No collusion, no obstruction, not so fast

To the editor:

“No collusion! No obstruction!” Not so fast. Special Counsel Robert Mueller plainly states that his investigation in no way exonerated Donald Trump on obstruction of justice, and shows many contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russians for reasons that benefitted both sides. The evidence that Russians interfered in the 2016 campaign is plentiful even though it may not rise to the level of “beyond a shadow of a doubt” that would be necessary in a court of law. In Mueller’s words, “The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion.”

Multiple U.S. intelligence agencies picked up clear evidence that agencies of the Russian government were using coordinated efforts to perform multiple attacks on the campaign, with the obvious intent to help Trump and hurt his opponent. That may not rise to the level of criminal conspiracy in the legal system, but it’s pretty damning from an ethical standpoint. Any foreign contact offering that kind of help must be reported to the FBI; that’s the law. The Trump campaign jumped at the chance to have Russia’s help but definitely did not let anyone know about it.

As for the evidence of obstruction, Mueller makes it clear that there are many examples of that with plenty of evidence to back it up. Apparently, he went “by the book” that unofficially says a sitting president should not be indicted; however, he made it perfectly clear that he believes Congress should pick up the ball and run with it. Sounds like a clear recommendation to begin impeachment proceedings against this president. And with each passing day and each subpoena that is ignored, Trump piles up more evidence of obstruction of justice against himself. I believe we need the congressional hearings first so that the American people can learn the evidence for themselves. As Speaker Pelosi has said, it is important for the people to be on board with the idea of impeachment and public hearings will help with that.

In contrast, the impeachment and trial of President Bill Clinton was a true partisan witch hunt. The charges consisted of one count of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice; both were from a civil case filed against him and were not related to his actions as president, but the Republican-controlled House smelled blood in the water and pounced. Republicans held the Senate majority, 55-45. A two-thirds vote of 67 senators was needed to convict. The final vote was 45 in favor of conviction on perjury (10 Republicans and all 45 Democrats voted against), and 50 in favor of conviction on obstruction (5 Republicans and all 45 Democrats voted against).

We face much more serious circumstances now. Trump is digging in for a long, bitter fight and wants his people to deflect, divert, obstruct, and even lie, if necessary, to protect him (as witnessed at William Barr’s sad news conference) and to prevent testimony and documents that show his unethical and probably illegal activities from being exposed.

Donald Trump shows no respect for the office he holds, has badly damaged the world’s view of us, seriously hurt our people with his tariffs, and is generally incompetent, all while attempting to increase his own power and diminish the other branches of our government. He is a dangerous man and must face impeachment and a Senate trial.

—Mag Birge

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