Mueller report: Eight things we only just learned

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation paints a decidedly mixed picture of President Donald Trump’s conduct, that provides ample fodder for either side of the political divide.

The 448-page report on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US election confirmed what Mr Trump has insisted on from the outset: there was no collusion.

The inquiry also built an extensive obstruction-of-justice case against the Republican president, though it stopped short of concluding he committed a crime.

While there was no immediate “smoking gun” to trigger impeachment proceedings, Democrats said the report had plenty of ammunition to keep up congressional scrutiny of Mr Trump.

‘This is the end of my presidency’

The report details the president’s expletive-filled horror as he learned that a special counsel was being appointed in May 2017.

According to the Mueller report, when then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions told the president about the coming inquiry, he replied: “Oh my god. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency.” I’m FUCKED !!!

Mr Trump added: “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.”

‘Mueller has to go’

The Mueller report details how in June 2017, the president called White House counsel Donald McGahn at home from Camp David and ordered him to have the special counsel removed.

On a second call, Mr McGahn said the president stepped up the pressure, saying: “Call Rod [Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein], tell Rod that Mueller has conflicts and can’t be the Special Counsel”, and “Mueller has to go” and “Call me back when you do it.”

Mr McGahn was so upset by the interference that he threatened to quit rather than participate in what he predicted would be a Nixon-style “Saturday Night Massacre”.

After media reports in January 2018 revealed Mr Trump’s attempts to have Mr Mueller removed, one of the president’s lawyers made contact with Mr McGahn, asking him to publicly deny the reports. But McGahn, through his attorney, refused.

No collusion

The report found there were a number of contacts between members of Trump’s circle and Russia, and the campaign “expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts”.

The Trump team also “showed interest” in the Wikileaks release of hacked emails and “welcomed their potential to damage” Hillary Clinton. Unpatriotic and immoral, Democrats say. But the Mueller team makes clear it did not amount to a criminal conspiracy.

“The Russian contacts consisted of business connections, offers of assistance to the campaign, invitations for candidate Trump and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin to meet in person, invitations for campaign officials and representatives of the Russian government to meet, and policy positions seeking improved US-Russian relations.

“While the investigation identified numerous links between individuals with ties to the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign, the evidence was not sufficient to support criminal charges.

But no vindication on obstruction

On potential obstruction of justice, the Mueller report is far from the “total exoneration” claimed by Mr Trump during a victory lap last month.

The report ultimately concludes: “Unlike cases in which a subject engages in obstruction of justice to cover up a crime, the evidence we obtained did not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference.”

But it also pointedly notes:

“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, however, we are unable to reach that judgment. The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred.”

While the report acknowledges a sitting president cannot be indicted, it also mentions Congress’ ability to investigate and potentially impeach him.

It says: “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.”

How else Trump tried to influence inquiry

The report cites 10 instances that were investigated as potential obstruction by Mr Trump.

Most have already been well documented, such as Mr Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey.

But the findings also validate past US media reports that were denied at the time by the White House.

When Mr Trump learned the media was asking questions about a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between senior campaign officials, including Donald Trump Jr, and a Russian lawyer who was said to be promising “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, the president crafted a misleading response, says the report:

“Before the emails became public, the President edited a press statement for Trump Jr by deleting a line that acknowledged that the meeting was with ‘an individual who [Trump Jr] was told might have information helpful to the campaign’ and instead said only that the meeting was about adoptions of Russian children.”

Mr Trump also asked former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to get Attorney General Jeff Sessions to announce publicly that the investigation was “very unfair” and Mr Trump had done nothing wrong, says the report.

After Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation, leaving an enraged Mr Trump feeling that he was losing control of the inquiry, the president pressed his attorney general that if he would only “unrecuse” himself he would be the “hero”.

Refusal to ‘carry out orders’

The Mueller report found that potential obstruction of justice by the president only failed because members of his administration refused to “carry out orders”, including former FBI Director James Comey, former White House counsel Don McGahn and former campaign manager Corey Lewandowksi.

In one unflattering passage, the document says:

“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. Comey did not end the investigation of Flynn, which ultimately resulted in Flynn’s prosecution and conviction for lying to the FBI. McGahn did not tell the Acting Attorney General that the Special Counsel must be removed, but was instead prepared to resign over the President’s order. Lewandowski and Dearborn did not deliver the President’s message to Sessions that he should confine the Russia investigation to future election meddling only. And McGahn refused to recede from his recollections about events surrounding the President’s direction to have the Special Counsel removed, despite the President’s multiple demands that he do so. Consistent with that pattern, the evidence we obtained would not support potential obstruction charges against the President’s aides and associates beyond those already filed.”

‘Inadequate written answers’

Close followers of the Mueller saga may recall that in January 2018 at the White House, President Trump told reporters that he was “looking forward” to sitting down for an interview with Mr Mueller, that he would “love to do that as soon as possible”, and boasted he would do so under oath.

But in the event, the report notes, “after more than a year of discussion, the President declined to be interviewed”.

He agreed to submit written answers to the special counsel’s questions to Russia-related matters, but declined to “provide written answers to questions on obstruction topics or questions on events during his transition”, the report notes.

The Mueller report states: “Recognizing that the President would not be interviewed voluntarily, we considered whether to subpoena for his testimony. We viewed his written answers to be inadequate.”

But the Mueller team said they ultimately decided not to subpoena Mr Trump because of the likelihood of litigation would cause a substantial delay at a late stage in the inquiry.

Why Sessions, Trump Jr and Kushner weren’t prosecuted

The Mueller team did not indict then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions for perjury to Congress when he wrongly testified that he had no contact with Russians during the campaign because of the inexact wording of the questions, according to the report.

“The evidence is not sufficient to prove that Sessions gave knowingly false answers to Russia-related questions in light of the wording and context of those questions,” the report says.

It also makes clear Donald Trump Jr, Jared Kushner and other campaign staff were on legally thin ice with their June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer.

The Mueller team says they declined to prosecute the president’s eldest son and son-in-law for campaign finance violations because they couldn’t prove they had “wilfully” violated the law.

When Honesty Dies …

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Yes folks, the President of the United States is a criminal. But many knew this before he ever took office. The Office of the President of the United States has been irrevocably tarnished and denigrated.

The Hallowed Office that We The People own, is inhabited, right now, by a man who believes that Truth is not Truth, that alternative facts run the day, and that firing government employees and revoking security clearances, just out of spite, is just a natural thing he can do, with impunity.

Where are the values of Honesty, Integrity and Humility ?

I believe they are dead on arrival.

I have a basic set of morals and values that I ascribe to. I do my best at being honest in all my affairs. I work daily on integrity, and I strive for humility. Sadly, some do not see life in this same way.

Where are the men of honesty, integrity and humility ? Our government has failed us at every turn. They have stuck their heads in the sand, and hands over their eyes, and fingers in their ears.

It seems that if they do not acknowledge that something is seriously wrong with the current state of affairs, then, they don’t have to act to correct these critical government imbalances.

The President has lost his mind. He is erratic and unhinged, as some have already posited. Last night, well, early on yesterday I was watching my regular political fare and I watched as the day progressed and news was broke, all at the same hour, in two different cities and states. At 4 pm yesterday, the bottom fell out and we learned some hard truths about the man, many elected into office.

Not that we did not know what was going on, but without factual proof, as many really need to make an informed decision, but it is what it is. Now we know for sure that Michael Cohen, acted, and committed Federal Crimes at the direction of “the candidate” to pay off two women who had sexual affairs, the reason he paid off these women was for one fact …

TO INFLUENCE THE ELECTION OF THE CANDIDATE.

 

We not only have Russian Collusion to think about, we have a man, who at the behest of his boss, (said candidate) shut two women up from speaking up, so that the (so-called candidate) could win the election.

The Access Hollywood tape was just the tip of the iceberg. And the Teflon Don, survived that little burp on his timeline. But I wonder, if the Teflon coating on the Donald’s head has not worn off, and that maybe somebody in the government goes to the Oval Office and says to the President, Well, Mr. President, I THINK IT IS TIME TO GO …

WE HAVE A VOICE, WHEN IT COMES TO GOVERNMENT. AND THAT VOICE IS CALLED A VOTE. TOO MANY PEOPLE, IN 2016 CHOSE NOT TO VOTE, JUST BECAUSE. I GET IT, THE ELECTION WAS A REFERENDUM ON THE LESSER OF TWO EVILS.

BUT COME ON, NOW DO YOU SEE, DONALD TRUMP IS NOW THE GREATER OF THE TWO EVILS, WHEN YOU STOP AND THINK ABOUT IT ?

IF YOU DO NOT VOTE, YOU CANNOT COMPLAIN ABOUT THE RESULTS.

WE CANNOT AFFORD APATHY ANY LONGER. WE MUST ACT AS A UNIFIED PEOPLE, WHO NEED TO GET OUT IN NOVEMBER AND FUCKING VOTE.

GET OFF YOUR SOFAS, PUT DOWN YOUR BEERS AND GUNS AND DRAG YOUR ASS TO TO A VOTING BOOTH AND PUT DEMOCRATS INTO THE SYSTEM.

BECAUSE IF THE DEMOCRATS WIN ENOUGH SEATS, IMPEACHMENT IS ON THE TABLE FOR GOD DAMNED SURE

The integrity of the Oval Office ha been ruined and the only way to remove Donald Trump is to vote senators and representatives who will have the power to impeach him out of office. If he does not just up and quit under the immense pressure he is under right now.

We Must Act. There is no greater crisis than the one we are living at the present moment.

USE YOUR VOICE AND GO VOTE.

IF YOU VALUE YOUR COUNTRY AND THE MAN WHO OCCUPIES THE OVAL OFFICE, YOU WILL DO WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE, ONCE AND FOR ALL.

Monday: DENIAL is not a River in Egypt

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The book says that “The only thing that has to change in sobriety, is Everything.”

The book also says that “Anything you put before your sobriety will fail, that sobriety must come first, even if we think it doesn’t have to be.”

They say that “Once you take away the drugs and alcohol, and we sober up, we learn that we begin to FEEL. The question is, what do we do with these feelings?”

A meeting that falls after something tragic, or politically charged, is hard. Because people are trying to figure out what they do with their fear, or their sorrow, or their pain, or their anger or their rage?

My friends are trying to navigate that fine line between Chaos and Order. To navigate being Responsible, or to deciding not to be responsible. That is the fine line we walk, in the rooms.

When we get sober, and we leave behind the chaos that followed us around for all the years we drank and used, order comes. This usually throws people off.

  • What do I do with that order?
  • How do I engage,
  • How do I become responsible, and finally,
  • What is my place in the grand scheme of things.

Nobody should ever tell you, inside a room, that what you feel is wrong, or irrational, or childish. Nobody should ever feel that they have to tone down their feelings when they are coming at you at 100 miles per hour.

A young lady I know, was in pieces tonight over all that has happened, here in Quebec, and worldwide. She needed to know what to do with her feelings, and how to deal with them…

Feelings come and go. And sometimes they are overwhelming. I know from emotional catastrophe. I also know what it felt like for someone to call me irrational during one of the hardest moments in my life, not so long ago.

I think, in my opinion, that we should feel what we feel, in whatever degree it comes to us. And when that happens, if we do this thing soberly … Depending on how much time you have, not to allow our feelings to push us out to either drink or use.

Having people around us when the waters are choppy are crucial, so that we are not alone in the boat, whilst navigating choppy seas.

  • I will stand with you, and allow you your space,
  • And I will support you,
  • In whatever way I can.

Pandora’s Box is open, and the Monster I warned everybody about is wreaking havoc in the United States. We must find a way to stop him.

Uncertainty rules the day. Fear is ruling the day as well. Sorrow has filled the hearts of many, because on Monday night, we meet in a church, INSIDE the church. Where we are safe, warm, and secure.

Last night, in a similar sacred space, the sanctity of life and the sanctity of the practice of religious faith was rocked with a deranged young boy, with Far Right leanings, a boy who WAS a Navy and then an Army Cadet …

A fucking Cadet … for God’s sake …

Walked into a prayer service and began shooting innocents. Six are dead, many more were injured, some critically. Reports are all over the map, so I stuck to the basics. But today I had to post the face of this young boy, one of our own Canadian boys, who lives in this free country, where he was educated and lived.

And in a split second he took on the role of Judge, Jury and Executioner …

It was not a Muslim man, perpetrating injustice on his own people, it was a Francophone CITIZEN who killed a handful of innocents.

If we deny what we feel,we minimize our own expressions of those feelings. Because for so long we drowned what we felt with booze and drugs. And now so many are in this place, of not knowing what to do with themselves, because we are all feeling a wide expanse of feelings …

Anger, Sorrow, Fear, Rage, just to name a few…

People are sad, people are angry, people do not know what to do with all that is going on in the world. And we also know, or will find out, that on a grand scale we are powerless to affect change or do anything but express how we feel, to whomever will listen.

We can attend memorials. We can march in the streets. We can sign petitions.

We can sit in our depth of feeling and let the water roll over us and take us and drown us, or we can allow the water to wash over us, and we learn what to do with what we are feeling in a positive and constructive way.

The only thing I can share with you is what I do when I am feeling any one of the above referenced feelings … I talk, I cry, I scream, I rage, then I write.

We must Stand as ONE, we must Speak as ONE, we must Act as ONE.

Defiantly.

To the bitter end.

We must not give up our rights or our freedoms, where ever you live, in what ever country or state. We must fight for our dignity, respect and rights of every human being, as the Constitution gives us as Citizens.

If the government thinks that they can just rip the Statue of Liberty off her plinth and forget the words etched on her tablet and spit in the face of the millions of people who passed by her looking for a better life, they are WRONG. Very WRONG.

Here in Canada, we must state categorically that we abhor violence and the killing of innocents. The houses of religious practice are sacred, and should be respected that way. Because if you come and taint our house of worship with your violence, you incur the wrath of the very God you seek to destroy.

We will punish you to the fullest extent of Canadian law.

We Remember, We Mourn, We Feel, We are Sad, and we are With You.

The killing of innocents is abhorrent.

The banning of people from achieving a safe, secure, and solid home, where they can live without war, suffering or hunger, is abominable.

Do You Hear Me Mr. Trump, It Is Abominable.

You are abominable.

Hear us, as we Speak, March and Rise as ONE.

We Will Never Be defeated. We Will Never Bow to Terror. We Will Stand up and be Counted.

We are Québécois, We are Canadians. We are Americans.

We Are the People.

 

No, Mr. Trump, One is Never too Many

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Post lifted from Carmi Levy. Written Inc. London, Ontario, Canada.

A number of my friends have better words than I could ever write.

Yesterday was Holocaust Memorial Day, and like many righteous folks – Jews and non-Jews alike – I felt the need to mark it in some way. Originally, it was a simple thing, really: A quick screen grab, shared to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, with a similarly simple set of hashtags:

#HolocaustMemorialDay #Holocaust #NeverAgain

However we choose to do so, we mark the day because failure to do so dishonours the memories of those who died simply because of who they were. As a Jew, it is my responsibility to shine the light on racism wherever I see it. Not only because of what happened – and continues to happen – to my own people. But to all others, as well. Because if we stand by in silence, we may as well be party to the atrocities in the first place. Until, of course, they come for us, too. Take your pick of identifiable groups – gays, Latinos, African-Americans, whoever – and think about how easy we make it for anyone to marginalize anyone else if we fail to step in. It doesn’t have to be directed at you for you to take action.

That should have been more than enough. But then the newly minted president (lower-case deliberate) of the United States, Donald Trump, signed another executive order (he really does love those things, doesn’t he?) banning anyone from seven Muslim-majority countries –  Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen – from entering the U.S. for at least the next 90 days. The order also indefinitely suspends Syrian refugees from coming to America, and also pauses the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days. That last program will be reinstated only following the implementation of a so-called “extreme vetting” process, and even then only for countries that meet the new administration’s yet-to-be-shared criteria for entry.

The irony that Trump would sign such an order on Holocaust Memorial Day should not be lost on any of us. Adding another bizarro element to the story was Trump’s own statement on the day that left out any mention of Jews. Or of anti-Semitism. If these actions don’t make us sick to our stomachs as members of the human race, I’m not sure what will.

During the Second World War, the U.S. famously closed its borders to refugees from war-torn nations. European Jews tried – and failed – to gain admission to the U.S. as the country maintained strict immigration quotas against Jews from Eastern Europe and from Germany in particular. Anne Frank’s family tried numerous times to obtain U.S. visas, only to be denied every time.

A ship, the St. Louis, packed with 937 European refugees, mostly Jews, was turned away from the Port of Miami in 1939 after being similarly denied entry in Cuba and Canada. The ship had no choice but to return to Europe, and many of those on-board were subsequently murdered in the Holocaust. This story loomed large in my upbringing, as the phrase “One was too many” echoed through my home every time my parents saw a news report of another country saying no to those in need.

It sickens me to no end to think of what might have been had xenophobia and self-serving silence not prevailed during that era. Of the lives that could have been saved. Of the entire family trees whose branches would have continued to spawn new branches. Instead, they were amputated right then and there, by leaders lacking humanity. And by everyone else who stood by in rapt inaction and let it happen.

Now, it’s 2017 and those echoes reverberate more strongly than ever. In the actions of a man who dwells more on the size of the crowds at his inauguration than the profound needs of the country he now leads. The question we must ask ourselves is whether we’re willing to stand by in silence. Or do something about it.

One was too many then. And while it may be too many for a certain leader of the free world, it shouldn’t be for those of us standing by and watching this seems-like-fiction circus play out in front of our disbelieving eyes. Unfortunately, this time it isn’t fiction. And this time we’re a little better equipped to get off the sidelines and actually put a stop to this nonsense.

My ancestors weren’t slaughtered so that a couple of generations later we could forget they were ever victimized and allow the entire episode to be repeated. When we say Never Forget, we mean it.