On Friday, July 26, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) summarized key points from special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony two days earlier. He said that “in effect” the committee has been conducting an impeachment inquiry.
Obstructing the Investigation into Obstruction
McGahn was an eyewitnesses to Trump’s obstruction of justice. Mueller’s investigators interviewed him for 30 hours. Mueller’s report cited those interviews 157 times — more than any other witness. McGahn can tell the world what Trump said and did as it was happening.
That’s why Trump is trying to stop him. On May 20 — the day before McGahn’s scheduled congressional appearance — the Justice Department gave Trump an unusual legal opinion. It argued that McGahn was “absolutely immune” from being compelled to testify about his time in the White House. White House counsel Pat Cipollone directed McGahn not to appear, so he didn’t.
Prominent legal scholars and practitioners regard Trump’s “congressional immunity” claim as a loser. But his motive is clear: Delay and, if possible, avoid altogether the must-see TV that McGahn’s public congressional appearance would be.
Trump’s Congressional Defenders Persist
The prospect of McGahn’s congressional appearance wasn’t the only important Trump-Russia news. On July 24, Mueller urged everyone to take the Russian election interference threat seriously:
“[O]ver the course of my career I have seen a number of challenges to our democracy. The Russian government’s efforts to interfere in our election is among the most serious….”
Senate Republicans don’t care. The next day, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) led efforts to block two bills that would strengthen election security. One would require campaigns to alert the FBI and Federal Election Commission about foreign offers of assistance. The other would allow the US Senate’s sergeant-at-arms to offer voluntary cyber assistance for personal devices and accounts of senators and staff.
As the Timeline reveals, back in August 2016, then-CIA Director John Brennan warned McConnell and others in the “Gang of Eight” congressional leaders that Russia was interfering in the election with the goal of helping Trump win. In September 2016, McConnell refused President Obama’s request that McConnell sign a bipartisan letter warning about Russian election interference.
And now McConnell is complaining that on social media the label #MoscowMitch is trending — and sticking.
Goodbye Coats, Hello Ratcliffe
And finally, Trump finally jettisoned Dan Coats as his director of national intelligence. Coats has publicly disagreed with Trump’s efforts to downplay Russian election interference. To replace him, Trump chose one of his most fervent loyalists, Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX).
Who is he? Persistently, Ratcliffe has advocated an “investigation into the investigators” connected to the Trump-Russia probe. During Mueller’s July 24 hearings, Ratcliffe launched aggressive and misleading attacks on Mueller without giving him an opportunity to respond. Ratcliffe probably knew that his televised performance was a job interview, and he passed with flying colors.
The problem is that Ratcliffe is totally unqualified to hold the DNI position. Here’s the job description from the government’s website:
“The Director of National Intelligence serves as the head of the US Intelligence Community, overseeing and directing the implementation of the National Intelligence Program and acting as the principal advisor to the President, the National Security Council, and the Homeland Security Council for intelligence matters related to national security. The Office of the DNI’s goal is to effectively integrate foreign, military and domestic intelligence in defense of the homeland and of United States interests abroad.”
From 2004 to 2012, Ratcliffe was mayor of Heath,Texas (pop. 8,000). In 2007, he became acting US Attorney for the eastern district of Texas, a position he held for about a year. Then Ratcliffe returned to his private law practice until 2014, when he ran for Congress and won.
Mere blind loyalty to Trump should not suffice for Senate confirmation of any position, much less the head of the key coordinating agency for all US intelligence activities. We’ll see if Senate Republicans agree.
JULY 16, 2019: Judge Bars Stone From Social Media
JULY 17-18, 2019: Prosecutors End Investigation of ‘Hush Money Payoff’ Case; Newly Revealed Documents Show FBI Learned That Trump and Hicks Knew About Scheme
JULY 18, 2019: Nadler Asks Hicks to Explain Inconsistencies in Her Earlier Testimony
JULY 19, 2019: Nader Pleads Not Guilty to Child Transportation Sex Charges
JULY 19, 2019: Coats Announces New Election Security Position
JULY 22, 2019: Trump Tweets: ‘Highly Conflicted Robert Mueller, Witch Hunt, NO COLLUSION, NO OBSTRUCTION’; Peter Strzok and ‘His Lover, Lisa Page’
JULY 22, 2019: DOJ Tells Mueller To Stick To His Report
JULY 23, 2019: Trump Tweets: ‘Only 11% In Favor Of Starting Ridiculous Impeachment Hearings’
JULY 23, 2019: Flynn Associate Convicted
JULY 23, 2019: Wray Testifies That Russian Determined to Interfere in US Elections
JULY 23-24, 2019: Trump Tweets About Mueller’s Anticipated Congressional Appearance
JULY 24, 2019: Mueller Testifies
JULY 24, 2019: During and After Mueller’s Testimony, Trump Tweets And Retweets
JULY 25, 2019: Senate Republicans Block Election Security Bill
JULY 25, 2019: Trump Continues to Tweet About Mueller
JULY 25, 2019: Senate Intelligence Committee Releases Bipartisan Report on Russian Attacks on Election Infrastructure
JULY 26, 2019: Trump Tweets About Mueller. Steele Dossier, ‘Witch Hunt’
JULY 26, 2019: Nadler: Committee Has ‘In Effect’ Been Conducting An Impeachment Inquiry
JULY 27-28, 2019: Trump Continues Tweets About Mueller Investigation and Impeachment
JULY 28, 2019: Trump Announces Coats’ Departure