Trump Thinks He’s Happy Now! Just Wait

Happy Easter! I have never been happier or more content because your Country is doing so well, with an Economy that is the talk of the World and may be stronger than it has ever been before. Have a great day! Tweet of President Donald Trump, Easter Sunday, April 21, 2019

Of course, in true President Donald Trump fashion, this tweet was followed by a storm of erratic tweets that could be read as counter to his claimed frame of mind. But, President Trump indicates he is happy, which is a good thing. A happy Trump means a Trump not likely to wag the dog, say, by bombing Iran. Of course, he may just be blowing smoke. After all, when Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel, the president’s response was “I’m fucked.” Then, when Attorney General William Barr put out his deliberately misleading four-page summary, Trump replied, “Complete and Total Exoneration.” After the release of the redacted Mueller report, the president posted a “Game of Thrones”-inspired tweet, “Game Over,” which was quickly followed by a tweet claiming the report is “total bullshit.” It appears that Trump is not so much happy as confused.

But, taking the president at his word, if the redacted report made him happy, he is going to be positively giddy after Mueller testifies before Congress and Congress gets to see the un-redacted report. Trump even may do a jig when we get all the details of the pending investigations Mueller farmed out to other investigative entities. Mueller referred 14 potential cases to other investigators. We know the details of only two: The case involving Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty to a number of counts stemming from hush money payments to women alleged to have had affairs with Trump, and another concerning Greg Craig, a Democrat, who has been charged with concealing information about work he performed for the Ukrainian government in 2012. Speculatively, the other cases may relate to Trump’s taxes, the defunct Trump Foundation, Trump’s inaugural committee, and a plethora of other possible illegalities.

Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller

As for Mueller’s potential testimony, the special prosecutor may shed light on whether any of the cases he referred to other venues involve the president, just how significant the contacts between the president’s campaign and Russians were, and what the connection was, if any, between Trump’s call to find Hillary Clinton’s emails and Russian hacking. Congress may ask Mueller if he discovered whether Russians tried to manipulate Trump and, if so, were they successful? About the infamous June 9 Trump Tower meeting, does the reason the special prosecutor did not bring charges against Donald Trump Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner, and former campaign head Paul Manafort stem from their ignorance of the law, which made convictions problematic? 

On obstruction, the report states that if the special prosecutor found no evidence the president obstructed justice, “We would so state.” Does that mean the evidence indicates he did obstruct justice? Beyond a reasonable doubt? Can Congress infer from Mueller’s citing the Office of Legal Counsel’s ruling prohibiting indictment of a sitting president that Mueller believes action now falls to Congress? Finally, was the attorney general not bound by the same OLC guidelines as the special prosecutor’s office?

Former White House Counsel Don McGahn

Trump tweeted after the report’s release, “Watch out for people that take so-called ‘notes.’” Among others, that is a reference to former White House Counsel Don McGahn, who the report says was ordered by Trump to fire the special counsel. McGahn demurred, fearing a Nixonian “Saturday Night Massacre.” McGahn was right, of course, and Trump is lucky McGahn ignored the presidential directive. But, Trump is too narcissistic or too ignorant — claiming “nobody disobeys my orders” — to appreciate that McGahn saved him, for now. 

What next? Congressional Democrats will be under intense pressure to start impeachment proceedings. Though the president cannot be indicted on obstruction because of Justice Department guidelines nor charged with conspiracy — on interactions with Russians — because of the difficulty of proving such a charge, there is plenty of evidence of wrongdoing. Clearly, Trump’s campaign had contacts with Russians and did not report those contacts to the appropriate authorities. Just as obviously, Trump repeatedly tried to shut down the special prosecutor’s investigation. There is much in the report detailing shoddy and unethical behavior by Trump and his surrogates to warrant, at the least, the beginnings of proceedings looking into whether the president committed “high crimes and misdemeanors.” 

At the same time, Congress must continue to investigate those matters as well as Trump’s taxes and business dealings. The president’s refusal to release his tax returns suggests he has much to hide. It could be a simple matter of Trump knowing the forms indicate he is not as wealthy as he claims. Or, it could be that the president is guilty of massive financial fraud and even money laundering. 

The Senate Select Committee on Watergate

Hearings conducted by Congress — first, the Senate Select Committee on Watergate in the summer of 1973, then the House Judiciary Committee hearings on impeachment the next year — laid out incontrovertible evidence of wrongdoing by President Richard Nixon. That evidence swayed public opinion and eventually convinced Republicans in the Senate that Nixon had to go. Congressional investigations now may perform the same function.

Will that make Trump happy? Who knows? But, it will give joy to all who revere the Constitution and the rule of law.

Posted April 23, 2019

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