The Mueller Report is probably one of the most extensive legal investigations in the history of the United States. Certainly, the circumstances necessitating it are historic and unprecedented in American political documentary. Even more striking, the idea that someone elected to the office of the President of the United States would so openly abuse power and commit crimes within the continental U.S. is unheard of in conventional terms. On the other hand, the consideration that someone would resort to dishonest means to gain the office is not. After all, let us not forget the somewhat questionable elections of Richard Nixon and George W. Bush and the shenanigans that took place.
In describing the development of conspiracy and obstruction, it is not difficult to become completely overwhelmed by the attention to detail and the amount of factual evidence contained in the report – that is, without considering large sections of redactions. Also, there is no doubt that it is a long, tedious, sometimes challenging read but fascinating and at times unfathomable. Nevertheless, the contents spell out a danger that is a serious threat to the rule of law in America and the institution of democracy.
In the context of reading the report, it reads like some deep, dark, espionage thriller manuscript for a hollywood movie (no doubt someday a script will be developed). More directly, it portrays a plethora of lies, schemes, deceptions, abuses of power of the office, back door and closed door dealings, clandestine meetings and communications, back channels with Russian officials, legal maneuverings, false public orchestrations, inducements, medacious congressional testimonies, subliminal messages concerning pardons, witness tampering, payoffs and false promises. The clarifications in the report go some way toward building a clear-cut case for obstructions although proving conspiracy or collusion is apparently inconsistent with some jurisprudence concerning making a case beyond a “shadow of a doubt.” However, there are a number of more specific reasons for proving obstruction.
A second clarificatory point introduces some of the most startling revelations from Trump and his attorney Rudy Guiliani. On numerous occassions, they would make public statements and just days later completely deny making the statements or contradict themselves. One such example took place on November 20, 2018 when Trump stated he had “no recollection” of anything regarding a Trump Tower project in Moscow or any dealings with Felix Sater. However, by November 29, 2018, he stated he decided not to do the Trump Tower project in Moscow and there was “nothing wrong” if he did do it…”it was an option” and he decided not to do it primarily because he was focused on campaigning. Another glaring contradiction was the statements made about how completely Trump and his attorneys cooperated with the special counsel’s investigation. There is textual evidence that shows he did not respond to any of the questions concerning the Trump Tower project in Moscow and stated on several occassions he had “no recollection” to several other questions.
In the context of discussing the last large section of volume two of the report, the Legal Defenses to the Application of Obstruction-of-Justice Statutes to the President, the attorneys for the President offered the argument that under Article II of the Constitution, the President has the right to fire any government employee or terminate any investigation that would hamper his ability to perform his duties as the President. This was perhaps a facile attempt to justify and defend the conduct of the president however the Special Counsel’s team rebuffed their arguments with an preponderance of legal arguments, case precedents, and even Supreme Court decisions that invalidated their position. Differently put, this is U.S. Code Title 18 Section 1512(c)(1) and (c)(2) addressing conduct that obstructs, influences or impedes an investigation or official proceeding including improper exercises of official power. The mountain of evidence that the Special Counsel’s team offered cites over twenty years of legal precedence to defend their position that obstruction as a matter of factual evidence did take place.
In any event, some of the best highlights of the report can be found in the third section – Legal Defenses to the Application of Obstruction-of-Justice Statutes to the President – section B subsections 2b and 2c where the Special Counsel addresses the President’s legal team and their argument concerning his Article II powers. The Special Counsel provides a clear outline of the rights, powers and protections of the Congress under Article I of the Constitution to check the executive branch, in addition to the rights, powers, and protections of the Grand Jury to act as an independent buffer between the Legislative and Executive branches under Article III of the Constitution. The Special Counsel’s office goes further by providing legal precedent that goes back as far as 1940 even until 1831 to substantiate their position that their investigations do not hinder his ability to perform his duties but more important, it is their responsibility in accordance with the Constitution to protect Congressional, Grand Jury and Judicial proceedings against corrupt acts from any source.
Perhaps, the most overarching, unreconcilable question that should be considered in order to prevent even more confusion is – if Mueller states there was insufficient evidence to prove the crime of conspiracy or collusion beyond a shadow of a doubt; yet the second volume of the report is filled with factual evidence of obstruction of justice on a number of different issues, a number of different attempts, and a number of different ways, then why would anyone go to such extreme lengths to obstruct an investigation into something that allegedly did not happen? Read the report – its fascinating!
The entire report in pdf version can be downloaded here. A free audiobook copy of the report can be found here.