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Bill Straub: Lear on Twitter and other things are we witnessing in the wake of the Mueller Report

John Leroy Maxwell authored a poem, later set to music, about a drunken degenerate who passes out in the gutter. He is soon joined in his idyll by a roaming pig.

A woman passing nearby witnessed this slovenly scene and sniffed that you can tell a man “by the company he chooses.”

“And the pig got up, and slowly walked away,’’ Maxwell wrote.

Given that, it appears a whole passel of Kentucky Republicans doesn’t possess the self-regard or intestinal fortitude that God gave a pig.

Click to read the whole report

Faced with uncontroverted evidence that a member of their party serving as president of these United States, one Donald J. Trump (OMG!), is morally bankrupt and epically unfit for serving the nation, these folks continue, as Tammy Wynette might say, to stand by their man.

The report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller regarding his investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election doesn’t spare the rod where Trump is concerned.

The president is revealed as an unprincipled liar with thuggish tendencies rarely seen this side of Joe Pesci in “Goodfellas.” He orders his staff to perform unlawful acts and publishes rants on Twitter like Lear raging at Goneril.

Yet the commonwealth’s Republican lawmakers, with the whole nine yards laid out before them, have failed to displayed the sort of political courage necessary to bring this grotesque of an individual to heel. Instead, they are washing their hands of the troubles and moving on.

“Kentuckians have had enough of this wasteful and baseless witch-hunt,” said Mike Lonergan, spokesman for the Republican Party of Kentucky. “Democrats like (Rep.) John Yarmuth (of Louisville), (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi (of California) and their allies wasted more than $25 million in taxpayer money for nothing more than grinding a partisan political ax. It is time for Democrats to start behaving like adults and join Republican-led reforms that are bringing Kentucky historic economic growth and opportunity.”

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Bowling Green, speaking after Attorney General William Barr released a historically less than adequate synopsis, insisted on the Fox News Channel that Trump was “absolutely’’ exonerated by the report – he was not — and that the affair was a “partisan witch-hunt from the beginning.”

Others followed like lemmings, Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington, told WKYT-TV in Lexington that the investigation found “zero evidence’’ of collusion between Trump and Moscow in its effort to undermine the American electoral process, a claim that is, of course hogwash, keeping with the porcine theme of this column.

“It is time to move on, put to rest this effort to vilify this administration,’’ Barr said.
And, of course, when it comes to being a Trump sycophant, Senate Republican Leader Mitch “Root-‘n-Branch’’ McConnell, of Louisville, has no match.

“Well, look, I think it’s time to move on,’’ McConnell told reporters. “This investigation was about collusion, there’s no collusion, no charges brought against the president on anything else, and I think the American people have had quite enough of it.”

The group is partially correct – Mueller didn’t find sufficient evidence to conclude that Trump engaged in an illegal conspiracy with Moscow to subvert the 2016 election. Fair enough.

But at the same time the probe unearthed a plethora of dirt indicating the Trump campaign was looking to cultivate a relationship with the Vladimir Putin government and acquire information from the Ruskies to undermine the campaign of his opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton

Click for the whole report.

Mueller could not uncover sufficient evidence to show either Trump or his campaign was involved in crimes undertaken by Russian interests, like stealing Clinton campaign emails. But the report offers details establishing there were contacts between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

“The Russian contacts consisted of business connections, offers of assistance to the Campaign, invitations for candidate Trump and Putin to meet in person, invitations for Campaign officials and representatives of the Russian government to meet, and policy positions seeking improved U.S.-Russian relations,” the report said.

It’s clear that Mueller found that Trump approved of his campaign’s efforts to seek Russian aid, noting that the organization “expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian effort.” Mueller couldn’t establish a conspiracy. But Merriam-Webster defines collusion as involving “secret agreement or cooperation especially for an illegal or deceitful purpose.”

In other words, if Trump didn’t engage in collusion, he was involved with its identical twin.

And apparently, Kentucky Republicans have no problem with that.

It’s even worse on the obstruction of justice side, where Mueller refused to clear The Donald, although some of the president’s toadies have claimed the contrary. In fact, the report cites 10 instances where the now president engaged in potential obstruction. The special counsel went so far as to declare that Trump’s “efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.”

The details here are damning. Trump was enraged when then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation and appointed Mueller as special counsel. He met with Sessions and asked him to “unrecuse” himself, because, as he told aides, “he should have an attorney general who would protect him.” He attempted to oust Mueller, contacting White House counsel Don McGahn and ordering him to call the Justice Department and assert that Mueller had a conflict of interest “and must be removed.’’ McGahn never carried out the order.

Trump further sought, through former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, to get Sessions, after he had recused himself, to declare that the investigation was “very unfair’’ and that the president had done nothing wrong. Again, that message was never carried out.

There’s more, much more. But all this shows Trump was constantly attempting to subvert an investigation in which he was definitely embroiled. The only thing protecting him, it seems is that his hand-picked Attorney General, William Barr, has decided not to seek charges. So Trump, in a way, finally got what he always wanted from his AG – protection.

And the merry-go-round hasn’t stopped yet. The Mueller probe is over but an investigation being undertaken by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York plods on. In that case, there’s a question about campaign finance violations – hush money to adult film star Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about a sexual liaison — remains in play. And the State of New York is still fiddling with the questionable practices of the Trump Foundation, which has been forced to close its doors.

All in all this presidency stinks to high heaven and the GOP congressional delegation is collectively keeping lilac-scented hankies beneath their nostrils. Regardless, the evidence is clear that Trump is unfit for office and should be open to the constitutional remedy of impeachment. It will, of course, never happen as ol’ Root-‘n-Branch and his cronies in the Senate stand fast against what obviously needs to be done.

KyForward’s Washington columnist Bill Straub served 11 years as the Frankfort Bureau chief for The Kentucky Post. He also is the former White House/political correspondent for Scripps Howard News Service. A member of the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame, he currently resides in Silver Spring, Maryland, and writes frequently about the federal government and politics. Email him at williamgstraub@gmail.com.

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