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“Robert Mueller: Roger Stone remains a convicted felon, and rightly so”

By Shlomo Maital

Roger Stone and friend

  Many of us have been upset and disturbed by the continued silence of Robert Mueller, despite relentless daily attacks by President Trump, and his Republican acolytes who want to investigate the investigation.

At last, with Trump’s award of clemency to Roger Stone, Mueller speaks out. Here is what he wrote, in part, in today’s Washington Post: * Please, read this excerpt, 500 words:

* Washington Post, July 12. “Robert Mueller: Roger Stone remains a convicted felon, and rightly so”:

     Mueller: “The work of the special counsel’s office — its report, indictments, guilty pleas and convictions — should speak for itself. But I feel compelled to respond both to broad claims that our investigation was illegitimate and our motives were improper, and to specific claims that Roger Stone was a victim of our office. The Russia investigation was of paramount importance. Stone was prosecuted and convicted because he committed federal crimes. He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so. ….

   “We now have a detailed picture of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. The special counsel’s office identified two principal operations directed at our election: hacking and dumping Clinton campaign emails, and an online social media campaign to disparage the Democratic candidate. We also identified numerous links between the Russian government and Trump campaign personnel — Stone among them. We did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government in its activities. The investigation did, however, establish that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome. It also established that the campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts.

   ”Uncovering and tracing Russian outreach and interference activities was a complex task. The investigation to understand these activities took two years and substantial effort. Based on our work, eight individuals pleaded guilty or were convicted at trial, and more than two dozen Russian individuals and entities, including senior Russian intelligence officers, were charged with federal crimes.

     “Congress also investigated and sought information from Stone. A jury later determined he lied repeatedly to members of Congress. He lied about the identity of his intermediary to WikiLeaks. He lied about the existence of written communications with his intermediary. He lied by denying he had communicated with the Trump campaign about the timing of WikiLeaks’ releases. He in fact updated senior campaign officials repeatedly about WikiLeaks. And he tampered with a witness, imploring him to stonewall Congress.

     “The jury ultimately convicted Stone of obstruction of a congressional investigation, five counts of making false statements to Congress and tampering with a witness. Because his sentence has been commuted, he will not go to prison. But his conviction stands.

     “Russian efforts to interfere in our political system, and the essential question of whether those efforts involved the Trump campaign, required investigation. In that investigation, it was critical for us (and, before us, the FBI) to obtain full and accurate information. Likewise, it was critical for Congress to obtain accurate information from its witnesses. When a subject lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of the government’s efforts to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable. It may ultimately impede those efforts.

   “We made every decision in Stone’s case, as in all our cases, based solely on the facts and the law and in accordance with the rule of law. The women and men who conducted these investigations and prosecutions acted with the highest integrity. Claims to the contrary are false.”

In Politics – Too Many Lawyers?

 By   Shlomo Maital

 

     “98% of lawyers give the rest a bad name.” There are an infinite number of such jibes, most of them worse. I am an economist – Personally I think economists have done far more damage to the world than lawyers.

       But after watching the Mueller testimony, before two House of Representative committees… I can make the case that lawyer-dominated legislatures generally miss the point.

       The US House of Representatives has 535 members, of whom 168 are lawyers, by far the leading profession. In contrast there are only 11 physicians and three psychologists. Yet this body writes the laws for healthcare in the US.

         The US Senate has 50 lawyers, fully half of the 100 senators. Only 3 Senators are physicians.

         So what is the problem?

         In the Mueller hearings before the House Judiciary Committee (naturally, mostly lawyers, it makes sense) and the House Intelligence committee (also, lots of lawyers), one question dominated what members asked Mueller:

         Did President Trump break the law? Did he conspire? Did he tamper with witnesses?

         That’s the wrong question. Even if he did break the law, he cannot be prosecuted. That is what the Department of Justice says. He can be impeached – but not convicted, because Republicans dominate the Senate.

           So the legal approach is pointless.

           Then, what IS the point?

           Did President Trump act disloyally, treasonously, unethically, immorally? Did he act really really badly?  

           THAT is the question. THAT should have been the focus. It was, for a handful of House members. But mostly the lawyers dominated. And that played into Trump’s hands. Mueller was greatly limited in what he could say, because Special Counsel is a prosecutor – and prosecutors cannot say a whole lot. That in part is why his answers were hesitant. Plus – YOU try working long hours for 22 months, at age 74 and then testify for 8 hours before two committees, while having trouble hearing the questions (I really think Mueller needs hearing aids – vanity may prevent this, trust me, I know personally!).

           We voters should expect our elected leaders to behave honestly, morally, and to speak wisely, respecting everyone, especially their opponents. When they don’t — kick them out.

           2020 cannot come soon enough.      

Blog entries written by Prof. Shlomo Maital

Shlomo Maital

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