Influential Californians Are Weighing in on the Special Prosecutor’s Report

Richard Rubin
Attorney Richard Rubin has taught at the University of San Francisco, Berkeley and Golden Gate University, is a regular columnist for the Marin Independent Journal and was Chair of the California Commonwealth Club Board of Governors, 2017-2019.

Highly influential Californians differ widely in their reactions following the release of the long-awaited report by Special Prosecutor, Robert Mueller into alleged criminal wrongdoing by the president of the United States.

​Their views are critically important in terms of what comes next.

​House Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield said flat out, “it is time to move on.” He continued: “Americans deserve better than this partisan quest to vilify a political opponent and I urge our Democratic colleagues in the House to put their emotions and opinions aside.”

​He is echoing the views of GOP members across the board picking up on Pres. Trump’s refrain, “No Collusion. Complete and TotalExoneration.”

​For the record, it was also concluded there was insufficient evidence to charge the President of the United States with conspiratorial involvement amounting to obstruction of justice—-an impeachable crime.

​McCarthy’s colleague, Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, House Speaker, and the Democratic leadership feels otherwise.

​Those who have now digested its contents see little basis for concluding Trump was exonerated and prefer to believe Mueller wasconstrained from recommending indictment because of long-standing Justice Department policy that does not allow indictment of a sitting president.

​That would seem to be a glaring flaw in our legal system which calls for the creation of the Special Prosecutor’s office precisely for the purpose of seeking the truth even if it leads to a showing of indictable offenses on the generally held understanding that “no person (including the president) is above the law.”

​In testimony he will be asked to give the House Judiciary Committee, Mueller will be asked to amplify further on these views.Some would seem to be in direct conflict with those of his boss, Attorney General William Barr, who interpreted the report as clearing Trump of attempting to obstruct justice.

​California’s junior Senator, Kamala Harris, a leading presidential candidate, focusing specifically on Barr’s comments in the unveiling ofthe heavily redacted report did not mince words:

​“He is acting more like Trump’s defense attorney than the nation’s Attorney General. His press conference was a stunt, filled with political spin and propaganda.”  

​East Bay Rep. Eric Swalwell, a former prosecutor and also a presidential aspirant, says that Barr should resign.

​ California’s senior Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and member of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee, declared in terms unusually strong for the soft-spoken lawmaker, “The Mueller report lays out not only how Russia interfered in the 2016 election, but also related activities carried out by Trump campaign officials.”

​She added in what is likely to be a preface to the House hearings, “It also details many instances where President Trump tried to obstruct or stop the investigation.

​This was the principal linchpin Democrats expected and hoped Mueller would reach. He did not but the inferences of criminal wrongdoing are plainly spelled out notwithstanding the heavily redacted portions which could reveal even more.

In short, we are no closer to resolution than we were when the investigation began and Pelosi must determine how much political capital she will ask her party to expend to persuade voters they were not given the full story.

Whether that would change anything remains to be seen. OneTrump admirer was asked would he vote for him again? Without hesitation he answered, “He is a despicable person but I agree with his policies.”

Whether the mounting calls for his impeachment led by Rep. Maxine Waters of Los Angeles who chairs the House Finance Committee and joined by presidential contender, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass) are actionable is not likely given the current makeup of the Senate where the matter would be decided.

Pelosi has already labelled such efforts a “a waste of time” and more pointedly foresees this could damage Democratic prospects in the 2020 election.

Some rebellious newcomers with less concerns about the political consequences are ready to take the fight to the congressional committee rooms where an ugly public battle brews.

​That there was Russian tampering in the 2016 presidential election is beyond dispute. 25 Russian government operatives were indicted for hacking into computers “and stole hundreds of thousands of documents from compromised email accounts.”

​While apparently there was no incontrovertible evidence of “collusion” to indicate a conspiracy with the Russians, the report makes clear that Trump campaign aides did nothing to discourage Kremlin sabotage and they “expected it would benefit electorally.”

​It is conceivable that such hacking activity could already be secretly underway again as we approach the 2020 election and that we are relegating the workings of our electoral system to foreign powers.

​Whether or not one is a Trump booster that has to be a disturbing thought.

Cozying up to a hostile regime with proof positive that it attempted to influence the outcome of the election process is a first for this nation.

This is compelling enough reason to examine further the underlying circumstances that may have helped create a climate favorable to such meddling.

​Congress has the constitutional obligation to look into these nefarious acts and let the chips fall where they may. Nor is it bound by the rules of secrecy which accompanied the Special Prosecutor’s investigation and, in fact, it is duty-bound to conduct these inquiries in full public view.

​The impeachment advocates should hold their tongues and let thecommittees do their work. The threat of impeachment is a drastic measure of final resort that may not always have the desired results, (see Pres. William Clinton in 1998) but, regardless, should be invoked only sparingly if it is to retain its force.

If the findings are so damning and the public pressure so great that the GOP leadership feels compelled to demand his resignation (see Pres. Richard Nixon in 1974) and he resists, the voters will need toaccomplish at the polls what even impeachment could not do.

That will require an opponent capable of beating the incumbent and not a single person among us can predict today who that might be.

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