BREAKING: If Rudy says it, it must be true!

THURSDAY, MAY 17, 2018

So says the New York Times:
Does Robert Mueller believe he has the legal authority to indict Donald J. Trump?

According to Rudy Giuliani, Mueller has told the Trump legal team that he feels he cannot indict Trump. For reasons only the gods can explain, three reporters at the New York Times are acting as if they sgould simply assume that Giuliani's claims must be true.

We know—that sounds quite strange. Giuliani has seemed to make many odd statements of late. It has been widely noted that he isn't the world's most reliable source.

Still, in this morning's news report, three reporters treat his latest proclamations as gospel. Below, you see the passage in question. This strikes us as very strange:
SCHMIDT, HABERMAN AND SAVAGE (5/17/18): [T]he question of whether the president can be indicted is unsettled. Many legal experts and current and former Justice Department officials believed that Mr. Mueller would follow the conclusions of Justice Department lawyers, who argued during both the Nixon and Clinton administrations that an indictment would interfere with the president’s constitutional responsibilities and powers to run the executive branch.

Mr. Trump’s lead lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, said the special counsel’s office displayed uncertainty about whether Mr. Trump could be indicted. “When I met with Mueller’s team, they seemed to be in a little bit of confusion about whether they could indict,” Mr. Giuliani said. “We said, ‘It’s pretty clear that you have to follow D.O.J. policy.’”

Mr. Giuliani said that one member of Mr. Mueller’s office acknowledged that the president could not be indicted. Two or three days later, Mr. Giuliani said, Mr. Mueller’s office called another of the president’s lawyers, Jay Sekulow, to say that prosecutors would adhere to the Justice Department view.

“They can’t indict,” Mr. Giuliani said. “They can’t indict.
Because if they did, it would be dismissed quickly. There’s no precedent for a president being indicted.”
According to Giuliani, one member of Mueller's team told him, Giuliani, that Trump could not be indicted. Also according to Giuliani, Mueller's office telephoned Jay Sekulow a few days later to deliver the same message.

Given Giuliani's erratic behavior in recent years and his weird remarks of the past few weeks, it's hard to know why anyone would accept such claims as dispositive. But this is the peculiar way The New York Times Trio continued:
SCHMIDT, HABERMAN AND SAVAGE (continuing directly): It is not clear why Mr. Mueller has decided that he will not seek Mr. Trump’s indictment. A spokesman for the special counsel declined to offer clarity about the assertions of Mr. Giuliani, who since being hired last month by Mr. Trump has repeatedly made statements that were later clarified. In his most notable misstep, he mischaracterized how payments were made by Mr. Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, to a pornographic film actress who has said she had sex with Mr. Trump. The president has denied her accusation.
In the highlighted statement, the reporters treat Giuliani's claims as if they were dispositive. Weirdly, they then offer a list of reasons why his claims shouldn't be so regarded.

This odd report was written by three of the New York Times' heaviest hitters. Is any other newspaper quite as strange as the glorious Times?

Also this: The passages we've posted come from the middle of today's news report. The first two paragraphs of the report are rather puzzling too:
SCHMIDT, HABERMAN AND SAVAGE (5/17/18): The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, will not indict President Trump if he finds wrongdoing in his investigation of Trump campaign links to Russia, according to the president’s lawyers. They said Wednesday that Mr. Mueller’s investigators told them that he would adhere to the Justice Department’s view that the Constitution bars prosecuting sitting presidents.

The disclosure provides the greatest clarity to date about how Mr. Mueller, who is also investigating whether Mr. Trump tried to obstruct the inquiry itself, may proceed. If he concludes that he has evidence that the president broke the law, experts say, he now has only two main options while Mr. Trump remains in office: He could write a report about the president’s conduct that Congress might use as part of any impeachment proceedings, or he could deem the president as an unindicted co-conspirator in court documents.
In their opening sentence, the reporters say that Mueller will not indict Trump according to Trump's lawyers.

They then refer to this assertion as a "disclosure" and treat it as a settled point. Of course, if we're all still speaking English, the assertion only becomes a "disclosure" if the assertion is actually true. And where's the proof of that?

Please note: the reporters also make it sound like they're sourcing their own assertions to more than one Trump lawyer. They aren't! As the report unfolds, they quote Giuliani alone; they quote no one else. (There is no sign that they spoke to Sekulow themselves.)

Giuliani's statements could be true, of course. But especially given their later statements about his erratic behavior, why did these nitwits believe him?

Only the Times behaves this way. Does anyone know why it does?

31 comments:

  1. Hillary Clinton backed up Giuliani's claim that Mueller feels he cannot indict Trump in her memoir,
    What Happened.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
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      Delete
    2. Sorry but how the hell would HC know? You wouldn’t be full of shit would you?

      Delete
  2. I wouldn't have assumed that the Times was believing Giuliani's assertions from the excerpts Somerby has quoted here. The main impression is that the law is unclear.

    It is premature to speculate about this stuff. It is obvious why Giuliani would claim this but it doesn't matter whether he is correct or not at this point. Time will tell.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it’s kind of a silly point in the first place.

      Delete
    2. "It is not clear why Mr. Mueller has decided that he will not seek Mr. Trump’s indictment."

      What's the basis in the reporting for that statement by the authors except the assumption Giuliani is credible?

      Delete
    3. Sentient PersonsMay 21, 2018 at 4:15 PM

      Anonymous: "I wouldn't have assumed that the Times was believing Giuliani's assertions, because I am incapable of logical inference."

      Greg: "Right?!??! Who cares how feckless the press is anyways. Somerbee sux lol."

      Delete
  3. Trump will not be indicted or removed from office before completing two terms. Democrats will work themselves up hoping it will happen, only to be disappointed in the end. The upside is for Rachel who will tell them fairy tales every night leading up to the big letdown in November 2020.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unfortunately -- really unfortunately -- this is where we are heading. This can become a sequel to Starr chasing after Clinton. In the end, absent something coherent, no one will have the stomach to impeach Trump. And if Mueller had something, we'd see it by now. So, it's a bad strategy on the Democrat's side to hope for something to come out of the Mueller investigation.
      Democrats should concentrate on the political side of things: Trump is an unmitigated disaster; a conman in charge of the White House.

      Delete
    2. "absent something coherent"

      What makes you think Mueller won't find something coherent?

      Delete
    3. "What makes you think Mueller won't find something coherent?"

      It has been a year. It is possible, albeit highly unlikely, that Mueller will present something along the lines of: Trump promised members of the Russian government to subvert US policy if they help him get elected by doing a, b, and c...not holding my breath for that.

      Delete
    4. it won't matter if Mueller finds something that put Trump dead to rights.
      Republicans don't care about treason (or fascism, for that matter). They are who we thought they were.

      Delete
    5. That's why the midterm elections are so important. It won't matter what the Republicans want if we can take back both houses of congress.

      Delete
    6. Just keep repeating... “it’s only a threat to my gangster President......it’s only a threat to my gangster President.....”

      Delete
  4. I feel like this was the most salient part of What Happened.

    https://youtu.be/Xka0KBGI4vU

    ReplyDelete
  5. I think that's the prevailing legal theory. Sitting president cannot be indicted without being impeached first. There's really nothing newsworthy or noteworthy here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And why do you think that's "prevailing" legal theory? Any support for that theory in the Constitution? Precedent? Common law?

      I didn't think so.

      The DoJ has broad authority to dismiss a case before it's bound over to the grand jury, i.e., before the grand jury begins deliberation. During deliberation, the USA needs permission from supervising court (called "leave of court") to dismiss the case. Once an indictment has been handed up, dismissal is usually only available for misconduct concerning the grand jury proceedings.

      So could Mueller stop the grand jury from indicting? Could the DoJ dismiss an indictment?

      i don't think there's an effective mechanism to force the DoJ to prosecute an indictment.

      Delete
    2. Based on the discussions that I've heard, there's certainly disagreement on the question of whether sitting president can be indicted. My sense is that Gulliani's position is widely accepted. Constitution specifically says that president can be impeached and nothing else.

      DoJ works for Trump. He's in charge. He's the *boss* of DoJ. He can simply stop DoJ from bringing the case in the first place. You understand that, right? That is, if there are *federal* legal questions or possible indictments. State charges? I don't see how that could work at all. Who can compel the president to appear in front of the state court?

      Delete
    3. If the law is unclear about whether Mueller can indict or not, it may require the Supreme Court to decide. Mueller may not be willing to force a constitutional crisis that way. It may be that he will take his indictable offenses to Trump and ask him to resign for the good of the country, to prevent such a court case (even though the court would no doubt move quickly to decide it).

      No one went after Nixon for his indictable offenses after he resigned (before Ford pardoned him) even though a lot of people hoped that would happen. Trump may be able to make a similar deal. My hope would be that it would include Pence too, since he is not an improvement over Trump and since the election rightfully belonged to Hillary.

      Delete
    4. lya: Based on the discussions you’e heard, in which there’s certainly disagreement, it’s your “sense” that Giuliani’s position is widely accepted? I guess that settles it.

      You ask whether I understand that Trump is the boss of the DoJ. I imagine that you mean that there’s no effective mechanism to force the DoJ to prosecute an indictment. I think you’re right. Now where did I hear that before?

      There’s a difference between handing up an indictment and prosecuting a case once an indictment has been handed up. That’s because the former is the province of the grand jury, a creature of the district court in which the grand jury is impaneled, and the latter is the responsibility of the USA, an officer of the executive branch.

      Who can compel the President to appear in a state court? Do you mean legally? If the president is in the White House, then upon a request for extradition from a state’s executive authority, that would be the Chief Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. If the president is in a state, then the executive authority of that state

      Do you mean physically? As a practical matter, especially in DC, probably no one.

      Federal officers in the performance of their duties have broad protections from state court jurisdiction in matters arising from those duties. For matters that don’t arise from those duties (or from exceeding their authority), not so much. Any state indictment of Trump would be for things he did before he was elected.

      Delete
    5. Yes, in fact, listening to various legal analysts discussing the subject on NPR, I have formed an impression that the prevailing opinion is that a sitting president cannot be indicted.
      Consider this: the problem of indicting Trump is easily solved without going to the supreme court -- he can be impeached! Outside of that, it becomes real thorny. How can the judgement of the supreme court be enforced, when Trump is the one in charge of enforcing it. Similar to the problem of extradition.

      Delete
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    ReplyDelete
  8. In one way a legal ban on indicting a President works to the advantage of Trump's enemies. Let's assume that Ilya is correct that, "if Mueller had something, we'd see it by now." That means the evidence won't support indicting Trump.

    If indictment were possible, then the lack of indictment would be seen as meaning that Trump is innocent. That's a political win for Trump.

    But, if indictment isn't possible, then Mueller can write a damning final report that includes various rumors and suppositions and makes Trump appear probably guilty, but saved only by a legal technicality. That's a political win for Trump's opponents.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mueller already has something. He has indicted and accepted guilty pleas from 19 organizations and individuals. The question is whether he "has something" on the President.

      If it is true that Mueller cannot indict the President, that is bad for Trump because it means that he cannot then take the 5th because he has no legal liability as sitting president anyway, so he doesn't need protection from prosecution. It works like a grant of immunity -- once you have immunity you must answer questions because you have no legal jeopardy. So Trump would have to answer Mueller's questions.

      Only 13% of people, including Republicans, consider Trump to be honest and trustworthy. Of course he is guilty. He is in no way behaving like an innocent person. He has guilt written all over him. If Mueller failed to indict him, no one would consider him innocent, not even his supporters.

      But nothing involved with Mueller and Trump is a political win for Trump's opponents or this country. Trump is a disaster and is a horrible president and nothing that happens as a result of this investigation will change that fact.

      But you keep spreading those conservative talking points. It is what you do best!

      Delete
    2. We're moving beyond caring at all, if Trump is guilty.
      Remember when Trump and his minions said they had no contact with Russians. Then they did, but there was no collusion. Now that there's collusion, (Junior's "I love it" quote), but there's nothing wrong with it.
      Soon it will be, there's something wrong with it, but what are you going to do about it.

      Give Trump credit. He promised to make life easier on his voters, and he has released them from the burden of having to feign that treason or fascism is at all concerning to them.



      Delete
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