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Bracing for the Mueller Report

Bracing for the Mueller Report

As of Friday evening, we know that the Special Counsel has submitted his report to the Attorney General without any indictments of close Trump associates or family members. We do not know what findings or recommendations are in the report. There seem to be three possibilities here.

First is that Mueller found no indictable evidence that the President or his family committed any crimes related to their involvement with the Russians, or the firing of James Comey. Second is that Mueller found evidence of crimes, but declined to pursue them on political grounds, insisting that existing Justice Department rules and “respect for our institutions” demands those matters be handled through Congressional oversight. The third possibility is that Mueller found indictable offenses and sought approval from the Attorney General to prosecute them and the approval was denied. If so, that would probably be noted in the report. I have my suspicions, but at this point there’s nothing to be gained from jumping to conclusions. Chances are we’ll see the complete report soon. Also, based on the way this has come down, chances are it has been crafted as a hedge to avoid a political crisis, meaning it will be toothless.

If the Special Counsel has declined to hold the President accountable, then we are left to work this out in a hopelessly broken political system. We’ll see, but right now it doesn’t look good.


    1. Without seeing the report I really can’t say with confidence. There are some obvious possibilities. One of those possibilities comes from evidentiary problems with information collected in counter-intelligence investigations. Everything in the Steele Dossier could be true, and an investigator could uncover convincing evidence to support it, but large portions of that evidence might be inadmissible. A prosecutor might have to defer. In a conventional espionage case, the FBI might still make an arrest, especially an arrest of a foreign national, knowing that there’d be no trial, just an eventual exchange of assets with the other government. If the target of the investigation is a major political figure…well, you don’t just arrest them on a shake-down.

      There’s also the possibility that Mueller found no open collaboration between Trump insiders and Kremlin officials. This seems ludicrous, given what we’ve all watched them do, but we have to see his report.

      The most likely possibility in my opinion is that Mueller took a very conservative approach to this investigation, with an eye toward protecting the political process. He was only ever going to prosecute the most obvious and egregious violations of the law. Anything ambiguous would be given the benefit of the doubt in order to protect the outcome of the political process. I have a terrible suspicion that the Mueller report will be short and skeletal, revealing almost nothing we don’t know. Donald Trump has spent his entire life escaping the consequences of his money laundering, fraud, embezzlement and even rape for a reason. That reason didn’t disappear when he became President. Our system isn’t capable of holding wealthy, well-connected people accountable.

      1. I believe Chris’ assessment is largely correct. I would add however that Barr’s letter was very tightly drafted to protect his own a… It basically stated using a lot of legalese that he would fulfill his statement that he was mindful of the necessity of releasing as much of the report as possible. However, privacy and the grand jury process needs to be protected. In plain English, what that means is those will be as broadly defined as possible, and nothing of substance will be released. We will only know what is already public and is contained in the court filings, but is not redacted. Now that the investigation is already sealed, the DOJ will fight to prevent further unsealing.

        So the House will have to attempt to obtain the documents by any means possible. But the Administration (incl DOJ) will of course refuse to release any sensitive information. Eventually, that will end up before SCOTUS. How long it takes to get there and how they will rule is anyone’s guess. Most likely Garsuch and Kavanaugh will support the Administration. the others we already know and Roberts could potentially swing.

        So most likely we will go into the 2020 elections with the public still not knowing fully what happened. The Trumpistas will still be saying that Trump is being framed. That is exactly what the Administration wants and is central to the Republicans plans for his reelection.

      2. That last possibility sounds about right. As a former reporter, I covered about 30 murder trials in my day. Some stuff just can’t be proven, even if everyone knows it. If the prosecutors know they can’t prove it, they don’t bring it up. It disappears, if you will. So I think the following statement is accurate (below). But I think I have to move on, especially if the full report does not produce anything other than what has been talked about on TV for months. But I will never vote Trump.

        “He was only ever going to prosecute the most obvious and egregious violations of the law. Anything ambiguous would be given the benefit of the doubt in order to protect the outcome of the political process.”

      3. Republicans are doing everything they can to make certain the American people never see the Mueller Report. McConnell continues to shield this president and deny the public of their right to know as much as possible about its findings. On Maddow last night it was reported that Barr will try to block release of the report, the grand jury testimony and the evidence underpinning the report. Although GJ investigations are generally private, there is precedence by Leon Jawarski of appeal to the courts to release GJ testimony and evidence. (Nixon) Different times but precedents matter.

      4. Well, the Republicans are giddy and now feel that they will be able to do anything they want to. They are going make another run at repealing the ACA and all the other despicable things they got hammered for in the 2018 elections. Pelosi will be busy the next two years.

        In the long run the Mueller report suppression will probably be good for the Democrats. Trump is giddy and at a high point now with 43% approval and a seemingly roaring economy. He thinks his base is rock solid and he can use the same route to victory as in 2016. The American people still overwhelming suspect that there is something not right with the Russian connection and believe that the DC Swamp swamp has not been drained. The corruption of this Administration is well known. The economy is definitely showing signs of slowing. The American people do not like corruption and when the economy turns downward, they will not be so happy. As I written before, IMO much of the economic good news is based on short term statistics, not the underlying economic condition of the normal family. By November 2020, things will not be so rosy.

        As the old saying states, “pride goeth before a fall”.

  1. With a self-imposed exile after the 2016 election, I’ve wandered to Chris’s place from time to time to keep up with the thoughts and the folks without contributing. So, a quick pop in to contribute.

    I certainly have not shared Chris’s optimism that Trump is going to run away in fear of prison or be taken away in cuffs. There was no impeachment or other negative repercussions coming from the report unless Mueller had video of Trump performing oral sex on Putin while giving him nuclear codes (either one of those things would be fine with the GOP Senate, but both simultaneously might get Susan Collins to do something other than being “deeply troubled”),

    The only way we get rid of Trump is via the vote in 2020.

    I have significant fear of where things go if we do not do that in 2020.

    I’ve assumed for the last couple of years that Trump would screw enough stuff up to generally embarrass everyone, voters would realize the error of their ways, and then you’d see a shift back to normalcy in 2020 (with potentially even Trump not running in 2020).

    Now, I’m not that optimistic. Trump’s approval rating has a hard floor of 37% (the deplorables) and it will inch up a bit this year to 43%-44% (the asshats) as the economy hums along. In 2020, Republicans are going to convince themselves they approve of Trump because Republicans gotta do what they do and vote GOP. That gets Trump back to a level that wins him an election.

    Talking about various special elections, demographic changes, and 2018 House results is nice and all, but the Democrats are not cracking the Senate and the electoral map doesn’t look a whole lot better now than it did in 2016.

    Assuming the economy doesn’t crash before the 2020 election, Trump is at worse a 50/50 proposition to win the election. Even a crashed economy would be blamed on the Democrats taking the House, so that in itself won’t push him to a loss. The power of the incumbency is pretty significant, and right now, I’d put him above a 50% chance.

    I tend to be on the more progressive end of the spectrum, but the pragmatic in me believes the “socialism” label is going to stick to the Democrats. I think Sanders gets slaughtered in a general election, and unfairly or not, Warren is going to get stuck as a joke with the Native American stuff.

    Half the Democrat candidates are women, and we saw how well that went last time.

    Biden is not what anyone wants or needs, and he would undoubtedly say and do some mighty stupid stuff (but it won’t be any more stupid than what Trump will say and do).

    While I happily had my Beto sign in my yard last year, so far he is doing a really poor impersonation of 2007 Obama. Beto had to run for President if he had any aspiration beyond a random House seat in Texas, but he hasn’t been prepping quite as much as he should have since November, and I fear he is going to end up a lot more hat than cattle.

    White folks are going to vote GOP because that is what white folks do. For the last 40 years, white folks would have elected the GOP candidate, and that is not going to change in 2020.

    The “sleeping giant” of Hispanic voters is still sleepy, and even if that giant wakes up, increasing Hispanic turnout is going to happen primarily in Texas and California, and that won’t change an electoral college result. Maybe, Arizona could flip with more Hispanic voters but everything else stays the same.

    Obama turned out the Black vote, and that was a huge amount of his margin of victory. Bernie doesn’t get that kind of participation at all, and the others don’t get as much as Clinton did. Harris would be the obvious link to blacks (Booker will go away early), but there is a lot of skepticism to Harris due to her work as a prosecutor in California. Harris also is not nearly as captivating as Obama.

    One tiny sliver of hope is that the 2018 youth vote was substantially higher than the 2014 youth vote. Still, Trump got over 1/3 of the youth vote, and it’ll be two more years of young people generally able to get jobs, and there are plenty of deplorable young people who love Trump. I’m not sure counting on young people to turn out in droves is a safe bet (especially if your candidate is in his 70s).

    Some of you longtime Lifer alums may recall that although I’m old, I have young children. Well, they are now 6, 6, and 4.

    I’ve kind of chugged along thinking things will return to normal for my kids after Trump. Things would continue to suck with only incremental improvements for poor folks and minorities, but my kids are white, male, in good schools, in a good neighborhood, so they are going through the game with it set on easy mode.

    Now? I’m not so sure.

    They’ll still be white, male, not poor, and decently educated so they are unlikely to be significantly hurt by whatever changes come, but I’m growing more skeptical that their adulthood is going to be lived in a country that I recognize.

    I don’t see rioting in the streets and insurrections, but I’m also not anticipating as high a level of freedom and/or flexibility.

    Wow, that was a really long and pessimistic comment, with some fair amount of navel gazing.

    Anyway, good to see some of the old-timers from Lifer days still around as well as seeing the new-comers. This is still one of the few places online where idiocy does not reign supreme.

    1. Hey Homer, good to hear from you. You’re right about the vote being the best chance to be rid of this fool, and it won’t be easy. Besides the deplorables who signed on for the cruelty, you’ve got the biggest sunk cost fallacy in human history going on. Too many people may disapprove of Trump personally, but they made their Devil’s bargains and chipped another piece of their souls off with each affront. They’re invested, and they don’t want the think about that cumulative cost.

      In a meeting with one of the local House candidates who fell just short but is willing to try again, the talk was voter outreach. Texas “improved” in turnout from 50th to 41st last year, so there’s obvious room for more. I have no illusions about how heavy a lift it will be, but it’s the only realistic path. Talking to Trump supporters is a waste of precious time. Convincing people who lean Dem but don’t have a habit of voting to get involved is the work I will be involved in for this cycle.

      Beto should have taken another crack at Senate, but what’s done is done. I hope Stacy Abrams goes for the seat in Georgia.

      Also voting out Trump is only the beginning of fixing the mess we are in.

      1. You are correct on all points fly.

        It is clear that Beto has higher political aspirations, but I cannot see a scenario where he could beat Cornyn in Texas during a Presidential election year. Texas is not going to flip blue in 2020, but maybe the dam breaks in 2024 or 2028 with the right candidate.

        Beto would have to wait to take a shot at Cruz again, and he would drift off into political obscurity long before that. So, for his political future, he had to run for President. If he catches lightening in a bottle and wins, then he’s happy. If he flames out, he sets himself up for a possible appointed position if the Democrats win the election or has started building the organization to do it again in 2024.

        The point about voter turnout is key. I think the percentage of people who voted for Trump in 2016 but who will turn against him in 2020 is shockingly small.

        Our side has to somehow outnumber the deplorables and asshats in at least a handful of key states.

    2. Ditto “hi” Homer! Sadly, I agree with most of what you state (and fear). “If” the S.C. throws out the ACA in advance of the 2020 election (which will hurt millions of Americans both with marketplace plans and those who are part of expanded Medicaid), that one thing could impact the election. “If” the economy goes bad, (which is statistically due for a correction) but is worse than a “mild” recession, that could impact the election. Of course it will also impact retired folks savings and small businesses as well and it is harder for these two groups to make up the losses that they will suffer.

      It is my opinion, that trump is also negatively impacting the global economy and peace. His uninformed, foolish forays into tariff penalties have hurt many sectors here in America and abroad. He is a dangerous, ill informed man. However, I blame the Republicans in Congress who have refused to hold him accountable and to check him in areas they know are dangerous and wrong. Trump may win a second term which thought is so repugnant and frightening to me that I simply can’t….but the GOP is the real villain in this fight because they have allowed every ugly, bad thing to happen.

      Hope your fishing is bringing you some peace from this ugly political environment. I need to find a similar mental escape (-:

  2. The Dems don’t need to subpoena the report. If it’s harmless, the GOP will publish it. Alternatively, if they keep demanding it, and the GOP withholds it, that tells you all you need to know about Trump’s level of culpability. If the people, at that point, won’t punish him with their votes, indicting Trump in a court of law is of little refuge, either. As citizens, we can’t continue to expect our politicians will do things without us holding them accountable!

    The Dems would be wise not to subpoena the report, but to continue demanding it. Meanwhile, the House can continue its investigation where Mueller left off. It can’t subpoena the report, but it can subpoena the people in it. And, again, if the elected officials won’t hold those people accountable, and the public who elect those officials won’t hold the officials accountable, a court of law won’t help you anyway. We don’t live in a spectator democracy. We get, from our courts, what we, as a people put into them.

    1. Dems would be wise not to subpoena the report, but keep demanding it? That’s utterly toothless. If you’re not willing to back up your demands with real and substantive power, then there’s no point behind demanding it at all – and for goodness sake, citizens worked their asses off to elect a Democratic House to assert that very authority.

      What we know, at the very least, is that Mueller found very troubling information, but wasn’t confident of being able to prove it in a court of law. We need to know everything that’s in that report, and if Barr isn’t willing to hand it over on his own terms, Dems should subpoena it and have Mueller come to testify immediately.

      1. See above. If there’s nothing to hide, the GOP will gladly fork over the report without a subpoena. If you have to use a subpoena to get the report, then you know there’s something damning in it. Because it’s damning, you can tell whatever story you want, and Dems would be wise to tell the worst story possible, that fits the facts. This is something lawyers do, routinely, in civil cases where people plead the Fifth.

        Suppose you’re suing someone for sexual harassment, and, while deposing him, he pleads the Fifth. Now you can ask whatever question you want, regardless of how scandalous it is, and the dude will have to plead the Fifth. It’s the same with the GOP, if they don’t fork over the report. The Dems can insinuate whatever they want, and the GOP will be stuck.

        The present situation is one in which, unfortunately, the facts don’t matter. You’ll recall Hillary Clinton was “exonerated” by a Republican Senate- THREE TIMES, and it didn’t actually matter. You may also recall that after Obama produced his birth certificate, educated Republicans were actually MORE LIKELY to believe he was born abroad than they did before he showed them the smoking gun.

        Here, despite what Barr says, Roger Stone’s indictment is quite damning for Trump. But that doesn’t matter to his supporters, just like it doesn’t matter to them that this investigation has resulted in numerous members of Trump’s team being either indicted or implicated. Even a conviction of Trump would not be enough to persuade these imbeciles, and this fact, unfortunately, means there would likely be just enough of them on a jury (only takes one for a mistrial!) that obtaining a conviction would prove difficult. In the present moment, people’s reality is shaped not by objective reason, but by the network to which they belong.

        No black person in LA, in the wake of the Rodney King beating and subsequent riots, was going to convict OJ Simpson of murder, evidence be damned. Likewise, in the Age of Obama, no Trump supporter will buy into anything that condemns their man. Obama’s presidency, for them, must be erased at any cost, because for them to live in a post-Obama America is to live in a country they do not recognize, let alone understand.

        The Dems need to realize that this battle is a political one, not a legal one. It will be won or lost in the court of public opinion. Demanding a subpoena will result in a rally around the flag mentality, and end with a Supreme Court (probably not even in a 5-4 decision) upholding executive privilege. You don’t need the report. Just like n my Fifth Amendment example, the innuendo is a better weapon.

    2. EJ

      It’s interesting to compare this to the Benghazi investigation fiasco.

      I seem to remember that after Clinton was exonerated of any wrongdoing there, the matter was not dropped. Rather, her exoneration was entirely ignored in favour of continuing to use the matter as a stick to beat her with; and nobody involved seemed to feel that they were embarrassing themselves or weakening their position by doing so.

      How much of the Benghazi fiasco was unique to Republicans, and how much of it was just the way American politics happens? If the latter, is it going to happen again here?

  3. The SC investigation is done with no additional indictments. Ok, its not really news that the bad and corrupt are not held accountable. Nixon was pardoned. Two wars in this century continue but no one has been held accountable. Over a trillion dollars was sucked out of our economy with credit default swaps…no one was indicted. I get it, and its not news.

    I’m with Chris, it takes grass roots organizations to organize and give voice to citizens. The government we have comprised of both parties are largely bought and paid for by the rich and powerful, but even that can’t overcome organizing large segments of the citizenry around basic principles of fair markets with some controls, equal pay, access to health care and education. Violence without legitimate organized resistance is just terrorism. We have to do the work and vote. Oh, and be smart….thats a hard one but a necessary ingredient…or at least not intellectually lazy.

    1. This is not surprising.

      Barr was put in there to whitewash and minimize report as much as possible. What we need to focus on now is getting a full copy of the entire report released. Barr’s letter is full of wierd shit such as his loony interpretatiion of collusion obstruction of justice, and just what the fuck “not making a traditional prosecutorial judgement” means.

      This is not the end. Not by a longshot.

  4. Dins – Targeted violence is not ever something I could support. Your continual prodding along this line is harmful. We are all terribly worried about what has happened and what lies ahead but violence is not a solution in a democratic society, which still exists if on life support. This kind of talk is not helpful.

    1. And Mary, that is the massive chasm between your beliefs and mine.

      You still believe that you live in a democratic society, albeit one on life support. I recognize that society is dead, with no judicial, political, nor economic system protecting it.

      You believe anything but violence will save it. I recognize that sometimes, violence is the only option left. Pelosi has apparently “put her foot down” and demands a full public release of Mueller’s report.

      Two things will happen there:

      1. Her demand will be ignored.
      2. Her demand is met, and this regime shrugs off any damning evidence, with the support of the DoJ, Senate, and SCOTUS.

      Though the conditions are not quite the same, the U.S. is so so close to late 20’s/early 30’s Germany. The oligarchs want the Chinese or Russian model in the U.S. , and it is happening. Your belief in a fair election, assuming there is one (impeachment was never on the table, clearly), is a fantasy.

      1. I got to see the FBI raid my downstairs neighbor one Saturday morning. It was scary and he had not done shit. Fight the power did not work then, it won’t work now. I am an old “dog of war”. Bullets won’t fix this, votes will. It was razor thin last time with a shitty candidate. Get out and do the work, we can change this.

      2. You might as well block me Chris. My views fall on deaf ears. I can still read what is posted here, and follow the links. There are some extremely intelligent and well researched articles by you, and the back and forth you have and the other posters have with one another is clearly one of the best set of blog posts I have seen. I can enjoy that, somewhat.

        But I have fundamental differences between you and your following here. You and the majority of posters can see as well as I do what has happened, and where this path leads, as you and others document it with history and tons of facts. But you and others seem to refuse to accept that it is hopeless to think that the “little guy” can beat the authoritarianism sweeping the planet by exclusively voting and organizing protests.

        Tell you what…why don’t you track what is happening in Brazil, Hungary, Poland, the entire Brexit mess, the Yellow Vest movement (which is an example of what NOT to do), and then compare that to present day U.S. as well as late 20’s/early 30’s Germany and Italy. Hell, add in the what has happened in Russia and China in the last 20 years, then tell me how just voting will stop this tide.

        When your enemy controls all the levers and institutions of what is supposed to support a functioning democracy, then democracy is already lost, and you have to use other undemocratic methods to try to fight back . Really looking forward to 20 months from now when people on this site are screaming about voter suppression and tampering, while the judicial system says “nothing to see here, move along.”

        Of course, looks like the tyrant won’t even need all the voter suppression, etc to “win” the election, if the history of presidential elections of equivalent polling numbers are followed, if sources like CNN are to be believed.

      3. Dins, your views fall on deaf ears because you spend every new post yapping and hollering about how we’re turning into Nazi Germany, effectively trying to corral people into risking their livelihoods, families and well-being when you know full well it’s a fool’s errand that’s only going to get people killed.

        You play on paranoia and fear in ways that aren’t so different from how Trump does, painting him in the light of the worst dictatorships and autocrats the world’s ever seen – not because it’s true, but because the genuinely hard work of a citizen that our reality demands doesn’t suit your apocalyptic scenario.

        So zip it, Dins. Everyone here knows you’re not doing shit on your own, and you never were. Leave us out of it.

      4. Dins, you have some good insights and you may be correct regarding some things including violence. But being prepared and expectant and avocation are two completely different things.

        One certain thing is that no significant progressive change occurs in the US unless there is total crisis – in our history as a nation that has generally corresponded to an existential crisis, i.e. the Civil War and the Great Depression / WWII. Since the U.S. has no clear direction at this time, an international vacuum is being created and other actors are attempting to fill that vacuum. I suspect that Russia is strongly involved in Brazil and I am quite confident that they are involved in the European nations, you mention. Putin wants to create problems in the West by any means possible. To him that is really his only option, to re-establish Russia as a great power. He could undertake liberalization, but that is a multi-generational project and requires major reforms. Unfortunately, because of the lack of firm leadership by the U.S., he has the perfect opportunity.

        China is also seizing upon this time to further expand its influence and secure its position. It is still emerging from its latest interregnum period, which have occurred throughout its history.

        I just finished Kissinger’s, ‘World Order’. in his concluding chapter he states:

        “A purposeful American role will be philosophically and geopolitically imperative for the challenges of our period. Yet world order cannot be achieved by any one country acting alone. To achieve a genuine world order, its components, while maintaining their own values, need to acquire a second culture that is global, structural, and juridical – a concept of order that transcends the perspective and ideals of any one region or nation.”

        Yet at the present time Americans are in a funk. We are tired of the demands of the Cold War and the current state of permanent war. Plus our economy has not been performing properly for the common people for almost four decades. We are in a perfect mood for exploitation by authoritarian demagogues, such as Trump. Until America snaps out of its funk, and starts leading again, I am feared that the global situation will continue to drift, leading eventually to a crisis. If our history is any indication, we will only snap out of our discontent, when that crisis occurs.

  5. I highly doubt the Congress or the American people will ever see anything resembling a report. At least we won’t see a report without a fight. Democrats in the House will have to subpoena the thing and fight all the way to the Supreme Court hoping for a 5-4 ruling in their favor before it gets turned over.

    At best as of right now, AG Barr will send a nice “no collusion, nothing to see here” letter to Congress and call it a day. After all, AG Barr is the one that got George H. W. Bush out from under Iran Contra. The GOP knew what it was doing when they picked him to be Trump’s new fixer.

    This was all why it was so important for Democrats to win at least one chamber in the Congress in 2018. With control of the House, Democrats have subpoena power and access to all available information. If they stay levelheaded and methodical, they can perform investigation after investigation and, due to the structure of the government, Trump can’t stop them or the New York State AG from digging deeper and deeper into Trump World and all its denizens.

    As soon as I saw the entirety of the Republican Party fold on all its staunchest values and bend to Trump’s will, I gave up hope on impeachment. What I cling to now is that the Democrats smartly use their investigation power to pour disinfecting sunlight on the Trump Administration and its Republican enablers. If enough voters see the disaster, then enough voters can shift from Republican to Democrat at least for the 2020 election. If the Democrats don’t fall back on their old bad habit of rescuing defeat from the jaws of victory, then the Democrats will pick a candidate that can plausibly win and the left wing voters won’t go chasing after Green Party mirages and other delusions of idealistically pure third parties. If all that happens then maybe, just maybe, Trump will be denied reelection. If Wisconsin could deny Walker another term in a squeaker election, then the American people as a whole can deny Trump an Electoral College victory.

  6. The Letter of advisement from AG Barr to the House and Senate committee leadership of both parties stated (paraphrased) that there were no actions or requests from Special Counsel Mueller that AG Barr did not permit. I’m betting #3 is not relevant.

    Given that Barr just came on board, I wonder if the specificity of Barr’s comment precludes Whitaker from having acted to thwart any Mueller requests? Still, we know Barr tarnished his impartiality from the beginning with his op-ed which was critical of the special counsel.

    I think it is most interesting that the chairmen of six key House committees (Finance, Intelligence, Oversight, Judiciary, one other I can’t recall…followed Barr’s letter with one of their own. In this letter, they clearly lay out their expectations for disclosure not only of any findings and charges, but of underlying evidence and counter-intelligence.

    My gut feeling is that Mueller had a plan to get around anticipated, probable obstruction from the findings of his investigation. He’s been so many moves ahead of anyone’s expectations that I trust his ability to have set things up so that justice would be served.

    I’m more concerned about trump’s preparation for a second term. It has been reported that he has had no difficulty raising money, that he has built a robust campaign structure, and Republicans are confident he will prevail in 2020. That’s the only possible reason they could conceivably justify their silence in the face of trump’s blatant abuse of his executive authority.

    1. Unfortunately I am leaning towards #1 being the most likely outcome. I’ve long believed that Mueller’s report would be inconclusive in either direction. This isn’t to say that there was no collusion or no obstruction of justice, just that it couldn’t be proved beyond any doubt.

      1. I am also leaning towards Option #1. The Mafia and other criminal organizations typically operate by the top guy giving coded commands and the underlings then carrying out the desired action. That way the Don does not need to get his hands dirty and T has operated that way. Having key law enforcement officials in one’s pocket helps in that regard. The DOJ is now in T’s pocket. The DOJ was able to use RICO to against the Mafia and other criminal organizations, but that is not applicable now against T at the Federal level. However, there is nothing that prevents NY and other AGs from continuing their actions. That is the reason Cohen turning is of so much importance. He knows where the ‘bodies lay’.

      2. Yea, to be clear, the Asst AG’s spread out across the country will be less likely to pursue Trump-related cases than the Special Counsel. And if the SC chooses option one (without giving them with the left hand some signal or additional evidence), then they will all retreat. If Mueller decides to let Trump walk away clean, then the legal system isn’t going to save us. It’s over.

      3. ” If Mueller decides to let Trump walk away clean, then the legal system isn’t going to save us. It’s over.”

        So Chris, if Trump slips away clean, and the legal system is shattered, and we already know that the political system are useless, and you finally prepared to say “Cry ‘Havoc!,’ and let slip the dogs of war.” ?

        Because as far as I can see, there will be no more institutional pillars of democracy to buttress us against fascism. You know what my views are. I have heard for 2 years, “The system has checks and balances, that will ensnare this regime.” Well, it is starting to look like I was right all along.

      4. Ok, let’s talk about this. Your war fantasies are, at best, horseshit, a Hollywood film playing in your head in which your enemies face their well-earned vengeance. At worst, they are a little sick, the kind of stuff that runs spinning through the heads of troubled weirdoes who end up shooting up a kids camp or a synagogue. Here’s why.

        Armies don’t come from nowhere. They are a physical representation of someone’s organized efforts. They are built on relationships and money. Have you noticed that only losers resort to terrorism? They do it because they failed to organize real power.

        Remember that post about the four kinds of power? Losers focus on coercion, because you can use coercion even when you’re weak. It doesn’t work well toward producing outcomes when it isn’t paired with the others, but even when you’ve lost every other kind of power, you can still wield a hammer or a fist or do something to harm whoever is right next to you on the way to being destroyed.

        A simplistic reading of Gandhi and MLK results in a pollyanna story about the pointlessness of violence. It overlooks the way both men understood the use of force as an adjunct to a wider, more powerful, more successful movement. And both men were far more successful than the IRA or the PLO, which both quickly dissolved into engines of undirected outrage. There is no real power without persuasion, authority and coercion. All three, plus a little dash of crazy.

        Where was the coercion in MLK’s movement? You can bet the white people witnessing that mass of black faces in the streets saw it. Demonstrating the capacity to act in concert, across a large group, under the direction of an authority structure, toward a coherent goal, signaled that they had matured to the point that successful violence was merely a choice to be made by their leadership. Their discipline told a story far more powerful than if they’d been breaking windows. Without that discipline, their violence wouldn’t have bothered anyone. They could easily be swept aside like the Black Panthers.

        If you can’t build a political movement, then you can’t leverage violence successfully. And if you resort to violence before you’ve built a successful political movement to support it, you’ll just be snuffed out like a candle. There are no shortcuts. Establish political (persuasive) control over a physical area. Develop a trusted authority structure capable of channeling mass will into collective action. Do both of those things, and you can accomplish most political goals with little or no actual violence. Fail to do those things, an no amount of savagery will get you to your political goals.

        I am under no illusions about the value of civility, or respect for our institutions, or any of that other garbage. Our system has grown monumentally corrupt. I don’t trust our government. I don’t believe that our government works in the public interest in more than a few edge cases. And thanks to the election outcome in 2016, I don’t think it can be made to serve the public interest without a dramatic reconfiguration of our system. And I’m no pacifist. Nobody has every built a successful political system without cracking heads. We do it every day to keep criminals and others in line. Violence is inherent in civilization.

        But if we can’t remedy this situation by political organization (not just voting, or traditional political activities, but by creating parallel political institutions), then we won’t have what it takes to make violence mean anything. Whoever organizes the most efficient and successful political machine will win any violent conflict that results. That’s why the South lost the Civil War despite having a massive advantage in land mass and a powerful fighting culture. And that’s why they’d lose again if they tried. That’s why the Arab countries keep losing to Israel despite every material advantage. Superior organization always wins. Always.

        There are no shortcuts in politics. Do the hard slow work of achieving change. That’s the only way.

      5. I had briefly overlooked that Cohen was raided under the authority of SDNY, but nevertheless assumed that a lot of info was still available to the NY AG. That may not be the case. I am not so sure that the state AGs will stand down, however. We will have to wait to see.

        Dins, I believe that now the Ds have control of the House the pressure on T will continue and actually increase. To my mind, ultimately the importance of the Mueller investigation will be that it revealed a lot of strands that are now exposed. Though there may not be enough to indict Trump, there is still a lot of dirt that is now in the open. The D’s in the House will thoroughly dig through it. Ultimately, T may not be impeached or indicted, but hopefully there will be enough for a very clear decision in November of 2020 by the American people against T. I sure as hell hope so!

      6. Chris, I’m hoping option two is indicated although with Barr in charge of the mueller report it seems unlikely it will be recommended. The “fix” is in. My only remaining hope is that trump has deeply angered and offended the intelligence community that they will do all they can even under the constraints of the cover up operation. But the reality is these are career government employees and unless they have solid private sector options , they will be unenthusiastic about jeopardizing their livelihoods and careers in what will be a very hard, long fight.

        Dan Rather had an opinion piece this week that spells out the danger and probability of a second trump term.

      7. Chris, I second your reply to Dins. Though I get frustrated at times, I definitely concur that the only way forward is the hard slow work of organizing and achieving change. That includes accomplishing the numerous reforms that are required in our governance system. During the Progressive Era, that is exactly how reforms were achieved. There was significant effort towards accomplishing that through Constitutional Amendments. Some of that was successful, e.g. direct election of senators, and women’s suffrage (though that effort predated the Progressive Era).

        I believe that Constitutional reforms and Amendments will be required today as well.

        Mary, the comments regarding Trump’s second term are right on the money. The Republican Party is very confident that Trump will get a second term and they plan on using the same tactics they did in 2016, except they are going to throw in the charge of socialism against the Democrats. There are enough people who are low information and are easily persuaded by demagoguery that may just happen. Scary thoughts!!

      8. Well Chris, I agree with the idea of needing an organized political wing of a movement, but you always need a combat force as well. That being said, The Yugoslav’s pinned down a ton of divisions of German divisions in WW II, as well as the various resistances doing what they can.

        The Sinn Fein would be nothing without the PLO, and the Brits would still be there if they did not tire of the body bags. The Jewish National Council would have been nothing without Irgun.

        And who said anything about general warfare? Kind of tough when the biggest military in the history of a mankind is in the hands of a madman. I have always talked about targeted violence, to decapitate the regime.

        If you want to keep playing by “civilized” rules when the enemy laughs at those conventions, you lose, every time.

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