18 April, 2019

Mueller Report

Still browsing the Mueller report. A few tentative conclusions:

(1) Mueller and his group were very professional, and thorough;
(2) The report _would_ have drawn conclusions, but the Office of Legal Council prohibits him from inditing a sitting president. It said that if the weight of the evidence exonerated the president on any charge, they would have said so. They didn't. The best other option was to say they couldn't clear him, they've accumulated significant evidence, and it's up to other people (read: Congress, or other investigators) to take the next step;
(3) The Russian operation to undermine and interfere with the election of 2016 was originally to (a) sow confusion, divide Americans, and wreck American democracy, and (b) keep Hillary Clinton out of the White House. This began long before Trump declared himself a candidate;
(4) The Russians quickly recognized that there was no better disruptor, and no greater threat to American democracy, than Donald J. Trump. They quickly shifted the majority of their support to him;
(5) Trump and people in his circle (including, but not limited to, the official campaign), had long-standing communications and connections to people in the Russian state (both the government and the Oligarchs). Russia saw Trump as someone they could work with for mutual benefit;
(6) There is not sufficient evidence to charge criminal conspiracy in this matter. There didn't _need_ to be a criminal agreement. Russia was doing what it did for its own reasons, the Trump campaign was aware of it, and Trump's people (especially Manafort) were providing information to help them do it.
(7) Manafort was already involved as an agent of Russia for years prior to the Trump campaign. His job, in part, was to install leaders in Western countries who would serve Russian interests. Getting Trump elected was part of his job even before he joined the campaign;
(8) The president actively tried to block the Mueller investigation. He was blocked at several points by his own people. He succeeded occasionally. Either way, he committed several acts of obstruction of justice. Since the OLC prohibits indictments of a sitting president, he passed the evidence to people to do whatever they chose to do next.

A few speculations:
(1) The House can start impeachment proceedings. At the very least, they can open and expand multiple investigations;
(2) If the House has a vote, they will likely impeach the president. It's a political question;
(3) Making it an official impeachment proceeding would probably make it easier to get desired evidence, but once they get the evidence the House may choose not to impeach if they don't want the trial in an election year;
(4) There are no known "tapes" or "smoking guns" to force Republicans to abandon the president. Without that, and with the role of Trumpanistias in the Republican Party, it's unlikely that Trump will be be convicted in the Senate. If there is a major shift in the Senate after the 2020 Senate, but Trump is re-elected, the vote might go the other way.
(5) Whether or not Trump is impeached, he is vulnerable in other ways. He is already an unindicted co-conspirator in one Federal proceeding, and is vulnerable to indictment at the State level today and the Federal level after he leaves office.
(6) Eventually, Trump will be in court. Once there, he will lose. While he may or may not be removed from office, it increasingly looks like

Actually, I don't expect him to die in prison. Manafort will (and deservedly so). Trump will suffer some punishment--loss of properties, perhaps some loss of freedom--but (if he isn't pardoned in the interest of ending the agony) he'll eventually be out. Much as I'd like to see him without money, and without any hope of getting a loan, it's likely he will still have fans stupid and numerous enough to keep enough of the cash flowing to allow him to live in upper-class prosperity. And he'll find someone to ghost-write his version of events. But compared to where he's been, and where he's claimed to be, he'll be just another "loser." He'll find it hard to cope with that, so he'll probably do his best to ignore it. Given his talent for seeing only what he wants to see, plus his age, he may spend his declining years pretending to be "the president," surrounded by a staff that encourages that illusion.

Not that different than today.