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“Putin has won.” That’s what the Wall Street Journal quotes a Russian Kremlin associate as having stated, on November 9, 2016, the day after the presidential election.

2019-04-19

The Mueller report, even in redacted form, lays out a sweeping and intensive Russian effort to influence the American election of 2016 and to help elect [he who must not be named.]  The effort included an initial survey by two female Russian operatives of the entire United States in 2014; the survey was followed by a campaign designed to aggravate existing tensions and, where possible, create new conflicts.  The operation included negative propaganda against Hillary Clinton early on, but did not start promoting [he who must not be named] until early 2016, during the time when it became obvious that he was going to win the Republican nomination.

The underlying motives for conducting the operation against Hillary Clinton had to do with Putin’s hatred of her.  He blamed her for the riots that followed his re-election as president of the Russian Federation in 2012, riots which made his regime appear to be election-rigging and which seemed designed to provoke a brutal response.

Suppressing the riots with lethal force was Putin’s instinctive response, and the protestors retreated under fire.  Afterwards, Putin made a connection between groups promoting democracy that were paid for by the Clinton foundation and other Americans– with a leap of faith, and the genesis of the demonstrations that became riots.  Foreign groups were effectively shut down by new regulations.  Lawyers and journalists were threatened and shot by assassins on the street.  Putin laid all the blame on Hillary Clinton specifically and decided to use his new internet capabilities and his old bag of tricks to make her lose the 2016 presidential election.  None of that is in the Mueller report; it simply states that Putin disliked Clinton and wanted her to lose.

The missing, redacted parts of the report are tantalizing, but there is enough unredacted material to keep people busy for months.  The House Judiciary Committee will certainly be an avid consumer; they have already issued a subpoena for the complete version of the report.

In addition to the Russian details, there are stories of numerous lies that were told by the president’s assistants, either spontaneously or on the president’s direct orders.

The obstruction section says that he tried to order unlawful actions to obstruct the investigation, but his assistants refused to carry them out or purposely failed to follow through on them.  This was described as “mostly unsuccessful” attempts to obstruct justice.  The report seems to conclude that this is a matter for congressional investigation and possible impeachment.

The House has a clear duty to impeach him, but the looming 2020 election makes them all hesitate.  Would the American people prefer to vote him out or have the House and Senate impeach him?  Opinion polls seem to indicate that there is little taste for impeachment, as further hardening of positions renders any further evidence nearly irrelevant.

Some Democrats ask, what would it take to convince enough Republican Senators to vote for conviction on impeachment charges?  Evidence that he committed murder?  Cheated on his taxes?  Obstruction of justice is hard to convict unless there is a major underlying crime, like collusion with Russia.  There is also a question as to why, if there was no collusion, did he so strenuously try to interfere with the investigation and obstruct justice?

Just being angry and frustrated at a “false accusation” doesn’t justify attempts to obstruct Mueller’s investigation– or does it in this universe?  I’m confused.

(photo art courtesy of pixabay.com)

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