The president never admits a mistake!


Neither, of course, does the Times:
Should Donald J. Trump be charged with obstruction of justice, whether by the House of Reps or by some prosecutor?

In our own book of ledgers, it seems like a shaky idea.

For one thing, you don't charge 3-year-olds with committing obstruction of justice. You also might not be inclined to charge someone who's mentally ill.

With those thoughts in mind, Trump strikes us as someone who may not have the capacity to commit an obstruction of justice. Consider:

In the renditions of the Mueller report, Trump is constantly issuing orders which he then ignores for a month or, in the occasional case, until the end of time.

No one pays any attention to what he says; he doesn't do so either. In the moment, he rants and storms upon the moors, but he doesn't seem to notice or care when nobody does what they're told.

That doesn't mean that Donald J. Trump isn't disordered and dangerous. It means that many of Mueller's accounts strike us as peculiar and perhaps as a bit underwhelming.

In this morning's New York Times, Charlie Savage evaluates six of the episodes which are listed in the Mueller report as possible obstructions. The resulting assessments are Savage's and no one else's, of course.

That said, Savage's assessments are notable for the absence of smoking guns and the presence of mountains of nuance. Consider his first example:

Did Donald J. Trump commit an obstruction when he allegedly told Don McGahn to tell Rod Rosenstein to fire Mueller the Great? Savage runs through Mueller's account of the three criteria which must be present to establish a crime. What follows is Savage's account of the "bottom line:"
Bottom line: While Mr. Mueller hedged a bit on the first of the three criteria, the report suggests there is sufficient evidence to ask a grand jury to consider charging this act as illegal obstruction.
In Savage's view, after Mueller finished his hedging, he suggested that that a prosecutor could ask a grand jury to consider charging Trump's conduct as a crime.

That's amazingly soft. What follows is the strongest "bottom line" Savage was able to muster in any of the six episodes he reviews:
Bottom line: The report suggests there is sufficiently plausible evidence to ask a grand jury to consider charging Mr. Trump with attempted obstruction.
The report suggests that you could ask a grand jury to consider charging Trump! After all, there's plausible evidence!

(For the record, Savage says what others have said about Trump's most widely-discussed act of this type. He says that Mueller doesn't think that the firing of Comey the God could plausibly be charged as a crime.)

The liberal world has been pleasured for two years by claims that Trump was going to be frog-marched off in chains. He could still be impeached, of course; that decision lies with the House. If he gets defeated for re-election, he could then be charged with some crimes.

It seems to us that our liberal world would be better served learning how to persuade our fellow citizens to vote in the ways we prefer. That said, we're almost completely hapless when it comes to matters like that. Tribal dreams of "locking them up" have become our back-up approach.

Might we note one last point about the alleged order to McGahn? In the Mueller report, we're told about a front-page error by the New York Times, one we discussed in real time:
MUELLER REPORT: There is some evidence that at the time the New York Times and Washington Post stories were published in late January 2018, the President believed the stories were wrong and that he had never told McGahn to have Rosenstein remove the Special Counsel. The President correctly understood that McGahn had not told the President directly that he planned to resign. In addition, the President told Priebus and Porter that he had not sought to terminate the Special Counsel, and in the Oval Office meeting with McGahn, the President said, “I never said to fire Mueller. I never said ‘fire.’” That evidence could indicate that the President was not attempting to persuade McGahn to change his story but was instead offering his own—but different—recollection of the substance of his June 2017 conversations with McGahn and McGahn’s reaction to them.
Oof. "The President correctly understood that McGahn had not told the President directly that he planned to resign?"

That's a reference to a widespread false impression created by a bungled or deliberately deceptive New York Times front-page report—a bungled report which was instantly ballyhooed wherever "corporate cable" was sold.

In the passage posted above, the Mueller report notes that Trump was correct in thinking that a major part of the Times report was wrong. (And that our favorite cable stars were pimping a bogus claim.) By the time this passage appears, the Mueller report has already made two references to the front-page bungle, or act of deception, by the glorious Times.

As you can see, the Mueller report also says that "there is some evidence that...the President believed the stories were wrong and that he had never told McGahn to have Rosenstein remove the Special Counsel." Remembering that the person in question seems to have a mental age of 3, should prosecutors try to get that perp locked up for his role in this peculiar event?

The woods are lovely, dark and deep. Our liberal world has long since lost the ability to speak to wide swaths of the public. Instead, we dream of "locking them up." We're not sure we see a good way out of this cultural impasse.

A final familiar note:

In today's report, Savage becomes the second Times reporter in as many days to discuss the episode in question without mentioning the fact that a bungled New York Times front-page report played a significant role in what happened.

(For yesterday's more egregious dodge, see this report by Michael Schmidt.)

The president never admits a mistake; neither, of course, does the Times. If we might borrow from Don Corleone, this is the culture we've chosen!


  1. "Bottom line: The report suggests there is sufficiently plausible evidence to ask a grand jury to consider charging Mr. Trump with attempted obstruction."

    What a comedy.

    Perhaps he also said, at some point, "fuck Mueller!", and so he should be charged with attempted sodomy.

    The liberal zombie cult is positively precious.

    1. "...he should be charged with attempted sodomy."

      Better than being praised for handing the economy to Wall Street.

  2. "It seems to us that our liberal world would be better served learning how to persuade our fellow citizens to vote in the ways we prefer. That said, we're almost completely hapless when it comes to matters like that.'

    Because our policies offer very little for our fellow citizens and and instead are rewards for our donors, the entities that fund our party and our elections: corporate multinationals.

  3. The report as quoted references not just the Times but the Post reporting, which made clear that McGahn didn’t directly tell the president he would quit. The report says the president “believed the stories were wrong”, not just because McGahn hadn’t told him he would quit, but because “he had not sought to terminate the Special Counsel.” This latter point seems more crucial to the whole affair.

    At any rate, the most important thing is: What McGahn did or didn’t do isn’t the issue. The issue is what the President did.

  4. “For one thing, you don't charge 3-year-olds with committing obstruction of justice. You also might not be inclined to charge someone who's mentally ill.”

    First, you would have to have a finding that a defendant is unable to stand trial. That is done as part of the legal system, and involves the participation of mental health professionals who directly examine the defendant. It is not based on an Internet blogger declaring, without evidence, that the defendant is “mentally ill.”

    Second, we may not generally charge 3-year-olds with anything, but we often charge minors as adults for certain types of crimes. So the “mental age” defense is bogus here, especially in light of the fact that you would get no overall agreement that Trump is either mentally ill, or has the mind of a 3-year-old. His supporters would far rather argue that he is innocent of all charges than that he is mentally incapacitated. Perhaps he should therefore be given his day in court.

  5. Bob is naive about managers. He confuses management style with sanity and maturity. Just within my limited career, I have two examples.

    One is John C., who moved from AIG to my prior company, INA. Fortunately I was gone when John arrived, but Walt, my closest friend in the company, reported directly to John. Walt observed that John was so dishonest that he refused to obey John's orders unless John put them in writing. John said that was OK. He understood perfectly.

    The other example was Jim, the CEO of St. Paul Re, a company that took over my company. Jim gave orders that were more like suggestions. He didn't expect them to be fully complied with, nor did his subordinates. Some were impossible to fully fulfill. Sometimes his "orders" were essentially good intentions.

    Now, Jim and and John were highly paid, high-level managers. I strongly disliked their styles. Nevertheless, they were effective and successful. They certainly were not childish or mentally impaired.

  6. Whether McGahn did or did not tell Trump he would resign is completely irrelevant to the question of Trump’s culpability in obstructing justice.

    Somerby has latched onto the Times report as if it is some major gotcha moment of bad journalism, but it is not.

    1. Correct, the NY Times is famous for trying to set the narrative, which all the pundits dutifully fall in line repeating.

      Here it is: Trump should be grateful he had such scrupulous conscientious underlings who saved him from himself.

      I can't tell you how many times I've heard some pundit state some version of that narrative.

      (TDH used to be very perceptive in identifying the conservative elite MSM narratives. Not so much anymore.)

      There it is, in all it's elite savvy ignorant glory. The NY Times loves to play it both ways. Seeming to be critical of the president, in the end they conclude he's clean.

      Ignore the fucking fact that he did everything he could to obstruct the investigation. Ignore the fact that he fired Sessions and installed a known hack just before the end to intercept the report and preemptively decide the obstruction issue on his own, just as we all knew he would.

      Ignore the fact that just by virtue of dangling a pardon, the ability to complete the investigation was blocked. Did the NY Times ever stop to consider that the obstruction succeeded?

      Some random excerpts from the REDACTED REPORT.

      During Manafort's prosecution and when the jury in his criminal. trial was deliberating, the President praised Manafort in public, said that Manafort was being treated unfairly, and declined to rule out a pardon. After Manafort was convicted, the President called Manafort "a brave man" for refusing to "break"

      In January 2018, Manafort told Gates that he had talked to the President's personal counsel and they were "going to take care of us."848 Manafort told Gates it was stupid to plead, saying that he had been in touch with the President's personal counsel and repeating that they should "sit tight" and "we'll be taken care of."849 Gates asked Manafort outright if anyone mentioned pardon s and Manafort said no one used that word.850

      Now, further ignore the fact that the obstruction of Congress proceeds unabated.

  7. "he did everything he could to obstruct the investigation."
    Give me a break, mm.
    -- Trump could have fired Mueller, who arguably did have a conflict of interest.
    -- Trump could have shut down the whole special prosecutor.
    -- Trump could have prevented various subordinates from testifying, based on Executive Privilege.
    -- Trump could have instructed his people to not cooperate with the Special Prosecutor, instead of instructing them to cooperate.
    -- Trump could have refused to answer Mueller's written questions.
    -- Trump could have instructed his AG not to release any part of Mueller's report

    1. No, he could not have just fired Mueller you fucking fascist. He was told by his own party that would be too much, so he went about doing it another way. You fucking treasonous bastard, he was given a take home open book set of limited questions and with questions on obstruction not allowed and even then he had over responses of no memory. If he had balls and wanted to prove to America he had no guilt he would have sat for questioning UNDER OATH like he promised the American people mulitiple times he would do. So fuck off, you treasonous bastard,

      Reports are that it's dangerous for anyone to discuss with him actions we need to take to prevent a repeat of 2016 happening in 2020. He doesn't want to talk about it. He swore an oath which he is pissing on. Fuck off, you lying sack of shit fascist lover.

      "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."[2]

    2. mm - You claimed he he did everything he could to obstruct the investigation

      My list showed that your statement was incorrect.

    3. mm isn't super bright.

    4. Mm comes off like a horned Siegfried, constantly immersed in a flood of incapacity for thinking and judging.

    5. Dear dembot. Why do "everything he could to obstruct the investigation" when the 'investigation' itself (in reality a coup attempt by state security services) has confirmed that there was nothing to investigate?

    6. Just start with your first point

      -- Trump could have fired Mueller, who arguably did have a conflict of interest.

      Leave aside the fact that Donald J Chickenshit did not have the authority to directly fire Mueller:

      Because Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation, the decision to appoint a special counsel fell to Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein. In his order making the appointment, Rosenstein cited federal regulations issued by the attorney general in 1999, 28 C.F.R. § 600.4-600.10. The rules were drafted in the wake of the Kenneth Starr investigation of President Bill Clinton.

      According to those regulations, a special counsel “may be disciplined or removed from office only by the personal action of the Attorney General” (or in this case, the acting attorney general). And Rosenstein can’t just do it on a whim, either. According to the regulation, special counsel can only be removed “for misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or for other good cause, including violation of Departmental policies.”

      In a Senate hearing on June 13, Rosenstein said he alone exercises firing authority, and that he had not seen any evidence of good cause for firing Mueller.

      “It’s certainly theoretically possible that the attorney general could fire him, but that’s the only person who has authority to fire him,” Rosenstein said. “And in fact, the chain of command for the special counsel is only directly to the attorney general, in this case the acting attorney general.”

      Leave aside the fact as outlined in the Mueller report that Donald j Chickenshit repeatedly pressed AG Sessions to "unrecuse" himself,

      Leave aside the fact that as outlined in the Mueller report that Donald J Chickenshit did in fact order McGahn to fire Mueller, and then when he threatened to resign over the issue, asked him to publicly deny that he ever gave him that directive. And now is trying exert Executive privilege by trying to prevent McGahn from testifying to Congress.

      Let's leave all that aside. I would like you, David, you treasonous lying sack of shit bastard, to outline for all the readers of this good blog what precisely was the arguable "conflict of interest"?

      Go ahead, you fuck face. Explain, that you snot nosed lying sack of shit fascist.

  8. Executive branch conspiracy with foreign governments is real!

    Clinton-Era State Department Employee Pleads Guilty to Conspiring With Chinese Agents. A former State Department employee, who also happened to be a Clinton appointee, pleaded guilty to conspiring with foreign agents.

    1. "Executive branch conspiracy with foreign governments is real!"

      It's only real to you because Clinton wasn't giving you the sweet, sugary shot of bigotry you crave. Because neither of us is a moron, we both know that.

    2. *** Public Service Announcement ***

      David in Cal is this commentariat's village idiot. There's no right-wing bilge he won't willingly gulp down and regurgitate here.

      Candace Claiborne wasn't a "Clinton appointee"; she wasn't anyone's appointee -- she was a mid-level State Dept employee. Since she was still employed in 2017 when she was arrested, she was as much a "Trump-era" employee as anything else.

    3. You might be right, deadrat. My link said she was a Clinton appointee, but I don't necessarily trust that site. Do you have confirmation of her status?

    4. "You might be right, deadrat."

      No love for 10:45 PM for being most definitely right?

  9. Trump is a high functioning idiot. That might be a defense in a prosecution for obstruction. But it's also a mandate for impeachment.

  10. I like it how Howie Carr calls it: "obstruction of injustice".

    Here, dmbots, for your reading pleasure:

    1. "I like it how Howie Carr calls it: "obstruction of injustice""

      An irrelevant loser praising Howie Carr's shitty sense of humor. Howie's parents must be very proud of him.

  11. And still neither does The Daily Howler.

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