• Local
  • Pittsfield, MA
  • more weather >
Special Counsel Robert Mueller who led a 2-year investigation into the Trump Administration.

CONNECTIONS: Waiting for Mueller

More Info
By Tuesday, Apr 9, 2019 Viewpoints 11

In January 2019, I wrote a column, “Waiting for Godot” (renamed “Waiting for Impeachment”).

The article began, “A debate rages: Should the House begin impeachment proceedings now or await the Mueller report?”

In the article, the suggestion was made that waiting for Mueller could be like waiting for Godot, the man who never came. The article implored everyone on every side of the political divide to stop waiting for the Mueller Report and begin a process that may or may not result in impeachment.

Impeachment is the bringing of a charge of misconduct against a public official. If the public official is the president, only the House of Representatives can bring the charge. To determine if that is the proper course of action, the House carries on an investigation. The importance of a House investigation in contrast to the Mueller investigation is that it is conducted in public. We the people see and hear the evidence as it is presented.

This is a representative democracy, one that gives the voice of the people weight at election time and, perhaps to a lesser degree, between elections. It requires that the people know what is going on.

Instead, we have had 22 months of rehash and repetition of supposition by partisan press on both sides. What the people need, to be part of the governing process, is news—that is, the presentation of facts. A House investigation can be watched by the public and the public can experience, discuss and decide. In its place, 22 months of one side crying “crook” and the other side crying “no collusion” informs no one. Repetition bleeds the meaning out of the words. Repetition desensitizes and we cease to be alert to the importance and implications of facts.

A 1978 production of ‘Waiting for Godot’ by Samuel Beckett

The January article said: “The Constitution made both the investigation and bringing of the charge, the obligation of the House. In the only two impeachments ever brought against Presidents, Clinton and Andrew Johnson (1868), matters were investigated in the House. The presence of a special counsel was irrelevant.”

The Constitution gives the power of impeachment to the House. The charge is communicated to the Senate. The Senate conducts the trial and reaches a verdict of guilty or not guilty. The Constitution awards these powers not as an afterthought, but prominently, as part of the legislature’s key functions. The reason is that separation, not concentration of power, was of paramount importance to our Founding Fathers. Three co-equal branches were created with checks and balances that divide power so that no executive or judge or legislator can grab over-bearing powers.

For almost two years, every report ended, “we must wait for Mueller.” Must we? The January article suggested: “We really must act, each according to our obligations and abilities. For our sake, for Trump’s sake, for the sake of his most ardent followers and worst critics, we need an honorable, traditional, respected process of discovery, endorsed by and simultaneously shared with the public. We need the truth and we need it now.”

There were two key ideas in the paragraph. First, each branch of government should act in accordance with its Constitutional obligations without reference to political consequences or perceived political consequences. Second, for the public, an experience “simultaneously shared” brings people together. Even if they have different opinions in the end, they were mutually involved in the process. Shared experience is powerful.

The January article posed a question: “What assurance do we have that the evidence Mueller finds will be presented to the public?”

All the clever people who were calculating the odds, acutely judging the politics, and weighing cost/benefit, what do they have to say now? All elected officials who cared more about keeping their jobs than doing their jobs, how do they like waiting for Mueller now? All those who could not follow the Constitution, what is the reward?

The article asked, “Might not public hearings commence so we as a nation can come together, experience the presentation of evidence, and agree on the necessity to bring a charge or the lack of justification for a charge?”

Had the processes moved simultaneously, we could not find ourselves where we are now. If facts were in the public domain through Congressional hearings, there would be no benefit to withholding the Mueller report. Silly assertions about the unseen report could not be sustained when everyone witnessed the unfolding of the facts.

The article concluded: “It [the investigation] must be a joint effort … Life becomes meaningless if all you do is wait.”

What we are experiencing now puts stress on our institutions as they battle and defame one another. In the executive branch, what was the obligation of the special counsel and power of the attorney general? What was the obligation of the legislative branch and what are their powers? The answers should be known and accepted; the stress comes from one challenging the other and challenging the rule of law. It is a playground food fight with everyone waiting for teacher (that is, the judiciary) to break it up. In the current atmosphere, will that be enough?

This country does better when everyone does their job—when elected and appointed officials act in accordance with their oaths and responsibilities without fear, favor or “an eye to the main chance.” When those chosen to represent us honor and obey the rules rather than bend and challenge them. The angst about how all branches of government are behaving relative to releasing, withholding, editing or not editing the report is eroding trust in every branch of our government.

It was very expensive to wait for Mueller, just like Waiting for Godot.

More by »

11 Comments   Add Comment

  1. Jim Balfanz says:

    Right after the 2016 election, Green Party candidate Jill Stein—cheered on by Hillary Clinton dead-enders—sued in three states to recount votes and thereby overturn Donald Trump’s victory in the Electoral College. Before the quixotic effort imploded, Stein was praised as an iconic progressive social justice warrior who might stop the hated Trump from even entering the White House.
    When that did not work, B-list Hollywood celebrities mobilized, with television and radio commercials, to shame electors in Trump-won states into not voting for the president-elect during the official Electoral College balloting in December 2016. Their idea was that select morally superior electors should reject their constitutional directives and throw the election into the House of Representatives where even more morally superior NeverTrump Republicans might join with even much more morally superior Democrats to find the perfect morally superior NeverTrump alternative.
    When that did not work, more than 60 Democratic House members voted to bring up Trump’s impeachment for vote. Trump had only been in office a few weeks. Then San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer toured the country and lavished millions on advertisements demanding Trump’s removal by impeachment—and was sorely disappointed when he discovered that billion-dollar-fueled virtue-signaling proved utterly bankrupt virtue-signaling.
    When that did not work, celebrities and politicians hit social media and the airwaves to so demonize Trump that culturally it would become taboo even to voice prior support for the elected president. Their chief tool was a strange new sort of presidential assassination chic, as Madonna, David Crosby, Robert de Niro, Johnny Depp, Snoop Dogg, Peter Fonda, Kathy Griffin, and a host of others linguistically vied with one another in finding the most appropriately violent end of Trump—blowing him up, burning him up, beating him up, shooting him up, caging him up, or decapitating him. Apparently, the aim—aside from careerist chest-thumping among the entertainment elite—was to lower the bar of Trump disparagement and insidiously delegitimize his presidency.
    When that did not work, during the president’s first year in office, the Democrats and the media at various times sought to invoke the 25th Amendment, claiming Trump was so mentally or physically impaired that he was not able to carry out the duties of president. At one point, congressional Democrats called Yale University psychiatrist Dr. Bandy X. Lee to testify that Trump was unfit to continue. In fact, to prove her credentials, Lee edited The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump that offered arguments from 27 psychiatrists and other mental health experts. In May 2017, acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein met secretly in efforts to poll Trump cabinet members to discover whether they could find a majority to remove Trump from office—again on grounds that he was mentally unbalanced. According to McCabe, Rosenstein offered to wear a wire, in some sort of bizarre comic coup attempt to catch Trump off-guard in a confidential conversation.
    When that did not work, 200 congressional Democrats in late 2018 sued in federal court to remove President Trump, claiming he had violated the esoteric Emoluments Clause of the Constitution that forbids federal officials from taking gifts, jobs, and titles from foreign governments. They alleged Trump’s presidency has enhanced his overseas real estate holdings and interests. Yet, according to some sources, the various Trump companies have lost some $1 billion in value after he took office—to the delight of the same critics who swore he has profited enormously as president.
    When that did not work, the ongoing “Resistance” both covertly and overtly sought ways to retard or destroy the Trump presidency—often by leaking presidential memos, conversations, and phone calls. An anonymous op-ed published in the New York Times on September 15, 2018 boasted of a plan of resistance to his governance and initiatives from those in the administrative state from inside the Trump Administration, most of them allegedly establishment Republicans.

  2. Jim Balfanz says:

    When that did not work, progressive heartthrob lawyer and now indicted Michael Avenatti reintroduced pornographic film star Stormy Daniels to the public. He claimed that Daniels had somehow been tricked into signing a supposedly improper and now invalid non-disclosure agreement not to talk about an alleged sexual encounter of a decade earlier with private citizen Trump in an exchange for a payment of $135,000.
    Allegedly, Trump’s acquiescence to Daniels’ veritable blackmail demands had now impaired her own opportunities of further profiting to a far greater degree from the past alleged tryst with a now President Trump. Until his recent indictment for a number of felonies, Avenatti himself had translated his work with Daniels into media celebrity-hood, appearing over 100 times on cable news shows to damn Trump, predict his impeachment, and prep his promised 2020 presidential run against Trump.
    When that did not work, federal law enforcement officials stormed the offices of Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, in search of incriminating materials. Cohen quickly was leveraged by federal attorneys, flipped, and offered anti-Trump testimonies and documents in exchange for leniency. He produced stealth tapes of private conversations with his own client Trump—and shortly afterward was disbarred by the New York State Supreme Court for pleading guilty to a series of felonies.
    When that did not work, Russian collusion hysteria continued to sweep the country. The moribund phony Steele dossier (that had failed to derail the Trump campaign and transition) was reignited by the media and progressive politicos after the firing of FBI director James Comey, leading to the recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and the emergence of Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein.
    Rosenstein then appointed Robert Mueller as special counsel—in a series of events prompted by none other than fired James Comey, who admitted that he illegally leaked confidential, if not some classified, presidential memos to create the conditions necessary for such a special appointment. Mueller’s subsequent media darling attorneys—praised as the “dream team,” “all-stars,” “army,” “untouchables,” and “hunter-killer team”—of mostly Democratic partisans, some Clinton donors, and a few who had defended either the Clinton Foundation or Clinton aides then spent 22 months, and between $30-40 million trying to build a case. In the end, they leveraged mostly minor Trump satellites on process crimes, misleading testimonies, or past business deals in hopes of finding collusionary guilt. Leaking was a Mueller team trademark as each week the collusionary media announced another “bombshell” or “noose tightening” around the neck of Donald Trump—or mysteriously showed up at the home of the next Mueller victim, to wait for the arrival of SWAT teams to swoop into make an arrest.
    When that did not work, congressional committees and the left-wing mob next went after William Barr, Trump’s “hand-picked” attorney general (are not all AGs “hand-picked” by the president?). Barr’s crime was that he had followed the law to the letter. And so Barr spent a few days after the arrival of the exonerating Mueller collusion report to ensure first, before releasing it to the public, that it did not endanger national security or besmirch the reputations of innocent named individuals. If in a blink, “collusion” had died, soon in its death throes it birthed “obstruction”—as if Trump’s objections to vast resources wasted on chasing an imaginary non-crime of collusion was obstruction
    When that did not work, congressional committees mobilized to sue and force Trump to release at least six years of his private income tax records, elements of which already in bits and pieces had been leaked.
    Are such efforts in the future to be institutionalized?
    Will the Left nod and keep still, if Republicans attempt to remove an elected Democratic President before his tenure is up? Are appeals to impeachment, the 25th Amendment, the Emoluments Clause, the Logan Act, and a Special Counsel the now normal cargo of political opposition to any future elected president?
    Is it now permissible in 2020 for Trump’s FBI director to insert an informant into the campaign of the Democratic presidential nominee? If Joe Biden is the 2020 nominee, will the Trump Justice Department seek FISA warrants to monitor the communications of Biden’s campaign team—in worries that Biden son’s business practices in the Ukraine had earlier compromised Biden who had intervened on his behalf by threatening to cut off aid to Ukraine? Will they investigate Biden’s propensity to hug and kiss under-aged girls? Will Trump’s CIA director contact foreign nationals to aid in spying on Biden’s aides? Will National Security Advisor John Bolton request that the names of surveilled Biden campaign officials become unmasked as a way of having them leaked to the media? Will Trump hire a British ex-spy to gather together rumors and gossip about Biden’s previous overseas trips and foreign contacts, especially in the Ukraine, and then see them seeded among the Trump CIA, FBI, Justice Department, and State Department? Is that the sort of country we have now?
    America over the last half century had been nursed on the dogma that the Left was the guarantor of civil liberties. That was the old message of the battles supposedly waged on our behalf by the ACLU, the free-speech areas on campuses, and the Earl Warren Court.
    Not now. The left believes that almost any means necessary, extra-legal and anti-constitutional or not, are justified to achieve their noble ends. Progressive luminaries at CNN and the New York Times have lectured us that reporters need not be disinterested any more in the age of Trump—or that it might be a crime to shout “lock her up” at a Trump rally. Will those standards apply to coverage of future Democratic presidents?
    No reporter seems to care that Hillary Clinton hired a foreign national to work with other foreign nationals to sabotage, first, her opponent’s campaign, then his transition and his presidency, along with the wink and nod help from key Obama officials at the Department of Justice, State Department, National Security Council, FBI and CIA.
    The final irony? If the CIA, FBI, and DOJ have gone the banana republic way of Lois Lerner’s IRS and shredded the Constitution, they still failed to remove Donald Trump.
    Trump still stands. In Nietzschean fashion what did not kill him apparently only made him stronger.
    The above two part opinion was written by Victor Davis Hanson

    1. Sharon K says:

      Wow, Jim Balfanz, Hillary didn’t hire ANY foreign nationals..she BEAT Sanders by 4 million votes and trumPutin by 3 million..she got more votes than any other president excpet for PRESIDENT (a legally elected one) Obama!!!!! You should be over at Breitbart and Infowars!! And this idiot that wrote whst you posted is a right winger and we all know they DON’T deal in facts!!!! Now you buddy trumPutin is tearing this country apart and making it part of the Kremlin! Maybe you need to to read some TRUTH and loosen your tin foil hat!!!…https://www.politico.com/story/2018/02/16/trump-russia-indictments-mueller-investigation-415667

      1. Jim Balfanz says:

        Got my hat on properly, Sharon. Just passing on the real truth. Something you all with Trump Derangement Syndrome can’t handle…. MAGA again. LOL

      2. Jim Balfanz says:

        And, by the way, Sharon K, Hillary did hire FOREIGN nationals to help with the RUSSIAN DOSSIER….

    2. Richard Allen says:

      Thanks, Jim, for setting out the other side of the story. Around these parts, of course, you won’t convince many people. TDS is a mental disease. The worst part is that those who suffer from it would kill the First Amendment without even knowing they were killers.

  3. John Murphy says:

    You have waaaaay too much time on your hands.

    1. Jim Balfanz says:

      And, I’m not even being paid like Ms. Owens, John.

      Go Figure.

  4. Brian Tobin says:

    When Trump called the free press “the enemy of the people” he himself became the enemy.

    There – 16 words that I wrote myself. It’s all that’s needed. Have a good day.

    1. Jim Balfanz says:

      The collusion lie will go down in history as one of the strangest distortions of reality to dominate the American political scene. For more than two years, the national establishment and news media were fixated on a “truth” that turned out to be false.
      In some ways, this national psychosis is reminiscent of the popular madness that would run through medieval societies from time to time. Think of the flagellants going from city to city beating themselves to exorcise their sins. Think of the madness that surrounded Friar Girolamo Savonarola when he ruled Florence from 1494 to 1498.
      In our own country, think of the hysteria of the Salem witchcraft trials in 1692 and 1693, when more than 200 people were accused of witchcraft. Fourteen women and five men were found guilty and hanged. A sixth man was pressed to death with stones.
      On Oct. 30, 1938, Orson Welles terrified millions of Americans with a fake news broadcast reporting aliens had invaded Earth. Based on the H.G. Wells book, “The War of the Worlds,” Welles presented it so vividly that many Americans panicked, thinking they were listening to a genuine newscast of a real invasion from outer space.
      The difference between the fake collusion myth and Welles’s frightening broadcast was that by Oct. 31, 1938, Americans understood the story of the invasion was a fiction. Conversely, the liberal media, Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans have been able to keep their collusion falsehood alive for over two years.
      The biggest cost of this big lie project is the diversion of attention from all the real threats to America.
      China has been launching multiple strategic offensives that threaten to create a Chinese global hegemony in our lifetime.
      Russian President Vladimir Putin has been expanding Russian influence via an alliance with China, an economic alliance with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, an extended reach into Syria, an alliance with Iran, and continued aggression in Ukraine.
      In our backyard, the Monroe Doctrine has been shattered. The Chinese and Russians are jointly propping up Nicolás Maduro’s dictatorship in Venezuela in open defiance of warnings from American leaders.
      We may presently face a choice of accepting defeat in Venezuela – with major consequences for our prestige throughout Latin America – or dramatically escalating our efforts to force Maduro out of power. This could potentially include the decisive use of American military forces.
      For over two years, the news media have enthusiastically avoided an increasingly dangerous world by reporting on a false story that fit their ideological needs.
      Consider the volume of coverage given to fake news about a nonexistent collusion.
      Starting with Inauguration Day 2017 through the delivery of the Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report last month, the ABC, CBS, and NBC evening news broadcasts produced 2,284 minutes of “collusion” coverage.
      MSNBC had more than 4,200 posts mentioning the Mueller probe when searched. Between February 20, 2017, and March 31, 2017, Rachel Maddow spent 53 percent of her broadcast on Russian collusion.
      The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, and MSNBC combined published 8,507 articles citing Mueller’s investigation since May 2017 – nearly 13 articles every single day.
      As an indicator of the intensity of focus on the fake collusion crisis, consider the chryrons – the electronic captions on the bottom of TV screens day after day. The Pudding has put together an extensive data tool for tracking these graphics between August 25, 2017, and January 21, 2018.
      Michael Cohen got 199 bottom third reports on Fox. MSNBC gave him 333, and CNN featured him 435 times.
      Mueller, busily pursuing what he would later report was a nonexistent collusion between President Trump and Russia, got even heavier coverage.
      Fox referred to him 2,469 times, MSNBC gave him 9,096 references, and CNN chimed in with 4,326 reports on the screen.
      The most interesting example of the focus on fake news was the reporting in chyrons about Russia.
      Remember, Russia is still acting aggressively in Ukraine, is involved in Venezuela and Syria, and is working to get Western Europe dependent on Russian natural gas. However, these historic challenges were not the primary focus of an amazing amount of news attention given to Russia.
      Fox put references to Russia on the screen 3,415 times. CNN 6,012 times. MSNBC 11,158 times. This is a total of 20,583 references to Russia on screen between the three cable news channels.
      And what word was most closely associated with the word “Russian” in all these appearances? Fox tied the word “Russian” to the word “FBI.” CNN and MSNBC both tied “Russian” to “Trump.”
      Sadly, the fact that there has been no collusion has not led the news media to turn to the serious threats which endanger America. We should demand to know when Mueller reached his conclusion – and how long he let President Trump govern with falsehoods surrounding him. This was an act of amazing irresponsibility by Mueller.
      The desperation of the news media to avoid the serious dangers that are building around the world was also captured in the intensity of coverage given to the Jussie Smollett case.
      It is astonishing that a case of deliberate dishonesty by an anti-Trump actor could get as much attention as it did. Once again, trivia crowded out the serious threats that could endanger America. Networks spent 101 minutes of coverage on the Smollett story before it was revealed as a farce.
      Unfortunately, it’s clear the Democrats will continue investigating President Trump rather than investigating China, Russia, Venezuela, Iran, or any of the threats that are growing as we ignore them.
      Likewise, the liberal media will continue to focus on domestic trivia. In the value structure of the liberal media, a former vice president’s hugging habit is worth far more coverage than China’s breakthrough in getting Italy – a NATO member – to contract out two major seaports to Chinese management.
      If America fails to identify the growing threats to our national security (and thus fails to respond effectively) future historians may look back on the shallowness and myopia of the news media as a major factor.
      President John F. Kennedy wrote “Why England Slept” because he was trying to explain the British failure to recognize how dangerous Adolf Hitler was in the 1930s.
      Someday, someone may write “Why America Slept.” A major part of it might be devoted to the fake news and the shallowness of much of the American news media in failing to report on reality to the American people.
      This might be the greatest cost of the collusion lie.
      Newt Gringrich

    2. Richard Allen says:

      So if I called Pravda the enemy of the people, I’d become the enemy?

What's your opinion?

We welcome your comments and appreciate your respect for others. We kindly ask you to keep your comments as civil and focused as possible. If this is your first time leaving a comment on our website we will send you an email confirmation to validate your identity.