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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Three reasons why I don't believe Mueller will ever officially investigate "obstruction" against Trump...

Let's start with the semantics here.

Some media reports are claiming that the Special Counsel investigation has moved into whether or not Donald Trump committed obstruction over statements he made to James Comey regarding General Flynn. We can safely assume that such reports are tied to General Flynn and not the overall investigation, as the FBI Directory, the Director of National Intelligence, and the NSA director have all testified under oath that there was never any pressure from Trump to stop the probe into Russian interference. In fact, Comey testified that Trump encouraged him to find out if any of his associates were tied to any Russian interference. So that only leaves the Flynn situation as a possible area of investigation.

However, Trumps attorneys stated that he is "not" under investigation over possible obstruction charges, or anything else for that matter.

So how can you reconcile the two? Simple. Whatever it is that the media has heard from their unnamed sources obviously does not include any target letters, warrants, subpoenas, or anything else that would "officially" put Trump under investigation. I believe it is doubtful that it would ever come to that for three specific reasons.

First... what exactly is there to investigate? The facts of what happened don't appear to be very much in dispute. The only disputes comes from whether or not there is constitutional grounds to say a President can obstruct justice by making suggestions to a subordinate, as well as the larger questions as to what "motivation" the President might have had at the time he made the request. Short of President keeping some incriminating notes with ulterior motives spelled out, or fantasizing that he might confess under questioning to some corrupt motive, I don't know what you are going to get from officially targeting the President.

In other words, if you want to figure out if there was a motive for the President to end the investigation into General Flynn, then you will find that motive by continuing your investigation into General Flynn. As has been pointed out by many people, there is a requirement to prove a corrupt motive for obstruction before you can really prove obstruction. That won't be found specifically by going after the President, but by figuring out what (if anything) about the Flynn investigation that the President would not want uncovered.

Secondly... opening up an official investigation of obstruction by the President would put Mueller into dangerous territory in terms of conflict of interest. There are already questions from the right in regards to the team that Mueller is setting up.  But if he were to specifically open up an investigation into "obstruction" then his friendship with Comey comes into play, as well as his own interview with Trump for the possible replacement of Comey. As it stands, if Trump provided Mueller with any information as to why he fired Comey and what he was looking for in terms of a replacement, then Mueller could effectively be a witness in any obstruction case that involves the firing of James Comey.

I simply do not believe that Mueller would put himself into a position where he would be questioned over this, and possibly provide Rosenstein with justification to remove him as the Special Counsel. It isn't enough for Mueller to demand he can remain neutral, but rather all it would take for Mueller to be asked to recuse himself (or step away) would be "the appearance" that he could not be neutral. When investigating obstruction charges that might boil down to who you believe, I would think that having a friendship with one of the parties qualifies as providing that "appearance". Ultimately whether that appearance exists could be the call of Rosenstein (or whoever is in the chain of command), if Mueller himself refuses to make it.

Lastly... there is a longstanding legal standing that Presidents cannot be indicted while in office. The constitutional means to prosecute a President for high crimes and misdemeanors is impeachment proceedings from the House and subsequent removal by a two thirds vote in the Senate. This doesn't mean that special counsel would not be allowed to investigate and report to Congress on it's findings, but we all know that impeachment has become more of a political than a legal process. More to the point, obstruction in this case seems more like a philosophical constitutional question, as well as ultimately a judgement call. With as many lawyers there are in Congress, I doubt Mueller's opinion would sway many of them, making the rate of return for this sort of investigation pretty low.

This low rate of return has to be weighed against the probability that such a side investigation could have overall negative political consequences to the broader investigation taking place, up to and including recusal for Mueller himself . I could be wrong, but I don't see the motivation.

23 comments:

Curious, James said...

This really worries you, doesn't it?

gentle, good hearted James said...

Is this why?

... special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Trump’s inner circle for financial crimes. This aggressive shift toward Trump associates’ personal dealings is disastrous news for the president, his allies, and his enablers. At long last, federal investigators will probe Trump’s sprawling network for wrongdoing, picking up where reporters left off, only this time with subpoena power. And Trump can only stop them by firing Mueller—a blatant obstruction of justice that would likely be more damaging than any crime the president may have committed in the past.

In fairness, we still know little about what potential misconduct investigators are scrutinizing. But we know nothing they find is liable to be good news for Trump. The Post revealed that, in addition to exploring obstruction of justice, Mueller’s team is “looking for any evidence of possible financial crimes among Trump associates.” The Times elaborated that Mueller’s investigation “was looking at money laundering” among Trump’s inner circle in the form of a “financial payoff” from Russian officials routed “through offshore banking centers.”

These inquiries are bound to draw Mueller deeper into the details of the Trump family’s business empire. And even if they do not reveal outright collusion with Russia, they will allow Mueller to study complex transactions conducted behind closed doors with little oversight. Mueller can depose witnesses, subpoena records (including tax returns), and interview the president himself under oath. His skilled staff can pursue multiple leads and offer immunity to witnesses who are willing to talk. The special counsel can follow the breadcrumbs of criminality wherever they lead him, even if—especially if—they lead to the Oval Office.

And what, exactly, will Mueller find now that he has substantially broadened the scope of his investigation? It’s impossible to say, but easy to speculate. Reporters have already uncovered an astonishing amount of disturbing information about Trump. There’s the Azerbaijan hotel project propped up by graft and bribery with ties to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. The charitable foundation accused of self-dealing and tax fraud. The questionable Deutsche Bank loans with ties to Moscow. The close association with allegedly criminal international companies. The journalists chasing these leads have hit snags, obstacles, and insurmountable walls, leading to stories that suggest the possibility of law-breaking but end with lingering uncertainty. Mueller need not put up with such stonewalling. He has the tools to dig much deeper.

james said...

June 18, 2017 at 8:25 PM

James said...
continued from SLATE:

Trump is now in a painful position: Either allow the investigation to continue and risk exposure of his possible criminality or fire Mueller and weather the resulting political catastrophe. Trump has already entertained the idea of terminating the special counsel. Although his advisers talked the president out of it for now, his surrogates have begun spreading anti-Mueller talking points—a coordinated effort to smear the special counsel that seems designed to preserve the possibility of his firing. Kellyanne Conway claimed Mueller’s team opposed Trump’s presidency, while Newt Gingrich insisted Mueller is “setting up a dragnet of obstruction” aimed at “undermining and crippling the Trump presidency.” Trump himself has tweeted that Mueller’s investigation is “the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history- led by some very bad and conflicted people!”

If Trump does fire Mueller, he will prove that he truly is terrified to have his past inspected by law enforcement—so terrified that he’d be willing to spark an enormous political firestorm. It’s not clear, however, that terminating Mueller would help Trump in any way. Trump thought he could stop the Russia investigation by firing FBI Director James Comey, going so far as to tell Russian officials that Comey’s termination would solve the problem. But it only saddled Trump with Mueller.

Sacking Mueller would end the special counsel investigation, at least temporarily. It would also constitute a clear case of obstruction of justice, one that would instigate an immediate, immense outcry. Washington would screech to a halt; any hope of passing health care or tax cuts would vanish. Republicans, no longer able to squeeze their agenda through to Trump’s desk, would see little reason to continue propping up the president. New investigations would follow, focusing squarely on an impeachable offense that Trump committed in broad daylight.

That is the dilemma that Trump faces: Answer for his old crimes, or commit a new one. Neither option will allow him to get to the business of governing; both pave the way to impeachment if the GOP grows frustrated by the lack of legislative progress. Mueller’s deepening dragnet has greatly increased the likelihood the president will face real consequences for his actions. We don’t yet know what those consequences look like. But they seem to be fast approaching.
SLATE

C.H. Truth said...

If it's written in Slate.com it must be true.

Amused, James said...

Are you saying that all that is made up?

C.H. Truth said...

Well James who else is reporting it?

Washington Post (with more unnamed sources) reported last week that they were looking at the finances of Jared Kushner. The lawyer for Kushner denied that they have been targeted, the DOJ warned people not to take these reports seriously, and the spokesman for Mueller implied that these reports did not come from anyone from within their investigation.

Roger Amick said...

Your constant stream of Trumpism, is getting worse. Geez it's like he's your God.

I was often accused of being deranged by admiration of Barack Obama.

Are criticized in more often than you think but I cannot believe what you doing the last year or so it's just I'm really sorry Scott but it's just nuts.

Commonsense said...

Democrats are lost in the wilderness and they're not getting out anytime soon.

I haven't seen such a mass suicide since Jonesville.

rrb said...

Blogger C.H. Truth said...
If it's written in Slate.com it must be true.
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

slate is my go-to site for the most childish take on what's happening in the country on any given day. for it to get any more childish it would have to be written in crayon.



rrb said...

Roger Amick said...
Your constant stream of Trumpism, is getting worse. Geez it's like he's your God.

I was often accused of being deranged by admiration of Barack Obama.

Are criticized in more often than you think but I cannot believe what you doing the last year or so it's just I'm really sorry Scott but it's just nuts.
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

hang in there alky. there's hope yet that scotty and the rest of us might someday tire of all this winning.

in the meantime i think your best bet is to get an early jump on the "Ossoff for President in 2020" meme. the kid shows promise, and with the right amount of money and the right amount of left wing violence and attempted murder, there's no telling how high he can go.

i mean, what's not to like about him? he has the classic pajama boy good looks, all the charm of your standard park slope brooklyn hipster douchebag, and the worldly experience and political acumen of your run of the mill sjw college snowflake.

now THAT'S a recipe for success any way you cut it. just make sure you keep nancy pelosi in charge of the effort and the sky is the limit!

Roger Amick said...

No reply means as much as the s*** of flipped flush down the toilet last night

C.H. Truth said...

Yes Roger...

It's obvious one of us has an irrational emotional issue with the Donald Trump Presidency. You just keep thinking it's me, if it makes you feel better.

caliphate4vr said...

Who's the special needs kid Roger has as his icon? Whomever it is appears to be suffering from Hydrocephalus

reminds me of this scene

James said...

CS said: I haven't seen such a mass suicide since Jonesville.
____________
Take a look at the GOP Senate Health Care Bill for another one.

48% negative to 16% for it. A real throat cutter.

Commonsense said...

Doing nothing is not an option anymore. Obamacare is crashing.

And it's your party that will be forever blamed for passing this mess to begin with.

James said...

Hate to tell you, but your side owns it now.

Most of the industrialized nations manage to have sensible healthcare for their citizens. Republicans have done hardly anything but obstruct. In spite of that, Obama and the Dems have signaled they are in favor of improving what now is.

Insurance companies are saying that problems are emerging due to the uncertainties caused by Trump. Even he won't come right out and endorse the Senate bill.

Yep. Your side owns it now.

James said...

GOP Health Bill Is Overwhelmingly Unpopular

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that by a 3-to-1 margin, the American public holds a negative view of the American Health Care Act, 48% to 16%.
___________
16%? WOW.
__________

Headline, politicalwire.com
Abortion Provision Could Derail the GOP Health Bill

_________
48% to 16%.
I guess the dogs don't like that dog food.
____________

White House won't commit to Trump support for Senate health care bill

The White House refused to commit on Thursday as to whether President Donald Trump will support the Senate’s newly revealed bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Trump has already called at least one senator to find out if he could be persuaded to support the bill, and lawmakers said the White House offered advice during the drafting process. But on Thursday, the White House would not give the bill — which was forged largely behind closed doors and could be voted on as soon as next week — a ringing endorsement.
____________

Trump says "it's going to be good" but refuses to give it a ringing endorsement.
__________

C.H. Truth said...
A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that by a 3-to-1 margin, the American public holds a negative view of the American Health Care Act, 48% to 16%.

Considering the Senate bill wasn't introduced till today, still has to go through committee, and not even most of the Senate has read it...

That just means that 64% of the public have an opinion about something that they know nothing about...

James said...
I think they heard something about what it does to Medicare.

James said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Commonsense said...

Hate to tell you, but your side owns it now.

Do you really think people will forget what you did to them just because you lost?

Think again. Your party will be forever despised for screwing up the healthcare system.

KD said...

Think again. Your party will be forever despised for screwing up the healthcare system. " CS

You are talking to JANE, their is zero chance he understands what your saying.

I know that my rates have more then doubled and my deductible is 3 times as high as it was before Obama Screwed the working/earning class of America.

KD, Got Letter Jane? said...

James said...
I think they heard something about what it does to Medicare."

The Expert Jane will now tell us what does the US Senate suggestion do to medicare?

Indy Voter said...

You left out "Trump will fire him."

There are no Elliott Richardsons in this administration, I fear.

wphamilton said...

One reason he will: Robert Mueller has a history of investigating obstruction charges, many of them on shaky grounds and without legal success. This is his meat and potatoes. I'd say it's dead certain, although there may be no official pronouncements.