Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Book Review, The Mueller Report

I read the Mueller report. It wasn't intended, it was more like a conspiracy, isn't that ironic? First, College Boy brought the book home for me. A paperback. Thicker than a cheesecake. Let me just say here that I'm not one to read dry or informational material. Even when I get something new, I hand the manual to Hubs and tell him to read it and then let me know whatever it is that I absolutely need to know. That strategy wasn't going to work here. Second, I was suffering from a case of Shingles, mostly stuck in the house for almost two months with nothing but time (well, and pain) on my hands. See, conspiracy.

I have to tell you that I was disappointed right from the start. Mueller makes it clear that he went into the investigation committed to not bringing charges against a sitting president. That is not law, just a DOJ directive put in place because fighting charges could divert attention from the job. I disagree with this, as I feel that it puts a president who has committed crimes above the law. If a legally prosecutable case can be made, then if there were anyone in this whole country who actually should be diverted from doing his job, it would be a president who committed crimes both in order to be elected, and who continued to do so once in office. 

Mueller took it further though, stating that he would not even file sealed charges for the future, because people would know that sealed charges were pending and this places the president in a situation where he is unable to defend himself (until, of course, the charges are brought forth). To me, this seems not only like a catch 22 at the expense of the American people, but also as though Mueller is not only ignoring the parameters of legal prosecution and following DOJ directives, but falling short in terms of the scope of what we should expect from any investigation, instead choosing to err on the side of caution. This is certainly not the standard applied to the rest of us, and when it comes to a president breaking the law, it seems to me that Mueller should not err at all. That's not his job. Follow the facts where they lead, that's what I expect in an investigation this consequential.

Book Review: The Mueller Report, one American's observations and opinions | Graphic and written material property of www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics #politics

Part One: Russia

The first part of the report was about Russian interference in the election, and whether there was a conspiracy involving the Trump campaign. This w483as the part that was most tedious to read. There were so many Russian names and connections to campaign staff (which, in and of itself says a lot) it threatened to make my mind go numb, and the redactions made for a frustrating read. But it was also laid out in a much more compelling way than I expected. Although "collusion" is not a legal term, "conspiracy" is. Mueller walks us clearly through the components that legally make up a conspiracy and, in my opinion, proved more than one. 

As an aside, I have to say that one component of a legal conspiracy is being cognizant of the fact that you're committing a crime. I believe that at least two instances of conspiracy were proven even with this component, but I have a problem with this being part of the law, especially an instance this momentous. You cannot drive a car without knowing the rules of the road, it seems to me you should not (and I dare say the vast majority of us would not) endeavor to become the president of the United States of America without knowing the rules of a campaign. It's incompetent. Not to mention the common sense you'd expect of a candidate. If you're beholden to a foreign government, that makes you susceptible to blackmail. Not exactly in the presidential job description.

It's also true that FBI counterintelligence specialists briefed Trump about their intel that Russia intended to infiltrate his campaign. The campaign may have been deliberately ignorant before then, but they certainly weren't afterwards.

My personal opinion of the law notwithstanding, I believe that there were myriad instances of conspiracy that, due to lack of sufficient evidence may not have risen to a legal burden of proof in a court of law, but the totality of the information is overwhelming. Not only was the campaign aware of Russia (via Gucifer and WikiLeaks) working on Trump's behalf via illegal hacking, but you can't get any more proof than Trump publicly asking for them to continue, which is memorialized in footage I think we've all seen ad nauseam. And more than one conspiracy was definitely proven. First by Donald Jr, Kushner and Manafort in the Trump tower meeting with Natalia Veselintskaya which was set up specifically to (despite the fact that no dirt was offered and the Russians really wanted to discuss the Magnitsky act) provide something of value (the aforementioned "dirt") to the campaign. Not only was the email that proved it released by Donald Jr, but Mueller himself talks about cover ups and lies being further proof of knowledge of wrongdoing and not only did Trump help Donald Jr craft a press release about the situation that was a lie, but Trump even lied about his participation in writing the press release. 

A second instance was at least one phone call that Trump was witnessed (by Rick Gates) taking while in his car. It's unclear who he was talking to, but if I had to guess, (and Gates does surmise) I'd say Roger Stone. Anyway, Trump got off the phone and stated that more WikiLeaks releases detrimental to Hillary's campaign were eminent. So let's review, shall we? Publicly solicited foreign interference in our election, apprised ahead of time of dissemination plans and timeline, did not stop it, did not report it, relished in the results of it. Conspiracy. Period.

Part two: Obstruction of Justice

Mueller proved Trump's obstruction of justice so many times I lost count. These cases are not only easier to grasp than some of the convoluted Russia conspiracy cases (other than the two blatant ones) because Trump perpetrated many of them in campaign speeches and tweets, basically publicly proving them himself. There is also a plethora of corroborating evidence, including contemporaneous notes and utterances and sworn testimony of those Trump conspired to include in or use to achieve his obstruction goals.

Multiple cases. Fully proven. Of illegal acts. By a president of the United States. While in Office. How do you not prosecute?

The Special Counsel also eviscerates in great detail, point by point, the president's counsel's arguments (both statutory and constitutional arguments were submitted) that obstruction of justice statutes should not be applied to the Trump's conduct. In fact, the Mueller report states categorically that the statutes most certainly can absolutely be applied to a sitting president's corrupt efforts to interfere with or end an investigation.

And, because each time Trump gets away with crimes, it emboldens him, they are continuing today. He's just switched from obstructing the investigation of the special council to obstructing congress. It's a pattern of behavior and it continues constantly, consistently and conspicuously. It includes bullying witnesses, dangling pardons, claiming executive privilege where it does not exist, lying, fabricating, denying, diverting, pressuring, threatening, bribing and all of the other juvenile antics available to anyone with such a limited maturity level.

My conclusion:

Trump needed to be subpoenaed. It is not only insufficient to have him submit written answers to questions, and even worse that they only be questions about topics of his choice, but we all know that he most likely did not answer them himself (they ARE in full sentences after all), but even if he had any input, they had to have been vetted by a legal team before submitted. So basically his "I have no recollection" to almost every question he himself agreed to answer, just like Jeff Sessions' endless "I don't recall" before him, are meaningless. Not to mention that once the Special Council received the responses, when they had clarification questions, Trump refused to address them at all. As far as I'm concerned, the investigation was not complete without face to face answers to any and all questions before a grand jury.

Charges needed to be filed. I read that whole report, close to a thousand pages, saw the evidence laid out as it would be, as it should be, in a court of law. I don't care what the DOJ guidelines are, if you see crimes and can prove them and it is legal for you to charge those crimes, you need to do so. Let Barr shut it down, that in and of itself would  be meaningful, but do not back down from administering the law as it would be applied to any other citizen. Not to mention that the DOJ guidelines do not pertain to Donald Jr, Kushner and Ivanka. How did they end up with a "get out of jail free" pass?


I don't want to gloss over this point because the issue of whether or not to pursue a prosecution is momentous. There are long term implications on the very future of this country. Trump has already attacked and demoralized the press and the intelligence community, stacked the courts with sycophants, put a lackey in charge of our (well, used to be ours, now his) justice department. He's talked about doing away with term limits on the office of president and he's already delegitimizing the next election in case he doesn't remain in office. In fact, he's so enamored with the results of the Russian interference (and the lack of repercussions), he's actively doing it again. He's now been caught extorting the president of the Ukraine, resulting in deaths there, for him to interfere in our next election on Trump's behalf. Are you surprised? I'm not? He did it before and got away with it. Why not?

It's no secret that Trump wants to be an autocrat, but what we're not focused on is just how he's been succeeding with a maniacal determination. The tenets of the republic our forefathers meticulously set up are being usurped. Where illegal activities are identified, to decline prosecution simply because of the office the offender happens to occupy, is effectively us, all of us, actively participating in the decline of our form of government in deference to the birth of an American autocracy. Think about that for a minute.

There has been talk, speculation since Mueller has not expressed this himself, that he laid out the case but followed the DOJ guidelines believing that congress would take up the matter. A special council investigation is not a relay race, it's a marathon. Whatever Mueller may have thought, in reality it allowed for Barr to not only misrepresent the report, but to put his skewed view out as fact before the release of any part of the report, deliberately misleading the American public without any reality based counterpoint for days. Kicking the can down the road has risks. We saw them come to fruition in the most devious deceptive way. 

The Judicial branch of government is co-equal by design. By not charging, or at least attempting to charge crimes that meet the legal standard for prosecution, we not only put specific people above the law, but we diminish the Judicial branch of government from being equal to the other branches, effectively making it subservient, thereby going against the clear design of how our government was set up to function.

Robert Mueller was given, historically, one of the most consequential mandates imaginable. Our future as a republic was in his hands. After close to 2 years of investigation, he meticulously spelled out the who, what, when, where, why and how it happened. He also proved the cover up, just as scrupulously. He proved it. All of it. Then he took the next step, right? Charged all involved? Securing our democracy for future generations? 

No. He packed up and went home. Identified the mess, proved who made it and then . . . left it there. Ripe for the bastardization, the twists and turns and lies and ultimately public distortion and mischaracterization.

I do not question Mueller's integrity, I don't question his intelligence or his legal expertise and I most certainly don't question his patriotism. But if he wasn't going to use his subpoena power to gather as much evidence as a proceeding this significant dictates, if he went into this with the preconceived determination that he would not follow the evidence to its legal conclusion in every case, then it is he, not Trump, who is putting Trump is above the law. I'm sure that Mueller is a good man, he just wasn't the right man for this job.  

 I put the book down feeling frustrated, and with even less faith in our judicial system. All that kept going through my head with respect to the investigation was: why did you even bother?

~ Didn't work a recipe into the body of this post for obvious reasons, but I'm including it here. 

Pretty enough for a holiday table, easy enough for every day, Cream Cheese Apricot Squares have an apricot studded cream cheese layer over a shortbread crust. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #dessert

Cream Cheese Apricot Squares
Pretty enough for a holiday table, easy enough for every day, Cream Cheese Apricot Squares have an apricot studded cream cheese layer over a shortbread crust. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #dessert

Baking In A Tornado signature | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Cream Cheese Apricot Squares        

Printable Recipe

1 stick butter, softened
1 TBSP eggnog
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup flour
1/8 tsp nutmeg

2 (8 oz) cream cheese, room temperature
3 TBSP eggnog
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon 
1/4 tsp ginger
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup chopped dried apricots

1/3 cup apricot jam
2 TBSP apricot juice (can substitute orange juice)

*Grease an 8 X 8 baking dish. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
*Beat the butter with 1 TBSP eggnog until smooth. Mix in the powdered sugar, flour and nutmeg. Press into the bottom and partially up the sides of the baking dish.
*Beat the cream cheese with 3 TBSP eggnog, the brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger and eggs until smooth. Mix in the chopped dried apricots. Pour into the prepared crust.
*Whisk together the apricot jam and apricot juice. Spoon dollops onto the cream cheese layer and swirl in using a knife.
*Bake for 55 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before cutting. Refrigerate leftovers.


  1. Absolutely brilliant! And I agree on every. Single. Point.
    Why start if you're not going to finish?
    And with so many blatant PROOFS, how can you not finish?
    No one is above the law.
    No one.

    1. Thank you so much, Diane, for supporting me through and encouraging me to actually publish this.

  2. Excellent review of the Mueller report. I feel that if we all went into the investigation knowing that it would be "only a report" and that he never intended to go further than that, we all would have been less disappointed. For me, it is Barr who stopped the judicial wheel from turning. His hijinx in that teleconference were dispicable/criminal. Congress should have been able to take that report and run with it immediately. Still, with the way Trumo has gotten away with so much, I'm not sure as if there would have been any different ending. It's appalling watching our system fail before our eyes. Thhe only hope we have for true justice may have to come when the SDNY gets there shot after T. is no longer in office. Beyond frustrating to anyone who believes in our constitution and/or simply following the rules.

    1. I was always told, as I was growing up, that despite the despicable footage I was exposed to, I HAD to learn about Hitler over and over and over again so it would never happen again. Happen again? That's absurd, that could never happen again. Especially here.
      And now we, the United States of America have ripped kids from their mamas and put them in cages.

    2. Good Lord, sorry for the spelling errors. Trump makes me lose my freaking mind. Don't get me started on the caging/abusing/huimiliating of those poor children. Someone has to answer for the inhumane behavior of the American adults who've allowed any of it.

    3. Ha ha, I'm the queen of typos, no apologies due here.
      I hope every one of them answer for it, and spend a lot of time behind bars. Even that won't make up for the harm they've done. You think we've seen terrorists before? We're creating a generation of traumatized kids who hate our country, and have every right to.

  3. My eyesight prevents me from reading the report and what I am sure is your brilliant review. I did pick up enough to agree that the President should be subpoenaed. If he has nothing to hide, why hide it. He scares me,

    1. I used to think he was too unsophisticated and openly ignorant to scare me. I've learned my lesson.

    2. No, he has to scared me from the word go. He has too many that will follow no matter what he does or has done. I saw it before the election, no matter what came out, it was brushed off. I have been unfriendled for questioning his actions.

    3. You were right from the word "go". He has not only divided our country, but he has in many cases divides families and ended friendships. What a legacy for anyone, let alone a president of the United States.

  4. I just don't understand it and I can't understand anyone who could cast a vote for him. He is our generation's Hitler and it terrifies the shit out of me. I worry about it constantly. Ever since he was elected I have literally felt a depression over me that I just can't shake. I'm so disappointed in people I thought I knew and even complete strangers who are intelligent people. I am at a loss. (Rena)

    1. It's one thing not to have really known who he is (although I don't know how anyone couldn't know, most of his bankruptcies and lawsuits and fraudulent behavior are public and easily found), it's another thing altogether to see the way he treats women and children, the constant lies and bullying and immaturity and the way he uses the presidency to enrich himself and still support him. I'm at a loss too.

  5. Can feel the smoke coming out of my ears. So angry over this whole thing. And its only going to get worse, I fear.

    1. Every time I'm naive enough to think it can't get worse, it does.

  6. Now that we've had a firsthand view of how a democracy can turn into a dictatorship (and still might), what scares me almost more than anything was Trump's attempt to bring back the federal death penalty. Because...hmmm, some people he considers enemies have (in his mind) committed treason? Like the Whistleblower, perhaps, if his or her identity is revealed? #45's Presidency has revealed so many weaknesses in our system, because we just don't know how to cope with someone who has no respect for any of institutions and admires strongmen and wishes he could be just like them. So, let me applaud you for working through that document, something I have not done. Did Mueller do his job? Sadly, I think he did. He was complying with the DOJ directive and that was his respect for the directives he was given. It is we the people who failed the Report, waffling and waffling as we watched more and more open defiance by #45's administration. Just imagine if the Whistleblower never blew that whistle. Turning to his supporters, I know people who watch an alternate news universe and are brainwashed on a daily basis. And facts? They are "fake news". Alana ramblinwitham.blogspot.com

    1. Unfortunately we, many of us, are not waffling at all. But, until the election, if it's a fair one, there isn't much we can do. The rest of us, those who not only don't waffle but support and enable this man, I just don't know what they're thinking.

  7. Glad to hear from someone who has had the time to more than just peruse the essentials, thank you!

    1. Yeah, I did end up with a chunk of time on my hands. And in the end, I'm glad I read it for myself.

  8. What good is an investigation that proves wrongdoing if the people involved in crimes are not being prosecuted, sitting President or not?
    See, that's one more reason to love you and your blog: you deliver.
    Even after a post like this that makes me want to gag about the "justice" system, you still serve dessert! Thank you!

    1. This post is so much longer than my usual posts, I figure if you made it to the end, you deserve dessert.


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