by Errington C. Thompson, MD –
Our president, Donald J. Trump, woke up the other morning and decided that it would be a wonderful idea to slap tariffs on Mexico until they get their immigration problem under control.
Please understand that Mexico doesn’t have an immigration problem: we do. But Trump announced wants Mexico to close its borders in the hope that doing so would decrease the number of South American immigrants travelling across Mexico and entering the U.S.
A week later, he caved to the pressure of his own Republican Senate, major U.S. car manufacturers, and other corporate donors that rely on imports from Mexico to stay profitable. He withdrew the threat of tariffs, saying that Mexico had agreed to do “something major” to stem the tide of refugees.
Just before that, while in Japan, which is only a couple of hundred miles from North Korea, Trump decided it was a good idea to say that it was no big deal for North Korea to be testing missiles. The Japanese, and our allies in South Korea, politely disagreed; Trump ignored them.
Coincidentally, the USS John McCain was in Japan at the time of the president’s visit. Someone in the White House—it is currently unclear who—ordered the USS John McCain to be hidden from view during the visit, so that the president wouldn’t be “upset” by seeing the name of the one Republican courageous enough to stand up to him.
McCain, of course, was the GOP’s nominee for president in 2008, losing to Barack Obama; nine years later it was his vote that saved Obamacare from repeal. Trump, a proven braggart, liar, and proud draft-dodger, is apparently still threatened by, and jealous of, McCain’s stature as a war hero, man of conviction, and statesman.
Though the ship originally honored the senator’s father and grandfather, both U.S. Navy Admirals, the senator was added to those that her name officially recognized after he died. First a tarp was laid over the side to cover the name of the ship. Later another ship was positioned to block the McCain from view. Then its crew were asked to remove or cover clothing that had the word “McCain” on it—and were not invited to greet President Trump, because their uniforms include the name of the ship!
Also in May, a mass shooting took place in Virginia Beach, VA, and all President Trump could do was offer condolences via his twitter account. He offered no legislation. He offered no solutions. Just condolences, for yet another mass shooting. He then flew off to London for a state visit with the Queen, and tweeted that her grandson’s wife, Meghan Markle (the Duchess of Sussex), was “nasty.”
It is this kind of pettiness that makes me frustrated, angry, and sad that Donald Trump is our president. He wants us to focus on his ongoing feud with a dead senator and overlook the important things like the Mueller report and the fact that he obstructed justice.
Late in May, Special Counsel Robert Mueller held a press conference. If you blinked, you missed it. The press conference, which wasn’t really a press conference, as he took no questions, lasted 10 minutes. All he did was read a statement, which was, in a nutshell, “Read the Report. The Report stands for itself.”
It is important to note that he emphasized if he and his investigators had been able to “exonerate” the president from involvement in potentially criminal, or corrupt, or even subversive activities (like working with the Russians, rather than simply eagerly accepting their help in swinging our election to him), they would have done so. But he said clearly and unequivocally that they could not exonerate him.
Why is this important? Because less than two months ago, after Atty. Gen. William Barr released his summary of the Mueller Report, the president and his allies claimed that the report was a complete exoneration on the obstruction charge—that, in fact, there was no COLLUSION with Russia. Mueller, who wrote the report, said the exact opposite.
The good news is that, now that we have the report, Trump has nothing to be happy about. Robert Mueller, in his understated manner, pointed to Congress to finish the investigation by using the constitutional directive of—though he wouldn’t say the word—impeachment.
Obstruction of Justice
Obstruction of justice is defined as “an act that corruptly or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication, influences, obstructs or impedes or endeavors to influence, obstruct or impede, the due administration of justice.” This definition is simple and straightforward. You don’t have to be successful in your efforts in order to be guilty of obstructing justice. Let’s look at some of the examples in the Mueller report in which President Trump or his emissaries obstructed justice.
Act #1 of Obstruction. President Trump asked then-FBI director James Comey to back off of the Michael Flynn investigation. Specifically, Trump said, “I hope you can see your way to letting this go.” Donald Trump was asking the FBI director to stop the investigation of Michael Flynn.
Act #2 of Obstruction. Donald Trump ordered White House Counsel Don McGahn to ask Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions to stop recusing himself from the Russian investigation. Then, if Jeff Sessions would play along, he could fire Special Counsel Mueller and close the Russian investigation completely. Trump continually berated Sessions to pressure him to reverse his recusal.
Act #3 of Obstruction. The president’s personal lawyer, John Dowd, called Michael Flynn’s lawyers just before it was clear that Michael Flynn was going to “cooperate” with the Justice Department. Dowd left a voicemail. Why he left a voicemail is unclear to me. As a matter fact, leaving a voicemail appears to be stupid. Yet, when you read the transcript of the voicemail, which was recently released to the public, it seems like John Dowd was trying to pressure Mike Flynn’s lawyers into cooperating not with Justice Department but to continue to be loyal to Donald Trump. Dowd wanted to know if Michael Flynn had “information that… implicates the president.”
Act #4 of Obstruction. Let’s circle back to White House Counsel Don McGahn. Press reports began to circulate stating that Trump had ordered McGahn to fire Mueller—and that McGahn had refused. So Trump, in his infinite wisdom, asked McGahn on several occasions to write a memo stating that he, Donald Trump, never asked Don McGahn to fire Mueller. Basically, Donald Trump is asking his White House counsel to lie and put his lie in writing. Don McGahn refused. This is still an attempt to obstruct justice.
Act #5 of Obstruction. Donald Trump asked his former campaign manager Cory Lewandowski to speak with Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions. Donald Trump came up with the brilliant idea that instead of the special counsel’s office investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election. Jeff Sessions would change the mandate of the special counsel’s office to investigate future election interference by the Russians. Cory Leandowski never delivered the message. Yet this doesn’t mean that Donald Trump did not try to obstruct justice, again.
I have laid out 5 acts in which our president, Donald Trump, obstructed justice. I didn’t do any double secret reporting. I don’t have any inside contacts in the White House or the Department of Justice. I have just read the Mueller report, which clearly outlines 11 instances in which Donald J. Trump tried to obstruct justice. He is guilty. Now, the only question is whether Congress will act. Congress needs to call witnesses. America needs to hear from these witnesses that Donald Trump broke the law on multiple occasions. Please don’t let Donald Trump distract us from the important business at hand with his temper tantrums over tariffs, his childish fury at Meghan Markle, and his pathetic tiffs with John McCain.