“If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”
Robert Mueller’s statement in his brief May 29 press conference could hardly have been more damning. And for President Trump and his supporters, there’s no consolation in Mueller’s explanation for the failure to charge him with a crime. The Justice Department, he said, has a “longstanding” policy that “a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office.” Therefore, Mueller said, charging the president with a crime was “not an option we could consider.”
However, Mueller said, the policy “explicitly permits the investigation of a sitting president, because it is important to preserve evidence while memories are fresh and documents available.”
The president can be charged after he leaves office, but “the Constitution," Mueller said, "requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.”
That process, of course, is impeachment. Congress seems to have plenty of justification for that, and yet impeachment is a political action as well as a process provided by the Constitution. And given the current state of politics in Washington, impeachment is likely to do more harm than good. It’ll fire up Trump’s base, consume months of Congressional time and media attention, and lead nowhere. Senate Republicans have already said they have no intention of convicting the president. Meantime, the damage by the administration continues.
• The Trump administration wants a citizenship question added to the 2020 Census, which will intimidate immigrants, leading to a population undercount in regions that currently are likely to vote Democratic.
Last week the news media reported the origins of that idea
: a study by the late Thomas Hofeller, a Republican gerrymandering expert who died last year. Including a citizenship question, Hofeller advised, would enable Republicans to draw district lines to benefit Republicans. Hofeller also wrote “the key portion of a draft Justice Department letter claiming the question was needed to enforce the 1965 Voting Rights Act,” the Times reported.
• We continue to give Saudi Arabia arms and logistical support for its violent involvement in Yemen, where hundreds of thousands of people have died. This upset both parties in Congress so much that they passed a bipartisan resolution to end US involvement. President Trump vetoed it.
• During his press conference, Robert Mueller emphasized the Grand Jury allegation that grew out of his report: “there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election.” That allegation, Mueller said, “deserves the attention of every American.” Instead, the president plans to investigate the investigators.
• Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who insisted on holding a Supreme Court seat open for nearly a year to keep an Obama nominee off the bench, now says if a seat opens in 2020, the Senate will fill it.
The administration’s refusal to address climate change, its repeated sabre rattling toward Iran, tariffs as a substitute for diplomacy and immigration policy....
Robert Mueller and his team felt they couldn’t do more than what they did. Since impeachment would be futile, defeating Trump in November 2020 is the best option for ending the Trump-led assault on US democracy. But with 23 Democrats running right now, it’s hard to be optimistic.
If the Democrats run the wrong candidate, we’ll have four more years of Donald Trump. And the horrors of the first term may pale in comparison to those of the second.
The Democrats had better start getting their act together soon.