A Mixed Bag from the Mueller Hearings…Both sides have reasons to both gloat & be disappointed over with the Mueller hearings, so here is our take. I could have never imagined a day in America when a president could commit multiple felonies & get away with it by remaining in office, since any other president would have been long gone by now. And I could have never imagined a day in America when our own president & his political party would unleash a coordinated avalanche of lies, built upon partisan rhetoric & crazy conspiracy theories to divert away from those crimes, but as a nation it’s where we now find ourselves. Trump & his party have been given cover by their media-messaging echo, helping unleash a tribal cult movement based on extremism, deception & hatred. As Mueller admits, Russia attacked our democracy & their attacks are still going on today, yet Trump & his GOP are ignoring, denying & allowing this assault on America to continue unabated.
Despite Mueller sticking strictly to his report, being agonizingly hesitant & careful not to say anything new, the larger points we took away from the Mueller hearings thoroughly refuted Trump’s tiresome talking points. It’s clear the investigation was no witch hunt & it was not a hoax. From the report the president was not exonerated, there were numerous instances of obstruction, & yes there are also clear signs of collusion/conspiracy which Mueller’s narrow mandate did not allow his probe to adequately explore. The Mueller probe overall was incredibly productive by producing nearly 200 criminal charges, so it was certainly no witch hunt, but there are powerful forces protecting this corrupt president who have so far successfully kept hidden the worst of the potential crimes directly involving Trump.
With so much we still do not know & have yet to learn, one interesting new tidbit coming out of the Mueller hearings was word of a counterintelligence probe still ongoing within the FBI. With more than 100 contacts between Trump campaign officials & Russians, plus many within Trump’s campaign seeking to profit off foreign interests including Trump’s pursuit of a Moscow tower, still to be determined are any illegalities coming from those relationships along with the degree Trump & his staff may be compromised. I’ve always commented following the money is where the real crimes can be found, so here’s hoping the current investigations get to the bottom of those complicated financial connections. On all these numerous fronts with so many credible signs of crimes, congressional, district & state investigators must pursue the facts as quickly & aggressively as they possibly can: newsweek.com/donald-trump-faces-investigations-after-mueller-probe-not-safe.
Other info which was confirmed from the Mueller hearings were things we’d been gleaning from news reports the past couple years. There were the repeated lies & lack of cooperation by Trump & his cronies in covering up their Russian connections, which did greatly impede Mueller’s probe. Trump was also not particularly truthful in his written answers to Mueller. Plus he consistently refused to testify in person, which Mueller decided not to get drawn into a long protracted court battle. Mueller also clearly stated Russia wanted Trump to win, with Trump welcoming the Russian help & cheering on the WikiLeaks email dumps, which Mueller described as quite problematic. Much attention was also paid to how Trump demanded White House lawyer Don McGahn fire Mueller while then instructing him to lie about getting that order, with every indication the prez did it with intent which he knew was wrong, only adding to the overwhelming evidence of multiple violations involving obstruction of justice.
It is clear the entire Mueller probe was conducted & shackled through the prism a president cannot be indicted. That may have been a key factor why Mueller didn’t delve in deeply to the collusion & counterintelligence side of the probe while insufficiently following the money trail. But unfortunately we’re losing time as there’s a presidential election next year. Mueller abided by DOJ protocal in citing an OLC opinion the sitting president cannot be charged which really narrowed his mandate, but that opinion is not law & would probably get shot down if ever challenged in court, since it essentially gives a president license to be above the law. One interesting point in yesterday’s testimony which Mueller agreed with, Trump could be brought up on criminal charges after leaving office.
Everyone is looking at the Mueller hearings through their partisan lens. GOP partisans say it’s time to move on while many Dems say it’s time for impeachment. With both sides dug into their corners, it looks like the Mueller hearings resulted in a stalemate & probably won’t move the needle much. But it should serve as an impetus to gather more documents & call more witnesses. We found out tomorrow the House judiciary plans to ask in court for the release of sealed grand jury material, plus request enforcing the subpoena compelling Don McGahn to testify before Congress. I hope a good number of key witnesses can appear before Congress in the fall, hopefully in public hearings. That could even extend to others on Mueller’s investigative team, helping to provide more details & clarity around that report. Just thinking out loud here, but a cable network like CNN or MSNBC could score a huge ratings bonanza by persuading any prosecutor from Mueller’s team to appear & speak their mind.
Mueller was very cautious not to take sides, refusing to go beyond the confines of his report. He’s not a partisan hack which helped him come across as far more objective than the showboating Ken Starr two decades ago. After a rather choppy morning session, Mueller was far more forceful in the afternoon. What especially worries him was revealed in the way he emphatically declared the Russian interference represents one of the biggest threats to our democracy, which he fears this mass disinformation for tainting elections has become the new normal. Throughtout the Mueller hearings he remained very tight-lipped, hiding behind the contents in the report without elaborating at all. Nearly 200 questions were deflected or not answered. Now in his mid-70’s, it’s apparent he’s lost some off his fastball & even had difficulty following along with the questioning (unless he’s just hard of hearing), so he’s no longer the hard-charging civil servant he had a stellar reputation for. That might be a real good reason he was so reluctant to testify. It even raises doubt if he was the right guy at the right time to embark upon such a monumental task, but we can hopefully take heart he was surrounded by a talented prosecutorial staff. And now that his job is through, much of the rest of his still incomplete investigation has been handed over to other prosecutors.
The GOP rep questioners were on hand to provide comic relief if their inane ramblings weren’t so infuriating. They kept repeating their littany of lies & crackpot propaganda coordinated by the likes of Trump & Hannity, which normal-thinking Americans who are paying attention can easily see through their partisan mirage. The problem comes in when those crazy conspiracies are actually believed by crazy Trumpeters, the ones hooked up intraveneously to their chosen echo-media & regularly injected with mind-altering toxins. In playing to that misinformed audience, those GOP committee members came across as fools during the Mueller hearings, dredging up totally irrelevant arguments & talking points that a confounded Mueller must have wondered if he was suddenly transported to a different hearing. Their questions made about as much sense as asking Mueller to explain why the grass is purple & the sky is underneath the grass: salon.com/2019/07/25/so-robert-mueller-visited-the-republicans-totally-insane-alternate-universe-no-one-survived. I expected the GOP reps to look like idiots, but it surprised me in the morning session they were so adversarial towards Mueller, making it look like they were berating a gentle grandpa.
The big question & that elephant in the room remains what the Dems plan to do about impeachment. Pelosi is still holding strong against it, waiting for more evidence of crimes to come out strengthening their hand. Based on the rule of law & emotions, she’s facing tremendous pressure to do an about face & move ahead. But from a political standpoint, her reluctance is understandable. The approximately 30 or so Dem reps from purple districts that gave them the majority in the House, moving ahead with impeachment would put them in precarious positions for reelection next year. So not only would an impeachment conviction in the Senate be impossible at this point, but impeachment would still not pass the House. That’s not likely to change until the majority of the public agree it’s time to move ahead with impeachment, which we’re just not there yet. So while my heart says let’s go for it, my mind tends to concur with Pelosi. Yes I know, with any other president serial obstruction of justice & campaign finance crimes would be a no-brainer to impeach, but remember Trump is protected by his echo-fueled cult.
We still need more legal juice to sway public opinion, which I do believe could still come (perhaps this year?) through revelations around his tax records or foreign money-trail entanglements. If such a major crime discovery doesn’t get uncovered till next year, then it becomes a campaign issue. One factor that could strategically move an impeachment inquiry forward much sooner would be a determination the Dems need to strengthen their hand in court for getting around executive privilege & compelling key witnesses to testify. There’s also the possibility all the investigatory House committees could decide to start writing articles of impeachment on their own. But for a successful impeachment which doesn’t backfire & offers at least a chance at the right conclusion of removing a lawless president, we still need another major criminal bombshell from which we can immediately ride that momentum. It’d be something dominating the headlines for days or weeks, sparking a spontaneous, fervent, widespread groundswell for impeachment which could not be ignored. Anything short of that, it becomes imperative for the future of America to defeat Trump in November 2020. Without a strong enough hand to win on impeachment, Dems had better play their cards right to win the next election.
Lots Pulled from the Newsfeeds
I worry that we — the media, voters, Congress — are dangerously unserious when it comes to preservation of our democracy. To spend hours of airtime and write hundreds of print and online reports pontificating about the “optics” of Mueller’s performance — when he confirmed that President Trump accepted help from a hostile foreign power and lied about it, that he lied when he claimed exoneration, that he was not completely truthful in written answers, that he could be prosecuted after leaving office and that he misled Americans by calling the investigation a hoax — tells me that we have become untrustworthy guardians of democracy. The “failure” is not of a prosecutor who found the facts but might be ill equipped to make the political case, but instead, of a country that won’t read his report and a media obsessed with scoring contests rather than focusing on the damning facts at issue. Many well-meaning figures continue to beat the drums of impeachment rather than demand that Trump be voted out of office for betraying his country and lying to voters to conceal his crew’s unpatriotic sellout to Russian actors.
Trump reads from the same hymnal of disinformation and recites the same slander of democratic institutions that 20th-century totalitarians deployed, yet too many in the media call him the “winner” because Mueller did not pass their ridiculous tests (e.g. add new information, persuade Republicans). Trump’s authoritarian liturgy, like that of many 20th-century despots, also co-opts religion, abandons universal liberal values including a free press, substitutes corporate cronyism for democracy and excludes from the body politic those who disagree with the government. Given his druthers, this president would exile critics just as dying colonial regimes would send off dissidents without hope of physical return. And despite all this, too much of the chattering class remains dangerously unfocused and frivolous. It deploys irony and cynicism when clear-eyed explanation and morally defensible perspective are essential. Democratic presidential candidates and voters had better get their act together to find someone to beat Trump. If not, Trump with the complicity of a craven party and the indulgence of those who know better will further fray our tenuous attachment to democracy and truth.
Feast awhile on these. Just reading the titles to this enormous number of article links posted here helps reveal the main points from the Mueller hearings:
Deceitful Far-Right Echo Messaging Machine
With such a huge number of Americans basing their judgments on false information, their votes are electing destructive candidates based on lies, which puts our whole democracy & free society in jeopardy. It opens up a can of worms when bad actors who control the messaging can highjack our nation, whether it’s some secret/seedy deep-fake fabricators or ill-intent foreign adversaries like Russia. The dangers are contained within the following links…
Another network even worse than Fox (imagine that!), blindly worshiping the prez without doubt, conditions or facts:
The massive disinformation & propaganda campaigns keep coming at us through numerous sources & means:
Those radical far-right falsehoods resulting in such faulty mindsets among Trumpeters are extremely destructive to the dialogue & functioning of our great nation. And as we’ve seen, their echo-rhetoric is also very dangerous & has escalated into violence, which will likely become far more dangerous & even deadly the more their crazy/hateful lies keep gaining resonance on the right:
Trump Clone Across the Atlantic
The calamity in Britain featuring the Brexit time bomb looks to have produced a Trump-type nationalistic radical:
Such a total jackass:
The Senate remains in the game (& so is Russia as they even infiltrated voting systems in all 50 states):
Trump Cult Securely Under His Spell
It’s like getting hooked on a drug. Deprogramming Trumpeters can’t be done until they get so overwhelmed with truths, they finally snap out of it! See these articles with excerpts under the last link:
Neiwert defines eliminationism as a community-based mentality that promotes “purity” by demonizing its opponents and demanding they be purged from society. “What they’re doing is participating in a community of hate. This is actually key to a lot of its power and its attraction. It’s almost ritualized,” he told The Daily Beast. “This is how hate crimes work. Hate crimes are always message crimes directed at targets who are seen as corrupting influences and bad for the community. Hate-crime perpetrators see themselves as defending their communities while doing it. There’s always a communal aspect to this. It’s very much the mob.” Lalich offered a similar perspective. “Having an us-versus-them mentality is what keeps people strong in their beliefs,” she said. “It creates paranoia, it creates a kind of fighting atmosphere. That kind of mentality is one we typically see. By feeding into that, the leader creates a separation. It also creates a sense of elitism and specialness.”
But some of Trump’s most die-hard fans might be removed from dissenting opinions, Altier said. “Establishing alternative social bonds and networks where they can interact with people with other views” could help, she said, but “we’re not seeing that on social media. We’re seeing more polarization in society on both sides.” Instead, dedicated fans might turn inward, engaging with more pro-Trump communities. “I don’t listen to Fox, I don’t listen to CNN. I don’t listen to any of ’em,” Allicyn Steverson, a Florida teacher told HuffPost at the Wednesday rally. “I listen to Trump’s tweets and his QAnons.” (QAnon is a deranged online conspiracy theory that accuses Trump’s opponents of sexually abusing and sometimes eating children.) A choose-your-own reality media environment might keep people from challenging their beliefs, Lalich said. “Because people are so divided right now, those folks are mainly watching Fox and listening to Alex Jones,” she said. “They’re not going to get any kind of education that might tap into their critical thinking. That’s what works when we try to do exit intervention: we try to reawaken the person’s critical thinking and get them to see the reality of who their leader is and what their beliefs are. In this case, because this is on a national level, we’ve never quite experienced this before in our country. I think any kind of public education would be very difficult.”
Picciolini stressed that outright confrontation over bigoted beliefs might not help a person abandon them. “Ideology is usually formed, or led to, by trauma or grievance. If we continue to confront ideology by trying to change it, we will fail,” Picciolini said. “We must instead focus on repairing the motivations that lead to hate-and they are seldom someone else’s skin color or religion. Self-hatred or uncertainty lead to hate. Let’s fix that.” Altier also cautioned that some Trump supporters might act out should his rallies stop. “While people saying these things is awful and they may radicalize other people, if we quash their ability to say them, my research shows they may become more violent because they can’t express those grievances. It’s a catch-22,” she said. And even if Trump leaves office, it’s no guarantee that Trumpism will end. “I think it’s only going to intensify,” Neiwert said, citing fears that Trump would not lead a peaceful transition. It’s a concern Lalich shares. “I think he can still remain their leader. He doesn’t need to have office,” she said. “He’s already threatened that it’s going to be rigged and that his people will rise up. I think that’s not going to change very much because he has reawakened such hatred in this country.”
Many Evangelicals Also Unwittingly Caught Up in the Cult
Zombie mind-control on campus: