Charge Him Now: Obstruction of Justice

Remember this? It was news in May 2019:

President D___ T___ would have been indicted for obstruction of justice in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation if he did not hold the nation’s highest office, nearly 700 former federal prosecutors argued in an open letter published on Medium on Monday.

The ex-prosecutors — who have served under both Republican and Democratic administrations dating back to President Dwight D. Eisenhower — said Attorney General William Barr’s decision not to charge T___ with obstruction “runs counter to logic and our experience.”

The letter added, “Each of us believes that the conduct of President T___ described in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report would, in the case of any other person not covered by the Office of Legal Counsel policy against indicting a sitting President, result in multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice.”

“We believe strongly that, but for the OLC memo, the overwhelming weight of professional judgment would come down in favor of prosecution for the conduct outlined in the Mueller Report,” the letter continued.

The Mueller report cited 10 episodes indicating that T____ could be prosecuted after he left office. He left office more than six months ago, but there is no sign so far that the Department of Justice is pursuing the matter.

Before leaving office, the former president also tried to overturn the results of the election. I’m not sure there is anything in federal law that explicitly makes that behavior illegal. The laws against treason and sedition are narrowly written and may not apply to a president doing everything he can to illegally remain in office. Congress probably never imagined that kind of behavior.

Nevertheless, this latest news is remarkable:

Former President D____ T____ . . . explicitly pressured {the acting attorney general] to declare the 2020 election “corrupt” in a December phone call, according to documents published Friday by the House Oversight and Reform Committee. [They are] the most recent evidence of T____’s extraordinary campaign to overturn the election’s results.

The House committee—which is investigating the T____ administration’s potentially unlawful efforts to influence the outcome of the election—made public notes taken by former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen’s deputy, Richard Donoghue, during a Dec. 27 phone call between T____ and top officials from the Department of Justice.

In the notes summarizing the call, Donoghue recalled T____ asking Rosen and other top officials to “just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me” and congressional allies [Forbes].

But, according to The Guardian:

D____ T____ insisted on Saturday that when he told senior justice department officials to “Just say that the election was corrupt [and] leave the rest to me”, he was not attempting to subvert US democracy, but to “uphold the integrity and honesty of elections and the sanctity of our vote”. . . .

One Washington editor, Benjy Sarlin of NBC News, wrote on Twitter: “We can’t take a continuous historic scandal for granted just because he says it out loud all the time. These are Watergate-level allegations.”

On Friday, Carolyn Maloney, chair of the House oversight committee, said: “These handwritten notes show that President T____ directly instructed our nation’s top law enforcement agency to take steps to overturn a free and fair election.”

If that isn’t treason or sedition, strictly speaking, it sure sounds like “interference with the orderly administration of law and justice”, i.e. obstruction.

The Department of Justice has work to do in the matter of former president D___ J. T____.

Or doesn’t the rule of law apply to him?

The Bestest Words of All, the Strongest Perfect Words

Today, from the actual mouth of our actual president:

I’ve always known this is a real — this is a pandemic. I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.

Yes, and when the first cases were reported in China, our president began working very strongly on a vaccine in his White House laboratory that will be available to everyone, in a very short time, the greatest vaccine ever, fantastic. If only the do-nothing Democrats and the fake media hadn’t underestimated the problem and fought him every step of the way. Thank you, thank you, Mr. President!

But perhaps a review of the president’s statements reveals a less heroic approach to the problem?

Elsewhere in the reality-based world, Politico has a tracker showing the number of tests being performed in the US state by state, including the results.

For another dose of reality, The New York Times offers “Inside the Coronavirus Response: A Case Study in the White House Under T—-“. 

Senior aides battling one another for turf, and advisers protecting their own standing. A president who is racked by indecision and quick to blame others and who views events through the lens of how the news media covers them. A pervasive distrust of career government professionals, and disregard for their recommendations. And a powerful son-in-law whom aides fear crossing, but who is among the few people the president trusts.

The culture that President T—- has fostered and abided by for more than three years in the White House has shaped his administration’s response to a deadly pandemic that is upending his presidency and the rest of the country, with dramatic changes to how Americans live their daily lives.

It explains how Mr. T—- could announce he was dismissing his acting chief of staff as the crisis grew more severe, creating even less clarity in an already fractured chain of command. And it was a major factor in the president’s reluctance to even acknowledge a looming crisis, for fear of rattling the financial markets that serve as his political weather vane…. [More here.]

But the pivot has certainly begun. (We have always been at war with Oceania.)

So Many Best Words

David Leonhardt of The New York Times has providedA Complete List of T—-’s Attempts to Play Down Coronavirus”. But it’s not really a list. It’s an article about the past eight weeks that documents how the president “could have taken action … but didn’t” (it’s actually worse than that, since he stopped other people from taking action). 

I couldn’t stand to read it straight through. However, a researcher at Yale named Gregg Gonsalves read it and then kindly created a list of the president’s commentary. Here it is with a few additions:

January 22: “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. It’s going to be just fine.”

January 30: “We have it very well under control.”

February 2: “We pretty much shut it down coming in from China.”

February 10:  “A lot of people think that goes away with the heat…. We’re in great shape though.”

February 19: “I think the numbers are going to get progressively better as we go along.”

February 24: “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA… Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”

February 25: “CDC and my Administration are doing a GREAT job of handling Coronavirus.”

February 25: “I think that’s a problem that’s going to go away… They have studied it. They know very much. In fact, we’re very close to a vaccine.”

February 26: “The 15 [cases in the US] within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero.”

February 26: “We’re going very substantially down, not up.”

February 27: “One day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”

February 28: “We’re ordering a lot of supplies. We’re ordering a lot of, uh, elements that frankly we wouldn’t be ordering unless it was something like this. But we’re ordering a lot of different elements of medical.”

February 29: “My administration has taken the most aggressive action in modern history to confront the spread of this disease.  We moved very early.” [Both total lies.]

March 2: “You take a solid flu vaccine, you don’t think that could have an impact, or much of an impact, on corona?”

March 4: “If we have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that get better just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work — some of them go to work, but they get better.”

March 5: “The United States… has, as of now, only 129 cases… and 11 deaths. We are working very hard to keep these numbers as low as possible!”

March 6: “I think we’re doing a really good job in this country at keeping it down… a tremendous job at keeping it down.”

March 6: “Anybody right now, and yesterday, anybody that needs a test gets a test [of course, that was a lie and still isn’t true]. They’re there. And the tests are beautiful…. the tests are all perfect like the letter was perfect. The transcription was perfect. Right? This was not as perfect as that but pretty good.”

March 6: “I like this stuff. I really get it. People are surprised that I understand it… Every one of these doctors said, ‘How do you know so much about this?’ Maybe I have a natural ability. Maybe I should have done that instead of running for president.”

March 6: “I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn’t our fault” [so let’s keep them off shore].

March 8: “We have a perfectly coordinated and fine tuned plan at the White House for our attack on CoronaVirus” [they didn’t].

March 9: “This blindsided the world” [it didn’t].

March 13: “I don’t take responsibility at all.”

Mr. Gonzalves’s conclusion:

When this is all over there should be televised Congressional hearings [on this absolute collapse of leadership].

[The president and Republicans in Congress] have imperiled the lives of millions of Americans with their incompetence & narcissism, lust for power and cult-like groupthink.

Mr. Leonhardt’s conclusion:

At every point, experts have emphasized that the country could reduce those terrible numbers by taking action. And at almost every point, the president has ignored their advice and insisted, “It’s going to be just fine.”

Earlier today, as the stock market collapsed, the president admitted that “it’s bad”.

Still the Best Words

A few minutes ago, the president finally acknowledged the seriousness of our situation.

When asked to rate his own performance, however, he said “10 out of 10”.

When asked if the buck stops with him, he said: “Yeah, normally, but I think when you hear the — this has never been done before in this country”.

The Best Words

“Four score and seven years ago….”

“Government of the people, by the people, for the people…”

“The world must be made safe for democracy.”

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

“The buck stops here.”

“Ask not what you’re country can do for you….”

“Tear down this wall…”

“We are the change that we seek.”

A few words can define a presidency.

Thus, when asked if he took responsibility for America’s inability to test enough of us for COVID-19, the president said:

I don’t take responsibility at all.