Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Due Process

I made the mistake of watching the Mueller testimony on NBC this morning, and so was forced to hear Jake Tapper yammering about the “vast right wing propaganda machine” afterward. Fortunately, I had already finished my coffee by the time he came up with that one. I also got to hear about the Democrats on the panel, “failing to counter falsehoods from the Republicans” on the panel.

Here are some of the “falsehoods” that the Democrats “failed to counter.” I would actually have enjoyed seeing them try.

One Republican questioned why Mueller had gone to such a major effort to say that the investigation was unable to prove beyond doubt that Trump was innocent of obstruction of justice. Given that our system of justice requires a prosecutor to investigate and prove guilt, not innocence, because the latter is presumed, it was strange for the report to declare that, “If we had found enough evidence to declare him innocent, we would have said so.” In fact, no such evidence is actually needed.

He went on to refute Mueller’s claim that the investigation could not make a determination of guilt or innocence because of an OLC policy that a sitting president cannot be indicted, given that Mueller had made a determination on the issue of complicity with Russian meddling in the election. Claiming that the OLC memo permitted Mueller to make a decision one issue but prohibited him from doing so on another issue is indefensible.

Another Republican made the point that even if Trump did interfere with Mueller, he was not obstructing justice since what Mueller was doing was not justice. Given that Trump knew that he had not been complicit with the Russians, he was actually trying to prevent Mueller from perpetrating an injustice. I’m not sure there’s a valid legal point here, but for someone who thinks of justice in terms of right versus wrong… I’d say the Democrats were wise not to argue this point.

Yet another Republican pointed out that Mueller’s report acknowledged that Joseph Mifsud lied to the investigation not once, but at least three times, but that he was never charged with lying to investigators. Most of the people who were indicted were indicted for lying, but Mifsud, who started the whole “collusion” mess, was never charged for lying. This questioner wanted to know why, which Mueller refused to say, and suggested that it was because Mifsud was actually a founder of the conspiracy to begin with.

Democrats beat the drum endlessly about Trump’s efforts to fire Mueller, or have him removed, but even Mueller admitted that firing the head of the investigation would not have stopped the investigation. He admitted that he himself interviewed “very few” of the witnesses, so it’s pretty hard to say that firing him would even have hindered the investigation. It’s pretty hard to claim Trump's animus for Mueller as “obstruction,” then, and no one even claims that Trump tried to disband the investigation itself.

Democrats were the ones more prone to introducing falsehoods, with several of them charging Trump with witness tampering based on phrases including things that “could support an inference” of some evil intent or another. Let me repeat that concept upon which they want to convict President Trump, namely that something could support an inference that…”

We don’t need no steenkin’ “due process.”

Mueller was all over the place with his inability to charge Trump with obstruction of justice. First he said that it was due to an OLC memo that a sitting president cannot be indicted. The implication of that seemed to be that if he was not president he would have been indicted, which caused him to get that “deer in the headlights" look and stammer out a different answer.

The second answer was that due to that memo he could not even evaluate the evidence as to whether or not it constituted a crime. If he concluded that it did, said so, and did not indict, it would be unfair because in effect the president would be charged but would not be able to defend himself in court.

(That sort of conflicts with the fact that he did evaluate the evidence on “collusion” and say there wasn’t enough to indict. It also begs the question of why, if you cannot even evaluate the evidence, are you spending two years and tens of millions of dollars collecting it?)

Anyway, his thing about self defense sounds very noble, but he seems perfectly okay with accumulating as much garbage as he can and dumping it out for public consumption and then pulling a Pontius Pilate by washing his hands and saying, “Here it is, and I’m not going to comment on whether he’s a crook or not. Hint, hint hint, wink wink.”

Which sounds impartial, but actually makes him an asshole.

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