“It’s like a mini-election”

Upper House
Statue of Freedom atop the U.S. Capitol

The 22-month special investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election ended this past week with Robert Mueller’s report to Attorney General William Barr on Friday. On Sunday Barr issued a 4-page summary of the report.

Essentially:

  • No further indictments were recommended by Mueller and there are no sealed indictments that have not been made public.
  • Mueller reported “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
  • Regarding possible obstruction of justice by the President, Mueller stated that “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
  • Barr and Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein “concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.”
  • Barr said “[M]y goal and intent is to release as much of the Special Counsel’s report as I can consistent with applicable law, regulations, and Departmental policies.”

Trump and his supporters started celebrating, claiming total vindication, looking for people to punish and ways to exert their newly expanded sense of authority.

Journalist Yamiche Alcindor tweeted today:

Senator Lindsey Graham says President Trump sounded relieved and like a man who had just won a presidential election all over again. “To be honest with you, it’s like a guy who just won an election…It’s like a mini-election,” Graham said of Trump’s reaction to Mueller Report.

Indeed. It’s like a mini-election: an election in which only one person voted.

In this election, the only vote was cast by Attorney General William Barr. Barr said that he and Rod Rosenstein concluded that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to establish an obstruction-of-justice offense against Trump, but really, do we know — or does it matter — what Rosenstein said? Barr had the only vote.

Barr was appointed by Trump to replace Jeff Sessions, who had recused himself from anything having to do with the Russia investigation and resigned under frequent criticism by Trump. Barr was confirmed on Valentine’s Day by a 54-45 vote in the Senate. Senator Graham got to vote in that mini-election. Graham also had a vote in forwarding Barr’s nomination to the full Senate, as he chairs the Judiciary Committee (all Democratic committee members voted against the nomination).

Some Democrats are now arguing for release of Mueller’s full report, which is probably not going to happen. Some are arguing for ongoing congressional investigations, possibly to include testimony by Mueller.

And, of course, some are arguing for impeachment. Nancy Pelosi spoke to that idea earlier in March in a Washington Post interview:

I’m not for impeachment. This is news. I’m going to give you some news right now because I haven’t said this to any press person before. But since you asked, and I’ve been thinking about this: Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country. And he’s just not worth it.

Pelosi is right. It would divide the country, and it would not succeed.

There were good reasons to believe that William Barr might not be unbiased in his handling of Mueller’s investigation, but 51 Republican senators voted for him anyway.

Last October there were good reasons to think the Brett Kavanaugh might not be well suited for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court (see Fear and Loathing in the Senate Judiciary for more), but 49 Republican senators and 1 red-state Democrat voted for him anyway.

Mitch McConnell has already said that he will push to fill a Supreme Court vacancy in 2020, in spite of his refusal to allow consideration of Obama’s nominee in 2016.

Is this Democracy? Or is it rule by fixed mini-elections?

Back to the question of impeachment, I see practically no circumstance under which this Republican controlled Senate would vote to remove Donald Trump from office.

Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist 65 that the practice of impeachments could be regarded “as a bridle in the hands of the legislative body upon the executive servants of the government.” This president is unbridled. He is also imperious, impulsive, vindictive and selfish. Does he see himself as anyone’s servant, or the exact opposite?

Republicans in Congress, especially in the US Senate, have been bending over backwards for Donald Trump. They’re doing the country a terrible disservice.

Trump is now looking to do away with the Affordable Care Act once and for all, with nothing to replace it.

He is looking to slash social programs and increase defense spending.

He is using an executive order to declare a national emergency to build a border wall.

The debt is exploding. Remember when Republicans claimed to care about that?

The reasons to try to replace Donald Trump in 2020 are too numerous to list. But replacing Donald Trump is not enough. The Republican Senate majority must go.

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