June 2, 2019

Evidently, The P-G's Keith Burris Didn't Read The Mueller Report

Or perhaps he did - but that's not any better.

As the man said Keith, I can explain it to you but I can't understand it for you.

What am I talking about?

This editorial from the usually and completely rational, totally even-tempered, and faithfully fair and balanced Keith Burris of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

My buddy Keith just doesn't see the point of impeaching Donald Trump as he says there's just no reason for it. Nope. None at all. Trump's the stand up guy it's his detractors are the crazy ones bent on overturning the rule of law.

How do we know Sir Keith has lost his once strong claim to living in the real world?

He begins with the idea that we have to accept the results of our elections even if they might have been, well, a a bit little shady.  A Burris example:
Even though he knew there was a good chance John F. Kennedy stole the election in 1960, Richard Nixon chose not to challenge the outcome.
I suppose Keith, in his usually bottomless research for his usually well thought out editorials, missed this 2000 piece by David Greenburg from Slate.

Perhaps he missed it in a google search as it was titled "Was Nixon Robbed?"

Greenburg wrote, as to whether Nixon "chose not to challenge the outcome"  of the 1960 election:
First, Eisenhower quickly withdrew his support for a challenge, making it hard for Nixon to go forward. According to Nixon’s friend Ralph De Toledano, a conservative journalist, Nixon knew Ike’s position yet claimed anyway that he, not the president, was the one advocating restraint. “This was the first time I ever caught Nixon in a lie,” Toledano recalled.

More to the point, while Nixon publicly pooh-poohed a challenge, his allies did dispute the results—aggressively. The New York Herald Tribune’s Earl Mazo, a friend and biographer of Nixon’s, recounted a dozen-odd fishy incidents alleged by Republicans in Illinois and Texas. Largely due to Mazo’s reporting, the charges gained wide acceptance. [Emphasis in original.]
And then the next two paragraphs:
But it wasn’t just Mazo who made a stink. The press went into a brief frenzy in the weeks after the election. Most important, the Republican Party made a veritable crusade of undoing the results. Even if they ultimately failed, party leaders figured, they could taint Kennedy’s victory, claim he had no mandate for his agenda, galvanize the rank and file, and have a winning issue for upcoming elections.

Three days after the election, party Chairman Sen. Thruston Morton launched bids for recounts and investigations in 11 states—an action that Democratic Sen. Henry Jackson attacked as a “fishing expedition.” Eight days later, close Nixon aides, including Bob Finch and Len Hall, sent agents to conduct “field checks” in eight of those states. Peter Flanigan, another aide, encouraged the creation of a Nixon Recount Committee in Chicago. All the while, everyone claimed that Nixon knew nothing of these efforts—an implausible assertion that could only have been designed to help Nixon dodge the dreaded “sore loser” label.
Of course Keith Burris asserted in his editorial that neither Nixon nor his party spent the next four years calling Kennedy's presidency illegitimate. Only true if you hold fast to the "next four years" part. Otherwise it's false according to Greenburg at Slate.

Keith also says this about the 2000 election:
Even though the Supreme Court unnecessarily and unconstitutionally short-circuited the 2000 election, Al Gore accepted the result.
So Bush v Gore was unnecessary and unconstitutional? Good thing a Republican benefited, I guess.

But let's get back to the stormy present.  Burris writes:
The plan for Mr. Trump was that the special counsel would find evidence of high crimes and this would queue up impeachment.

But after more than two years of extensive and bottomless investigation, of a kind that few politicians could withstand, there is no such evidence.
This is where I have to wonder if newsman Keith Burris has actually read The Mueller Report.

Burris writes:
Robert Mueller’s report cleared the president himself of collusion with the Russian government — a charge many Americans found far-fetched from the start. (It found ample evidence of Russian dirty tricks, however.)
And yet the report itself says:
In evaluating whether evidence about collective action of multiple individuals constituted a crime, we applied the framework of conspiracy law, not the concept of "collusion." In so doing, the Office recognized that the word "collud[ e ]" was used in communications with the Acting Attorney General confirming certain aspects of the investigation's scope and that the term has frequently been invoked in public reporting about the investigation. But collusion is not a specific offense or theory of liability found in the United States Code, nor is it a term of art in federal criminal law (pg 2).
As the office wasn't looking for "collusion", stating that the report "cleared" Trump of it is essentially meaningless.

Burris must know this. If he knows, he's lying to the P-G's readership.  If he doesn't, well he's simply an incompetent thinker. Not a good choice, if you ask me.

The report did find multiple acts of obstruction of justice. Like this one:
On June 14, 20 I 7, when the Washington Post reported that the Special Counsel was investigating the President for obstruction of justice, the President was facing what he had wanted to avoid: a criminal investigation into his own conduct that was the subject of widespread media attention. The evidence indicates that news of the obstruction investigation prompted the President to call McGahn and seek to have the Special Counsel removed. By mid-June, the Department of Justice had already cleared the Special Counsel's service and the President's advisors had told him that the claimed conflicts of interest were "silly" and did not provide a basis to remove the Special Counsel. On June 13, 2017, the Acting Attorney General testified before Congress that no good cause for removing the Special Counsel existed, and the President dictated a press statement to Sanders saying he had no intention of firing the Special Counsel. But the next day, the media reported that the President was under investigation for obstruction of justice and the Special Counsel was interviewing witnesses about events related to possible obstruction-spurring the President to write critical tweets about the Special Counsel's investigation. The President called McGahn at home that night and then called him on Saturday from Camp David. The evidence accordingly indicates that news that an obstruction investigation had been opened is what led the President to call McGahn to have the Special Counsel terminated.

There also is evidence that the President knew that he should not have made those calls to McGahn. The President made the calls to McGahn after McGahn had specifically told the President that the White House Counsel's Office-and McGahn himself-could not be involved in pressing conflicts claims and that the President should consult with his personal counsel if he wished to raise conflicts. Instead of relying on his personal counsel to submit the conflicts claims, the President sought to use his official powers to remove the Special Counsel. And after the media reported on the President's actions, he denied that he ever ordered McGahn to have the Special Counsel terminated and made repeated efforts to have McGahn deny the story, as discussed in Volume II, Section II.I, infra. Those denials are contrary to the evidence and suggest the President's awareness that the direction to McGahn could be seen as improper (Vol II, pg 89).
Trump lied about ordering McGahn to terminate the Special Counsel and then ordered McGahn to lie on his behalf in order to cover it up - all contrary to the evidence.

Didja miss that part, Keith?

Burris then goes into how, while Mueller clearly stated that his report is not an "exoneration" that somehow it is exactly that - an exoneration, simply because The Special Counsel didn't bring charges.

However, Mueller was limited by a DOJ policy. As he stated publicly:
The Department’s written opinion explaining the policy against charging a President makes several important points that further informed our handling of the obstruction investigation. Those points are summarized in our report. And I will describe two of them:

First, the opinion explicitly permits the investigation of a sitting President because it is important to preserve evidence while memories are fresh and documents are available. Among other things, that evidence could be used if there were co-conspirators who could now be charged.

And second, the opinion says that the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting President of wrongdoing.
So Keith, it's not as if there's no evidence. It's just that Mueller felt that he wasn't the guy to bring charges as "the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting President of wrongdoing."

And who would that be, Keith? Have you looked at the Constitution, Keith? He's talking about The Congress, Keith. Precisely the folks you say should not be impeaching.

Did you do any research for this editorial, Keith?