FROM THE WASHINGTON POST, A REALLY IMPORTANT POST THAT EVERYONE SHOULD READ

Trump would have been charged with obstruction were he not president, hundreds of former federal prosecutors assert


From left, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, President Trump and Attorney General William P. Barr. (From left: Charles Dharapak; Jabin Botsford; Bill O’Leary/AP; The Washington Post)

May 6 at 2:00 PM


More than 450 former federal prosecutors who worked in Republican and Democratic administrations have signed on to a statement asserting special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s findings would have produced obstruction charges against President Trump — if not for the office he held.

The statement — signed by myriad former career government employees as well as high-profile political appointees — offers a rebuttal to Attorney General William P. Barr’s determination that the evidence Mueller uncovered was “not sufficient” to establish that Trump committed a crime.

Mueller had declined to say one way or the other whether Trump should have been charged, citing a Justice Department legal opinion that sitting presidents cannot be indicted, as well as concerns about the fairness of accusing someone for whom there can be no court proceeding.

“Each of us believes that the conduct of President Trump described in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report would, in the case of any other person not covered by the Office of Legal Counsel policy against indicting a sitting President, result in multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice,” the former federal prosecutors wrote.

“We emphasize that these are not matters of close professional judgment,” they added. “Of course, there are potential defenses or arguments that could be raised in response to an indictment of the nature we describe here. . . . But, to look at these facts and say that a prosecutor could not probably sustain a conviction for obstruction of justice — the standard set out in Principles of Federal Prosecution — runs counter to logic and our experience.”

How Barr appeared to misrepresent Mueller’s findings

Attorney General William P. Barr repeatedly appeared to misrepresent or misstate special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s findings on May 1. 

The statement is notable for the number of people who signed it — 375 as of early Monday afternoon, growing to 459 in the hours after it published — and the positions and political affiliations of some on the list. It was posted online Monday afternoon; those signing it did not explicitly address what, if anything, they hope might happen next.

Among the high-profile signers are Bill Weld, a former U.S. attorney and Justice Department official in the Reagan administration who is running against Trump as a Republican; Donald Ayer, a former deputy attorney general in the George H.W. Bush Administration; John S. Martin, a former U.S. attorney and federal judge appointed to his posts by two Republican presidents; Paul Rosenzweig, who served as senior counsel to independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr; and Jeffrey Harris, who worked as the principal assistant to Rudolph W. Giuliani when he was at the Justice Department in the Reagan administration.

The list also includes more than 20 former U.S. attorneys and more than 100 people with at least 20 years of service at the Justice Department — most of them former career officials. The signers worked in every presidential administration since that of Dwight D. Eisenhower. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), a federal prosecutor before he became a lawmaker, joined the letter after news of it broke, and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, tweeted his support for its premise .

The signatures were collected by the nonprofit group Protect Democracy, which counts Justice Department alumni among its staff and was contacted about the statement last week by a group of former federal prosecutors, said Justin Vail, an attorney at Protect Democracy.

“We strongly believe that Americans deserve to hear from the men and women who spent their careers weighing evidence and making decisions about whether it was sufficient to justify prosecution, so we agreed to send out a call for signatories,” Vail said. “The response was overwhelming. This effort reflects the voices of former prosecutors who have served at DOJ and signed the statement.”

What’s in the Mueller report?

A redacted version of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report was released to the public on April 18. Here’s what’s in it. 

Weld said by the time he reviewed the statement, it already had more than 100 signatures, and he affixed his name because he had concluded the evidence “goes well beyond what is required to support criminal charges of obstruction of justice.”

“I hope the letter will be persuasive evidence that Attorney General Barr’s apparent legal theory is incorrect,” he said.

A spokesman for the special counsel’s office declined to comment. A spokeswoman for the Justice Department referred a reporter to Barr’s previous public statements on the subject.

Many legal analysts have wondered since Mueller’s report was released whether the special counsel believed he had sufficient evidence to charge Trump and was just unwilling to say it out loud.

By the report’s account, Trump — after learning he was being investigated for obstruction — told his White House counsel to have Mueller removed. And when that did not work, according to Mueller’s report, Trump tried to have a message passed to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to limit the scope of Mueller’s authority. Of that episode, Mueller’s team wrote there was “substantial evidence” to indicate Trump was trying to “prevent further investigative scrutiny” of himself and his campaign.

“All of this conduct — trying to control and impede the investigation against the President by leveraging his authority over others — is similar to conduct we have seen charged against other public officials and people in powerful positions,” the former federal prosecutors wrote in their letter.

They wrote that prosecuting such cases was “critical because unchecked obstruction — which allows intentional interference with criminal investigations to go unpunished — puts our whole system of justice at risk.”

Mueller’s team, though, wrote that it decided not to make a “traditional prosecutorial judgment” in part because of the Justice Department opinion on not indicting sitting presidents and because the evidence obtained “presents difficult issues that would need to be resolved” if they were to do so.

“At the same time, if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state,” Mueller’s team wrote.

After receiving Mueller’s report, Barr said he and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein reviewed the case themselves and determined the evidence was not there. He offered a robust defense of that decision at a recent congressional hearing, detailing for lawmakers possible defenses Trump could have raised in each episode.

“The government has to prove things beyond a reasonable doubt,” Barr said. “And, as the report shows, there’s ample evidence on the other side of the ledger that would prevent the government from establishing that.”


I do not usually reblog items from the Washington Post, but this article is so important, I felt it deserved the bigger airing. I am a subscriber and I find it frustrating that I can’t make some of these posts available, but usually, I assume someone else will post the same material. I’m sure someone else will post the material, but nobody writes it better or with more clarity than the Post. 

This is a completely non-profit blog (I wish it were a little less non-profit) so this is truly public service!

THE JOY IN JERUSALEM – Marilyn Armstrong

The odds favor that, if you live a full life, you will witness events that are historically important. Depending on your definition of “witness,” you’ll inevitably witness a lot of history. You can’t avoid it.

Some events are more dramatic and make better stories. Even if your witness was via television or the news, you are no less a witness. Certainly, we are all witnessing history now … and wondering if maybe we are witnessing the end of the world we knew and thought would last forever.

My favorite “witness” experience was being in Israel when the Camp David Accords were signed. I had only arrived there a few weeks before. I was still trying to figure out what this place was. It definitely wasn’t the romanticized venue in the novels I’d read … or even the idealized “homeland” my mother imagined.

It was far more complicated, textured, and nuanced … which should not have been a surprise, yet was.

I bought a car shortly after I arrived. A Ford Escort. Ford had a little factory in Israel and Escorts were “Everyman’s” car. Small, and by American standards, underpowered, they were a “best buy” on Israel’s new car market.

The Ford dealership was across from the King David Hotel, which was where Begin, Sadat, and Carter met and made deals. As fate would have it, it was also the day on which I was supposed to pick up my new car. When I got to the street, bigger events were taking place.

My car would wait.

The King David Hotel

There were armed men everywhere. On the streets, the rooftops. Everywhere you looked, and probably thousands of places you couldn’t see, armed men stood guard. No one was getting assassinated on Israel’s watch. At least, not that day.

Around midday, to the enthusiastic cheering of the crowd, the official limousines swung past, each sporting the flags of its nation It was a sight to see.

King David Hotel entrance

All over Israel, there was great celebration and joy. It was one of the happiest, most optimistic moments in Israel’s short modern history. Finally, there was real hope there might be real peace. Hope that somehow, out of the bloodshed and wars, this was a significant step forward.

Not long thereafter, back in Egypt, Sadat would be assassinated. Ten days later, Moshe Dayan who had crafted the accords, would die too. He had been sick with both cancer and heart disease for a long time, but I believe he died of disappointment.

After that, optimism faded. The joy was dampened and life was “business as usual.”

I was there for that brief, bright moment, witness to the great moment when joy exploded in the streets of Jerusalem. No matter what anyone says nowadays about Israel’s intentions in the region, if you were there that day, you could not fail to know that the foundation of everyone’s hopes, was peace.

A PRAYER FOR NOTRE DAME – Guest Blogger: KARIN LAINE McMILLEN

I was scheming over coffee just this morning on how to get back to Paris.

I often get an itch for her attention, but not every morning, so when the NY Times came in a flash message on both my computers and my iPhone, “Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris is Engulfed in Flames,” I wondered if she had been calling to me. If somehow she knew she needed the love of her adorers today.

Notre Dame Photos: New York Times

I love Paris and Parisians: the art, the food, the smells, the attitude. I have only smoked 13 cigarettes in my life and most of them have been in Paris. I can think in the language if I try and my accent is so good that Parisians often ask if I am Swiss, which I take as a huge compliment, considering that I am definitely not even close to fluent.


Photos: Karin Laine McMillen


I detest the tourists and if it were not for my insistence on carrying my giant Nikon everywhere, I would never be noticed.

I was first in Paris in 1990, performing as a soprano soloist with a two hundred voice choir and a 25-piece chamber orchestra. Before our concert in Notre-Dame, the conductor and I tested the acoustics, I; singing from the front of the church, and he beneath the rose window in the back. My voice traveled back to me for what seemed like an eternity. In fact, he had been timing it and he informed me that there was an eight-second reverberation.

It took four seconds for the sound to travel to the back of the church and four more to return. It still doesn’t quite make sense to me from a physics standpoint, but from the experience, it felt like the sound was all around you. This was heightened by the addition of an orchestra and large choir. We performed that evening with much slower tempi in order that the integrity of the harmonies could be appreciated. I had to rework all my breaths that afternoon.

It was July and sunny and I stood in the garden behind Notre-Dame singing. A small crowd gathered and listened as I repeated phrases, practicing. What I remember from the concert is an overwhelming sense of calm as I sang and listened to my voice return blended with the orchestra past notes and present.

As I stood looking up at the complicated multi-domed ceiling, the realization of the magnificence of the cathedral and the gift of sound she gave warmed me and seem to entrust me with infinite breath.

Thousands of Parisians and tourists gathered on the banks of the Seine river and watched in shock as the fire tore through the cathedral’s wooden roof and brought down part of the spire. Photo credit: Yoan Valat/EPA, via Shutterstock

When I took my mom to France last year, we stood in line outside the cathedral waiting to walk through. Multiple Asian brides and their photographers were setting up shop in front of the immense wooden doors.

As my mom and I walked inside I recognized the sounds I remembered. Air, hushed whispers, a mass being intoned, all wafting around me in a sound billow. My mom begged me to sing for her as we walked through. I refused as I thought it inappropriate, and not conducive to worship. But in my mind, I heard my voice reverberating through the cathedral.

And I smiled.

WILLIAM BARR, THE MAN YOU NEVER KNEW – Part II – Reblog – Shinbone Star

Part II – Read and learn. We got ourselves into this mess and we have to dig ourselves out of it, too. I think this is pontification of the finest kind!

FOWC with Fandango — Pontificate

THE SHINBONE STAR

“Lawyers have an adage. ‘If the law is against you talk about the facts; if the facts are against you talk about the law; if the law and the facts are against you talk about the prosecutor.’ ”
— Lawrence C. Walsh, independent counsel, Iran-Contra investigation, 1986 to 1993

EDITOR’S NOTE: Second of two parts on U.S. Attorney General William Barr and his secret life with the CIA.

By NATHANIEL HELMS

As independent counsel in the Iran-Contra investigation, silk-stocking lawyer Lawrence C. Walsh was initially revered for his mission to bring the rogues of the Central Intelligence Agency to heel for their role in trampling the U.S. Constitution. Despite being a self-described rampant Republican, Walsh’s unbiased reputation was unimpeachable.

Attorney General William Barr is taking Walsh’s adage to heart. Much like he did during the Iran-Contra investigation 34 years ago, Barr is using a razor-edged interpretation of the law…

View original post 1,135 more words

Whatever else he may be, Trump at least is not an ostrich – REBLOG – The Shinbone Star

I find it so much easier to let other people say what I’m thinking. It’s a lot less exhausting than writing these things myself. And you know the WORST thing (personally) about all this mess? It has ruined my retirement. It has taken the relaxation and dredged it with dirt and horror stories. After a lifetime of horror stories, I thought I might get a little time off.

I guess not.

THE SHINBONE STAR

Ostriches don’t bury their heads in the sand like Trump often does — they wouldn’t be able to breathe! That exonerates Donald Trump from being an ostrich. Greater flamingos however do. They bury their bills and often their entire heads in wet sand to suck up muddy water looking for bottom feeders they thrive on.

That’s where Trump apparently feeds every day, feasting on the offal left at the bottom of the White House swamp by his Cabinet to fortify his ego. This is important because it helps explain why Trump is up to his ass in alligators and can still pretend that all is well in Mudville.

Monday Mr. Trump tweeted:

“Now that the long awaited Mueller Report conclusions have been released, most Democrats and others have gone back to the pre-Witch Hunt phase of their lives before Collusion Delusion took over. Others are pretending that their former hero…

View original post 857 more words

THIS IS NEWS? YOU SERIOUS? – Marilyn Armstrong

The latest hot scandal that rich people pay to get their kids into college is not news. It wasn’t news in 1963 when I started college. Literally, everyone knew that if you had the money to make a major donation (building new edifice on campus could get all your kids into school), you’d get your kid in, even if he or she was an illiterate moron.

Hofstra University Playhouse

This has probably been true as long as there have been colleges and universities that needed money, new dormitories, a law school extension, a new chemistry laboratory or gymnasium. If you can give them the money, they’d not only put your kid in school and make sure he or she graduated, they’d name the building after you and give you an honorary degree too.

So this whole big scandal is essentially taking a longstanding tradition and “making it news.”

It isn’t news. It isn’t newsworthy.

It has been going on for generations and as soon as this story gets old, it won’t be news and it will be “back to business.” Private universities — public ones too — urgently need funds. They never have enough from tuition and are always hitting up grads for money. I’ve been tempted to try to delete my name from the list of graduates of my school just to get them to stop asking for donations. It’s not that I have anything against Hofstra. More like I don’t have any money to give them.

Photo: B. Kraft

The fancier the school, the more they are searching for donations. Big donations. Universities would not survive without donations from wealthy graduates. Do I think it’s fair that the rich can buy their kids’ education? No, but “fair” is not what our world is. If this is the most unfair thing going down, I wouldn’t worry about it. There’s a lot worse stuff happening than this.

So this shocking news isn’t shocking and it isn’t news. I’m personally finding it extremely annoying. Some District Attorney decided he was going to make a story out of something everyone knew about.

Hofstra wasn’t as fancy when I attended.

Did the offspring of the wealthy seriously limit the number of intelligent kids getting into college?

Oh, come on.

The number of rich kids getting a free ride is very small compared to the number of kids getting a free ride by scholarship or for sports. That’s why schools are so eager to take in foreign students. Unlike American students, they actually pay full tuition. American kids get grants, scholarships, and as much assistance as they can generate.

Foreigners actually pay the whole fee.

THE SHINBONE STAR – REBLOG By NATHANIEL R. “NAT” HELMS

TIME HEALS OLD WOUNDS . . . UNLESS THEY’VE TURNED GANGRENOUS

A self-imposed exile from the machinations of Donald Trump is a good thing. It is like spraying Febreze Clean Linen scent inside your skull until the rotten stench is completely covered. Two weeks wasn’t long enough to fully enjoy it, but it is a start.

A real exile from Trump means no cable news, newspapers, Facebook memes and rants, not answering taunts and jibes and no light-hearted political discussion with the neighbors.

Netflix is a good hiding place. A more extreme alternative is Devotional Hour with Sister Marie, the wizened old nun who provides solace on a local Catholic television show. Five minutes cured everything. Even with great alternatives available, actually weaning oneself off the Trumpian titty is like quitting smoking without a nicotine patch. His nefarious influence is everywhere.

Perhaps the most revealing thing about such an experience is discovering that people who must work every day to care for their kids, dogs, and homes don’t often give a tinker’s damn about politics. It takes a particularly powerful whiff of Trumplandian swamp gas for them to even notice all is still not well in Washington, D.C. They apparently leave all the angst for old retired people who won’t suffer too long no matter what happens.

Several other discoveries jumped out immediately. The Trumpian Wall saga has run its course across the emotional nerves of my neighbors. So have mass shootings, the endless litany of #MeToo sexual peccadilloes and reports about election campaigns so far in the future they are irrelevant. The baffling Mueller probe is seen in the same light as all the other probes getting shoved in people’s keisters in the name of New Age correctness.

My hardworking neighbors know that a Saudi journalist named Khashoggi was chopped into mincemeat by lackeys of some medieval Arab prince who won’t be touched; that war in Syria and Afghanistan may be over but don’t count on it; and that some big, bald-headed guy on TV when they arrived home Friday was in a pointless pissing match with the Democrats. None of it touched their lives.

What really pisses off Mr. and Mrs. Working America is finding out that they aren’t going to get the income tax refund they used to use to buy a little fun, the really unimaginative halftime show at the cliché’-rich Super Bowl and that the constantly rising price of food and gas never gets factored into those glowing reports about how rich America is.

Just ask a working mom who looks forward to taking the kids for a week at the beach that won’t happen this year because she didn’t get a useful tax refund. Ask the tradesman who tolerated his union dues going to Democrats, thinking their expanded presence in the House would improve his life. Instead, they are using his money to buy a bully pulpit to promote themselves without accomplishing much else.

Perhaps the most illuminating people to talk to are the mid-level government employees where I live that are wracked with doubt because they spent all their savings just to survive Trump’s 35-day government shutdown. They are imminently aware that another shutdown is still in the cards. They are equally certain that at some point a shutdown will wreck the economy the same way it already has wrecked their households.

The so-called Trumpian base, the badly informed working class folks who turn to anyone who offers them red meat, are confused and angered as well. They thought their lot would have improved by now, said one of my forsaken buddies while buying donuts. We’ve been punching holes in targets together for 30 years and he still can’t bring himself to say he might have been wrong about Trump.

My old buddy lives in a trailer court down the road. He lives there because he can’t afford a house. He can’t afford a house because he earns a $1,000 or more a week during the working season and still can’t save enough for the 20-percent down payment. Despite all the news stories about how the country has run out of skilled and unskilled labor, he doesn’t have a job.

His mobile home costs $780 a month plus utilities. His wife doesn’t work because they can’t afford daycare for his three kids. Being a union laborer doesn’t provide much work in the dead of winter, he said. Unemployed union laborers go on the extra board and draw $280 a week unemployment that they hope will last until the spring thaw. The only thing being a cherished veteran got him is a VA house loan and lip service. Meanwhile, Republicans who supported Trump in Missouri are again trying to introduce “right-to-work” laws because they think laborers like my friend are paid too much.

I learned a lesson from this experience. To move forward, the country must clear its head, put its feet back on the ground and wean itself off the milk of Trumpian discourse. Hate holds only bankrupt answers. Trump’s forte is lies. It is time for Democrats to go around him, under him, over him or through him, the way illegal aliens would get past his useless border wall.

The presumption that time heals all wounds is misplaced. Time only heals wounds that don’t turn gangrenous.

Democratic leaders need to spend less time blaming Trump’s egregious behavior for the country’s wounds and begin binding them instead.

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