I have 36 years of experience in law enforcement, 30 of those years working as a deputy and a Supervisor in Patrol at seven different stations in Los Angeles County. As such, I’ve had a fairly extensive breadth of experience investigating criminal allegations, investigating citizen’s complaints against deputies, arresting criminal suspects, writing supporting reports and other documentation, testifying in Court, reviewing and critiquing literally thousands of criminal complaint reports, and accumulating a more than passing familiarity with local, state and relevant federal statutes, regulations, laws, case law decisions, and policies and procedures.
There is a persistent, pernicious conclusion being promoted in this country that a finding of insufficient evidence of the commission of a crime by an individual or individuals is equivalent to an absolute finding of NOT GUILTY or an exoneration of the commission of a crime or crimes. This is simply erroneous. If crimes were, in fact, committed obviously some person or persons committed them. If a particular person is not indicted and tried in a criminal court, they obviously cannot be found guilty or not guilty, nor can they necessarily be determined to be exonerated unless the person, persons, or ALL persons responsible can be confidently established.
In the case of the Russian interference and manipulation of public opinion in the 2016 elections in the United States, the fact is persons associated with the Russian government, under the direction of Vladimir Putin, conspired to influence our elections by sowing discord, damaging the public image and reputation of one specific presidential candidate, and bolster, benefit and help shape the perception of Donald Trump.
The fact is, several persons associated with, and participating in Trump’s campaign sought to communicate with Russian operatives, conceal their interactions, lied about these interactions and changed their explanations of their meetings and interactions as these contacts were exposed by the media and/or government officials. Many of these individuals were found to have committed other crimes and/or lying to investigators. But in most cases, there has been no satisfactory explanation of their lies, concealments, or refusal to answer questions by these individuals, Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner, or any of the others.
People lie for a reason. They conceal, refuse to speak, and change their stories about what happened, what they did or didn’t do, why they did or didn’t do them, how and why things happened, and who did them, or knew about them. People lie, conceal and protect others and themselves for a variety of reasons — usually there is some inherent benefit to themselves; money; power; or promise or expectations of one or the other. Loyalty is another reason, but usually has it limits when personal jeopardy and harm exceed personal benefits. Rarely is loyalty absolute, unless motivated by fear if the object of their loyalty has literally the power of death over them or those they care for.
I do not believe in coincidence. Especially when there are too many incidents of so-called “coincidence” which defy a rational, reasonable explanation. The juxtaposition of so many Russian interactions with Trump associates, the absence of appropriate statements, responses and actions by Donald Trump, as president, to Russian representatives and Vladimir Putin, and Trump’s inappropriate or factually contradictory statements, opinions, and conclusions about Russian actions, intentions, and particularly Vladimir Putin intentions, motivations and trustworthiness, and the dearth of any rational, reasonable, factually supported explanations for this behavior defies the probability or possibility of “coincidence.”
Donald Trump was not exonerated or found NOT GUILTY of a conspiracy with the Russian interference, or of obstructing the investigation into those crimes, likely because he and his campaign and associates effectively concealed the requisite evidence of their activities, conspiracy and their motivations and intentions.
As Robert Mueller explicitly reaffirmed today:
“And as set forth in the report, after that investigation, if we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so. We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime.”
“The introduction to the Volume 2 of our report explains that decision. It explains that under long-standing department policy, a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. That is unconstitutional. Even if the charge is kept under seal and hidden from public view, that, too, is prohibited.”
“A special counsel’s office is part of the Department of Justice, and by regulation, it was bound by that department policy. Charging the president with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider. The department’s written opinion explaining the policy makes several important points that further informed our handling of the obstruction investigation. Those points are summarized in our report and I will describe two of them for you.”
“First, the opinion explicitly permits the investigation of a sitting president because it is important to preserve evidence while memories are fresh and documents available. Among other things, that evidence could be used if there were co-conspirators who could be charged now.”
“And second, the opinion says that the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.” [Impeachment]
“And beyond department policy, we were guided by principles of fairness. It would be unfair to potentially — it would be unfair to potentially accuse somebody of a crime when there can be no court resolution of the actual charge.”
Simple logic dictates:
If agents of the Department Of Justice cannot indict a sitting president because of this DOJ Opinion, then it would seem to follow that, contrary to what Attorney General Barr has said, you cannot exonerate him either under the existing circumstances as documented in the Mueller investigation and report.
It is NOT in the legal purview of DOJ or Attorney General Barr to make a determination of exoneration. That is under the purview of Congress alone.