No Nothing is Something

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

On the eve of Robert Mueller’s testimony in the House Trump was clearly worried. ‘There was no collusion, no obstruction, no nothing,’ he trumpeted to the White House press corps on the South Lawn, calling Mueller ‘very conflicted,’ not only because he was Jim Comey’s best friend but also because he had a major conflict with Trump himself.  In a response Comey informed the media that he and Mueller are not friends and haven’t spoken each other in three years, and it is common knowledge that the ‘major’ conflict was about the membership fee of one of Trump’s golf courses that Mueller considered too high.  The former Special Counsel decided to cancel his membership and go play somewhere else, and has probably already forgotten about it, but since it is about money it is automatically major for Trump, whose father taught him to pick up nails at construction sites so that they could be re-used and whose greed and stinginess have no limits. The very first question from Chairman Nadler to Mueller was ‘was there obstruction?’ and the answer was ‘yes.’ The second question was ‘was there exoneration?’ and the answer was ‘no.’

Mueller’s testimony for the Judiciary Committee could have stopped there and then, but every member had to have his or her five minutes in the sun, and while the Democrats without much success tried to elicit useful information from Mueller, who stuck to the content of his report as he had announced in advance and often simply referred to it, the Republicans were engaged in a grandstanding competition of which one of the highlights was the statement that ‘collusion is largely synonymous with conspiracy,’ a line selectively quoted from the report which is correct according to most dictionaries but not according to criminal law, where conspiracy is defined but collusion is not.  Another gem was the observation that ‘deciding to exonerate or not is not a Department of Justice tradition,’ which was somewhat out of place because the report neither exonerated Trump nor accused him of a crime.  A low point was the attack on Mueller’s character by Freedom Caucus member Jim Jordan, a thug who knew about sexual abuse in a wrestling program he once coached for but said nothing about it.  The contrast with Mueller could not have been clearer.

Halfway Mueller’s testimony Trump was pretty happy about it and re-tweeted Fox News’ Chris Wallace’s assessment that Mueller’s performance was a disaster for the Democrats.  Of course the president can only process visual information, so the images of screaming Republicans left a positive impression with him while he didn’t register questions that were carefully crafted by Democrats.  However, chances are that by nighttime Trump was not as jolly as at 12 noon.

In response to Democratic questioning Mueller revealed that in answers to written questions the president had been less than truthful while under oath, and responding to a now deeply regretted Republican question Mueller confirmed that Trump can still be indicted after leaving office, meaning that he has to win in 2020 to run out the clock on the statute of limitations and stay out of jail.

In all the fuzz about Mueller’s testimony it almost escaped attention that on Monday Trump said that he could win the war in Afghanistan in a week by wiping the country off the face of the earth.  Meanwhile the president’s Doral property is in competition to host the G7 meeting, even though he’s still being sued for violating the emoluments clause.

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