Pardoning Trump for Obstruction Would Be a Big Mistake
By Marc Ash, Reader Supported NewsReader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.
he Democrats are debating whether or not to address the multiple instances of felony obstruction of justice chronicled in granular detail in the exhaustive report produced by Special Counsel Robert Mueller III and the investigative team he assembled.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is reportedly adamant that the case for impeachment should be focused solely on issues related to Ukraine-gate. There are however voices in Democratic leadership that are arguing for articles that would include the acts of obstruction in the Mueller Report. Additional consideration is being given to violations of the Emoluments Clause.
Pelosi still sees impeachment in what appears to be expressly political terms. She notes that Ukraine-gate is resonating with the public in a way previous transgressions by Donald Trump have not. For whatever reason, the voters seem to understand and are angered by Ukraine-gate. They get it. For Pelosi, Ukraine-gate is marketable, and she feels more secure with it than the other potential charges.
Forgetting the Mueller Report is however a risky strategy.
The first problem with ignoring the Mueller Report is that it validates the Republican position that the report was a witch hunt and much ado about nothing. That’s double jeopardy for the Democrats, who argued that the report was comprehensive, damning, and illustrative of patently illegal conduct on the part of the President of the United States.
The Republicans will have a field day with this rhetorically. “The Democrats made such a big deal out of this and now they won’t even put it in the Articles of Impeachment…. If the Democrats were lying then, the Democrats are lying now.” It will be a big leg up in the court of public opinion.
The second problem is that if you ignore the illegal acts detailed in the Mueller Report now, you run the risk of ignoring them forever, in effect forgiving or even pardoning those crimes. After all, “If Congress didn’t include them in the Articles of Impeachment, then there probably wasn’t much to it after all.”
The third problem is that Robert Mueller’s report, while too lengthy and dense for the public to absorb and grasp, is still a very powerful legal document. If the impeachment of Donald Trump really does go to a full trial in the Senate, and the betting odds are that it will, the Mueller Report will be a very difficult piece of evidence for the Republicans to litigate. As a legal document, it is rock-solid big-time.
The smarter strategy for the Democrats is to include the Mueller Report in an article of its own. They can still focus rhetorically on Ukraine-gate if that helps the public stay engaged. But the risk of excluding Robert Mueller’s report far outweighs the inconvenience of including it
Marc Ash is the founder and former Executive Director of Truthout, and is now founder and Editor of Reader Supported News.