Thursday, July 11, 2019

Mueller Report: The Comic Book? The Screen Play? An Opera?

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Every single member of Congress I know, has read the Mueller Report, carefully. But I don't think anyone else has! Interviewed by Jake Tapper last Sunday, Justin Amash said that he thinks that "less than 15%" of members (of both parties) had read the report. Yesterday, writing for Business Insider, Mark Bowden, author of Black Hawk Down and Killing Pablo, and illustrator Chad Hurd presented a kind of simplified version of the 448 page-- sometimes dull as dishwater-- Mueller Report. Their version is a gripping narrative meant to hold someone's-- even a congressmember's-- attention. I hope you enjoy it:




The Russian government interfered in the 2016 US presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion to support Donald John Trump and undermine the campaign of Hillary Rodham Clinton. Russian agents stole thousands of confidential campaign documents from the computer systems of Clinton's campaign and published them online through WikiLeaks-- actions publicly encouraged and applauded by Trump. They pushed propaganda to millions of voters on social media to disparage Clinton and promote Trump. They paid a man to walk around New York City in a Trump mask and Santa costume. They organized Trump campaign rallies.

There is no evidence to suggest Trump committed any crimes of conspiracy or "collusion."

That said, Russia and the Trump campaign made repeated and varied attempts to foster ties of mutual interest. If they largely failed, it is not owing to any lack of willingness on Trump's side.




In fact, several senior leaders of the campaign, including Donald Trump Jr., campaign manager Paul Manafort, and Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, met with Russian operatives in Trump Tower on June 9, 2016, hoping to receive "dirt" on Clinton from the Russian government.

Nothing useful to the campaign developed from the meeting. It ended early after it devolved into a Russian operative sharing theories about a Clinton donor's supposedly illegal activities in Russia, sanctions, and the adoption of Russian children by American families.

Even so, when reports of the meeting surfaced a year later, the Trump administration scrambled to obfuscate the purpose of the meeting.

The president was at a G20 summit meeting in Hamburg, Germany, when his staff learned that the New York Times was preparing a story.

Enclosed in the beige, air-controlled hum of Air Force One on the way back to Washington, the brain trust went to work.

Kushner reassured the president that the meeting had concerned only Russian adoptions.

But Hope Hicks, Trump's communications director, had seen copies of the email exchange between Trump's son and the Russian contacts who set up the meeting. The emails made clear that its purpose was to receive Russian "dirt" about Clinton.

So Hicks drafted a statement for Donald Trump Jr. to give to The Times. It read:
"I was asked to have a meeting by an acquaintance I knew from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant with an individual who I was told might have information helpful to the campaign."
The President did not like that statement. He dictated a new version with no mention of campaign help.

Hicks texted a new version to Trump's son:
"It was a short meeting. I asked Jared and Paul to stop by. We discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago and was since ended by the Russian government, but it was not a campaign issue at that time and there was no follow-up."


"Are you OK with this?" Hicks asked. "Attributed to you."

Donald Trump Jr. wanted to hedge a bit, asking that the word "primarily" inserted between "We" and "discussed."

"I think that's right too but boss man worried it invites a lot of questions," Hicks texted back.

Ultimately, the word "primarily" stayed in. The statement became truer than the president's version, but its intended effect was still to muddle the purpose of the June 9 meeting.

But just as a willingness to work with the Russians to defeat Clinton was not a crime, the deception concocted aboard Air Force One was not a crime. Its purpose was only to mislead the public.

To prosecute a president for obstruction of justice, other standards must be met.

The crime of obstructing justice concerns any intentional act seeking to prevent or impede an official legal proceeding. Any effort to influence the process can qualify, even if it is "subtle or circuitous," and no matter "however cleverly or with whatever cloaking of purpose" it is done. The law defines "obstruct" and "impede" liberally, and they can refer to anything that "blocks, makes difficult, or hinders." This includes "chilling" an investigation by indicating to those conducting it that continuing to do so threatens their career. The action is regarded as "intentional" if it is undertaken knowingly and with an improper motive.

The motive does not have to be to avoid going to jail. It can also be to avoid embarrassment or political defeat.




The text on Mike Flynn's phone looked like an opportunity.

It was from the Russian ambassador, and it was succinct.

"Can you kindly call me back at your convenience?"

It was December 28, 2016, about three weeks before Trump would be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States.

Flynn was the national-security-adviser-in-waiting; he would take office after Trump's inauguration on January 20. A reed-thin retired Army lieutenant general with a face like chiseled stone, Flynn had attached himself to Trump after being fired from his job as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency four years earlier by President Barack Obama, accused of a chaotic management style, abusing his staff, and ignoring his superiors. Flynn and generals like him, battle-tested in the war on terror, were accustomed to wielding power aggressively and without a great deal of oversight.

After his firing, Flynn formed a consulting firm, corralling an impressive list of international clients, including some occasionally at odds with US interests. In 2015 he had been seated next to Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, at an elaborate Moscow dinner sponsored by Russian Television, the Russian president's propaganda network. The consulting work was quietly lucrative, but dicey enough for the FBI to begin watching him. After the election, Obama had warned Trump about Flynn's questionable foreign associations, but the general was awarded the top national security job anyway.

Flynn had jumped on board for Trump early. He proved an important ally for the candidate, who had boasted of his successful efforts to avoid military service during the Vietnam War and who had made several missteps with veterans during his campaign. By the last months of the campaign Flynn had joined the candidate's inner circle, delivering a rousing speech at the Republican National Convention and leading a gleeful cheer of "Lock her up!" — expressing the desire not just to defeat Clinton, but to jail her.

Somehow, Trump had actually won. But now, in late December, a new problem appeared.

Obama, serving out the last weeks of his second term, had leveled severe punitive sanctions on Russia. US intelligence agencies had concluded that Russia interfered in the recent presidential campaign.

At Mar-a-Lago, Trump's resort in West Palm Beach, Florida, the president-elect brooded over this news. He hated and rejected the narrative of Russian interference, seeing it as a plot to discredit his victory. The very suggestion of Russian involvement had provoked from him a steady stream of invective. He refused to believe the official findings, insisting that American security agencies either knew too little or were in league with his enemies. He said the hack of the Democratic National Committee might just as easily have been created by "somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds."

Trump also didn't like the sanctions because he saw advantages for the United States in a closer relationship with Russia. Improved relations with Russia had the potential to increase partnership against Islamic terrorism and ease tensions in Eastern Europe, but some suspected a motivation beyond affairs of state.

It's also possible the president-elect saw advantages for the president-elect in a closer relationship with Russia. His real-estate-development company, the Trump Organization, had been negotiating in Moscow for years, on and off, to build a projected $1 billion commercial tower-- a project that, it had been told, would depend on Putin's approval. Talks had picked back up after Trump declared his candidacy. Headed by Michael Cohen, the organization's executive vice president and Trump's personal lawyer, these discussions had continued through much of 2016, even as Trump had repeatedly denied any business dealings with Russia. When Cohen had reminded him that this assertion was untrue, Trump had rationalized. The Moscow deal was not yet done, he said-- so, "Why mention it?"

The text on Flynn's phone wasn't from a stranger. He and Sergey Kislyak, Russia's rotund, round-faced ambassador to the United States, already had a relationship. They had discussed Russia's response, weeks earlier, to a UN resolution calling on Israel to cease building settlements in the West Bank. Flynn had asked for Russia's help in delaying the measure, which Russia gave-- it ultimately passed, with Russia voting in favor and the US abstaining.

Could Flynn call Kislyak and persuade him to mute his response to Obama's sanctions?

The US Constitution allows for only one president at a time. For the Trump administration to intervene in this clash with Russia could violate the Logan Act, a federal law dating back to President John Adams that prohibits private citizens from interfering in disputes with foreign governments.

Knowing what he could do, Flynn needed to know whether he should. He had been warned months earlier by Trump's transition team about premature contacts with Kislyak.


He texted someone who was with the president-elect in Mar-a-Lago-- an aide to K.T. McFarland, his deputy.

"Time for a call?" Flynn asked. "Tit for tat with Russia not good. Russian AMBO reaching out to me today."

When Flynn and McFarland spoke, she told him the incoming administration did not want Russia to escalate the situation. Then Flynn called Kislyak.

He expressed the incoming administration's desire. Hold off. There would be a new, friendlier team in the White House in just a few weeks. And it worked, even better than expected: On December 30, Putin surprised everyone by announcing there would be no Russian retaliation. Trump tweeted, "Great move on delay (by V Putin)."

Flynn wrote up a memorandum of his talk with Kislyak. Perhaps mindful of impropriety, he left out any mention of his request. But there was no doubt about the reason for Putin's decision. The Russian ambassador called Flynn on December 31 to tell him that his request had been received at the highest levels and that Moscow's restraint had been in direct answer. Flynn, in the Dominican Republic at the time, relayed this to McFarland. The Trump administration's desire to improve Russo-American relations was already paying dividends.

Whatever satisfaction was gained by this sub-rosa mediation dimmed when it was reported by The Washington Post on January 12, 2017, eight days before Inauguration Day, noting a potential violation of the Logan Act.

"What the hell is this all about?" Trump angrily asked his chief of staff, Reince Priebus.

Priebus then called Flynn and instructed him to "kill the story." The Washington Post updated its story with a denial from the White House, but it did not retract it.

Denial became the official story. Flynn stuck with it in subsequent conversations with Priebus, Vice President-elect Mike Pence, and the incoming press secretary, Sean Spicer. He repeated it to the FBI agents who visited his new West Wing office on January 24.

But the Department of Justice knew the truth.

Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, an accomplished Georgia prosecutor who had stayed on as an interim replacement for Obama's Loretta Lynch, knew what was said during the conversation because it had been recorded as a matter of routine US surveillance of the Russian ambassador.

She also knew it was very likely that the Russians had recorded it, too. She and other Justice Department officials were appalled. Either Flynn had lied to his colleagues, or everyone in this new administration was lying. A flimsy deception like this amounted to handing Putin leverage. Flynn faced indictment on suspicion of violating the Logan Act and lying to the FBI.


Yates met with Donald McGahn, the White House counsel, two days after Flynn spoke with FBI agents. While she stopped short of saying he had lied outright, she did tell McGahn that the official story was false and that it put the US government in a compromising position. McGahn briefed Trump about it that same day, explaining the Logan Act and the legal hazards of lying to the FBI. Trump responded with disgust-- and as if Flynn had acted entirely on his own. "Not again, this guy," said Trump, disgusted. "This stuff."

Now president, Trump told McGahn to look further into the matter with Priebus and Trump's political strategist Steve Bannon, and not to discuss it with anyone else.

Denial having failed, Trump tried to make the issue go away by dumping Flynn, who resigned on February 13.

One week earlier at the White House, Flynn told Trump he might have discussed sanctions with Kislyak. Six days later, on a flight back to Washington from Mar-a-Lago, he said he might have forgotten some things when he spoke with Pence but did not think he had lied.

"OK," Trump said. "That's fine. I got it."

As they separated, Trump hugged him and shook his hand.

"We'll give you a good recommendation," he said. "You're a good guy. We'll take care of you."

The day after Flynn left, Trump lunched at the White House with Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor.

"Now that we've fired Flynn, this Russian thing is over," Trump remarked.

Christie laughed. "No way," he said.

"What do you mean?" Trump asked. "Flynn met with the Russians. That was the problem. I fired Flynn. It's over."

Christie said, based on his experience as a prosecutor, there was no way to make an investigation shorter, but there were plenty of ways to lengthen one. He advised Trump to simply stop talking about it — the president had begun railing frequently about it on Twitter. Christie predicted that Flynn would be "like gum on the bottom of your shoe."

Denial hadn't worked. Neither had firing Flynn. Now what could Trump do to make this scandal go away?

Trump asked whether Christie knew James Comey, the director of the FBI, whose agents would lead the investigation into Flynn's premature diplomacy.

Christie knew him. Were they friendly? They were. The president asked him to call Comey and tell him how much the president "really likes him," and that he was "part of the team." Christie felt the request would put Comey in a tricky position.

So he ignored it.




On January 26, Trump dined with several senior advisers. He asked them what they thought of Comey. There were mixed opinions. Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, said he thought Comey was a good FBI director. Trump could choose whether to extend Comey's tenure, and Coats encouraged him to meet with him before deciding whether to keep him in the job.

There were bound to be mixed opinions about James Brien Comey Jr. He had a knack for drawing attention to himself, and not always on purpose. As a boy in New Jersey, he and his younger brother were held captive at gunpoint by a notorious local criminal-- the "Ramsey Rapist"-- before escaping through a bathroom window. As US attorney for the Southern District of New York, he had indicted Martha Stewart for lying to the FBI. He had served as deputy attorney general during the administration of George W. Bush, drawing some attention for first advocating harsh interrogation methods and then urging their restraint.

As FBI director, Comey rocked the 2016 campaign first by publicly announcing that there would be no criminal charges over the candidate Clinton's use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state, not with the usual perfunctory "case closed" but with a press conference at which he accused her of having been "extremely careless." Then, just 11 days before the election, he sent a letter to Congress announcing the reopening of the investigation, a step Clinton would later cite as a prime factor in her defeat.

Comey was known as a stickler for propriety and for being punctiliously nonpartisan-- a lifelong Republican, he had recently reregistered as an Independent-- so it was a stretch to discern or assign a political motive to these acts. Rather, his actions suggested a tin ear for consequences.


The day after Trump's dinner with Coats and company, he invited the FBI director to dinner. They had met on two previous occasions. In a briefing on January 6, during which Trump was briefed on Russian meddling in the presidential campaign, Comey presented Trump with what became known as the Steele Dossier, a piece of opposition research compiled by the former head of the Russia desk for Britain's intelligence agency MI6. The report included an unverified allegation that in 2013 Trump had hired prostitutes to urinate on the bed of a hotel room in Moscow because the Obamas had once slept there. After Trump denied the Steele Dossier's allegations, Comey assured him: "You are not under investigation, sir."

Their second meeting took place at a White House reception for law-enforcement officials two days after the president took his oath. Comey was doing the best a man standing 6 feet, 8 inches could to appear inconspicuous, when the president called, "Jim!" and beckoned him to step up before the cameras. "He's more famous than me!" he told the crowd. They shook hands; Comey recalled a slight tussle as he avoided a hug. With the cameras rolling, Trump leaned in and whispered, "I'm really looking forward to working with you." Mindful of the need to preserve the FBI's independence, and aware of the role he had played in the election, Comey was reluctant to be seen as a presidential pal.

Now it was January 27, and Comey was coming to dinner at the White House. It had been a last-minute invitation, which Comey felt improper. But according to the account in his book, A Higher Loyalty, he knew spurning the invitation would have been discourteous. He also assumed he would be part of a group, so he could try to blend in to the background.

Trump's advisers were worried, too. They had warned him not to discuss Russia or any pending legal matters. Bannon had suggested that either he or Priebus sit in. Trump said no. He wanted Comey to himself.

Comey was alarmed when he found a dinner table set for two. The president appeared at 6:30, the appointed hour, in his usual blue suit and very long tie, which reached down his broad belly to below the belt.

Trump opened with flattery, noting Comey's promptness.

"I like that. I like people who are on time. I think a leader should always be on time."

They sat about 4 feet apart. Trump held up a card listing each course for the meal.

"They write these things out one at a time, by hand," he said.

"A calligrapher," Comey said.

Trump seemed unfamiliar with the word.

"They write them by hand," he repeated.

As they ate, Trump began questioning Comey about his future. "What do you want to do?" he said.

It was soon clear to Comey that he had been invited to discuss keeping his job. Trump told him that while many others wanted the position, he liked Comey. Trump said that although he was free to "make a change," he wanted this talk first.

Comey took this to mean that if he were going to remain as FBI director, it would be only at Trump's favor, for which the president might well want something in return. He said that he liked the job and wanted to stay but that he should not be considered part of the president's team. That was not his understanding of the position.

Instead, Comey promised that he would always tell the president the truth.




That didn't seem to be what Trump wanted to hear. "I need loyalty," Trump said. "I expect loyalty."

Awkward silence followed.

Comey found the situation "surreal"-- like a mob induction. Clearly, this president neither understood nor cared about the bureau's independence.

Trump did most of the talking after that, criticizing Comey's failure to recommend Clinton's indictment. Trump defended himself from the long list of barbs and accusations hurled at him during the campaign-- that he had mocked a disabled reporter, mistreated women, had sex with a porn actress and then bought her silence, among other things.

Eventually, the president returned to the central point. He wanted loyalty.

"You will always get honesty from me," Comey said.

"That's what I want, honest loyalty," Trump said.

"You will get that from me," Comey said. They would part with a different understanding of what that meant.

The FBI director regarded the encounter as so peculiar he wrote his memo of the evening immediately afterward. He made two copies, one for his senior leadership team and the other for his own files. He thought he might need it someday.

On February 14, the day after Flynn resigned, Comey was back in the White House, this time the Oval Office. At what seemed like the end of a meeting, the president had shooed everyone out of his office-- except Comey. The knees of the FBI director's long legs bumped up against the ornately carved front of the Resolute Desk.

Trump's advisers had told him not to bring up Flynn with Comey.

He did anyway.

He lobbied Comey for leniency. The president told the head of the FBI that Flynn had done nothing wrong. Trump said what actually upset him was that word of the conversation had leaked. He wanted Comey to find the culprit.

As for Flynn, he said: "He's a good guy and has been through a lot. I hope you can see your way clear to letting him go, letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go."

Comey regarded this as a direct order to cease the FBI's investigation — even though the president had phrased it as a request. As the director understood it, Trump had cleared the room precisely because he knew it was inappropriate. He saw it as a bald effort to obstruct justice. Comey had no intention of obeying it. When he got back to his office, he wrote up another detailed memo.




If Comey wouldn't play ball on Flynn, perhaps others would.

On February 22, Priebus told McFarland, Flynn's deputy, that the president wanted her resignation, too, but that he intended to appoint her ambassador to Singapore. This was a plum, a remarkable capstone for the career of a woman who had worked her way up from being a night-shift typist for the Nixon administration.

But there was a catch.

McFarland had only a day to savor her new appointment before receiving a request from Trump, again through Priebus. The president wanted her to draft an internal email saying that he, Trump, had not directed Flynn to talk to the Russian ambassador about the Obama sanctions.

Only if she was comfortable doing it, Priebus added.

McFarland "declined to say yes or no to the request," and Priebus understood that to mean she was not comfortable drafting the email.

When McFarland expressed misgivings to Priebus, he suggested that she consult a White House lawyer. The lawyer advised her not to do it. Apart from not knowing whether the thing the president of the United States wanted her to say was true, the lawyer suggested, the letter would appear to be quid pro quo-— as the price of the ambassadorship. Besides, it didn't make sense for her to be writing such a note to Priebus. For what purpose? The report several times makes a distinction between Trump's efforts to mislead the public, which were routine, and to mislead the FBI. While many considered it deplorable for the White House to be making false statements to the press, it was not criminal. Efforts to falsify the official record, however, would be. Priebus subsequently stopped by her office and told her to forget that he had mentioned it. (McFarland eventually withdrew herself from consideration.)

As criminal consequences closed around Flynn, Trump sent him messages of support. On February 22 he asked Priebus to phone Flynn and pass along his good wishes, and when it was reported that the retired general had offered to talk to the FBI and congressional investigators in return for immunity, Trump publicly endorsed the move, tweeting, "Mike Flynn should ask for immunity in that this is a witch hunt (excuse for the big election loss), by media & Dems, of historic proportion!"

Days later, Trump also asked McFarland to convey his support for Flynn, urging him to "stay strong."




Comey, Christie, McFarland, and others may have ignored Trump's requests. But he believed he could still rely on Comey's boss to help him out: Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

A true-blue Trumper and archconservative, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III was a diminutive, white-haired, cheerful man with an elfin quality that belied his stern politics. Just as his father and grandfather had been, he was named after Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, and P.G.T. Beauregard, the rebel general who had started the Civil War by bombarding Fort Sumter. He had been an Eagle Scout and president of the Young Republicans Club at Huntingdon College in the late 1960s, running against the prevailing winds of youthful rebellion. His deep-seated conservatism on America's most divisive social issues-- same-sex marriage, abortion, tough sentencing policies-- were aligned predictably with his traditional white rural electorate. Sessions' strong, early backing of Trump virtually assured him of a top cabinet post.

So it was a surprise to the president when, on March 2, Sessions recused himself from the FBI investigation.




He had to, he believed. He'd met with Ambassador Kislyak several times during and after the campaign and participated in meetings where outreach to the Kremlin had been discussed. Like Flynn, he had talked to the ambassador before assuming his office — conversations he had neglected to disclose during his confirmation hearings. When The Washington Post revealed them, Sessions said they had not concerned sanctions against Russia. Surveillance recordings strongly suggested otherwise. He asked the Justice Department's ethics advisers whether he was the wrong person to be overseeing an investigation involving links between Russian meddling and the Trump campaign. They said yes, he was, and that he should recuse himself. Sessions was inclined to agree.

Trump tried desperately to convince him otherwise. He asked McGahn, the White House counsel, to dissuade him.

McGahn had been a longtime Republican foot soldier, and the rare Beltway insider permitted into the Trump ranks. As part of a solid GOP voting bloc on the Federal Election Commission during the George W. Bush administration, he had done yeoman's work loosening campaign-finance regulations. He had a broad, pink face with a pinched mouth, and in recent years-- he was just months shy of 50-- he had begun to look more like an aging surfer than a partisan legal infighter, letting his thick sandy-brown hair fall rakishly across his wide forehead and reach down to the crisp collars of his white shirts.

McGahn understood the boss' concern. Recusal would focus attention on things Sessions had left out of his confirmation testimony and, as Trump saw it, would leave him unprotected. The Russia investigation had already claimed one top member of his administration. It threatened to cast a lengthening shadow over not just his election but his presidency. Trump's first State of the Union address had given him a rare burst of praise from more than just his bedrock supporters. All that goodwill might vanish if this probe widened.

So, McGahn dutifully phoned Sessions with Trump's request. The attorney general said he intended to follow his ethics lawyers' recommendation. He said that, honestly, the ethical question was not even close.

McGahn called Sessions twice more that day. When those calls didn't work, others tried.

Sessions ignored them all. That evening, he announced his decision. His step back was unequivocal. He would not oversee "any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for president of the United States." Oversight of the investigation now belonged to Assistant Attorney General Dana Boente.

Trump was livid.

He was finding that public servants did not always respond to him the way business subordinates did. One after another, either because of personal or professional ethics, or a simple instinct for self-preservation, public servants declined to act on the president's "requests." This didn't alter Trump's view of them, however. He considered the attorney general of the United States his personal consigliere.

The next morning, the president demanded an audience with McGahn. With both Priebus and Bannon present, Trump opened with a lament, "I don't have a lawyer."

He couldn't believe his attorney general wouldn't help him out of a jam.

"You're telling me that Bobby and Jack didn't talk about investigations?" he asked, referring to the brothers Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and President John F. Kennedy. "Or Obama didn't tell Eric Holder to investigate?"

The president said he wished his attorney were the late Roy Cohn, the notorious counsel to Sen. Joe McCarthy during the Red Scare years of the early 1950s, who had later represented Trump and Rupert Murdoch before being disbarred in 1986 for unethical and unprofessional conduct.


Trump asked McGahn to talk to Sessions again about the recusal, but McGahn refused. The White House counsel knew he could not make this happen and should not try. McGahn was a loyalist-- but he wasn't stupid. Continuing to pressure Sessions wasn't just pointless; it was quite possibly textbook obstruction. He'd already warned White House personnel: "No contact w/Sessions," and "No coms/ serious concern about obstruction."

Bannon tried to calm Trump, reminding him that he had been warned before the inauguration that Sessions might choose to recuse himself. But Trump was unrelenting. At Mar-a-Lago that weekend, he pulled Sessions aside and again urged him to reconsider. Otherwise the investigation might spin out of control and disrupt his ability to govern.

How was Trump going to make this thing go away?

On March 22, Trump met with Coats, his director of national intelligence, and Mike Pompeo, the CIA director, and told them how much he hated the Russia investigation. He asked whether they could intervene to end it, speed it up, or, at the very least, end speculation that he was a target. Both demurred.

Eventually, Trump called Coats to push, complaining that so long as suspicion created by the investigation continued: "I can't do anything with Russia. There's things I'd like to do with Russia, with trade, with ISIS, they're all over me with this." Coats told him that his job was to provide intelligence, not to get involved in investigations. He gave the president the same advice he'd been receiving from everyone else: Back off. Let the investigation run its course.

Trump called Michael Rogers, the National Security Agency director, on March 25 with the same request. He said stories linking him with the Kremlin were false and asked Rogers whether he could do anything to refute them. Rogers' deputy later said it was the most unusual thing he had experienced in four decades of public service, peculiar enough for him and Rogers to do what Comey and others had begun doing; they wrote a memo about the call and locked it in a safe.

As with most of the others, Rogers had not been given an order. The president had merely expressed his wishes, forcefully. What he did in response was up to him. This was Trump's method. He made his wishes clear, and his subordinates could decide whether to make him happy, or angry. Making him happy led to good things. Making him angry might lead to loss of position and quite possibly public insults and attacks. But the decision was theirs.




When Comey confirmed to Congress on March 9 that members of the Trump administration were suspected of conspiring with Russia during the campaign, Trump was livid. Ann Donaldson, McGahn's chief of staff, took notes during a meeting three days later. She wrote: "POTUS in panic/chaos. … All things related to Russia."

By then, Trump had begun using the word "collusion" to refer to these suspicions, which he considered baseless. He stressed the word repeatedly. There had been no COLLUSION-- he was fond of capitalizing the word. He was innocent, and no one was willing to defend him.

Trump called Comey on March 30 to complain about this. He asked the FBI director what could be done "to lift the cloud." Comey told him that the FBI needed to do its work and that the best way to dispel the suspicion would be a formal finding against conspiracy. He also reassured Trump that he was not personally being investigated for conspiring with Russian agents. "We need to get that fact out," Trump said. Alarmed by the conversation, Comey reported it to Boente.


Left unstated were the consequences of not doing so. In a television interview with Fox Business Network on April 11, the president was asked whether it were too late for him to replace the FBI director. "No, it's not too late," he said, "but, you know, I have confidence in him-- we'll see what happens." After the interview, for which the White House retained editing rights, Hope Hicks, his communications director, advised that the comment be removed. It was bound to raise speculation about Comey's fate. Trump told her to let it stand. He was delivering a message.

Trump phoned the FBI director again later that day, following up on his earlier request. Had Comey done what he wished? The director thought Trump sounded irritated. He said he had forwarded the request to Boente and then politely explained that making such a request of him was inappropriate. There was a protocol. Questions about the investigation should come through McGahn to Boente. The White House counsel had, in fact, so advised the president, specifically cautioning him about contacting Comey directly. But this was not Trump's way. He wanted Comey to have no mistake about what was expected and why. It was personal.

"Because I have been very loyal to you, very loyal-- we had that thing, you know," Trump said. Comey wasn't certain what "that thing" was, but he guessed it referred to their dinner conversation, where Trump had requested "loyalty," which ended with "honest loyalty." They were down to their different understanding of that phrase. It would be the last time Trump called.

Comey then phoned Boente to reiterate president's wishes.

"Oh, God, I was hoping that would just go away," Boente said.

Comey was set to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 3. If he refused to remove the president from suspicion during his testimony, Trump was giving up on him, he told his staff. When the FBI director took his seat in the chamber before cameras and a vast television audience, he was again asked directly whether the president was a subject of the FBI investigation. He declined to answer.

Trump vented his fury on Sessions that afternoon. In a meeting with him, McGahn, and Jody Hunt, the attorney general's chief of staff, the president said: "This is terrible, Jeff. It's all because you recused. AG is supposed to be the most important appointment. Kennedy appointed his brother. Obama appointed Holder. I appointed you and you recused yourself. You left me on an island. I can't do anything."

Sessions said he had no choice. Recusal was mandatory, but given Trump's unhappiness with Comey, he offered that it might be time to appoint a new FBI director.

The president didn't commit right then, but in repeated conversations with Bannon that day and the next, he made his leanings known.

"He told me three times that I was not under investigation," Trump said. "He's a showboater. He's a grandstander. I don't know any Russians. There was no collusion."

Bannon advised against firing the director. He said that the time when that could have been done smoothly was past. Besides, he explained, getting rid of Comey would not stop the investigation: He could fire the director, but he couldn't fire the FBI!

But Trump's mind was set. If this director would not tell the world that Trump was not being investigated, then Trump would get another.

At a dinner two days after Comey's testimony, Trump dictated a dismissal letter for the director to Stephen Miller, his senior policy adviser. The letter stressed that the president was not firing Comey because he feared the outcome of the investigation but because he and the public had "lost faith" in him. The final, four-page version faulted Comey's judgment and conduct, his handling of the Clinton email investigation, and his failure to more aggressively prosecute leakers.

"Don't try to talk me out of it," Trump told his aides on the morning of May 5. "Because I've made my decision, so don't even try."

McGahn managed to persuade the president to delay. Comey's status was under review at the Justice Department anyway, and Trump had a meeting scheduled with Sessions and Rod Rosenstein, his deputy, that very evening. After all, Comey reported to them, not directly to the president.


At the meeting with Sessions and Rosenstein on May 8, Trump made his feelings plain. There was something "not right" about Comey. He thought he should be removed. Then he asked for their views. Both men were on board. Sessions reminded Trump that he had recommended Comey's removal the previous week. Rosenstein criticized the director's handling of the Clinton email investigation. They agreed to draft a memo recommending Comey's firing. "Put the Russia stuff in the memo," the president said.

Rosenstein asked why. If Comey's firing had nothing to do with the investigation, why mention it?

Trump didn't explain, reiterating only that he wanted the memo to state that Comey had privately assured him that he was not personally under investigation.

The memo was delivered the following morning. Titled "Restoring Public Confidence in the FBI," it came with Sessions' recommendation that Comey be removed. Trump's advisers felt this was better-- why connect the move to the Russia investigation at all? It reduced Trump's role to merely acceding to the Justice Department's request. McGahn urged that Trump's original letter not see the "light of day."

But Trump continued to insist that he wanted his letter to Comey to make clear that Comey had assured him he was not under investigation. It seemed to all that the president considered this the primary point to be conveyed.

Comey learned of his firing on television that day while attending a bureau function in Los Angeles. (A fuller statement came with Trump's formal letter, which included an all-important line, "While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation…") What followed was all too predictable. Just as Trump's advisers had feared, much of the ensuing reporting included speculation that the president had jettisoned Comey over concerns about the investigation.

Flying into damage-control mode, the White House suggested Comey had been widely disliked by the FBI rank and file. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the deputy White House press secretary, told reporters that the decision to remove Comey had been Rosenstein's. When a reporter told her that Comey was, in fact, well-liked in the bureau, Sanders said, "Look, we've heard from countless members of the FBI that say very different things." This was a lie. Sanders would later admit to investigators that she had made it up, characterizing it as "a slip of the tongue."

The deal was done: Comey's removal had been Rosenstein's idea; the director had been widely disliked; the FBI was thrilled, as most agents had voted for Trump anyway; the president and the American public were relieved; confidence had been restored. And, yes, Comey had, on three occasions, assured Trump that he was not under investigation. Such was the official story.

There was only one weak link.

It was "all" Rosenstein, Spicer, the White House press secretary, told reporters that evening. "No one from the White House," he said. "It was a DOJ decision."

To back this up, Rosenstein was asked that evening to prepare a letter, in essence, confirming the official tale. He declined. It wasn't true, he said. When the president called him directly and asked him to hold a press conference, Rosenstein demurred. Bad idea, he told the president. If he were asked whose idea it had been to fire Comey, he would tell the truth.

All these efforts to construct a false narrative about Comey's firing fizzled the next day.

Sergey Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister, and Kislyak were visiting the Oval Office when, with reporters and cameras present, the president told them: "I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That's taken off … I'm not under investigation."




If Trump had hoped to rein in the investigation, dumping Comey just made matters worse for him.

One week later, Rosenstein created the Office of the Special Counsel, naming Robert Mueller to lead it. Within three weeks it was publicly announced that Trump was being investigated, suspected of trying to obstruct justice.

Trump learned of the appointment on May 17. The president was meeting with Sessions, Priebus, and McGahn when the attorney general stepped out of the Oval office to take a call from Rosenstein. When he reentered he announced what had been done.

The president slumped in his chair.

"Oh, my God," he said. "This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I'm fucked."

He blamed Sessions.

"How could you let this happen, Jeff?"

Attorney general had been Trump's most important appointment, he said, and Sessions had let him down. He again drew the comparisons with RFK and Holder.

"You were supposed to protect me," he complained. "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."

He told Sessions he wanted him to resign.

Hope Hicks later said the only other time she had seen Trump so upset was when the "Access Hollywood" video surfaced.

Trump had calmed down by the next day. When Sessions handed him a resignation letter, Trump placed it in his pocket and asked the attorney general whether he wanted to stay on. Sessions said he did but acknowledged it was the president's decision. Trump said he wanted him to stay on-- but kept the letter. He showed it to several of his senior advisers on a flight to Saudi Arabia the next day, asking them what he should do about it. It was ultimately returned to Sessions with the note "not accepted."




The president next decided he wanted to fire Mueller. He accused him of having sought the FBI directorship himself (false, he had been invited to the White House to consult on finding a new director); of fighting with the Trump Organization over his departure from one of its golf clubs (false, correspondence about the matter had been routine and not contentious); and of having conflicts of interest because members of his law firm had once represented members of Trump's family (Mueller himself had not, and it's a large law firm).

Even the president's advisers told him his complaints were silly.

In fact, Mueller was squeaky clean. Known as "Bobby Three Sticks" for the Roman numbers at the end of his name, the gray-haired grandfather with a long, concave face had checked just about every box of righteous public service in his then-72 years. A Princeton-educated decorated Vietnam veteran, he had served as a US attorney and successfully prosecuted the bombers who downed Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, and the Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega. Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama had appointed him to federal jobs that required Senate approval. One of those jobs had been FBI director, a job he held from 2001 to 2013. He enjoyed broad respect from those who had worked for him and from those on both sides of the fractious Washington political divide. In many ways Trump's opposite, he would maintain sphinxlike silence through months of tweeted abuse from the president.

Trump asked McGahn to tell Rosenstein he needed to fire Mueller over his conflict of interest. McGahn refused, warning Trump that "knocking out Mueller" would be "another fact used to claim" obstruction of justice. Trump had already acknowledged firing Comey out of concern over the investigation. This was a dangerous path.




But on June 12, Trump told his longtime friend Christopher Ruddy, the chief executive of Newsmax Media, that he was strongly considering firing Mueller. Ruddy's subsequent story caused such a furor that, in a rarity, the president backpedaled. The White House released a statement saying that while he had the power to fire the special counsel, he had "no intention to do so."

By June 17, Trump had had it. He called McGahn from Camp David and ordered him to fire Mueller. "You gotta do this," he said. "You gotta call Rod."

McGahn ignored him. He had made it plain to the president that it would be inappropriate, unjustified, and a blunder. And yet Trump kept pushing. McGahn had gone a long way to indulge the president, longer than many would have, but he had his limits. It was his job to give the president sound legal advice.

When Trump called him back the next day to repeat his demand, McGahn decided to resign. When he told Donaldson, his chief of staff, she resolved to leave with him. While Priebus and Bannon talked them out of it, they continued to ignore the president's order.




Unable to force Mueller out, the president next sought to constrain him. In a June 19 meeting with Corey Lewandowski, his former campaign manager who remained a confidant, he dictated a public statement for the attorney general to make. According to Lewandowski's notes, it said:
"I know that I recused myself from certain things having to do with specific areas. But our POTUS … is being treated very unfairly. He shouldn't have a Special Prosecutor/Counsel b/c he hasn't done anything wrong. I was on the campaign w/ him for nine months, there were no Russians involved with him. I know it for a fact b/c I was there. He didn't do anything wrong except he ran the greatest campaign in American history … Now a group of people want to subvert the Constitution of the United States. I am going to meet with the Special Prosecutor to explain this is very unfair and let the Special Prosecutor move forward with the investigation meddling for future elections so that nothing can happen in future elections."
It read like a note someone might pass in a high-school cafeteria. Lewandowski scheduled a meeting with the attorney general immediately, but when it fell through because of a scheduling conflict, he locked the message in a safe at his home.

Days later, Lewandowski still hadn't delivered the statement, blaming it on a scheduling conflict with Sessions. Trump said that if his attorney general refused to meet with Lewandowski, then he was to inform him that he was fired. Still, Lewandowski demurred. He passed a typed copy of the statement to Rick Dearborn, a senior White House aide, and asked him to deliver it-- Dearborn and Sessions were longtime friends. Dearborn discarded it.

Meanwhile, Sessions had changed his mind: He would not resign. If Trump wanted him out, he could fire him, but doing so would most likely spur speculation that the president was shopping for an attorney general who would do his bidding with the Russia investigation. Indeed, Priebus advised Trump that if he fired Sessions, Congress would never approve a successor.

Still, Trump was undeterred. He railed publicly about Sessions' decision to recuse himself. He told the New York Times on July 19 that if he had known Sessions would do so, he would never have appointed him. It was "very unfair." "How do you take a job and then recuse yourself?" he asked, as if supervising the Russia investigation were the attorney general's sole responsibility. He told Priebus to demand Sessions' resignation. As for getting congressional approval for his replacement, Trump would sidestep Congress by nominating his successor during the recess.

Priebus consulted with McGahn, who advised him not to do it-- and to consult with his personal lawyer. Both men decided to resign if Trump persisted.

Trump met with Priebus on Saturday, July 22, and asked about Sessions' resignation.

"Did you get it?" he asked. "Are you working on it?"

Even though he had no intention of following through, Priebus mollified Trump, telling him he would. Later that day, he made one more attempt to talk the president out of it. If Sessions went, then he could expect the deputy attorney general, Rosenstein, to resign along with at least one other top assistant attorney general. They would be unable to get a replacement. A house cleaning atop the Justice Department would inevitably draw comparison to President Richard Nixon's notorious "Saturday Night Massacre." It would dominate all the Sunday talk shows. He got the president to postpone taking the step until Monday, and before the weekend was over Trump had thought better of it.

But he kept up his public criticism. On Monday he tweeted his dismay that Sessions had not resumed investigating Clinton, and he called his attorney general "beleaguered." More of the same came the next day. Sessions prepared another resignation letter and began carrying it in his pocket.




When firing or threatening to fire law-enforcement officials didn't work, Trump turned to a new tactic: publicly pressuring their witnesses.

The law against obstructing justice contains a specific provision that prohibits "tampering" with a witness, either through intimidation, persuasion, or misleading behavior designed to influence, delay, or prevent testimony.

After Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI and announced his cooperation with Mueller's office, Trump initially praised him and then said it was a "shame" he lied.

One of Trump's personal lawyers, John Dowd, urged Flynn in a voicemail to give the White House "some kind of heads-up" if he were to share any information with the FBI "that implicates the president." When Flynn's lawyers responded that he was "no longer in a position" to be doing this, Dowd told them it reflected "hostility" toward the president. Perhaps to make clear what the loss of his favor might mean, Trump explicitly left open the possibility of a pardon.

He also dangled the possibility of a pardon for Paul Manafort, his former campaign manager.

When Manafort joined the Trump campaign in 2016, he knew that his role, for which he took no salary, would grease his tattered relationships with wealthy backers of the pro-Russian Ukrainian opposition, with whom he had suffered a financially painful falling out. Steering Trump might give him new leverage. He tapped the Russian agent Konstantin Kilimnik to serve as a go-between with Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire with whom he had a legal dispute over unpaid fees, and several Ukrainian oligarchs, offering them the campaign's internal polling data and promising a sympathetic ear in a Trump White House. Kilimnik soon presented Manafort with a peace plan backed by Viktor Yanukovych, the Putin-aligned former Ukrainian president. The plan, in essence, would have ceded eastern Ukraine to Russia.

All of this went well beyond issues of state. It worked to Manafort's benefit immediately — Deripaska indicated he would pay the disputed fee. Long term, Manafort told his deputy Rick Gates, his work for Trump would be "good for business." (This turned out not to be true. In October 2017, Manafort and Gates were indicted on suspicion of bank fraud and failing to register as foreign agents.)

Trump appeared to have mixed feelings about Manafort. Despite public messages of support, the president told one aide that he had never liked the man and that he had been incompetent. But Trump was also plainly worried about what Manafort might tell investigators, and he discussed with his aides what damaging information he might possess. Trump began distancing himself from his former campaign manager, while flirting publicly with an eventual pardon.

At one point, Manafort told Gates that one of Trump's personal lawyers had promised they would "take care of us." He advised his deputy that it would be stupid to plead guilty. They should "sit tight."

When Manafort's trial opened in July 2018, the president tweeted a barrage of criticism aimed at federal prosecutors and at Mueller: "This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further." Amid Trump's railings, Manafort was convicted of eight counts of fraud on August 21, 2018.




There was a flip side to dangling the possibility of a pardon to his indicted associates. For those who chose to cooperate with investigators, there was punishment. Michael Cohen's story would illustrate the hazards of defying the president.

He was someone who, by most accounts, Trump took for granted. A man with large, drooping features who seemed perpetually sad, Cohen had evolved a trusting, if not particularly close, relationship with Trump. He liked to call himself Trump's "fixer." Twenty years his boss' junior, he had become Trump's go-to attorney for sticky business and personal dealings, even though Trump openly insulted him and often threatened to fire him.

Cohen didn't seem to mind. He told reporters he was willing to "take a bullet" for Trump. It was Cohen who secretly handled hush-money payments to women and who headed negotiations to build Trump Tower Moscow. He told The Washington Post that the project had been discarded as unfeasible in January 2016. When Congress asked him about it in May 2017, Cohen lied again in his written statement in August 2017. Cohen would later tell Congress these lies had come after Trump's encouragement. This was the job.

Cohen had been collaborating with the president's defense lawyers, consulting with them whenever he faced questioning. He knew he was taking a large personal risk by lying to Congress and federal investigators, but he trusted that he would be protected if he played ball. If he "went rogue," however, things would change. He was told that Trump loved him and that if he stayed on message, he would have his back.

With that in mind, Cohen adhered stubbornly to the party line-- for a time. He spoke with Trump's legal team immediately after giving false testimony to Congress. When a story appeared about the $130,000 payment to the porn actress known as Stormy Daniels, Cohen said he had paid the woman himself. He had done so without Trump's knowledge, he said, and had not been reimbursed. In so doing, he knew he had committed crimes, but he was comforted by a message from one of Trump's lawyers. ("Client says thanks for what you do.") The Trump Organization continued paying his legal fees.

This changed in April, when the FBI raided his office, his home, and his hotel room.

Trump called the searches "an attack on our country, in a true sense." A few days later the president called Cohen and encouraged him to "hang in there." But Cohen was in jeopardy. His attorney discussed the possibility of a pardon with Rudy Giuliani, who had recently joined Trump's defense team, and then emailed Cohen to reassure him: "Very Very Positive. You are 'loved.' … they are in our corner … Sleep well tonight, you have friends in high places." So long as he stayed on message.

But this was untenable. The FBI now had damning evidence, including a recording of Cohen discussing with then-candidate Trump a payoff to another woman who claimed a sexual liaison with him. Cohen knew that continuing to lie would mean personal disaster. He hired a new lawyer who had once advised Bill Clinton. In July 2018, it was reported that Cohen had "signaled his willingness" to cooperate with the investigation.

Trump tweeted: "Inconceivable that the government would break into a lawyer's office (early in the morning)-- almost unheard of. Even more inconceivable that a lawyer would tape a client-- totally unheard of & perhaps illegal. The good news is that your favorite President did nothing wrong!"

Cohen pleaded guilty in August 2018 to campaign-finance violations, based on the payoffs he had made to Daniels and the other woman. He said he had done so at Trump's direction. On August 22, in another tweet, Trump contrasted Cohen's behavior with Manafort's: "I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family. 'Justice' took a 12-year-old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him, and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to 'break'-- make up stories in order to get a 'deal.' Such respect for a brave man!"

Trump would eventually admit in November 2018 that discussions about the Moscow Tower deal had continued throughout his campaign. He said that he could not recall being told discussions were ongoing (Cohen said he briefed him regularly) but that he "decided not to do the project." He added: "There would have been nothing wrong if I did do it … That was my business … I was focused on running for president ... I was running my business while I was campaigning. There was a good chance that I wouldn't have won, in which case I would've gone back into the business. And why should I lose lots of opportunities?"

Trump blamed Cohen for these revelations about his business dealings. He now called him "a weak person" and began disparaging his family. He tweeted that Cohen, his wife, and his father-in-law were involved in criminal dealings and that his former "fixer" deserved "a full and complete sentence." He called Cohen's years of service to him "a liability" and branded him a "Rat."

The president maintained the verbal fusillade against Cohen for weeks. The comments prompted Cohen to complain of threats from Trump and Giuliani against Cohen's family.

Cohen subsequently postponed his testimony before Congress, out of fear for his family.




On May 29, 2019, Mueller made his one and only public statement about his report.

After Trump's claims of "complete and total exoneration" following the report's release, the special counsel had uttered not a word. Now, appearing before the cameras at the Department of Justice in his dark, pinstriped suit and white button-down shirt, he disappointed those eager for a pointed summary of his report. His report had carefully defined obstruction of justice as "any intentional act seeking to prevent or impede an official legal proceeding." The action is regarded as "intentional" if it is undertaken knowingly and with an improper motive.

Did that mean Trump committed a crime when he asked McFarland to draft a memo saying he had not directed Flynn to discuss Obama's sanctions with the Russian ambassador? When he demanded "loyalty" from Comey? When he asked Comey to move on from the Flynn investigation? When he fired Comey and then tried to create a false record of how that came about? When he demanded that Sessions retain control of the investigation to protect him? When he publicly attacked Mueller and demanded that he be fired? When he publicly speculated about pardoning his indicted associates? When he insulted Cohen for cooperating and urged criminal investigations of him and his family?

Mueller wouldn't say, beyond what he so explicitly details in his 448-page report.

"Beyond what I've said here today and what is contained in our written work, I do not believe it is appropriate for me to speak further about the investigation or to comment on the actions of the Justice Department or Congress," he said.

Mueller explained that he was bound by Justice Department rules forbidding the federal indictment of a sitting president and by principles prohibiting a prosecutor from accusing people of a crime when they do not have any formal means of defending themselves.

Though Mueller would not charge Trump with a crime, there are avenues open to Congress. Mueller even maps them. The Constitution requires the president to "Take care that the Laws be faithfully executed." That implies, Mueller reasons, that the president act in the public interest, not in his own. Efforts to obstruct an investigation "of paramount importance" to the nation, out of a desire to protect himself, would be corrupt.

The president does enjoy a wide latitude, Mueller said, and only in the rarest of instances would his actions not have "a clear governmental purpose." But Trump's repeated efforts to end, control, impede, and influence the investigation ordered by the attorney general might offer, he concludes, precisely such a case. If the president was not acting in the nation's interest, if he was not faithfully executing its laws, then given the separation of powers enumerated in the Constitution, Congress has the authority to "regulate" him.

The Justice Department cannot act, Mueller says.

Congress can.




In a plea agreement with Mueller in December 2017, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. His oft-delayed sentencing is still pending.
K.T. McFarland is spending time with her family.
After his firing in May 2017, James Comey wrote a book, "A Higher Loyalty," about his career that details his dealings with the 45th president. He joined the faculty of William & Mary in Virginia, where he taught a course in ethical leadership last fall.
Jeff Sessions finally resigned in November 2018, at Trump's request.
Don McGahn resigned in October 2018. Trump has accused him of lying under oath to Mueller.
Manafort was sentenced to roughly 7 1/2 years in prison by judges in Virginia and Washington, DC, after being convicted of a variety of crimes mostly unrelated to Trump's campaign. He was found guilty of tax fraud (hiding money he received from overseas consulting work in off-shore bank accounts), money laundering, failure to register as a foreign lobbyist, and a variety of other crimes. Manafort still faces charges in the state of New York.
Michael Cohen eventually did appear before Congress, in February 2019, and gave two days of damning testimony about Trump, whom he described as a liar and a cheat. He was sentenced to three years in prison and is now serving that sentence at the federal institution in Otisville, New York.
Robert Mueller formally stepped down as special counsel in May. He is scheduled to testify before Congress on July 17.
Donald John Trump is running for president again, enjoying the kind of economy that usually gets incumbents reelected.

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6 Comments:

At 9:10 PM, Blogger edmondo said...

Nobody cares!

Nobody cares!

Please stop.

 
At 12:48 AM, Anonymous ap215 said...

This is brilliant!

 
At 6:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Overly long and pointless in this audience.

We already paid attention and I'd wager quite a lot of your readers already read the report.

The report is indictable proof of obstruction. It's quite probably indictable proof of perjury on the part of several principals. It shows that trump was freaked out over the investigation proving that he's a criminal douchebag, which it absolutely does.
It also shows that trump wants to be dictator and wants to eliminate everyone and everything that displeases him. A ceo can do that. a president should not even have that reflex. Had all his subordinates actually acted on his orders, there would be even MORE proof of obstruction. Not that it mattered.

But it also shows that trump had no idea who Mueller is. Mueller proved to be a partisan hack who did his job fairly well but had no intention of ever acting on his findings. Mueller knew that the DOJ 'guideline' (as opposed to any law or constitutional constraint) was that a sitting president is above the law (is not indictable). Mueller also knows that it doesn't matter the caliber of the smoking guns, the democraps (Pelosi and party) are pussies that would never, EVER act appropriately.

So... the question is why did Mueller spend 2 years?

The only thing I can think of is he stole 2 years worth of salary... or he tried to run out the clock until well after the 2018 midterm. This he did. I'm not sure his goal... the anti red wave was plenty big enough without the report. It would have been too late for voters to notice that the democraps were being their usual worthless feckless pussy selves and react with an anti-blue impulse.

So... basically, he stole 2 years worth of salary. That's about all that came of this. He put a few shitheads in prison for short sentences... no biggie. But, as edmondo notes: nobody fucking cares.
the Nazis love trump more
the democraps are still pussies.
lefty voters will feel they have no choice but to keep electing pussies so that Pelosi can be the biggest pussy.
And trump can basically redecorate the white house because he ain't going noplace anytime. probably ever.

 
At 6:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The democraps are doing their paid-for jobs as the defenders of Republican criminals. Nothing will ever get done about Republican crimes. Even now, the laws and other legal conditions for elections are being radically altered so that there isn't a ballot box solution anymore.

It looks like Franklin knew what he was talking about when he replied to a question asking what kind of government was being provided to the people. "A Republic - IF you can keep it."

We lost it over 50 years ago and few people noticed. Those who took it away now know they don't need to hide that fact anymore. No one will make any attempt to take it back from them.

 
At 3:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

6:29, *WE* didn't lose it.

WE fucking gave it away. Because we're fucking morons.

 
At 6:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

WE gave away JFK to that conspiracy? Who knew!

 

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