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Kennedy: Threats to our democracy remain, as Mueller tells Congress

Robert Mueller, the former special counsel, has finally made his appearances before two U.S. House committees about his report on whether there was some connection between the Trump campaign and the Russians, and whether there were instances of obstruction of justice during his investigation.

From press reports and in talking with TV viewers of the proceedings, it seemed obvious that Mueller didn’t want to meet with either committee and was quite uncomfortable. This I can understand because he knew that he would be attacked by those still firmly in the Trump camp, and probably be badgered to provide impeachment ammunition to those on the other side.

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As expected, the Republican members of the committees — in Trumpian fashion — resorted to attacking his professionalism by questioning his political motives and bias — perceived by them — against the president. They also kept trying to steer the discussion toward the dossier that was put together by a former British spy and sold to the Hillary Clinton campaign. Mueller steadfastly refused to be led down that path because the document in question had no bearing on his investigation.

The Democrats on the Judiciary and Intelligence committees didn’t glean much that would change the minds of those citizens still firmly in the Trump camp, however. When asked by Intelligence committee Chairman Adam Schiff, Mueller was emphatic in stating that his investigation was not a “witch hunt,” as the president has claimed. Mueller was just as firm in answering ”no” when Judiciary committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler asked if his report had totally exonerated the president.

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According to one reliable source, several of the Democrats on the committees seemed to tip-toe around what I consider to be the essential question. Just as the late Sen. Sam Irvin, during the Watergate hearings, asked every witness, “What did the president know, and when did he know it” to get to the heart of the matter, I would like to have one of the committee members ask repeatedly, “Absent the ruling by the Judiciary department that a sitting president can not be indicted, was there at least one incident in your report where you would have called for an indictment?” That answer would have turned the tide in either direction. A “no” would have ended all of the discussion. A “yes” and I think that impeachment train would be running at full throttle. As it stands, we’re back where this all started.

As for the Russian interference in the 2016 election and the very real possibility that country will double down in its attempts to get Trump re-elected, Mueller declared that to be “a great threat to American democracy.” Trump seems to not be worried about such things; witness his smiling, finger-wag telling a laughing Vladimir Putin, “Don’t interfere in our elections.” I think that such a display was more treasonous than anything that Trump has accused others of doing. He is aiding and abetting our enemies in their quest to bring down the standing of the U.S. in the eyes of the world.

On the matter of obstruction of justice, the White House decision to have anyone working there currently or previously to disregard properly and legally initiated subpoenas from various congressional committees is openly obstructing the Congress in its mandated duties — a crime, in my eyes.

As it looks now, at least to me, the Republican Party needs to find a candidate who is unafraid of bucking the Trump machine and who has the personal and professional experience as well as the reasonable ideas for taking on the many challenges that the current administration will leave behind, if we’re lucky.

On the other side, the Democrats must persuade those who have skewed the party too far to the left to back a more centrist candidate. To do otherwise will doom the country to four more years of a government that is fractured, inept, totally unpredictable and simply ineffective. Unfortunately, the more moderate candidates to this point have gotten much less attention than the four freshman rabble-rousers that have been the target of the ire of the POTUS. That is a shame. There’s still time yet for some more reasonable candidate to capture the interest of the electorate. We can only hope.

Bill Kennedy writes every other week from Taneytown. You may contact him via email at wlkennedyiii@verizon.net.

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