international financial payments system and bilateral trade pact.

    As for our allies: France, Germany, and the UK already set up a payment system for trade with Iran, INSTEX. The stated reason for INSTEX is to "facilitate legitimate trade between European economic operators and Iran and thereby preserve the Iran Nuclear Deal." That system probably isn't fully ready to take over for the chunk of trade that was going on between those countries and Iran that had previously gone through SWIFT. But the fact that our EU allies saw this coming and began setting up ways to circumvent our sanctions is telling.

    As I've said, even our allies are doing shit like this because we've overplayed our hand. These sanctions are just going to accelerate every other country's move towards non-US dominated institutions, even if it means establishing new ones. Concretely, this threatens the benefits we get from having the world's global reserve currency. Or it at least hastens their expiration date.

    As for the foreign policy implications...if our allies, who we negotiated the Iran deal with, are all trying to uphold the deal to the extent that they're setting up alternate international financial institutions, there's no chance whatsoever they're joining us on another military adventure. And, if we go at it alone, they'll not only be able to dodge the brunt of our sanctions against them (through INSTEX), but probably erect some against us as well.

    The world is not going to stand by as we "play Tomahawk target practice with their oil refineries, airfields, power plants." It's wild that I even have to state this. Or that other posters are so blasé about the prospects of another round of morally-bankrupt, imperialist aggression.

    This post is long enough already so I'm not gonna spell out the consequences of a full on war with Iran. But, I assure you, it would be disastrous. Like maybe-reinstating-the-draft and end-of-US-empire levels of bad.


    sources:
    Trump’s Brilliant Strategy to Dismember U.S. Dollar Hegemony
    China and Russia look to ditch dollar with new payments system in move to avoid sanctions
    INSTEX and Europe’s “Legitimate Trade” with Iran

    good background on US's decline:
    Alfred McCoy, Tweeting While Rome Burns
    posted by davedave at 1:07 AM on April 23 [60 favorites]


    Now you don’t have to spend $9.37 for the edition with a forward by Alan Dershowitz.

    Although it might be a collector's item when Dersh is sharing a cell with Epstein
    posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 2:12 AM on April 23 [4 favorites]


    If the consensus ends up that the House must impeach, even though the Senate almost surely will not convict, then it seems to me that the question becomes: how do the Democrats use the impeachment process to inflict maximum political damage on both Trump and GOP Senators?

    Seen in that light, a series of investigations that supplies a steady flow of bad-news-for-Trump for many months, followed by a vote that makes Mitch McConnell and the vulnerable members of his caucus explicitly defend an obvious criminal may be the best achievable outcome.

    In any event, I'd like to see the Dems start calling out McConnell and the rest of the GOP Senate as Trump's enablers, because in addition to winning the presidency in 2020, they need to take out at least three sitting Republicans (preferably four) to have even a chance of passing their agenda.
    posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 2:28 AM on April 23 [19 favorites]


    If you're baffled by what Nancy Pelosi is doing, Joe Lockhart's Op-Ed in the NYT suggests an answer: Keeping Trump in office will destroy the Republican Party.
    posted by Sublimity at 3:04 AM on April 23 [7 favorites]


    This post is long enough already so I'm not gonna spell out the consequences of a full on war with Iran. But, I assure you, it would be disastrous. Like maybe-reinstating-the-draft and end-of-US-empire levels of bad.

    It is a great post!

    But to follow up on it and on Joe In Australia's above, Iran is different from what a lot of Americans imagine in that it is relatively technologically advanced, given it's bad economy, and that while a large segment of its population is critical of the regime, a huge majority of the population are nationalist, and believe the regime is legitimate. Neo-cons and others keep telling us that there is an opposition that will feel liberated by US bombs, and that is just not the case. There is an opposition who want better relations with the West, but they would resent a US-led war as much as the regime.
    The Iranian population is more than double that of Iraq, and 81 mill to Saudi Arabia's 31 mill. As far as I can see, Saudi Arabia (with most of the other Gulf States) and Israel are the only possible allies the US can find for a war on Iran.
    China and Russia would give aid to Iran, making it a proxy WW3, if not a real one. Europe would scrabble for peace negotiations, to stop the inevitable flow of refugees and to avoid being dragged into a real WW3 because of article 5 in the NATO pact. It could eventually mean the breaking up of NATO and creation of an EU joint force*. All of Europe would have to up their defence spending, just like Trump has demanded, but not in the way he expected.
    There is no way a US-Iran war wouldn't spill into Iraq and Afghanistan, where the governments are tacitly supportive of Iran but beholden to the US, and it's hard to guess how Turkey would handle being a friendly neighbor, a NATO member and also a home to US bases, another article 5 issue.
    Iran would also seek by all means to further empower Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah so they could create trouble in Israel. And obviously the Houthis in Yemen, to disturb the Saudis. Just like the UK helped resistance movements during WW2.
    Which BTW leads to the question of the UK. Would a desperately lonely UK government step in to help the US? No one knows.

    All of this is known to Bolton, who either pretends he doesn't know because he is a suicidal fanatic, or he just pretends to be a bully in the hope that Iran will cave in out of fear. Trump and his crime family have no idea, and wouldn't listen if anyone tried to explain it. And in the end, China and Russia win big.

    *There could also be a break-up of the EU because of the refugee issue, with a hard right East with growing ties to Russia, and a more liberal West dominated by France and Germany. Another + for Russia there.
    posted by mumimor at 3:05 AM on April 23 [17 favorites]


    sources:
    Trump’s Brilliant Strategy to Dismember U.S. Dollar Hegemony
    China and Russia look to ditch dollar with new payments system in move to avoid sanctions
    INSTEX and Europe’s “Legitimate Trade” with Iran


    Careful now, you wouldn't want to give the impression that the US President is working against his country's interests. Somebody might realize it's actually true and do something about it.
    posted by wierdo at 3:09 AM on April 23 [8 favorites]


    I forgot a fun detail: Even well-educated Iranians often seem to believe in a weird conspiracy theory that imagines Queen Elizabeth as the head of a global kabal, intent on harming Iran. I haven't had the patience to hear them out, it's really stupid, but to be fair the British did a lot of the practical on the ground stuff back when they and the US decided to coup Iran's legitimate government back in 1953. So a UK involvement in an Iran war would be seen as a confirmation.
    posted by mumimor at 3:15 AM on April 23 [4 favorites]


    mumimor, to your asterisked note, here's some interesting data showing how much the economies of eastern Europe have benefited from becoming closer to the EU. Would they throw it away for Bannon?

    All tweets are via the Head of BOFIT (Bank of Finland Institute for Economies in Transition)
    posted by hugbucket at 3:17 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


    Even well-educated Iranians often seem to believe in a weird conspiracy theory that imagines Queen Elizabeth as the head of a global kabal, intent on harming Iran. I haven't had the patience to hear them out, it's really stupid
    posted by hugbucket at 3:19 AM on April 23


    mumimor, to your asterisked note, here's some interesting data showing how much the economies of eastern Europe have benefited from becoming closer to the EU. Would they throw it away for Bannon?

    Fascists are rarely data-driven, just look at Brexit. A happy side effect of Brexit is that the wider population are seeing how the EU countries are interdependent and that might just lead to more liberal politicians being elected in the East. Right now the polls for the EU election are still relatively balanced, with a clear conservative (but not far right) inclination in the East. But a huge surge in immigration from asylum seekers can tip the balance to the far right, and more so in the East than in the West.
    posted by mumimor at 3:30 AM on April 23 [3 favorites]


    a weird conspiracy theory
    Yes I know about the Great Game, but why QEII?
    posted by mumimor at 3:33 AM on April 23


    The Safe For Democracy podcast, by MeFi's own TheProfessor, did a great episode on early modern Iranian history, first in a nine-part series. (Which I'm not seeing a home page for but here's the “Iran” tag.)
    posted by XMLicious at 3:39 AM on April 23 [9 favorites]


    If you're baffled by what Nancy Pelosi is doing, Joe Lockhart's Op-Ed in the NYT suggests an answer: Keeping Trump in office will destroy the Republican Party.

    Also destroyed: the Federal Judiciary and many freedoms for women, people of color, and LGBTQ people, as well as even more Latinx families. And, of course, the ecosystem.
    posted by kewb at 3:39 AM on April 23 [82 favorites]


    If you're baffled by what Nancy Pelosi is doing, Joe Lockhart's Op-Ed in the NYT suggests an answer: Keeping Trump in office will destroy the Republican Party.

    Yeah, that op ed pisses me right off. I am pretty indifferent on the subject of an impeachment that doesn't lead to removal. But if someone could convince me there WAS a path to removal from office via impeachment, I would be 100% in favor. (I used to believe this was possible, but the last two years have really disillusioned me about Senate Republicans.)

    Lockhart's argument, that we should leave him in place even if we had the power to remove him because it supposedly benefits us politicallly, is the SAME bullshit reasoning that those Senate Republicans are using.

    Country before party.
    posted by OnceUponATime at 3:55 AM on April 23 [42 favorites]


    Corn and wheat are staples, there has been a fairly big interruption to the process, and nobody knows what to do next, and we don't seem to have any national agencies that are planning for how to manage disruption like this.
    SecretAgentSockpuppet, now I’m imagining what it would be like to have a Department of Agriculture that isn’t being dismantled from within by its own Secretary...
    posted by wintermind at 3:59 AM on April 23 [8 favorites]


    I just had a bit of an unexpectedly emotional moment... watching a Deutsche Welle documentary on the Nansen passport system^ and the beginning of the League of Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, (World War I and the interbellum period; content warning: discussion of the Armenian genocide) a historian's comment was translated, At the time, France was seen as the United States of Europe. —meaning that France freely accepted refugees and immigrants, a virtue the United States was once synonymous with.
    posted by XMLicious at 4:43 AM on April 23 [18 favorites]


    SecretAgentSockpuppet, now I’m imagining what it would be like to have a Department of Agriculture that isn’t being dismantled from within by its own Secretary...

    Thankfully, it takes a very long time to wind down long entrenched functions of government. It's one of the things that really keeps Trump wound up and is probably the underlying cause of many of his Deep State Conspiracy ravings. A lunatic, a traitor, and a would-be-if-only-people-would-listen despot, yet McConnell and the rest of them still prop him up. It's almost enough to make you think they're involved.
    posted by wierdo at 5:20 AM on April 23 [6 favorites]


    For Decades, We All Ate Trump Up. Artist Andres Serrano Asks, ‘Why?’ In which the artist who might be best known for 'Piss Christ' curates a collection of Trump-related objects.
    posted by box at 5:43 AM on April 23 [19 favorites]


    Chlling rewind in that Vulture Andres Serrano article, from 1989:

    "Trump’s ad called for the return of the death penalty to kill “the Central Park Five.” These were four black boys and one Hispanic who were accused of, and later acquitted of, the brutal rape of a white female jogger. Baring the fangs of who he was and is, that May Trump told Larry King, “I hate these people, and let’s all hate these people, because maybe hate is what we need if we’re gonna get something done.”
    posted by Harry Caul at 5:59 AM on April 23 [33 favorites]


    Joining the Egg in having bad politics but the right take on impeachment...

    Greg Sargent (WaPo)
    Dems are not making one of their best arguments: That by obstructing the probe, Trump impeded the inquiry into not just his conduct, but also into the Russian attack on our political system.

    Here's scholar Philip Bobbit on why this might be impeachable: Trump plausibly committed impeachable offenses. A leading expert explains how.


    George Conway (retweeted Greg Sargeant)
    Exactly right. In fact, it’s why Trump’s misconduct is worse than the misconduct that led to Nixon’s resignation.
    Trump is a cancer on the presidency. Congress should remove him: As for Trump’s supposed defense that there was no underlying “collusion” crime, well, as the special counsel points out, it’s not a defense, even in a criminal prosecution. But it’s actually unhelpful in the comparison to Watergate. The underlying crime in Watergate was a clumsy, third-rate burglary in an election campaign that turned out to be a landslide.

    The investigation that Trump tried to interfere with here, to protect his own personal interests, was in significant part an investigation of how a hostile foreign power interfered with our democracy. If that’s not putting personal interests above a presidential duty to the nation, nothing is.
    Put another way, a president takes an oath in which he “solemnly swear[s] [to] support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Here, in attempting to subvert the investigation into Russia’s effort’s to interfere with our electoral process, Trump violated that oath and put his own vanity and self-interest above that of the nation and people whose laws and Constitution he swore to faithfully execute and uphold. If that’s not impeachable, nothing is. This is a simple point, and it doesn’t turn on the kaleidoscopic meaning of collusion or the criminal-law technicalities of obstruction. It goes to something very fundamental: Do we have a president who is loyal to the country, or loyal only to himself? When you put the question that way, and the object of the question is Donald J. Trump, now that we know all that we know about him and have seen all that we have seen, there can only be one answer.

    And for the Framers of our Constitution, if you posed to them the question of whether the impeachment clause was directed at public officials who placed their own selfish interests above those of the nation’s, they would have said, yes, that’s exactly what we had in mind. For them, the case of Donald J. Trump would have been an easy one. It should be an easy one for us as well.
    posted by chris24 at 6:02 AM on April 23 [61 favorites]


    WaPo, Josh Rogin, No more waivers: The United States will try to force Iranian oil exports to zero

    Axios's Jonathan Swan suggests some tensions between the Pompeo and Bolton strategies toward Iran: Scoop: Trump administration opposes military intervention in Iran
    In a closed-door meeting with Iranian-American community leaders last Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the Trump administration is "not going to do a military exercise inside Iran" to expedite a regime change, according to three sources who were in the room, including one who took detailed contemporaneous notes and shared them with me.

    Pompeo also sought to distance the Trump administration from a controversial Iranian resistance group that has welcomed John Bolton and Rudy Giuliani as speakers in a private capacity.[…]

    [W]hen asked how he could guarantee that the Trump administration's tough new sanctions wouldn't hurt the people of Iran, he replied: "There are no guarantees."
    Elsewhere in Trumpland diplomacy, AP: [Buckingham] Palace: Trump to Pay State Visit to Britain In June This will include a meeting with HMQ in London, a carriage procession with the Household Cavalry down The Mall, and a banquet for 150 people (BBC). Incidentally, it will take place in conjunction with Trump's attendance of the 75th anniversary commemorations of the World War II D-Day landings. Expect more of the same diplomatic disasters as last time he visited Europe.
    posted by Doktor Zed at 7:22 AM on April 23 [3 favorites]


    mmoncur: Most of the crimes Trump is accused of INVOLVE COMPROMISING THE RESULTS OF AN ELECTION.

    We can't defeat him with an even-more compromised election. Don't they see this?


    But what if, and hear me out now, Hillary was the reason Trump won? {/hamburger of sadness and extreme grief}

    Seriously though, I can imagine some folks think "if we just have the right candidate, we can beat Trump this time, and no need to get into the muck and mire of his *alleged* crimes!"

    Overlooking the fact that WE HAVE A LOT OF DOCUMENTATION OF HIS CRIMES, and now we just need to try him for those crimes, via the impeachment process, as THOSE CRIMES SHOW HE IS NOT FIT FOR HIS OFFICE.

    Sorry for the shouting.

    From NPR, some notes on possible future events:

    A Decade Of Implications At Stake, Supreme Court Hears Census Citizenship Question (Hansi Lo Wang and Nina Totenberg, April 23, 2019)
    The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments Tuesday in a legal battle with lasting implications that could dramatically affect political representation and federal funding over the next decade. The justices are weighing whether to allow the Trump administration to add a question about U.S. citizenship status to forms for the upcoming 2020 census.

    In multiple lawsuits brought by dozens of states, cities and other groups, three federal judges at U.S. district courts have issued rulings blocking the administration's plans for the question. It asks, "Is this person a citizen of the United States?"

    All three judges — in New York, California and Maryland — ruled that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross' decision to include the question violated procedures for adding new census questions under administrative law. The judges in California and Maryland have also ruled that adding the question is unconstitutional because it hurts the government's ability to carry out the constitutional mandate for a once-a-decade head count of every person living in the U.S.
    Key U.S. Attorney, Swept Into Russia Investigation, May Prosecute WikiLeaks Case (Carrie Johnson, April 23, 2019) -- it's a bio piece on Zachary Terwilliger, who was named as the interim U.S. Attorney by then-AG Jeff Sessions. So that's not ominous, not at all. Though his record otherwise sounds positive, as reported by NPR, including the note that Virginia's two Democratic senators recommended Terwilliger to serve as U.S. attorney, and currently presented on Wikipedia.

    In other words, I'm just another internet commentator who is pulling at random loose threads.
    posted by filthy light thief at 7:33 AM on April 23 [7 favorites]


    If waiting a year to impeach Trump results in the destruction of the Republican party I'm all for it.
    posted by M-x shell at 7:33 AM on April 23 [4 favorites]


    Kamala Harris Calls for Trump to Be Impeached
    During a CNN town hall on Monday, a member of the audience asked the Democratic senator whether she thought that the president ought to be impeached over the findings in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Harris replied that anyone who’s seen the report can see that there’s a lot of evidence pointing toward obstruction of justice.

    “I believe that we need to get rid of this president,” Harris said, nodding to her own presidential run before concluding that she believes “Congress should take the steps towards impeachment.”
    posted by kirkaracha at 7:42 AM on April 23 [23 favorites]


    One approach would be to pick three really clear incidents of obstruction, and then say it's crystal clear the president obstructed an investigation into an attack on our country. If this isn't impeachable, nothing is. We want to spare the country from a protracted fight and endless sea of investigation. We humbly ask that Republicans do the same. Impeach him right now.

    Because if this can't be done simply and quickly Trump has now committed so many questionable acts that require investigation that the investigations will likely never end. Trump's foreign emoluments, questionable business dealings, unpaid taxes, separation of families at the border, and other acts too numerous to mention mean that if he wins in 2020 our investigations will likely continue well into and beyond his second term.

    In other words, impeach him now or expect Trump to always be under the impeachment process for as long as he stays in office.
    posted by xammerboy at 7:44 AM on April 23 [10 favorites]


    Let's start with the fact he raped a 13 year old girl and continues to torture families and babies at the border and go from there.
    posted by odinsdream at 7:54 AM on April 23 [17 favorites]


    Call for his fucking resignation! Ask why Republicans aren’t calling for it. Why more people aren’t doing this amazes me. As I posted yesterday, by this time after the Starr Report, over 100 newspapers had called for resignation. Make that part of the conversation. Obviously he won’t, but it adds to the pressure on him and confirms to the public that yes this is serious and criminal. It also puts an onus on him and Republicans to respond, as opposed to right now it all being about Ds and impeachment.

    Anytime a reporter asks a Democrat about impeachment, no matter their yes or no feeling on it, they should start by saying “Why aren’t you also asking Republicans if he should resign.”
    posted by chris24 at 7:55 AM on April 23 [59 favorites]


    If the idea is to wait and let the Republicans destroy their own party... I just hope the Democrats have some kind of media blitz planned. It seems to me that there are indeed a lot of people ready to listen to helpful Democratic ideas, but messaging has been a weak point for a long time.

    I mean, right now I desperately need to hear them say something more about the report, and what the point of all that was, and I'm not hearing it.
    posted by heatvision at 7:55 AM on April 23 [8 favorites]


    In better news, the electorate is as non-white as it’s ever been.

    Michael McDonald (Elect Project)
    The 2018 CPS Voting and Registration summary tables are now up. Here is a stunner. The non-Hispanic White share of the electorate (people who voted) declined from 2016 to 2018 from 73.4% to 72.8%. Census Bureau: Voting and Registration in the Election of November 2016
    • In recent decades, there has been a long-term downward trend in the non-Hispanic White share of the electorate. Usually, the midterm electorate becomes a shade whiter than the last presidential. Not true in 2018 compared to 2016
    • The 2018 election saw the highest midterm turnout rate since 1914, so I expected the midterm electorate to more demographically like a presidential, but I did not expect to see the non-Hispanic White share of the electorate actually drop from 2016
    • Youth turnout was up from 2014. As a share of the electorate, 18-24 year olds were 7.1% of the 2018 electorate compared with 5.1% in 2014, a 2 point increase
    • You might wonder why I'm not posting turnout rates. I'm cautious of CPS turnout rates because they do not account for non-response and vote over-report bias. I need the individual data to make corrections. The electorate demos, however, aren't so sensitive to these polling issues
    • What does this all mean for 2020? We are likely in for a storm of the century, with turnout levels not seen for a presidential election in the past 100 years. It is likely persons of color and younger people will participate in 2020 at unprecedented levels
    posted by chris24 at 8:00 AM on April 23 [18 favorites]


    What the Press Is Missing About Pete Buttigieg (Rahm Emanuel, Atlantic Op-Ed)
    The thing the American people ought to learn through the media is what in the candidates’ own life experiences—the good, the bad, and the ugly—has prepared and educated them to solve the problems the country is facing today, and the challenges we will inevitably face in the future. What have they learned from their own failures? Incessant questioning about the prospect of a gay president (let alone a female president, or a Hispanic president, or a female African American president, or, well, you get the drift) won’t do much to provide voters with a satisfying answer.

    Why do life experiences matter? I was by President Barack Obama’s side when he was trying to figure out how to address the auto-industry crisis. It was his experience as a community organizer on Chicago’s South Side working with communities affected by shuttered steel mills that informed his decision to save both General Motors and Chrysler, not one or the other.

    The cultural blinders of many reporters are one reason Trump is president today. If reporters largely focus on the topics most interesting to the people they live among, people who live elsewhere in the country will presume that those are the only issues that candidates care about. Is it any wonder that so many voters wonder about the Democratic Party’s approach to economic opportunity, or national security, or the fraying social fabric? Even when Democratic candidates talk about their approaches to these issues, reporters remain focused on the process stuff, such as fundraising figures and polling data, or on novelties, such as which barrier or glass ceiling any given candidate is poised to break.
    posted by ZeusHumms at 8:06 AM on April 23 [11 favorites]


    Democrats have been waiting for Republican policies to destroy the Republican Party since at least 2004. Seems like a great plan to date.
    posted by T.D. Strange at 8:11 AM on April 23 [45 favorites]


    c-span's census case oral argument attorney stakeout briefing is just beginning.
    posted by 20 year lurk at 8:47 AM on April 23


    Republicans have been waiting for Republican policies to destroy the American working class since at least the 1970s. That plan, on the other hand, is showing fruit.
    posted by delfin at 8:51 AM on April 23 [17 favorites]


    A Decade Of Implications At Stake, Supreme Court Hears Census Citizenship Question

    Ian Milhiser:
    Leaving SCOTUS now.

    Court looks likely to vote along party lines to allow Trump to rig the Census. Roberts’ questions were less clear than other Republicans, but he did not seem sympathetic to challengers.

    In related news, the case for court-packing just got much stronger. If Roberts will tolerate lawbreaking this egregious in a voting rights case, our elections will soon be uncompetitive.
    Can't wait to hear how Steny "why impeachment when we totally have fair elections" Hoyer will react if this happens.
    posted by zombieflanders at 8:51 AM on April 23 [23 favorites]


    If you're baffled by what Nancy Pelosi is doing, Joe Lockhart's Op-Ed in the NYT suggests an answer: Keeping Trump in office will destroy the Republican Party.

    Good lord, what horseshit. This is what we get when the "Surely, this ..." wing of the Democratic party is allowed to keep loudly fantasizing instead of being told to shut the fuck up and start living in the real world. Real people are being harmed by leaving Trump in office. There is no scenario where we can just suffer it out knowing that by doing so it will somehow result in the destruction of his horde of enablers and be better in the end.
    posted by tocts at 8:58 AM on April 23 [30 favorites]


    Court looks likely to vote along party lines to allow Trump to rig the Census.

    It's long past time coverage of SCOTUS started referring to its votes exactly this way, instead of euphemisms such as "ideological" or "the liberal/conservative split."

    It may pain Roberts to have the legitimacy of his court trashed by justices voting along party lines, but that ship sailed with Bush v Gore.
    posted by Gelatin at 9:15 AM on April 23 [22 favorites]


    Republicans have been waiting for Republican policies to destroy the American working class since at least the 1970s. That plan, on the other hand, is showing fruit.

    It helps when you have a giant propaganda machine distracting people from your fuckery. And I'm not talking about Fox News or even the so-called "liberal media." The gigantic grift network of blatantly illegal "religious" nonprofits created by the televangelist movement saw to it the pro-business propaganda was forced upon the members of several religious organizations in exchange for political support for the so-called "pro family" movement by the Republican Party.

    Religious organizations have been propagandizing their members, soliciting donations to the wingnut welfare fund and the NRA, and promoting candidates (all illegally, mind) since at least the 1970s. In return they get political support and a ride on the gravy train that starts with the fleecing of their flock.
    posted by wierdo at 9:15 AM on April 23 [22 favorites]


    Court looks likely to vote along party lines to allow Trump to rig the Census.

    I'm more than willing to believe this in the abstract and based on ideology and past behavior. But OMFG people really need to stop presuming votes based on oral arguments. It doesn't work.
    posted by phearlez at 9:22 AM on April 23 [11 favorites]


    ...but to be fair the British did a lot of the practical on the ground stuff back when they and the US decided to coup Iran's legitimate government back in 1953.

    Buried the lede. UK instigated the coup, persuading the US to take their side over Iran's discovery of chicanery the Anglo-Persian Oil Company pulled to cheat it out of it's fair share of the revenue. Without the UK's importuning of the US, and Kermit Roosevelt Jr.'s and Norman Schwarzkopf Sr.'s skullduggery, the coup would never have happened.
    posted by Mental Wimp at 9:28 AM on April 23 [6 favorites]


    Court looks likely to vote along party lines to allow Trump to rig the Census

    So, they're just going to decide the Administrative Procedure Act doesn't exist anymore? Are they going to ignore the extensive findings of fact of the District Court, which showed that the Secretary lied repeatedly and ignored all the expertise of his own agency?

    If the APA goes down, we're in a great deal of trouble.
    posted by suelac at 9:28 AM on April 23 [22 favorites]


    impeach him now or expect Trump to always be under the impeachment process for as long as he stays in office.

    Kind of like the IRS audit he’s under.
    posted by spitbull at 9:30 AM on April 23 [6 favorites]


    Jared Yates Sexton
    There's an aspect to this Trump/Russia/Impeachment business that is getting undersold, and that's that totalitarian regimes are supporting Trump because their ideologies align and if Democrats don't stand up for what's right they have no reason whatsoever to stop. We've spent a lot of time pondering whether Trump was bought off, which he might very well be, but in the end, his philosophy of greed, personal empowerment, and the self over society aligns exactly with totalitarian regimes in Russia, Saudi Arabia, and North Korea.

    Russia is an oligarchy enforced by totalitarian rule and buttressed by angry whites longing for a mythical past. That's what Trump has sold and pushed for since he arrived on the scene. They're in perfect alignment, both in philosophy and practice. With North Korea, Trump sees the power he wants to have. He's openly longed for a state-run media, worship by a frightened populace. It's no wonder he likes Kim Jong Un so much. He has what he wants. With Saudi Arabia, Trump ran interference with the murder of a journalist, and that support of a brutal dictatorship has won Trump undying support. Even now, Saudi Arabia is working overtime to support Trump on social media and provide Russian-style misinformation online. If nobody does anything about Russian interference (the Republicans have completely passed) and nobody holds Trump accountable for collusion and obstruction, why would any of these interests NOT interfere in an election for Trump or in our domestic affairs?

    So, here's what you have: an American president whose worldview aligns with the worst despots in the world. You have a government that allows him to align with them and receive constant support and aid in the form of propaganda and subterfuge. Russia and Saudi Arabia represent a new vision of the world in which the lie of democratic freedom is wiped away so a total aristocracy can rule unobstructed. That's why they support Trump, because that's his vision of the world as well. They promote him to promote that vision.

    So, heading into 2020, we're already seeing that Russia has no interest in quitting their aid for Trump and Saudi Arabia is stepping up their efforts. They're doing so in order to bring America further into their illiberal democracy. This is MAJOR STUFF. And though it's terribly, terribly frightening, neither party is addressing it. Republicans are embracing this transnational subversion for empowerment and Democrats are worrying about election strategy over embracing their constitutional duty. That's...a problem. The politics at play are going to doom this country to further ties with dictatorships, a process that is going to change this country, both in how it operates and where it stands. This is an absolute crisis, and neither party is taking their responsibility seriously. And the story is so large and complex that it gets lost in all these stories, or else the people telling them aren't capable of addressing the whole ball of wax. This is a philosophical takeover of the United States. It could completely undermine our politics and society.

    Already we are more or less a corporate aristocracy. What happened in Russia could easily happen here, and when that door closes on liberal democracy it is almost impossible to open it back up. This is a really, really important moment, and people need to wake up. I've lost all faith in Republicans doing the right thing, but Dems need to see this moment for what it is and act swiftly and decisively. The people who tell the stories of politics and interference need to tell better stories. It's more important than ever.
    posted by chris24 at 9:34 AM on April 23 [93 favorites]


    I don't GAF at this point; they're obviously not going to do anything and they're not going to do it agonizingly slowly and loudly. But could they possibly at least just stop with the "we can't impeach him because impeachment will make him popular like it did Bill Clinton" recitative while they torture the nation and the world by doing nothing at all about this dangerous scourge?

    Clinton was already popular; nobody knew what Whitewater was supposed to have been about; nobody cared that he boned an intern or that he lied about it. By contrast, Trump is not popular. Everybody understands what "he handed the power over to Putin" is supposed to be about. Most people do care that he lies twenty times a day and is trying to steal everything that isn't nailed down, and, above all, everyone alive and sentient cares very much that he's risking all of our lives and futures in like sixteen separate different ways. Want to roll over and slobber and kick the air at the sight of him? Fine: you do you. But don't hand me this outrageous horseshit about "impeachment will make him popular." That's insane.
    posted by Don Pepino at 9:43 AM on April 23 [29 favorites]


    Clinton was 20 points higher in approval than Trump. Percentage that thought the economy was good or great was 68% in October 1998 vs. 50% now.
    posted by chris24 at 9:55 AM on April 23 [8 favorites]


    how do the Democrats use the impeachment process to inflict maximum political damage on both Trump and GOP Senators?

    Seen in that light, a series of investigations that supplies a steady flow of bad-news-for-Trump for many months, followed by a vote that makes Mitch McConnell and the vulnerable members of his caucus explicitly defend an obvious criminal may be the best achievable outcome.


    How is that different than the past two years of the Mueller investigation? By the time the impeachment process comes to the Senate vote, McConnell will cheerfully have the vote so the Republicans can proclaim victory and Trump’s innocence. It will be like the Barr summary, but without any subsequent reveal to counter the vote. Trump is immune from impeachment. Not just because he won’t be removed from office but because his base doesn’t care about his crimes.

    I think the Democrats should still work towards impeachment to preserve some sense that this administration is criminal, but I don’t think it will have any political cost to Trump.
    posted by gladly at 9:56 AM on April 23


    his base doesn’t care about his crimes.

    His base is a small number. Flipping them is only of interest to dipshit oped writers who have to fill column inches. Everyone else knows the point is energizing everyone fucking else and making it possible for them to actually vote.
    posted by phearlez at 10:00 AM on April 23 [57 favorites]


    I think the Democrats should still work towards impeachment to preserve some sense that this administration is criminal, but I don’t think it will have any political cost to Trump.

    Trump's approval sinks when he starts with the wack tweets and the garish media appearances and the dumb refocus on immigration. He does all that when he's feeling attacked or pressured or not in control of the media cycle. The Democrats can call it impeachment or ongoing investigation or whatever. Just keep doing it.
    posted by notyou at 10:08 AM on April 23 [13 favorites]


    I think the Democrats should still work towards impeachment to preserve some sense that this administration is criminal, but I don’t think it will have any political cost to Trump.

    The course that Pelosi has laid out, without being explicit - is first investigate, then when the evidence is insurmountable, impeach. Yes, the Mueller report is, truly, insurmountable, or should be - but for the fact that Barr and Trump and any of a number of other talking heads have gone out there and said so many many different lies that these lies are drowning out the truth (c.f. Masha Gessen) - but a steady stream of news stories outlining in detail one crime after another could, very well, provide the insurmountable truth that ruins Trump, finally, perfectly and with absolute maximum Freude über sein schäden (the plural, schäden, is meant optimistically).

    The facts of the case - Jr. was too dumb to actually collude, Trump was too ineffective to compel his staff to obstruct - are the points that can and will be driven home. Add onto that Bernie asking people the very simple questions all politicians should be asking, "Why should getting sick ruin you financially as well as physically? Why shouldn't you be able to afford college, and housing, on a part-time job, and etc." My only worry is Georgia 2018 - they set out to ruin things and they did a pretty damn good job. I wish there were more talking out about protecting the vote.
    posted by From Bklyn at 10:21 AM on April 23 [12 favorites]


    A bit of an aside here, crossing the streams: just saw a chyron on CNN that fresh off his electoral squeaker in Israel, Bibi Netanyahu is proposing to name the settlements on the Golan heights in honor of Donald Trump.

    This would, of course, be a win-win-win: Bibi makes a show of honoring his biggest benefactor, Trump gets his name on something, and it also works for the people looking for symbolic targets to attack.
    posted by RedOrGreen at 10:26 AM on April 23 [6 favorites]


    how do the Democrats use the impeachment process to inflict maximum political damage on both Trump and GOP Senators?

    I'm not supporting impeachment because it "punishes" the bad people. I'm supporting it because it's the right and moral thing to do to end the suffering and damage they're doing as a direct result of their crimes. How do we do maximum damage? We remove him from office, and we criminally indict him. We do the same for other members of the GOP who are criminals. But we do this not because it inflicts damage, but because it serves justice and prevents further harm to innocent people.

    I feel like I'm going crazy.
    posted by odinsdream at 10:30 AM on April 23 [56 favorites]


    In less of a "win" situation, it looks like Jared Kushner's "Middle East peace plan" has completely dropped any pretense of a two-state solution and is finally being exposed as laying the groundwork for the annexation of Palestine.
    posted by zombieflanders at 10:33 AM on April 23 [18 favorites]


    Percentage that thought the economy was good or great was 68% in October 1998 vs. 50% now.

    Trump is definitely trying to juice the economy, giving tax cuts to the wealthiest voters, picking winners of tariff exemptions for industries and businesses favorable to his base, stacking the Federal Reserve with people loyal to him and who will lower interest rates on demand.

    Economists across the board seem to be warning him that this gives the country little financial room to maneuver when the next recession hits in a year or so, but I guess he thinks he can get re-elected before the clock runs out.

    While these aren't crimes, per se, they are demonstrations of exceptionally bad governance that add to the need to start impeachment proceedings. When it is cold outside, he would tear down and burn down the house just to stay warm, no matter what the cost to everyone else around him who need shelter.
    posted by They sucked his brains out! at 10:34 AM on April 23 [5 favorites]


    US threatens to veto UN resolution on rape as weapon of war, officials say

    Update: @MichLKosinski: NEW: The US has successfully excised ALL reference to sexual and reproductive health in a UN resolution to help victims of wartime rape. INCLUDING what was thought yesterday to be a possible compromise, a simple reference to a prior resolution.
    posted by zachlipton at 10:35 AM on April 23 [27 favorites]


    Just a note for some who may have missed it: the Audible version of the Mueller report is REALLY REALLY GOOD. I've gotten through most of Volume 1 with it and that just took 2 hours, it's way better than a podcast. It's very listenable. Due to it being a report style document rather than a book-style narrative, I suggest you have a multi-year calendar at hand to refer to. There's a lot of jumping around when people do various things and then you later learn why it mattered to mention that.

    It's absolutely damning. I'm convinced that the Personal Privacy redactions were made at the request of Trump to protect his family, and that the Harm to Ongoing Matter redactions could be related to further cases pending related to Don Junior for his role in multiple criminal activities, even if he's not the direct target of that case.

    Appendix D is *hardly being mentioned* in news coverage!! This is the entire list of cases referred out from the Special Counsel's office to other law enforcement agencies and it's FULL of redacted pending cases. This is very much not over.
    posted by odinsdream at 11:00 AM on April 23 [54 favorites]


    So, they're just going to decide the Administrative Procedure Act doesn't exist anymore?

    I wouldn't be surprised if the Administrative Procedure Act is itself a target because of the substance it adds to regulatory action. It means you can't just change policy just because you won the election and are in charge, you have to make a substantial case that it's reasonable policy so you're not judged arbitrary and capricious.

    If your approach to governing is making good policy that balances different interests, that's not really a problem, but if your approach is ideological -- and the usual Republican ideological case is ("regulation BAD" ~ socialize costs/privatize profits) -- then you can get hit with the arbitrary and capricious bit in court and your changes won't stick.

    At least, until the reactionary-favored Senate finishes sufficiently packing the courts with the activists judges they've wanted for the entire time they've been yelling about "activist judges."
    posted by wildblueyonder at 11:03 AM on April 23 [7 favorites]


    How does the audiobook handle the deleted text? Just make loud beeping noises?
    posted by jenfullmoon at 11:05 AM on April 23 [10 favorites]


    NBC: After Mueller Report, Twitter Bots Pushed 'Russiagate Hoax' Narrative—As social media platforms continue to prepare for the 2020 election, efforts to spread disinformation and sow discord remain an ongoing issue.
    A network of more than 5,000 pro-Trump Twitter bots railed against the “Russiagate hoax” shortly after the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report last week, according to data gathered by a prominent disinformation researcher and analyzed by NBC News. The network illustrates the ongoing challenge Twitter faces in persistent efforts to manipulate its platform.

    These bots, however, did not appear to come from Russia. Instead, the bots had ties to a social media operation that previously pushed messages backing the government of Saudi Arabia and were connected to a person who claimed to be a private social media consultant, according to internet domain and account registration records. The bots, which were created last November and December, were pulled down by Twitter on Sunday night for breaking the social network’s rules against “manipulation,” the company said.
    This was probably what Clint Watts calls an “influence seeding” campaign, a digital operation intended to manipulate search returns for general news rather than amplifying pro-Trump Twitter accounts or targeting ordinary users.
    posted by Doktor Zed at 11:07 AM on April 23 [17 favorites]


    I'm not supporting impeachment because it "punishes" the bad people. I'm supporting it because it's the right and moral thing to do to end the suffering and damage they're doing as a direct result of their crimes. How do we do maximum damage? We remove him from office, and we criminally indict him. We do the same for other members of the GOP who are criminals. But we do this not because it inflicts damage, but because it serves justice and prevents further harm to innocent people.

    This type of naive Sorkin-esque thinking is why the Democrats are a rump party with 55% of the popular vote, and the CHUDS currently control the government with roughly 33% of it.
    posted by codacorolla at 11:14 AM on April 23 [3 favorites]


    I wouldn't be surprised if the Administrative Procedure Act is itself a target because of the substance it adds to regulatory action.

    Oh, it absolutely is. The GOP has been trying to gut it for years, except it also gives their constituents leverage. Their current plan is to "revise" it in such a way as to remove the deference to agency expertise and prioritize corporate "science". They also want to require more formal hearings, which end up being too costly for non-profits or members of the general public to participate in.

    The APA is the backbone of federal environmental protection, and hardly anyone outside the regulatory agencies (or non-profits) seems to be concerned about it.
    posted by suelac at 11:19 AM on April 23 [13 favorites]


    No one who's been paying attention thinks that hardcore Trump supporters can be swayed, but some of the more marginal voters may be depressed enough by a constant stream of bad news to stay home.

    Also, constant investigations revealing more bad news for Trump should help energize the Democratic base, and as notyou notes, they keep the pressure up on Trump, which causes him to behave in a way that makes him look even worse to everyone who hasn't already drunk the Flavor-Aid.

    And the point of "inflicting political damage" is not damage for its own sake, or "punishing the bad people," as odinsdream suggests, but to try to increase the chances of winning the election in 2020.
    posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 11:27 AM on April 23 [5 favorites]


    Supreme Court looks ready to let Donald Trump skew the U.S. Census
    That means that the lawyers challenging the question needed to hang onto all four liberal justices, while also picking up either Chief Justice John Roberts or Brett Kavanaugh to prevail.

    Kavanaugh left little doubt, however, that he stands firmly in Donald Trump’s camp. At one point, for example, Kavanaugh pointed to a United Nations recommendation that nations ask about citizenship when they count their population, and pointed to other nations that follow this recommendation — although, as New York Solicitor General Barbara Underwood noted in response, the UN also says that census takers should be careful to test such questions to make sure they won’t discourage participation.

    At another point, Kavanaugh suggested that his court’s review of Secretary Ross’ decision should be “deferential.” So the court’s newest member appears to have little interest in checking the man who gave him his current job.

    That leaves the Chief, who, admittedly, asked less pointed questions than Kavanaugh.

    Nevertheless, Roberts appeared unsympathetic to the challengers’ arguments — and he asked a handful of questions that suggest he will also back the Trump administration’s play. At one point, for example, Roberts asked whether the citizenship question would improve Voting Rights Act enforcement, and he did so in a tone which suggested that he thinks it will. (Ordinarily, Roberts is not known to be particularly sympathetic to arguments that the Voting Rights Act must be enforced).

    At another point, Roberts noted that the census has long asked demographic questions — so why should the citizenship question be any different?
    As if there was any question.
    posted by T.D. Strange at 11:27 AM on April 23 [7 favorites]


    And the point of "inflicting political damage" is not damage for its own sake, or "punishing the bad people," as odinsdream suggests, but to try to increase the chances of winning the election in 2020.

    Please don't put words in my mouth, I don't agree that we should seek justice in order to increase Democratic chance of winning elections. I think that winning elections would definitely flow from reducing harm and damage and properly messaging that connection, but I don't think the reason to pursue justice should be or is "winning".
    posted by odinsdream at 11:31 AM on April 23 [9 favorites]


    At one point, for example, Kavanaugh pointed to a United Nations recommendation that nations ask about citizenship when they count their population, and pointed to other nations that follow this recommendation

    Because it's a hallmark of conservative jurisprudence that the US should take its cues from foreign nations. Sheesh.

    The bad faith is meant to be obvious, and a sign of contempt.
    posted by Gelatin at 11:41 AM on April 23 [17 favorites]


    Please don't put words in my mouth, I don't agree that we should seek justice in order to increase Democratic chance of winning elections. I

    Nat was asserting you suggested "punishing the bad people," as an end unto itself, not "increase the chances of winning the election in 2020." Just FYI.
    posted by avalonian at 11:42 AM on April 23 [4 favorites]


    You're right, odinsdream, should not have used quote marks there. My apologies.

    The thing is, though, no one's going to get "justice" from impeachment alone. There would need to be a conviction in the Senate, which requires 20 GOP Senators (plus all the Democrats and the two independents) voting to convict. No one has proposed any plausible scenario under which that could happen, but if you have one, lots of people would like to know what it is.

    The only way anything resembling justice happens is if Trump is defeated and the Senate gets flipped. Hence my concern about maximizing the political utility of impeachment proceedings. If they're going to happen, do them in a way most likely to produce the worst political outcomes for the GOP.
    posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 11:48 AM on April 23 [5 favorites]


    Again, I support impeachment because it is a harm reduction strategy. It will directly impair the ability of this administration to continue to harm people, even if Trump is not removed from office as a result.
    posted by odinsdream at 11:52 AM on April 23 [28 favorites]


    Just in case anyone forgot, the Republican party spent the last fifteen years flipping their collective shit every time Kennedy even acknowledged that other nations had laws that might have been more informatively useful than shit-smeared messages on a truck stop bathroom wall. And of course there's always Scalia.
    Foreign laws can “never, never be relevant to the meaning of the U.S. Constitution,” he told a law student audience in May 2015, because “who cares? We have our laws, they have theirs.”
    posted by phearlez at 11:57 AM on April 23 [17 favorites]


    Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner: The only way anything resembling justice happens is if Trump is defeated and the Senate gets flipped.

    Even though Trump has committed lots of federal crime, there are also state crimes to consider. I actually think it's considerably more politically likely (though still under 50%) that he experiences some kind of real punishment for those.

    It is frustrating that non-impeachment, impeachment-with-acquittal, and even impeachment-with-conviction could all be spun to a hypothetical prosecutor/judge/jury (whether federal or state) as a sound reason to not pursue criminal charges. "If he were guilty, he would have been impeached / would have been convicted, his acquittal is absolution / he was convicted and obviously that's punishment enough, this is double jeopardy". At least the Mueller Report actually spells out the simple fact that impeachment is entirely outside criminal procedures, but. Hmm.
    posted by InTheYear2017 at 11:57 AM on April 23 [2 favorites]


    Good point about state crimes, InTheYear2017, and I hope you're right. It looks like there's a lot of stuff that could be charged at that level, and I hope the state of New York in particular throws the book at Trump and his vile spawn.
    posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 12:01 PM on April 23 [1 favorite]


    xammerboy: "Impeach him right now. Because if this can't be done simply and quickly Trump has now committed so many questionable acts that require investigation that the investigations will likely never end. "

    "I sent wave after wave of my own men crime at them, until they reached their limit and shut down."

    heatvision: "If the idea is to wait and let the Republicans destroy their own party... I just hope the Democrats have some kind of media blitz planned. It seems to me that there are indeed a lot of people ready to listen to helpful Democratic ideas, but messaging has been a weak point for a long time.

    I mean, right now I desperately need to hear them say something more about the report, and what the point of all that was, and I'm not hearing it.
    "

    Makes me think of all those devastating attack ads showing Trump openly taking blame for the shutdown that I saw precisely zero times on TV. The ads might write themselves, but they don't record, fund, and broadcast themselves.
    posted by Rhaomi at 12:02 PM on April 23 [27 favorites]




    It's interesting to see the Justices' questions at oral argument being interpreted as though they are rhetorical questions designed to make a point, rather than actual question questions designed to illicit a response from the attorney before the court. That sort of interpretation of oral argument is one reason predictions of case outcomes based on oral argument are generally not very good.
    posted by The World Famous at 12:26 PM on April 23 [4 favorites]


    and surprising to see how few of the reported questions addressed the secretary's fabricated administrative record and his duties under the administrative procedures act. this observer hopes it is because the malfeasance and misrepresentations of ross and his government lawyers is so egregious that no justice had any questions about that. wonder, though, how the court will get a majority to agree that three separate courts' thorough (think i've only read two) findings of fact and law were so erroneous they must be overturned.
    posted by 20 year lurk at 12:38 PM on April 23 [3 favorites]


    I was a Trump transition staffer, and I’ve seen enough. It’s time for impeachment.

    From the article:

    “I’ve worked on every Republican presidential transition team for the past 10 years”

    So, just the one team, then?
    I know a lot of lawyers are bad at math (including me), but that’s just plain misleading.
    posted by The World Famous at 12:40 PM on April 23 [13 favorites]


    “Since 2012, every presidential election stands up a pre-transition team for both candidates, so that the real transition will have had a six-month head start when the election is decided. I participated in a similar effort for Mitt Romney, and despite our defeat, it was a thrilling and rewarding experience.”
    posted by mcdoublewide at 12:42 PM on April 23 [16 favorites]


    Presidential nominees who don't win still set up transition teams. All of them (except Trump) know that it takes about 6 months to really get an administration set up.
    posted by hydropsyche at 12:45 PM on April 23 [5 favorites]


    That article by Vetter was weak ("The Mueller report was the tipping point for me") but the Rahm Emmanuel article about Buttigieg was great.
    posted by M-x shell at 12:46 PM on April 23


    Pre-trial isn't trial, pre-transition isn't transition.
    posted by The World Famous at 12:55 PM on April 23


    It's interesting to see the Justices' questions at oral argument being interpreted as though they are rhetorical questions designed to make a point, rather than actual question questions designed to illicit a response from the attorney before the court. That sort of interpretation of oral argument

    Isn't that the interpretation of at least one currently sitting justice? IIR Thomas virtually never asks questions because he thinks questions during oral argument are a performance.
    posted by Justinian at 12:59 PM on April 23 [1 favorite]


    [Enough on the "transition" thing.]
    posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:59 PM on April 23 [7 favorites]


    Yup, and his first question in three years came in March, and you can't read his question- about whether the defense had also struck jurors off (and what race they were), after the prosecutors had struck off almost all the black jurors- as anything but an indication of his position on the case.
    posted by BungaDunga at 1:09 PM on April 23




    George Conway’s #NeverTrumper Checks and Balances group has issued a statement on the Mueller report:
    The Special Counsel’s extensive investigation revealed, and the report released April 18th further confirmed, that there was a persistent effort by the Russian government to affect the 2016 U.S. election. U.S. intelligence community officials have continued to state publicly that these efforts continued through the 2018 midterm elections and remain a threat. […] We call on Congress to conduct robust, bipartisan oversight to ensure that the threats posed by ongoing foreign malign activities are addressed as matters of the highest priority as we increasingly near the 2020 election.[…]

    The report further revealed a pattern of behavior that is starkly inconsistent with the President’s constitutional duty to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” [W]e believe that the President’s conduct demonstrates a flagrant disregard for the rule of law — a disregard that is in direct conflict with his constitutional responsibilities, including his commitment under oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” […] We believe the framers of the Constitution would have viewed the totality of this conduct as evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors. Accordingly, Congress, which carries its own constitutional oversight responsibilities, should conduct further investigation.
    (So, not advocating for impeachment immediately, but tacitly putting the process into motion.)

    And CNN reports: Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan hits Trump over Mueller report as he mulls 2020 challenge
    Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan harshly criticized President Donald Trump over the findings released in special counsel Robert Mueller's report, telling reporters Tuesday that "it certainly did not completely exonerate the President as he said."

    "There was some very disturbing stuff found in the report and just because aides did not follow his orders," the Republican governor said Tuesday in New Hampshire. "That's the only reason we don't have obstruction of justice."

    The Republican governor, who's publicly been considering a primary challenge to the President since winning re-election in 2018 by a double-digits margin in deep blue Maryland, told reporters that Republican reluctance to criticize the President was "very frustrating."

    "I know that there are a number of my colleagues, both governors and senators, members of the House who will say privately they're very concerned, that they won't say anything publicly, and I think it's because, you know, they're afraid," he said. "There's no profiles in courage here. They're afraid of being primaried. They're afraid of being tweeted about and very few of us are willing to say what we really think."
    But that doesn’t mean he supports impeaching Trump, however: "I don't think they should begin impeachment proceedings; I don't think it would be productive, I think most people in America are sick and tired of this whole two-year investigation, I don't think there should be Democratic overreach."
    posted by Doktor Zed at 1:15 PM on April 23 [5 favorites]


    "There was some very disturbing stuff found in the report and just because aides did not follow his orders," the Republican governor said Tuesday in New Hampshire. "That's the only reason we don't have obstruction of justice."

    As a Marylander, I beg everyone to not be fooled by Hogan as a 'reasonable' Republican, and this slimy half-truth shows exactly why: he's basically trump, supports everything trump does, but is cunning enough to say the quiet parts quiet to win over shitheel County residents who are nominally Democrats and like putting 'hate has no place here' signs in their front yard, but also really hate paying taxes.
    posted by codacorolla at 1:19 PM on April 23 [27 favorites]


    Agreed, codacorolla. Hogan is garbage, and I wouldn't vote for him in a million years. That said, I do endorse anything that could cause a rift between Republicans.
    posted by Faint of Butt at 1:22 PM on April 23 [6 favorites]


    Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey to Hold Closed-Door Meeting With President Trump

    n.b. This leaked news follows @realDonaldTrump’s two-part complaint this morning: ““The best thing ever to happen to Twitter is Donald Trump.” @MariaBartiromo So true, but they don’t treat me well as a Republican. Very discriminatory, hard for people to sign on. Constantly taking people off list. Big complaints from many people. Different names-over 100 M..... .....But should be much higher than that if Twitter wasn’t playing their political games. No wonder Congress wants to get involved - and they should. Must be more, and fairer, companies to get out the WORD!”

    Trump fact-checker extraordinaire Daniel Dale dryly notes, “Twitter occasionally purges bots from people’s follower counts, including Trump’s. He has never explained how Twitter is supposedly making it hard for people to “sign on” or to follow him — appears to be something he just made up.”
    posted by Doktor Zed at 1:29 PM on April 23 [19 favorites]


    M-x shell: That article by Vetter was weak ("The Mueller report was the tipping point for me")

    If a Republican is jumping ship now (and to a position further than most Democratic politicians!), whether or not I respond with rolled eyes depends on their central subject. If it's "Look at me. Buy my book. Vote for my campaign", then no. But if they're keeping the focus on Trump's unfitness, that's exactly the point of impeachment and similar actions: to change minds and hearts and the popular sense of what's acceptable. The last message I want to spread to Americans is "If you change your mind, we'll hold you accountable for you entire past". Remember, even Elizabeth Warren is an ex-Republican!

    (It's 'Verret'. I picked a fun new hobby)
    posted by InTheYear2017 at 1:40 PM on April 23 [20 favorites]


    Yesterday Jerry Nadler subpoenaed Don McGahn, both to appear and testify on May 21, but also to turn over a slew of documents pertaining to 36 topics, according to Marcy Wheeler, who responds with Hell Hath No Fury Like a Self-Promoting Republican Lawyer Scorned: Don McGahn apparently imagined working for a corrupt asshole like Trump would get him named to the Supreme Court. Instead, his firm has a lost a very lucrative client. He appears to be upping the ante by further distancing himself from Trump’s corruption. That may get ugly, because Don McGahn knows where a whole lot of Donald Trump’s bodies are buried. And given that McGahn, not Trump, is the one who packed the courts, the Republicans may have really divided loyalties over this fight.
    posted by Bella Donna at 2:09 PM on April 23 [15 favorites]


    He has never explained how Twitter is supposedly making it hard for people to “sign on” or to follow him — appears to be something he just made up.

    I bet this is based on an elderly Mar-a-Lago club member bending his ear because they couldn't work out how to set up a Twitter account.
    posted by jack_mo at 2:12 PM on April 23 [19 favorites]


    More just another instance of his long running narrative of feigning victimhood while being a toxic asshole.
    posted by Burhanistan at 2:14 PM on April 23 [5 favorites]


    Today Sarah Kendzior and Andrea Chalupa posted free access to their Gaslit Nation podcast Mueller Report Special, Part 1 for everyone on their Patreon page. In addition to this podcast episode, the page includes lots of links to resources and there is also an action guide! The system is broken and the institutionalists either don’t understand how to fix it or don’t care who it hurts. We have no time to lose, which is why we created a Gaslit Nation Action Guide full of suggestions you can act on now. If you don't know Gaslit Nation, it's worth check out.
    posted by Bella Donna at 2:32 PM on April 23 [19 favorites]


    Seconding the recommendation of Gaslit Nation, episodes of which (including the latest mentioned above by Bella Donna) also can be found here.
    posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 2:41 PM on April 23 [5 favorites]


    the Republicans may have really divided loyalties over this fight.

    A classic divide by zero error.
    posted by srboisvert at 2:50 PM on April 23 [38 favorites]


    Trump's problem with the "public conversation" is that the thinking part of the public insists on being part of it.
    posted by delfin at 2:55 PM on April 23 [2 favorites]


    The 5 p.m. deadline for the IRS to turn over Trump's tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee has come and gone. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin has issued a response [PDF] to Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal saying Treasury can't act on his request for Trump's tax returns until it has been deemed in accordance with the law, and that he will let Neal know the Justice Department's legal conclusions by May 6. Neal's reply is a measly two-paragraph statement saying he will "consult with counsel about my next steps."
    posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 2:57 PM on April 23 [8 favorites]


    Just a quick note to say there's a new hyucking hyuck thread up.
    posted by filthy light thief at 3:08 PM on April 23 [8 favorites]


    Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey to Hold Closed-Door Meeting With President Trump

    WaPo, Trump met with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey -- and complained about his follower count
    A significant portion of the meeting focused on Trump’s concerns that Twitter quietly, and deliberately, has limited or removed some of his followers, according to a person with direct knowledge of the conversation who requested anonymity because it was private. Trump said he had heard from fellow conservatives who had lost followers for unclear reasons as well.
    Everything is so dumb all the time now.
    posted by zachlipton at 3:32 PM on April 23 [60 favorites]


    Trump is an empty suit, there was no way the meeting was for anything other than a convenient setting to exercise some power over some new people, even if that exercise was limited to their flying into town for the occasion.
    posted by rhizome at 3:38 PM on April 23 [5 favorites]


    I feel like I'm going crazy.

    You're not going crazy. Shit's fucked up.
    posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 3:55 PM on April 23 [37 favorites]


    Andy McKean, the longest-serving Republican member of the Iowa state legislature, is leaving the Republican Party and registering as a Democrat.

    "With the 2020 presidential election looming on the horizon, I feel, as a Republican, that I need to be able to support the standard bearer of our party," McKean said during a news conference at the Capitol. "Unfortunately, that's something I'm unable to do."
    posted by Sublimity at 4:30 PM on April 23 [47 favorites]


    Gorsuch Comments Preview Endgame If Citizenship Question Is Added To Census
    If the citizenship question is allowed to stay on the census — and the conduct of conservative justices Tuesday suggests it will be — a case establishing whether the data could be used to cut noncitizens from the redistricting count would only be a matter of time.
    This is how they prevent make gerrymandering reform obsolete. The underlying census data will be bogus. Make no mistake, the Roberts Court will not allow fair elections again.
    posted by T.D. Strange at 4:32 PM on April 23 [30 favorites]


    Trump administration confused as to why an inaccurate census is a ‘bad thing’ (Alexandra Petri, WaPo)
    For too long, we have been trammeled and burdened by accurate numbers. For too long, we have been forced to give more resources to California than to North Dakota on the absurd grounds that, factually, more people reside in the one than in the other. Well, if the court finds — as they sounded pretty inclined to do! — that Wilbur “King of Bankruptcy, Prince of Not Filling Out Financial Disclosure Forms With Perfect Accuracy” Ross is within his rights to ask for less accurate data, then soon, we will no longer be bound by such pedestrian concerns. There can be as many or as few people in a state as we would like! This will make 2020 much more interesting.

    Some days, there will be no one in Florida at all. On other days, there will be three Floridas. Sometimes there will be a whole gaggle of people driving through Arizona with trunks full of women covered in duct tape, like in “Sicario,” and on other days they will disappear as if they never really existed. Puerto Rico may turn out to contain no people worth sending federal aid to at all. It will vary by the time, the weather and whether Fox News remembered to mention Rhode Island that morning. In any case, the country will never not be “full.”
    posted by Johnny Wallflower at 4:37 PM on April 23 [12 favorites]


    Hey guys, Infrastructure Week is back on
    posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 4:46 PM on April 23 [9 favorites]




    Trump says he is opposed to White House aides testifying to Congress, deepening power struggle with Hill (WaPo)
    President Trump on Tuesday said he is opposed to current and former White House aides providing testimony to congressional panels in the wake of the special counsel report, intensifying a power struggle between his administration and House Democrats.

    In an interview with the Washington Post, Trump said that complying with congressional requests was unnecessary after the White House cooperated with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe of Russian> interference and the president’s own conduct in office.
    posted by Barack Spinoza at 5:37 PM on April 23 [10 favorites]


    President Trump on Tuesday said he is opposed to current and former White House aides providing testimony to congressional panels.

    Former White House aides? How does that work? Trump holds no control over people who don't work for him. What can he do - threaten to fire them from a job they don't have if they don't obey him?
    posted by JackFlash at 5:53 PM on April 23 [4 favorites]


    You'd think he'd be practically begging them to testify, since Mueller's report was so unfair and they'd be able to clear it up and explain how it should have exonerated him.
    posted by BungaDunga at 5:54 PM on April 23 [16 favorites]


    And that's something Democrats should capitalize on! I mean, it's sitting right there. Maybe even an genuine humiliation.
    posted by rhizome at 6:04 PM on April 23 [3 favorites]


    @nycsouthpaw
    The executive says he doesn’t have to answer to the legislature because he cooperated with a subordinate executive branch official.
    posted by chris24 at 6:07 PM on April 23 [44 favorites]


    Former White House aides? How does that work? Trump holds no control over people who don't work for him. What can he do - threaten to fire them from a job they don't have if they don't obey him?

    With some of them, he has transferred them over to the campaign organization - with or without any actual jobs for them to do - so that he can bind them with a private NDA. An NDA would not be enforceable as to subpoenaed testimony, but could potentially prevent them from testifying voluntarily without a subpoena.
    posted by The World Famous at 6:40 PM on April 23 [9 favorites]


    Joe in Australia, I’ve seen that article going around today, and I don’t doubt Secretary Perdue would support such an, um, I’ll-considered policy. However, I’m a USDA scientist, and I’ve not [yet] seen such a memo. I also expect that the rule will be widely ignored. Manuscripts are long, complex documents, and sometimes you miss a little detail or two. My pension vests in a few years and I’m counting the days.
    posted by wintermind at 6:55 PM on April 23 [11 favorites]




    The original report on that says the plan was "looked at" previously, past tense, and does not appear to be moving forward (there's a "dormitory facility that has been used in the past to hold asylum seekers" there—the story of Haitian refugees held there, initially what amounted to an "HIV prison camp," is something people should know, speaking of "America is bad"), though DoD is looking at other military facilities.
    posted by zachlipton at 7:32 PM on April 23 [8 favorites]


    Debt hits an all time high. Trump finances his tax cuts to game the economy while bankrupting the nation. Same trick as Reagan.
    @realDonaldTrump: You mean the Stock Market hit an all-time record high today and they’re actually talking impeachment!? Will I ever be given credit for anything by the Fake News Media or Radical Liberal Dems? NO COLLUSION!
    posted by xammerboy at 8:26 PM on April 23 [8 favorites]


    Slate: The Black Feminists Who Saw the Alt-Right Threat Coming
    [...] It’s impossible to say how many of the fake accounts that #YourSlipIsShowing called out were actually part of the Russian propaganda operation that may have helped tilt the 2016 election. But what does seem clear is that the misinformation, bot networks, and weaponized trolls that Twitter did little to curb back in 2014 were a “dry run” for the presidential campaign two years later. In 2018, a New Knowledge report commissioned by the Senate described how Russian agents specifically “focused on developing black audiences and recruiting black Americans as assets,” a campaign honed in the depths of 4chan. “It should be validating,” Hudson said, to be proved right about what she calls the “toxic white manosphere.” “But instead it’s been upsetting and alarming. Nobody wants to be right about how much real peril we’re all in, even if you saw it coming.”
    posted by Joe in Australia at 9:21 PM on April 23 [21 favorites]




    The Guardian view on Donald Trump’s UK visit: a mistake
    Editorial
    During his last visit, Mr Trump avoided central London due to the expected protests. He will have to endure them this time. John Bercow, the Commons Speaker, refused to offer Mr Trump an invitation to address parliament. He has previously said it was an “earned honour” and not a right. Mr Trump has earned no such distinction.
    posted by mumimor at 12:43 AM on April 24 [18 favorites]


    My grudging admiration for John Bercow becomes slightly less grudging.
    posted by skybluepink at 1:34 AM on April 24 [11 favorites]


    Boy, that UK trip is gonna be great.

    @realDonaldTrump
    “Former CIA analyst Larry Johnson accuses United Kingdom Intelligence of helping Obama Administration Spy on the 2016 Trump Presidential Campaign.” @OANN
    WOW! It is now just a question of time before the truth comes out, and when it does, it will be a beauty!
    posted by chris24 at 4:12 AM on April 24 [8 favorites]


    I am a big Pelosi fan in general, but it is disturbing how some Republicans are so much better on impeachment than Dem leadership is. From Michael Gerson, former Bush chief speechwriter in the Post.

    House leaders should lay the groundwork for impeachment
    It is indeed likely that elected Republicans would fail to defend constitutional values if tested by an impeachment vote. But they should be tested nonetheless. The honor of the presidency now depends on the actions of Congress. Beginning with a thorough series of coordinated hearings, House leaders should lay the groundwork for impeachment — and at least delay the surrender of our institutions to cynicism.
    posted by chris24 at 4:35 AM on April 24 [18 favorites]


    @realDonaldTrump:“Former CIA analyst Larry Johnson accuses United Kingdom Intelligence of helping Obama Administration Spy on the 2016 Trump Presidential Campaign.” @OANN WOW! It is now just a question of time before the truth comes out, and when it does, it will be a beauty!

    Matthew Gertz (Media Matters)
    In March 2017, Sean Spicer started an international incident by spreading Fox commentator Andrew Napolitano's claim about this. Napolitano was citing Johnson, who had made the claim on RT. Brits denied it, Fox suspended Napolitano. Andrew Napolitano Off Fox News “Indefinitely” After Media Matters Exposed His Lie About Britain Spying On Trump
    posted by chris24 at 4:43 AM on April 24 [27 favorites]


    Bill Kristol
    The third Article of Impeachment against Richard Nixon charged him with failing "without lawful cause or excuse to produce papers and things as directed by duly authorized subpoenas issued by the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives."
    posted by chris24 at 4:47 AM on April 24 [70 favorites]


    Europe Doubles Down on Iran Support as Trump Targets Oil Exports

    This will end up becoming the wedge that fragments "the West" into squabbling ideological factions, just like internal politics in the US and the UK.
    posted by hugbucket at 4:50 AM on April 24 [5 favorites]


    @realDonaldTrump:“Former CIA analyst Larry Johnson accuses United Kingdom Intelligence of helping Obama Administration Spy on the 2016 Trump Presidential Campaign.” @OANN WOW! It is now just a question of time before the truth comes out, and when it does, it will be a beauty!

    Oliver Willis (Shareblue)
    Larry Johnson is the guy who pushed the lie that there was a Michelle Obama “whitey” tape back in 2008.
    posted by chris24 at 4:54 AM on April 24 [21 favorites]


    Quinta Jurecic made a helpful chart of the possible obstruction charges Mueller considered, color-coded to show the instances where he appears to conclude all three prongs of the statute were violated. As you can see, that’s eight different charges where he seems to be saying Trump committed all three elements.
    posted by zachlipton at 10:43 PM on April 19 [45 favorites +] [!]


    It appears this link is broken, though Ms. Jurecic has published this chart in a full post to LawFare, including more detail about each possible instance of collusion and each of the three relevant statutes -

    https://www.lawfareblog.com/obstruction-justice-mueller-report-heat-map
    posted by Ian.I.Am at 5:00 AM on April 24 [13 favorites]


    In other morning-tweet news:
    The Mueller Report, despite being written by Angry Democrats and Trump Haters, and with unlimited money behind it ($35,000,000), didn’t lay a glove on me. I DID NOTHING WRONG. If the partisan Dems ever tried to Impeach, I would first head to the U.S. Supreme Court. Not only......

    .....are there no “High Crimes and Misdemeanors,” there are no Crimes by me at all. All of the Crimes were committed by Crooked Hillary, the Dems, the DNC and Dirty Cops - and we caught them in the act! We waited for Mueller and WON, so now the Dems look to Congress as last hope!
    posted by box at 5:28 AM on April 24 [4 favorites]


    Provoking a constitutional crisis at home...

    ...and an international one with Mexico.

    @realDonaldTrump
    Mexico’s Soldiers recently pulled guns on our National Guard Soldiers, probably as a diversionary tactic for drug smugglers on the Border. Better not happen again! We are now sending ARMED SOLDIERS to the Border. Mexico is not doing nearly enough in apprehending & returning!
    posted by chris24 at 5:32 AM on April 24 [3 favorites]




    House Democrats Are Failing to Investigate the White House
    Given this history, it was disappointing when—the day after the midterms—House Democratic leadership staff told Politico they would push committees to move slowly on basic matters such as obtaining Trump’s tax returns and financial records. It was even more disappointing when February came around and Hakeem Jeffries, the Democratic Caucus Chairman, declared: “We’re not going to overreach. We’re not going to over-investigate.”

    The logic behind this strategy is clear. The party wants to avoid accusations that they are mainly driven by hatred of Trump. But empirical evidence suggests that the public does not share these concerns. An April 2019 poll asked Americans if they are more worried that the Trump administration will get away with “corruption, unethical behavior, or mishandling important problems” or if they are more worried that Democrats will “go too far and abuse oversight powers.” They opted for the former, 51 percent to 42 percent. That nine-point gap is a steady increase over what it was in December and November 2018.
    posted by T.D. Strange at 6:08 AM on April 24 [12 favorites]


    In other morning-tweet news...

    This was the point of "alternative facts" folks
    posted by thelonius at 6:11 AM on April 24 [2 favorites]


    In case anybody is wondering what the ARMED SOLDIERS yammering was about:

    Two U.S. soldiers stopped in Texas by Mexican troops who thought they crossed the border (Mark Ramirez, Dallas Morning News)
    posted by mcdoublewide at 6:25 AM on April 24 [10 favorites]


    So, Mexican troops enforcing the border even more stringently (considering the US troops hadn't actually crossed the border) is Mexican troops not doing enough to enforce the border.
    posted by emelenjr at 6:34 AM on April 24 [10 favorites]


    In other morning-tweet news

    Media Matter's Matt Gertz connects @realDonaldTrump's morning rant about "no Crimes by me at all" and "I DID NOTHING WRONG" with a Fox & Friends segment "Dems Divided: Impeach or Investigate?" (video). Their talking points are "it's political, and the politics are the Democrats would like revenge for the fact that Donald Trump won" because the Mueller report totally cleared Trump. This is what the rightwing news bubble sounds like—no wonder even the most vulnerable GOP incumbents are staying loyal to Trump (Politico).

    As for the "Dems Divided on Impeachment" theme, the Toronto Star's Daniel Dale on his new article, Democratic Leaders Remain Reluctant To Impeach Trump: "I contacted Democratic county chairs around the U.S. to ask them about impeachment. The main response was concern about backlash. Of 12 who got back to me, 7 said don't do it, 4 said more evidence is needed, 1 said she'd do it but has apprehensions[.] There was a consensus that Trump had committed impeachable offences, but lots of skepticism that it's the right thing to do given Trump's talent for using perceived victimhood. One said impeachment would be obvious in a "fully functioning democracy," but not in the current U.S. Polls suggest that Democratic voters are generally supportive of impeachment, so don't treat local party activist-officials as broadly representative. But it was interesting."
    posted by Doktor Zed at 6:37 AM on April 24 [14 favorites]


    Also FWIW, that border incident with the Mexican soldiers apparently took place on April 13. Must just happen to be a dire emergency today for... some reason.
    posted by Rykey at 6:55 AM on April 24 [13 favorites]


    It'd sure be nifty if there were some Democrats with power that had grasped we are in a completely different information environment than we were when Clinton was president. The longer they let Trump control the news cycle the more difficult it becomes to do anything constructive since they're always having to play catch up because they're reacting instead of instigating and controlling events and perception of them. If the demented troll occupying the White House gets this, the one thing he does seem to clearly understand, you'd think it'd be obvious to everyone, but some of the party seems to not have gotten the memo.
    posted by gusottertrout at 6:59 AM on April 24 [30 favorites]


    In the name of research, I watched morning Fox. Wow. In 30 minutes, I annotated 16 cases of intentional disinformation, four cases where nlp type triggering language was used, and a significant semantic load in almost every sentence uttered by the talking heads. Fox News, assuming we all survive, is going to make a stunning PhD project on how propaganda became mainstream for some future anthropologist.
    posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 7:02 AM on April 24 [32 favorites]


    McConnell vows to block Democratic proposals after 2020 elections: "Think of me as the Grim Reaper" (Igor Derysh, Salon) - It's an ironic turn for a Republican who just weeks earlier complained of “historic obstruction” by Democrats
    McConnell told constituents in Owensboro, Kentucky, that none of the proposals would come to pass if he is still in power in 2021. […]

    "Are we going to turn this into a socialist country? Don't assume it cannot happen," he added. "If I'm still the majority leader of the Senate, think of me as the 'Grim Reaper.' None of that stuff is going to pass – none of it." […]

    McConnell, who is among 22 Republicans vying for reelection next year, told reporters earlier this month that he wants to make the 2020 elections a “referendum on socialism,” because he believes it will help the party win over voters, according to The Hill. But public opinion polls suggest Republicans may be overplaying their hand.

    Polling on the Green New Deal, which seeks to phase out fossil fuels, provide guaranteed clean energy jobs and a $15 minimum wage with health care benefits and collective bargaining rights, among other things, shows that the idea does not provoke the anti-socialist backlash McConnell and Republicans think.

    According to a survey from Data for Progress and Civis Analytics, 46 percent of voters back the Green