Skip to main content

Donald Trump is regularly repeating his "No Collusion, No Obstruction" mantra, now that the [Redacted] Mueller Report has been made public. This is right from the Trump/Hitler Playbook.

No Obstruction

In a book that Trump kept at his bedside, according to his former wife Ivana, a collection of Hitler's speeches entitled My New Order, Hitler states the following:

"…all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan."

Thus Herr Trump continually bleats out "No Collusion, No Obstruction", so that even the dumbest "deplorable" understands what he is saying: time to move on; ignore the man behind the curtain; there is nothing to see here.

Since the average voter does not have a college education, is disgusted with politics, and is mainly focused on what is going on in his or her daily life, they are not going to read a 438-page, single-spaced tome

Since the average voter does not have a college education, is disgusted with politics, and is mainly focused on what is going on in his or her daily life, they are not going to read a 438-page, single-spaced tome with footnotes and pages of redactions that make it hard to follow. Better to let Sean Hannity tell me that the Mueller Report is, as The Donald calls it, "total bullshit".

But in the lengthy report are a number of key facts that have to be evaluated:

Manafort's Meeting with Kilimnik

On August 2, 2016, Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates met with Russian spy and Putin confidante Konstantin Kilimnik at the Grand Havana Club in New York City. They discussed Putin's plan to create a breakaway autonomous republic in the eastern region of Ukraine closest to Russia, to be headed by Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted as President of Ukraine in 2014.

Manafort then "briefed Kilimnik on the state of the Trump Campaign and Manafort's plan to win the election. That meeting encompassed the Campaign's messaging and its internal polling data. According to Gates, it also included discussion of 'battleground' states, which Manafort identified as Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota." After they separately left the cigar club meeting to avoid detection, Gates continued to provide internal polling data to Kilimnik prior to the election.

One can easily conclude that Kilimnik, once back in Russia, passed this polling data on to Putin crony Oleg Deripaska, who supplied the data to the Russian Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg so that they could target these four states with their massive social media effort to sway voters away from Hillary Clinton and to Trump. Trump went on to win the electoral votes in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, by a total of 78,000 votes, and narrowly lost Minnesota. These victories provided Trump with his margin of victory in the 2016 Presidential election. This has to be "collusion", or in legal terms, an endeavor or attempt to conspire to swing the election to Trump. One might even call it "treason".

Trump's Written Answers to Mueller's Questions With No Followup

After boasting that he has a "one of the greatest memories", when it became time to answer Mueller's written questions, Trump suddenly became unable to recall almost anything. The answers were clearly crafted by his lawyers, using a technique that I often used as a lawyer when answering interrogatories: do a narrative answer to a number of questions which look complete, but which gloss over difficult areas with generalities.

Mueller complained that the "written responses, as we informed counsel, 'demonstrate the inadequacy of the written format, as we have had no opportunity to ask followup questions that would ensure complete answers and potentially refresh your client's recollection or clarify the extent or nature of his lack of recollection'. We again requested an in-person interview, limited to certain topics, advising the President's counsel that '[t]his is the President's opportunity to provide us with information for us to evaluate in the context of all the evidence we have gathered.' The President declined."

Mueller then considered whether to issue a subpoena for the President's testimony, and "weighed the costs of potentially lengthy constitutional litigation, with resulting delay in finishing our investigation…" However, Mueller concluded that the substantial quantity of information obtained from other sources allowed them to draw factual conclusions on intent and credibility, often inferred from circumstantial evidence and not direct testimony from Trump.

But if Mueller had proceeded to subpoena Trump, he could argue that the President had both waived the attorney-client privilege by letting White House Counsel Don McGahn testify, and waived his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself by responding to the written interrogatories. But Mueller stopped short of this critical step.

Mueller also never interviewed or subpoenaed Donald Trump, Jr. or Roger Stone.

This decision meant that Mueller and his team never got the chance to examine Trump, his son, or Stone directly regarding any pre-election contacts with Russians or orders issued by Trump to others to make or follow up on such contacts. Without such direct examinations, a finding of collusion directly involving Trump was difficult to make. Mueller crippled his own collusion investigation by ending it prematurely.

Perhaps the Southern District of New York (see below) will haul Trump and Don Jr. before a grand jury regarding the Trump family financial affairs. And Roger Stone has been indicted, and could flip as the pressure increases. In addition, Julian Assange is now in jail in London and could be extradited to New York City, and sing.

Trump's Clear "Obstruction of Justice"

After a thorough investigation of the facts and applying the applicable legal standards, Mueller was unable to reach a judgment that the President did not commit obstruction of justice: "The evidence we obtained about the President's actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusive determining that no criminal conduct occurred. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him."

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

Mueller's roadmap to impeachment found the following conduct by the President may very well have constituted obstruction of justice:

  • Trump's conduct concerning the FBI investigation of Michael Flynn;
  • Trump's reaction to the public disclosure of the existence of the FBI's Russia investigation;
  • Events involving Trump leading up to and surrounding the termination of FBI Director James Comey;
  • Trump's efforts to terminate Mueller;
  • Trump's efforts to curtail the scope of Mueller's investigation;
  • Trump's efforts to prevent disclosure of information about the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Russian operatives and senior Trump campaign officials;
  • Trump's efforts to have Attorney General Sessions unrecuse; and
  • Trump's witness tampering conduct towards White House Counsel Don McGahn, Michael Cohen and other witnesses.

Mueller noted that the applicable statutes prohibit both an "attempt" to obstruct justice, and the broader concept of "endeavoring" to obstruct justice: an obstruction of justice offense "is complete when one corruptly endeavors to obstruct or impede the due administration of justice; the prosecution need not prove that the due administration of justice was actually obstructed or impeded" [citing a recent Supreme Court case].

Mueller's Dumpoff of Investigations to Other U.S. Attorney's Offices

In Appendix D, Mueller identifies matters transferred or referred to other U.S. Attorney's Offices for further action. Pending matters regarding Michael Flynn and his Turkish associates were transferred to the District of Columbia and the Eastern District of Virginia, and the former office now has the matters of Rick Gates, the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA), Konstantin Kilimnik, Paul Manafort (both offices), Roger Stone and William Samuel Patten. Kilimnik and representatives of the IRA are on the run and have not been caught, and another matter, involving Viktor Netyksho and others involved in the Russian hacking operations have been indicted but not arrested, is pending in the Western District of Pennsylvania. Two other ongoing investigations were redacted out, one involving individuals associated with Paul Manafort.

Mueller also identified "evidence of potential criminal activity that was outside the scope of [his] jurisdiction…" which he has referred to the appropriate law enforcement authorities in the DoJ and FBI. 14 matters are listed, all entirely redacted except for the cases involving Michael Cohen and Gregory Craig, which were referred to the Southern District of New York. It is likely that the other 12 matters relate to Trump's Russian money laundering activities and his other financial criminal conduct, and are also being investigated by the Southern District of New York.

Criminal indictments of Trump for bribery and other financial misdeeds could result from these investigations, or there could be further referrals to Congress for impeachment proceedings, in the months ahead.

Conclusion: The Next Eighteen Months and the Dual Tracks

Senator and Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has forcefully announced that Donald Trump should be impeached, and other Democrat Senators are sure to follow her. A number of House members already support impeachment, but other Democrat House members cite the failed impeachment of Bill Clinton, which left him more popular after the Senate acquitted him than before the charges were brought, and flipped the House back to the Democrats in 1998.

But it is possible for the Democrats over the next 18 months to both investigate the possibility of impeaching the President and offering concrete proposals for improving Obamacare, immigration reform, addressing climate change, education reform including addressing student debt, meaningful gun control, stimulating more jobs, infrastructure improvements, and returning U.S. foreign policy to a more pro-NATO and EU and anti-Russian stance.

If the House impeaches (which needs only a majority vote and could well happen), the trial moves to the Senate. Picture this scenario: late in 2019, after the Southern District of New York has issued additional indictments (including possibly of Trump, who currently is an unindicted co-conspirator in the Michael Cohen matter), and flipped more witnesses, the Senate begins proceedings to remove Trump as President. 67 votes are needed to convict, which means that 20 Republican Senators would have to support Trump's removal, if all 47 Democrat and independent Senators vote to convict.

There are 22 GOP Senators up for reelection in 2020 (several have announced their retirement), and if the impeachment proceedings drag on into 2020, many of these Senators will be under extreme pressure to dump Trump and find another candidate to contest the crowded field of Democrat candidates for President before the summer, 2020 conventions.

And Trump could try to work out a deal that he would resign "for health reasons" or not run for reelection if he is pardoned and able to continue his businesses untouched. With Nixon, all it took was Senator Barry Goldwater telling Nixon privately that he would vote to convict to convince Nixon to resign. Who is the current Barry Goldwater? Senator Lindsay Graham?

ted vaill

Ted Vaill