The Hillary Test

By D. Allan Kerr

For those claiming Poor Donald Trump Senior is being unfairly maligned over this little misunderstanding with Russia, I invite you to partake in The Hillary Test.

It’s a pretty popular exercise with common-sense types, not so much with Trump apologists. It’s so simple an idiot can do it – even members of Congress.

Take a particular incident – say, the one in Robert Mueller’s report when Trump tried to get White House Counsel Don McGahn to publicly lie for him – and cross out Trump’s name.

HillaryThen write in the name Hillary Clinton.

In this case you would read a statement like, “(Hillary Clinton) later personally met with McGahn in the Oval Office with only the Chief of Staff present and tried to get McGahn to say that (she) never ordered him to fire the Special Counsel.”

You could alter the report to read how Hillary then proceeded to lie about discussing the firing of the special counsel. And denied asking an FBI director to swear loyalty to her, denied asking this director to take it easy on her national security advisor, lied about the reasons for firing the director, and then admitted it was due to the Russia investigation.

You could read how Hillary tried to influence and intimidate witnesses in the case against her campaign, right there in the glare of the TV spotlight.

You could read how Hillary flat-out lied about Mueller having a conflict of interest because she jilted him for the FBI director’s position, when in fact he never even expressed interest in the post he had already served for 12 years.

I don’t want an un-redacted Mueller report – I want a Hillary-ized report. And I want Republican members of Congress to be locked in a room alone with this version and their innermost moral conscience.

Then I want them to emerge and say whether they really, truly believe Hillary Clinton has been exonerated.

Seriously, how do you think they would respond?

Mueller’s appearance before Congress last week was necessary only because the American public doesn’t read anymore, or at least not in depth. This is an era of instant messaging, of Twitter and Instagram and YouTube and 100,000 cable TV channels – who the hell has time to read a 450-page legal brief?

The star of the hearing wasn’t Mueller, it was the report itself. He said as much, repeatedly, throughout the proceeding.

How many times did he respond, “I refer you to the report”? He was basically begging the American people, “Get off your ass and read this damn thing!”

To paraphrase talk show host Bill Maher, I didn’t need Mueller to tell me Trump obstructed justice because I own a TV.

I saw him, right in public view, dangle the possibility of future pardons before witnesses, and I saw him attack the families of those testifying against him.

Godfather Golden PhoneHis apologists imply this isn’t obstruction because the comments weren’t made during midnight phone calls like more traditional mobsters.

“That circumstance is unusual, but no principle of law excludes public acts from the reach of the obstruction laws,” Mueller stated in his report. “If the likely effect of public acts is to influence witnesses or alter their testimony, the harm to the justice system’s integrity is the same.”

Mueller has made it clear he carried on his investigation with the understanding a sitting president of the United States cannot be indicted. But Mueller is a man who has dedicated his life to pursuing American justice.

Based on what his team uncovered, he did the next best thing – he laid out incidents of obstruction to be explored by those who can pursue action.

And that, my friends, is the United States Congress.

Mueller took his mission as far as he could in his limited role, then he handed off the blueprint to those who can proceed to the next step.

See, despite what Trump says, this hearing is not a “re-do” – it’s all part of the same ongoing process. And yeah, it’s going to involve those tax returns he so desperately doesn’t want you to see, and it’s going to involve his business which, among other things, has documented ties with the Russian mob.

Mueller testimonyOne of last week’s maddeningly disingenuous Republican tactics was conveying outrage at Mueller for not expounding further on his investigation into the Trump Administration after members were told Trump’s Justice Department had directed Mueller not to expound further on matters still under consideration.

On the other hand, the hearing presented a great opportunity to harpoon complaints of Mueller leading a partisan witch hunt.

Mueller himself is a Republican, and has been for a lot longer than Trump. He was appointed acting U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts by Reagan, nominated for FBI director by Bush Junior, and appointed Special Counsel by Trump’s own administration.

Democrats also highlighted his service as a decorated Marine captain in Vietnam, where he was wounded in combat and earned both the Bronze Star and the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross. (A stark contrast to the guy so brilliantly derided as “Cadet Bone Spurs” by Sen. Tammy Duckworth, who lost both legs serving in Iraq.)

But now the focus should return to Mueller’s 450-page report, and Trump apologists who actually read it should apply The Hillary Test to form an honest evaluation.

(July 30, 2019)

Follow D. Allan Kerr on Twitter @Sloth_Blog and on Facebook

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