Robert Mueller finally held a short news conference yesterday as he officially closed his office, and took the opportunity to highlight some of the conclusions of his infamous report. He didn’t tell us much beyond what’s already been disclosed, but he clarified some key points and it seemed obvious that part of his motivation to speak publicly was to contradict Attorney General William Barr’s previous statements.
Barr testified weeks ago to Congress that Mueller wasn’t following the DOJ directive stating that a sitting president could not be indicted on federal crimes while in office. Mueller assured us yesterday that he was, in fact, following that directive. Mueller stated bluntly that:
- The directive allowed him declare Trump innocent, but he couldn’t.
- The directive did not allow him to accuse Trump of a crime.
- The directive gave Congress the role of accusing and finding guilt.
- The Mueller report was meant to assist Congress in that role.
- We were systematically attacked by Russia on multiple fronts.
- Obstructing the probe into those attacks would be a serious crime.
Mueller ultimately made this stark clarification:
If we had confidence the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.
Mueller’s comments were bad for Trump’s ongoing lie about “total exoneration”, but they were especially bad for the Attorney General. In light of Mueller’s clarifications, Barr clearly misrepresented the Mueller report and Barr misled us on Mueller’s approach and motivations. Commentators on TV and social media yesterday were calling Barr an outright liar and noting how damaging it is to the credibility of the DOJ and the rule of law that our top law enforcement official acts as a partisan hack protecting a corrupt president rather than working on behalf of the people.
The reaction among Democratic politicians was swift. Many condemned Barr and Trump while some for the first time called for Trump’s impeachment, including several of the Democratic presidential contenders who had previously been on the fence. Rachel Maddow said on her show last night that it seemed like the question had shifted from “whether or not to impeach?” to “when to impeach?”
In his town hall event two nights ago, Michigan Republican Justin Amash talked to his district about why he supports impeachment, and one of his Republican constituents was interviewed after the event. She was shocked at Amash’s position, stating to reporters that she had heard nothing bad about Mueller’s report on the Fox channel and was under the impression that the president was totally exonerated.
Her comments illuminated the dark core of our national emergency. Trump is the symptom of a disease that’s been festering for at least thirty years. Fox and A.M. hate-radio have been functioning as little more than fear-mongering propaganda outlets for a hateful, bigoted, misogynistic and regressive ideology that’s quietly backed by greedy corporations and wealthy plutocrats. They would pit us against each other and exploit religious extremists and radical nationalists to keep their own taxes low and keep the government from regulating their pollution, their destruction of our planet, their graft, their monopolies, their corruption–even if they destroy our republic in the process. They operate by lying and pretending that their lies are “news”.
A segment of our population has no idea what’s really happening in Washington or anywhere else. They’re being lied to every moment of every day by the stooges of Rupert Murdoch and the minions of the Koch Brothers. That’s one of the reasons an impeachment proceeding would be valuable. It would be difficult for Fox to hide or distort all of the testimony in an impeachment where facts from the Mueller report could seep out and infest the minds of conservatives.
There’s always a bit of truth in Trump’s complaints. Yes, someone has a low IQ–it’s Trump. Yes, someone is crooked–it’s Trump. Yes, someone is getting locked up–it’s Trump’s advisers. Yes, someone has low energy–it’s Trump. And yes, there’s a lot of Fake News–on Fox and A.M. radio.
Until we clearly and consistently diagnose the disease, we have no chance for a cure. And the disease is propaganda and disinformation masquerading as news. That’s what made Trump possible, and that’s what keeps many of our fellow citizens from the facts they need to make good choices.
Keep resisting and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”