Vindication!

Despite Donald Trump’s initial celebratory Tweets, he has not been vindicated by the Mueller report. If anything, the stench of corruption is now even greater — now that the cover has been taken off the reeking dumpster that is his administration. As CNN reported, the “vindication” victory lap didn’t last long before Trump started calling the Mueller Report “total bullshit.”

But there was a vindication to be celebrated. It turns out, the press, doggedly following leads and numerous felons who once worked for Trump, and despite some notable screw-ups, had been generally pursuing the truth all along. Despite constant whining from the White House that it was all “fake news,” and despite the spin that Trump’s personal lawyer James Barr tried to give it, the press was largely vindicated by the Mueller report.

After years of bald-face lies and embarrassingly transparent prevarication, few believe a word that comes out of Kellyanne Conway’s smirking mouth. But it was also quite the revelation that spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders — whose religious hypocrisy was on full display — actually lied to the press about James Comey’s firing.

It was disappointing that Robert Mueller’s findings did not establish presidential criminal conduct, but Mueller left plenty of bread crumbs for Congress should it wish to pursue impeachment. Yet even if the House impeaches, the Senate must convict with a supermajority — an almost impossible hurdle to overcome for ridding the nation of a corrupt, mentally unfit, white supremacist. Equally disappointing, centrist Democrats with short attention spans have apparently lost the nerve to pursue impeachment — time to move on, national healing, campaigns to run, money to raise.

But the House must begin impeachment proceedings. And here’s why.

For one thing, Mueller’s report did not uncover everything that will ever be known about Trump’s corrupt dealings and his obstruction of justice. There are at least a dozen ongoing investigations that will eventually yield more insight into Trump’s attempts to obstruct justice and commit (or have others commit) criminal acts. While Office of Legal Counsel rules gave a sitting president a prosecutorial pass like Jessie Smollett’s, declining to prosecute is not the same thing as finding no wrongdoing.

Second, the greatest casualty of Donald Trump’s administration has been the truth. Impeachment proceedings will make it difficult for Americans with even partially open eyes and ears to maintain that it’s all been “fake news.” Impeachment proceedings will keep the Mueller report from fading from public consciousness and will make it difficult for Trump to ride out his crimes and lies, even with the invention of new national “emergencies.”

Painful and stressful as impeachment proceedings may be, it will do the nation good to dwell in the truth for a year after steeping in Trump’s lies for two.

Patience

On March 24th Trump’s Attorney General — and we should take the phrase literally, since William Barr has even less integrity and closer ties to Trump than Jeff Sessions — issued a four-page summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report. In it, Barr quotes Mueller: “The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” Barr also writes: “The Special Counsel did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, consired or coordinated with the Russian government [to influence the election].” Trump took a victory lap, claiming “complete and total exoneration.

Did not establish. Did not find. Despite the fact that a large number of close Trump associates — including Michael Cohen, Michael Flynn, Rick Gates, Paul Manafort, George Papadopoulos, Richard Pinedo, Roger Stone, and Alex van der Zwaan — were convicted (or in Stone’s case, indicted) for crimes related to collusion with over 30 Russians and 3 corporations that meddled in the 2016 election.

From the kid gloves applied to the president, one must conclude that ours is a broken legal system designed primarily to incarcerate and kill brown people with broken tail lights — but one that provides concierge service to rich white men — to the point that even treason can be overlooked.

I am always a bit suspicious of other people’s summaries, preferring to read an original myself. If you have ever read a Yelp review, you know what I’m talking about. If you have ever read an Amazon review, you recognize a fake when you see one — for example, as this Fakespot analysis of Trump’s “Art of the Deal” shows. Or, if you have actually read American history, you would be surprised to learn that the Cliff Notes version of American slavery says that “slaves sometimes had better physical living conditions than poor whites.” Or you might have seen James Agee’s gushing review of D.W. Griffith’s KKK film “Birth of a Nation.”

And we should be especially suspicious of any summary from an underling of Donald Trump, a pathological liar who will shortly celebrate his 10,000th lie.

But William Barr’s summary also notes that “the Special Counsel therefore did not draw a conclusion — one way or the other — as to whether the examined conduct constituted collusion.”

In fact, Barr adds: “For each of the relevant actions investigated, the report sets out evidence on both sides of the question and leaves unresolved what the Special Counsel views as ‘difficult issues’ of law and fact concerning whether the President’s actions and intent could be viewed as obstruction. the Special Counsel states that ‘while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.'”

For this reason I am patiently waiting for the actual 380-page Mueller report — though I hope it doesn’t look like Michael Flynn’s sentencing document:

In the end, it will be up to the House of Representatives, with its slim centrist Democrat majority, to decide whether to rake the president over well-deserved coals and, if necessary, to compel Robert Mueller to discuss his findings and explain any redactions. I am not hopeful Pelosi will rise to the occasion.

But I will try to be patient.