If stupidity were oil, America would be Saudi Arabia. We elected Trump. We believe idiot fake stories on Facebook. We mainline conspiracy theories like a back alley oxy fiend. We think vaccines cause diseases. We love guns, believe climate change is a hoax, and use motorized scooters at the store because we’re too fat to even waddle.
We know, like John Adams said, that facts are stubborn things, and since we’re too lazy to deal with stubbornness, we just ignore them. Our feelings and what we want to believe are more important than facts or evidence. We never learned to think critically; it’s just too much effort.
In that world, a random social media post carries more truth than a New York Times investigation, a wild-eyed rant on InfoWars is worth more than footnoted research, and lies are easier to digest than facts. In that universe, Tupac and Biggie are alive in Cuba, pizza restaurants are fronts for pedophile rings, and Trump’s word salad is gospel.
Luckily for us, Robert Mueller and the steely-eyed prosecutors and investigators who work for him don’t live in our world. Instead, he pretty much lives in his headquarters inside an otherwise anonymous glass-and-concrete office building in southwest Washington DC that has a soundproof, wiretap-proof, hermetically sealed SCIF inside. A SCIF is a Secure Compartmentalized Information Facility used to discuss and process classified information.
For 18 months, Mueller and his staff of 16 attorneys have been grinding away, producing 32 indictments and guilty pleas, including guilty pleas and co-operation from five top Trump advisors—former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, former campaign manager Paul Manafort, former national security advisor Michael Flynn, former deputy campaign manager Rick Gates, and former foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos. In addition, former White House Counsel Don McGahn has been co-operating with Mueller.
It’s becoming more apparent that Mueller’s moment of reckoning for Trump, and the country, is approaching pretty fast.
Mueller lives in a world of facts, not rumors. He follows evidence, not online speculation. And it’s becoming more apparent that Mueller’s moment of reckoning for Trump, and the country, is approaching pretty fast, and that indictments, new pleas, and a final report to Congress and the Justice Department on the crimes of Donald John Trump could come out over the next few days, or weeks. All of that is based on clues in court filings, because Mueller’s office, unlike Trump’s White House, doesn’t leak.
An examination of the federal court docket in Washington DC reveals that three dozen sealed criminal indictments have been added to the docket since the first of the year, 14 of them since August. That means around 16 percent of the total criminal cases filed in DC so far this year are sealed, an unusually high number.
What’s in them? No one knows. But Matthew Miller, who was a top assistant to Attorney General Eric Holder in the Obama administration told ABC News that he thinks Mueller filed the sealed indictments just in case Trump tried to shut down the Mueller investigation after the midterm elections. “He knew the best thing to do was act before that,” Miller said.
Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions and replaced him with Matthew Whitaker, a former US attorney in Iowa with a reputation as a right-wing attack dog and a record of saying the Mueller probe is illegal. If Mueller wraps up his investigation into collusion with the Russians, obstruction of justice, and other assorted crimes in the next few weeks, the stuff will hit the fan. And that’s where we come in.
There are three scenarios, and each involves Trump and his goons pushing this country into a Constitutional crisis, simply because that’s how Trump World operates. Like any continuing criminal enterprise, they’ll do whatever it takes to protect the mob boss.
Scenario # 1 would involve Whitaker using his authority as acting Attorney General to fire Mueller outright. Because of Whitaker’s past skeevy business dealings, because Whitaker has gone on the record saying he opposes the Mueller investigation because there’s “nothing to find”, and because Whitaker was never confirmed by the U.S. Senate, any attempt to fire Mueller would cause a firestorm in Congress.
Scenario # 2 involves Mueller sending a final report on his investigation to the Justice Department, and the Justice Department burying it. The statute under which Mueller was appointed directs him to deliver such a “confidential” report. That means Whitaker could get a report damning Trump, refuse to send it to Congress, and try to keep its contents secret.
Scenario # 3 would involve Mueller either using a grand jury to name Trump an unindicted co-conspirator, and then sending a report directly to Congress, or actually indicting the President of the United States. The unindicted co-conspirator option was used against Richard Nixon. Indicting a sitting president has never happened, and the Justice Department is on record saying it can’t happen, because a president is immune from criminal indictment.
Any of those scenarios will launch a Constitutional crisis that requires our action. If Whitaker tries to fire Mueller, or if he gets a report and tries to keep it a state secret, a mobilized population taking to the streets and pressuring Congress will be necessary to fight it. The same is true if one of the Mueller indictments has Trump’s name on it.
In any of those cases, Trump’s lawyers will argue that he’s above the law. If the case eventually ends up before the U.S. Supreme Court, that argument might find a sympathetic ears among the court’s conservative majority, especially Trump appointees Gorsuch and Kavanaugh. And if they ruled that Trump is, indeed, above the law, they will have kicked over the final guardrails holding back Trump’s authoritarianism.
Get ready to march. Know how to contact your Representative and Senators. And go to OpenSecrets.org to discover who donates to your federal lawmakers. Call them. If your elected representatives don’t listen to you, maybe they’ll listen to the people who bankroll their campaigns.
It’s almost Mueller time. Get ready.
St. Louis American