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Mueller Whiffed

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In his careful and detailed examination of the process behind the Mueller Report, Jeffrey Toobin concludes that Mueller compiled extensive evidence that Trump had obstructed justice but then abjured his responsibility by refusing to say so:

Mueller had uncovered extensive evidence that Trump had repeatedly committed the crime of obstruction of justice. To take just the most prominent examples: Trump told Comey to stop the investigation of Flynn (“Let this go”). When Comey didn’t stop the Russia investigation, Trump fired him. Trump instructed his former aide Corey Lewandowski to tell Attorney General Sessions to limit the special-counsel investigation. Most important, Trump told Don McGahn, the White House counsel, to arrange for Mueller to be fired and then, months later, told McGahn to lie about the earlier order. (Both Lewandowski and McGahn declined to help engineer Comey’s firing.)

The impeachment proceedings against Nixon and Clinton were rooted in charges of obstruction of justice, and Trump’s offenses were even broader and more enduring. Moreover, Mueller’s staff had analyzed in detail whether each of Trump’s actions met the criteria for obstruction of justice, and in the report the special counsel asserted that, in at least these four instances, it did. But Mueller still stopped short of saying that Trump had committed the crime.

[…]

Nothing in Mueller’s mandate required him to reach such a confusing and inconclusive final judgment on the most important issue before him. As a prosecutor, his job was to determine whether the evidence was sufficient to bring cases. The O.L.C.’s opinion prohibited Mueller from bringing a case, but Mueller gave Trump an unnecessary gift: he did not even say whether the evidence supported a prosecution. Mueller’s compromising language had another ill effect. Because it was so difficult to parse, it opened the door for the report to be misrepresented by countless partisans acting in bad faith, including the Attorney General of the United States.

Definitely worth reading the whole thing. Countless political elites have failed during this disastrous period of American history, and while there are many more egregious examples than Mueller, he’s certainly one of them.

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