Letters to the Editor
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So many of us who want Trump to vanish ASAP keep making the same mistake in claiming that Prosecutor Mueller did not find any of Trump’s actions rising to a prosecutable criminal level and then go on to say how immoral and unethical Trump is anyway. NOT SO.
The Report makes it quite clear that Trump did indeed commit acts that are prosecutable but that because it is DOJ policy not to indict a sitting President, Mueller himself considers it unfair to the President or any accused to have a charge hanging over them without recourse to a defense in court that is not deferred for years.
In sum, according to the clear language of the Report:
- If the FBI investigators had failed to find evidence of obstruction of justice that was prosecutable, they would have said so and they did not say so.According to DOJ guide lines from their Office of Legal Council, a sitting president should not be indicted.
- Mueller decided it would not be fair to the accused to be charged with crimes but not be able to have their day in court in a timely fashion to mount a defense. Thus a sitting President with years to go.
- That is why indictments were not made now but deferred to a later time to be brought by agencies with jurisdiction at a time when the President would no longer be in office and thus able to defend himself in a court of law. Explicitly, Mueller indicated Congress was constitutionally so empowered.
- So, Barr, the NYT editorial board, NPR, PBS and a slew of others are incorrect when they say Mueller did not indict because there was not enough evidence of a crime or indictable offense that had a clear path to conviction. In fact he said there was sufficient evidence indeed, if in a slightly convoluted way [failure to find lack of evidence]. He even explicitly noted Trump was NOT exonerated.
- Yes, what Trump has said and done or failed to do is immoral and unethical. But he has also so behaved in a clearly illegal and indictable manner.
*As a footnote I surmise and conjecture that Mueller might well have been thinking of Hillary Clinton, who was left in limbo with implications of evil-doing by email by Comey’s remarks but yet no indictment, no day in court and no politically feasible path to mounting a defense in court. His grim lips might have had a slight curl at this thought, had he entertained it.
So all together now: Trump has clearly obstructed justice and is legally subject to indictment after leaving office.
– John Phelan