Clearly, I don’t have to re-cover what has been occupying the news, columnists, and opinion writers for three days. And with so many long topics to cover, I just wanted to present my short opinions.
First of all, I got up to watch Barr’s rosy half hour news conference, and I was totally convinced that Trump was cleared of collusion with Russian election interference, and any attempt to interfere with the Mueller investigation. Then the report came out, and it had no connection with the Barr summary as far as obstruction went.
While Trump’s troops did not attain collusion with Russia, the 101 contacts known from before are highly unusual, and many of them were not initially reported on applications for White House security clearances. There was also Manafort removing Russian sanctions from the Republican platform. Then, Trump gave away Crimea and Eastern Ukraine negotiation points by unnecessarily saying that since people in those regions spoke Russian, that Russia could rule them. This is despite the fact that there are sizeable minorities, and there was never a UN supervised mandate or vote. Trump also gave away the Baltic states, although only Eastern Estonia has a Russian population.
Trump praised Wikileaks many times after the publication of stolen, Democratic National Committee and DNCC fundraising emails, and the Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta’s emails. Trump has never admitted that Russia illegally hacked these emails. Any decent Presidential candidate would have denounced Russia for the illegal thefts and publication, and promised severe sanctions if they continued publishing them, since they only slowly leaked them out. But not Trump. In fact, Trump has never backed sanctions on Russia and never criticized Putin. Then there was Trump’s “Please, Mr. Putin, if you are listening” request to release Clinton’s erased personal emails. It was never said as a joke or considered one until Sarah spun it as one recently.
It is clear in the report that Trump asked everybody to fire Mueller, or Sessions, or Rosenstein, but they all refused. That is Trump maintaining Plausible Deniability on everything improper that he does. Trying to obstruct justice is a crime, even if you do not succeed. Remember, even, that Cohen said that Trump doesn’t have to tell you outright what he wants you to do, you just know it. So it is hard to prove his seeking or attaining collusion with Russia on election interference. However, his welcoming of Russia’s illegal actions are equivalent to active collusion, and shows tremendous intent to collude, and I would say that Trump has thereby colluded on the election interference.
As things stand, there is no possibility of getting the two thirds vote in the Senate to convict and remove Trump. However, it only takes a majority vote in the House Judiciary committee to file impeachment charges, and only a majority in the Democratic House to impeach and pass the charges on for a trial in the Senate. Also, the Bill Clinton’s impeachment did not help the Republicans, so Democrats are not considering it a useful action, with just less than two years left. There is also VP Pence to replace Trump, which many people are worried about. There is only a slight possibility of getting Trump’s taxes or bank records through all of the blocks that Trump is using, especially now that he has Attorney General Barr and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin blocking for him, as well as today’s threat to sue Deutsche Bank if they accede to the House request. In any case, Trump’s core is loyal, and believes in the Fake News claims.
William Barr has only been Attorney General for a month, and he has already twice derailed the Mueller report with his four page summary, and then his misleading news conference completely clearing Trump, which the report did not do. He also staged its release before a distracting holiday weekend. However, it is the weekend that people think about religion and morality. I think that is not the best weekend in this case.
Trump had the firing of AG Jeff Sessions, and appointment of Barr, lined up just to intercept the Mueller report. Barr did the most that he could do, and everything was hunky-dory. But I knew, that Trump would blow it by tweeting in short order. Nobody knew how much the report would be a downer on Trump’s dishonesty and obsession with ending the investigation. Mueller’s attack on Trump was much worse than Comey’s unusual attack on an innocent Hillary Clinton over her private email server. So Trump is throwing out the successful coverup, and raving about Spying and Treason.
My fear is that this is just the start of the Barr power play that Trump can do no wrong. I am worried over National Emergencies and Pardons and other Trump newly acquired powers, as well as collusion with the AG on persecutions and prosecutions for political purposes. I am also worried about Trump and the AG securing as much voting interference for Republicans in the election. I doubt if the DOJ will try to impose more restraints on Russian election interference. Finally, I am worried that Trump and Barr may collude to block the fair election results if Trump is defeated.
Update: apparently Trump goes berserk if anybody brings up blocking Russian election interference. So nobody does, and there is no coordinated effort to do so.