“I think that the press has a duty and an obligation to report on local government, state government, federal government – to be aggressive, to do its job. And its job is to report on whatever it’s covering.” – Mark McKinnon
Remember the shepherd boy who said to the mighty king, “Do you know what I know?” That refrain came to mind when the Attorney General released his three and a half page interpretation of the Mueller report. I’m not a lawyer and I don’t yet know what is in the report, but that triggered another thought raised in the same carol. “Did you see what I saw?”
Having watched and heard the president, in his own words, defend actions he has taken against the Justice department, I, like the little shepherd boy, know what I heard and know what I saw. For that reason, I’m relieved to know that Congress has been promised a redacted version of the Special Council’s report in mid-April. To be honest, I’m disappointed that the special prosecutor did not issue an opinion on obstruction. It would have made the job of Congress easier. Unfortunately, some of our elected representatives seem more interested in campaigning than in governing, and as things now stand, an apparent punt by the Special Council has lead to a spike by the president and his cohorts who are taking what may prove to be a premature victory lap. I thought the purpose of a special prosecutor was to give an independent assessment of the facts, and take the politics out of the equation. Based on what we know from Mueller’s investigation, there’s no way the Democrats, or the press, can let this go without exploring it further.
By my reckoning, “perhaps not guilty but definitely not exonerated” is a pretty low bar to set for a president. Admitting again that I’m not a lawyer, that statement indicates to me that some evidence was found to suggest that Trump committed a crime, or acted with corrupt intent. Perhaps the Special Council couldn’t prove it beyond a reasonable doubt, or maybe, just maybe, he punted to DOJ because he knew he couldn’t personally indict a sitting president. My Machiavellian streak also makes me wonder if his investigation was interfered with. We’ll have answers soon, but this isn’t over.
It may be that the full report exonerates the president, but there is also the chance that it is worse for the president then his Attorney General portrayed it to be. We have to let it play out. Years ago, Lyndon Johnson said, “Don’t tell a man to go to hell unless you can send him there.” The man in the oval office and his followers believe he has escaped hellfire. That’s not true, but if we are serious about the outcome of the 2020 election we have to proceed with caution.
I hope we can put aside thoughts about impeachment. The Republicans in Congress are tied to the president by an umbilical chord that refuses to be cut. It is foolish to waste time, energy and money on a political procedure that is doomed to failure. The numbers for impeachment simply are not there. That is not to say the various Congressional committees should stop exploring and exposing the background of the man sitting in the oval office. The more the public knows about him the more likely it is that he can be defeated in 2020.
The real force of congressional oversight will be felt once they acquire the Mueller report. Every shred of evidence will be examined. Statements made to Mueller will be cross-referenced with statements made to Congress during public hearings or depositions. Anyone making inconsistent statements will be called on to address them under the threat of perjury. A forensic autopsy will be undertaken and Congress will examine every controversial decision the president and his henchmen have made.
In 2010 House Republicans declared, “Congress is constitutionally obligated to provide thorough oversight of the Executive Branch. This obligation is recognized by scholars and the Courts and by the American public that expects its federal government to root out waste, fraud, abuse, mismanagement, and misconduct.” Sometimes our words come back to bite us. The Democrats in Congress are getting ready to fulfill their oversight responsibilities in a manner entirely consistent with what Republicans called for during the Obama years. Trump will have to live the words and standards set by his own party.
It is my hope that the Democrats will remember they have also been sent to Washington to govern as well as investigate. My prayer is they will address issues of public welfare and pass meaningful legislation regarding health care, immigration, voting rights and infrastructure while simultaneously exposing the underbelly of this administration. Nothing they do will sway the Greek chorus supporting the president and his party, but we have a powerful weapon that can defeat them. Hopefully, the press will not lose interest in the findings of the various committees and, hopefully, you will remember the face of that sneering bully as he incites his sheep to riot. Our votes can defeat them. Exercise your franchise. VOTE.