What Mueller should have added to his summary

The following short passage added to Mueller’s carefully worded report on his investigation into the Trump campaign’s coordination with Russia in the 2016 election would have completely changed the topography of the political discussion, and, frankly, cut through a lot of fucking bullshit to directly defend our democracy: 

While I have abided by the opinions of the DOJ memos stating that a sitting president cannot be indicted, and have therefore refrained from making a traditional prosecutorial judgment in this report,  I am making my findings clear and explicit to avoid any confusion about my conclusions.  I underscore what I have found because I am aware that any ambiguity in this report will be weaponized by partisans on both sides of the political divide regarding the president and his actions.  

I therefore clarify the findings of my report as the only way, consistent with the constitution, in our present highly partisan political moment, to hold a colorably corrupt president to account for possibly abusing the powers of the office.   I wish to remove any ambiguity about the meaning of a passage like the following (which does not draw any conclusion about guilt or innocence):

The president and his personal counsel made repeated statements suggesting that a pardon was a possibility for [Paul] Manafort, while also making it clear that the president did not want Manafort to “flip” and cooperate with the government.


There are many triable issues of fact raised in my report.    Had the acts detailed here been committed by someone other than the president of the United States, I would not hesitate to recommend prosecution.   I have, in fact, indicted and prosecuted several people closely associated with the president whose related misdeeds and lying under oath were uncovered in the course of this investigation.

Investigation of the Trump campaign’s coordination with the Russian Federation was hampered, and in some cases thwarted, by witnesses who lied and important parties who refused to be interviewed, or answer written questions with candor, including, significantly, the president and his son, Donald Junior.   Therefore, I could make no concrete determination regarding criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia.

On the matter of the long course of obstruction of this investigation by the president and his associates, there is far more evidence and less ambiguity.   

While DOJ policy is against indictment of a sitting president, based on the evidence of consistent efforts to obstruct my investigation, I recommend the indictment of Donald J. Trump, for an ongoing pattern of obstruction of justice [1], with prosecution to be deferred until after his term in office.

The evidence my committee uncovered, as I have stated, clearly does not exonerate the president.   Neither should any American be found guilty of crimes without a trial by a jury of his peers.   The many triable issues of fact my investigation uncovered make that trial a necessity if we are to adhere to the principle that no person is above the law.


(thanks to Bill Maher for putting the idea in my head that Mueller exacerbated the crisis, by his meticulous, lawyerly finding that… let the Republican-controlled Senate decide whether their master is guilty … and to Lawrence O’Donnell for the deferred prosecution idea.)


[1]   The third article of impeachment drafted for Nixon related to his contempt of Congress, based on his defiance of subpoenas and refusal to produce documents and other evidence.  Article III, when it was announced, reportedly made Nixon cry (and possibly say “this is the end of my presidency, I’m fucked”).   It read in part that the president:

failed without lawful cause or excuse to produce papers and things as directed by duly authorized subpoenas issued by the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives on April 11, 1974, May 15, 1974, May 30, 1974, and June 24, 1974, and willfully disobeyed such subpoenas.   source

Article III: Contempt of Congress Passed 21–17 Democrats: 19 yes, 2 no

Republicans: 2 yes, 15 no

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