Terry H. Schwadron
May 19, 2018
President Trump, Rudy Giuliani, the group of House Republicans, and now Vice President Mike Pence have thrown out decency and respect for the systems of government to circle the wagons any wrongdoing that may be decided legally by the Justice Department.
They have decided that partisan concerns justify Trump taking actions against the FBI, the Justice Department and Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III. Through a tweet storm rising in risibility and sarcasm, denial of facts and twisting of circumstances for personal gain, they used the anniversary of the Mueller appointment as a truly disturbing rewrite of witch hunt history. It’ll wrap up when it is ready to wrap up, guys, not on a political convenience calendar.
Worse, more objectionable administration behavior comes to light each day. Most of it is ignorable — really, the president has to refer to immigrants without papers, or redefined as MS-13 gang members as “animals”? Some of it is substantively just plain wrong, like ordering recipients of federal dollars that they cannot even mention the concept of abortion to those who find themselves with unintended pregnancies. Some of it is just ridiculous, like Trump standing in front of a group to discuss prison reform without addressing sentencing, or yet another school shooting mass killing without even a hint of an iota of doing something other than ordering flags lowered to half-mast.
These guys appear to be willing to throw out basic legal building blocks, basic respect for professional investigation, eventually even democracy itself in pursuit of their singular goal — shutting down any and all investigation of the president or even those around him from the campaign who may have cooperated with Russians seeking to influence the election, or obstruction of justice to stop the investigations, or any other possible negative outcome of an eventual Mueller report.
This is not right. We all know that. But it is reaching the point where normal life cannot proceed around the elephant in the room.
Yes, this is an angry column from a frustrated voter, someone who simply needs to turn off the television.
We need to tell these people to stop it, to let the process play out, and then to play the cards each person has been handed. On the other hand, we have the silent Mueller who just goes about his work, without dropping a word in the defense of the Justice Department, the FBI efforts or the Mueller effort.
The spineless Republican Congressional leaders refuse to consider legislation that would help to protect Mueller and Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod J. Rosenstein from efforts to fire or thwart their efforts.
· The president tweeted yesterday in favor of uncovering the identity of a continuing FBI investigations, violating our most closely held national traditions of protecting secret information stories. He also attacked the “fact” that the FBI kept quiet an apparent decision to plant an FBI agent into the Trump campaign last year — as part of an extremely quiet FBI counterintelligence campaign to determine the extent of Russian influence work. Indeed, other outlets said there was no evidence for that conclusion, that the FBI likely talked with campaign staffers early on, and that, in any case, there was nothing partisan political about the move which was intended to start finding out if there might be a problem with Russian influence. Instead, the President sees all of it, every bit of it as a witch hunt that is wasting his time and taking the public eye off his self-promotion efforts. His blunt defense serves neither himself, nor the system that is trying its best to examine itself.
· Rudy Giuliani is the subject of every talk show in the country over his brash, changing and often contradictory legal opinions that the President indeed should be above enforcement of U.S. law, no matter what he did, might have done, or even about whether he might need to recognize a subpoena for his testimony. Again, a little actual knowledge seems to go a long way. I have no idea whether to believe, for example, that Mueller is agreeable to limiting questions to the president, as reported by Giuliiani.
· The Senate Intelligence Committee, with its Republican majority, has rejected the partisan House Intelligence Committee report, arguing that the evidence they took certainly does support the idea that Russians tried to influence the election results towards a positive outcome for Donald J. Trump. The new report makes the Republican claims from the House a month ago totally un-believable for anything other than partisanship.
There is an overwhelming amount of chatter out there about what detail does and does not matter, about whether a year for a Special Counsel investigation is unduly short or unduly long, over whether the President and Mueller will negotiate the appropriate condition s for the president to offer testimony under oath to the effort.
The chatter is offensive, on all sides. The notion that this clash of publicity-seeking partisans who will abridge no discouraging word, no idea of excess on any side, is offensive all by itself.
The idea that we cannot let these FBI professionals work through whether they have a provable case or fourteen is bizarre.
The president, Giuliani, the House Republicans should simply hold their fire and try to do some government work that actually helps people. At least they can stop making things up just to fill the air waves. They may be proved right, or not; a lot of people and a lot of evidence is building up about these questions. It is no witch hunt, but it is an ungainly pile of stink.
#Make America Less Disgusting Again.