Not since I began filling this space with words in August of 1997 have I gotten so many accolades from readers and colleagues on my correct analysis, as corroborated by the release of the Mueller Report this week, of President Donald J. Trump being clearly guilty of obstructing justice during the investigations into his campaign, and his administration allegedly working with Russian operatives to destroy our democratic system. Now, to be fair, this was a slam dunk. I mean, the guy did it in broad daylight, on national television, on Twitter—he even bragged to a bunch of Russians in the Oval Office with big-mouth staffers hanging around. It was more like writing that pizza is good, or war is bad, or nothing is better than sex. And folks, there is no sillier phrase in any language. Nothing is better than sex. Period. So, I appreciate your kind words, plaudits, and references to my genius, but Trump being guilty of obstruction was a no brainer. Kind of like Trump himself.
There is so much damaging shit in this report about our game show president, it will take volumes written by historians to distill over the decades this affront to our democracy. But, since I promised that the piece referred to in all this praising would indeed be the last word on the report itself, I am not here today to rehash it. Although, come on… how great is it that the President is on record as saying, the minute Robert Mueller was appointed Special Counsel, “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m fucked.” Then, according to his then attorney general, Trump began his road to obstructing justice by tearing into Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the investigation. Trump, as he did with FBI Director James Comey, when he tried to queer a criminal inquiry (this one was on soon-to-be-locked up former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn), begged to be protected from himself. This is the Donald Trump that appeared in my celebrated deconstruction of his obstructing justice—a man, who if he were innocent, sure did not act like it from Day One.
Also, if I may, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders admitting under oath she is a lying machine is delicious too, but I giddily digress.
And so Robert Mueller, after nearly two years and over 400 pages of what we can see clearly is heavily redacted info from an attorney general who is openly in the bag for Trump, concluded the President committed at least 10 different acts of obstruction of justice. What it comes down to is not that the President is guilty or not guilty, but what there is under the constitution to be done with this. Trump being guilty, as stated here for months and nailed down by federal investigators, is a done deal. What William Barr is arguing, again covered here two weeks ago (damn, I am good), is that unless there was collusion than there cannot be obstructing justice. And since there is no solid evidence of direct collusion—although the report states that there was plenty of merry collaborative efforts to use a hostile foreign entity trying to destroy its opponent to win the presidency by the Trump campaign—there is no point pursuing the Mueller team’s evidence to this end.
What Barr is saying is, “Sure, this behavior is icky and bad and even toeing the line of criminal, if not actually criminal. But, if the guy was only reacting out of fear of being railroaded, then what can I do?” And in this reasoning, Barr’s objective is clear: “Fuck the Justice Department and the United States and its citizens. I have to protect Trump.” Such as Trump has asked of anyone in his employ. The President often uses the specter of Roy Cohn, a despicable openly bigoted criminal lawyer, who according to Trump was a trusted mentor, to insist this. Thus, Barr’s credibility is shot. He should now be viewed as an untrustworthy hack who has dumped the objective concept of his office to be a lackey. Good for him. Let’s move on.
And where we shift our focus now is the U.S. Congress. This is where this sordid tale now continues. Trump is guilty of obstructing justice. What Mueller is arguing is that it is not within his powers to prosecute a sitting president, this he punts to the legislative branch as our constitution states. The preponderance of evidence against Trump is enough for a deeper dive into an investigation and possible impeachment hearings, but whether Congress, more specifically Democrats—Republicans have consistently crapped the bed on this fiasco—have the stones to pull this off is another thing. There is politics involved. And when that happens, we see that more times than not all hope for legality and morality is tossed into the shit pile.
The second Pennsylvania fell to Trump, and it looked to all the world like this doofus would be our president, I texted a dear friend: “Countdown to Impeachment.” It was partly a joke, but also knowing Trump since the nineteen-eighties here and around NYC, it was obvious this guy was going to do something to get him in trouble. And, well, here it is: an impeachable offense. Whether that happens or not, it’s up to Congress. It was for Nixon and Clinton, and it came to bear. It was for Reagan, and it did not. This goes where Congress goes.
And, trust me, I am not putting my stellar predictive talents on the line when it comes to Congress. I have no idea how it will go there. Ever. Chances are nothing will happen. We’re 18 months from the 2020 election, and Trump is still languishing in the low 40s approval rating, and his “crazy shit” is now without the checks and balances of all those poor bastards in the White House that kept Trump from firing Mueller and implicating himself even further into this mess. They all quit in protest or were sacked for trying to stay out of prison for him. There are more Trump shenanigans to come to bury him, so really, why risk a backlash—or what D.C. insiders like to refer to as “investigation fatigue”—to make a martyr out of this dink? Democrats could drag this out for publicity and wait until the election, or (imagine this!) Congress could actually do its constitutional duty and act as a viable check on the abuse of powers within the executive branch.
Whatever happens, this is what is at stake now that we have official compiled and corroborating evidence of obstruction of justice by the President of the United States.
Trump is guilty.
Okay…. Now what?
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James Campion is the Managing Editor of the Reality Check News & Information Desk, and the author of Deep Tank Jersey, Fear No Art, Trailing Jesus, Midnight for Cinderella, Y, Shout It Out Loud—The Story of KISS’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Icon, and Accidently Like a Martyr—The Tortured Art of Warren Zevon.