Why You Should Really Want Immigrants To Have Health Care.

Who raises and picks the produce you eat? Who works in slaughterhouses and butchers the meat you eat? Who cooks your food when you dine in restaurants? Who washes the dishes? Who cleans the tables? Who serves your food?

Immigrants, that’s who!

That’s because immigrants are willing to do the jobs that few American citizens are willing to do. They are the only ones who are willing to perform back-breaking work for long hours at minimum wage. Yet, despite the fact that most of these immigrants pay taxes – including payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare – they do not have access to affordable health care. Moreover, if they are undocumented, they are now afraid to show up at a hospital or clinic for fear of being apprehended by ICE. That’s especially true following the recent raids of Mississippi chicken processing plants.

Now think about that for a minute. The people who handle your food are as likely as you to contract a contagious disease while riding to work, while shopping at WalMart, or while attending church. (They are, after all, human.) But unlike you, most are unable to see a doctor when they get sick. And given the threat of being arrested and deported, they are afraid to seek help when they contract a cold, the flu or any of the myriad of contagious diseases. And, since they are paid minimum wage or less, they can’t even afford to take a day off.

What could possibly go wrong?

And, if that’s not enough to make you reconsider our treatment of immigrants, consider this: Their children are enrolled in the same public schools as yours. They attend the same classes; play the same sports; swim in the same pools. That means any diseases that go untreated in their homes are likely to end up in your home.

So go ahead, treat them as criminals. Deny them green cards. Deny them a living wage. Deny them health care benefits. Make sure they can’t take time off to recover from an illness. Make them afraid to seek medical care. Push them further and further underground. Just remember: When they get sick, you’re likely to get sick, too.

Of course, if you’re a white nationalist like Trump, you could demand that ICE round up all undocumented immigrants and deport them. (They’d have to include all of those working at Trump properties.) But then what are you going to you eat?

Destruction Of The US. (Part One – The Climate Crisis)

There are those who say that the US can withstand the damage done by Trump; that the Constitution will prevail; that people will come to their senses. I wish I could be that certain. In the coming weeks, I will be examining the damage done to our nation and our planet by this rogue presidency beginning with what is arguably our greatest threat: The Climate Crisis.

You may remember some of the progress made during the Obama administration: It embraced the UN’s Agenda 21 – a non-binding plan that emerged from the UN Conference on Environment and Development in 1992 that set goals for combating poverty, promoting human health, promoting sustainable development, protecting the atmosphere, combating deforestation, managing fragile ecosystems, conserving biological diversity and more. It created incentives for the manufacture and use of sustainable energy alternatives. It created more stringent standards for coal-fired generating plants. It protected sensitive lands and endangered species from oil exploration and mining interests. It pushed to end factory fishing and created a national monument to protect a sensitive coral reef.

Under the Obama administration, the Navy began to plan for the sea level rise predicted by most of the world’s climate scientists. And the military began to power some of its installations with sustainable energy.

Most importantly, the Obama administration not only signed the Paris Climate Accords. It helped to create the agreement. Indeed, President Obama called it “the best chance to save the planet.”

Then along came Trump.

The racist, anti-Obama chief executive quickly withdrew our nation from the Paris agreement making the US now the only nation on the planet that is not a signatory. (Even Syria signed the pact.) He ordered his administration to relax standards for carbon emissions, in addition to deregulating some of the worst polluters. He ordered government agencies such as the EPA, NASA, NOAA, and others to remove any mention of climate change and its effects. He appointed political hacks and climate change deniers to cabinet positions and numerous other positions of power. He eliminated many regulations on coal mining and oil drilling to encourage further development of climate-changing fossil fuels. And his Interior Department began selling mineral rights on federal lands to the highest bidders. His administration even cut the Bears Ears National Monument – a place of great spiritual significance to Native Americans and of archeological importance – in half in order to make its mineral rights available.

In addition, the Trump administration plans to open the Arctic – a region already suffering from the severe impact of the climate crisis – to more oil exploration.

Worst of all, Trump has cut incentives for the manufacture of solar panels and wind turbines thereby ceding their manufacture to foreign companies. He has proposed rolling back emission standards for American-made vehicles. He has cut incentives for the purchase of solar panels and electric-powered cars. And he has abandoned virtually all government research into ways to mitigate the climate crisis.

Do Trump and his supporters not live on the same planet we do? Have they not read the mounting evidence of a true global catastrophe? Have they not heard the warnings of extreme temperatures and rising sea levels? Have they not read reports of dying coral reefs and the extinction of species? Have they not experienced the anguish of watching another community torn apart by an extraordinary storm fueled by extreme temperatures? Do they not understand that one reason for the immigration crisis at our border is climate change? And that mass migration from climate change will only grow?

The world’s climate scientists say that we only have a decade or less to act in order to head off the worst effects of the climate crisis. And every few months, they announce that the climate is spiraling out of control even more quickly than their worst-case scenarios. The climate crisis is not a hoax! In fact, it is all too real. Indeed, the only questions left are: Will we act in time? Will our actions be enough? Will Trump be re-elected.

If the latter happens, it will almost certainly be game over.

The Cleansing Has Begun.

The Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerry Nadler, recently announced on The Rachel Maddow Show that the impeachment process is underway. It took far too long for the House to reach this point. Nevertheless, Nadler’s announcement is welcome news.

Unless the Trump-stacked courts intervene to unconstitutionally rule that the presidency is immune from any oversight, the Judiciary Committee’s actions will lead to a number of revelations from the testimony of White House insiders, from tax documents, from banking records and much more. I believe this will expose the Prince of Orange for what he really is – a sociopathic narcissist, a racist and a felon. A criminal who attained office only because of Russian intervention then did everything in his power to obstruct justice.

If the impeachment is successful, Trump will be removed or forced to resign. Even if he isn’t, the dirt that is certain to be revealed by an impeachment inquiry should lead to a landslide victory for whoever wins the Democratic nomination. (Of course, that’s assuming that our election apparatus isn’t once again hacked and corrupted in Trump’s favor.) Once he’s out of office, he may well be indicted and convicted for his long history of breaking laws. I already have images in my mind of him dressed in an outfit color-coordinated with his orange hair and complexion.

Even prison isn’t sufficient punishment for the damage he and his corrupt minions have done.

The only possible remedy is to nullify his every action while in office. His every appointment. His presidential orders should all be immediately overturned. His agency heads fired. His judges and justices removed. His tax cuts repealed. His trade war ended. His wall torn down. His oil leases and other deals vacated. The National Monuments returned to pre-Trump status. The Iran Deal and Paris climate accords rejoined.

I want Trump and his entire administration relegated to the dustbin of history. I want his name to become synonymous with Benedict Arnold, Joe McCarthy, and the Rosenbergs. Better yet, given his extreme narcissism, let’s scrub him from the history books altogether. Take down his Twitter account. Pass a law making it illegal to ever mention his name or to show his image. I want his children to be forced to change their last name. (Would it be asking too much that all of his relatives and offspring be neutered?) I want people to forget that he ever existed.

It’s not that I’m a vengeful person. I just want to see a punishment commensurate with the damage he has done. But I suppose I’ll have to be satisfied to merely call someone else president. With luck, a new administration will lead to a fresh start – a national and international cleansing.

The Cowards On The Right.

In my lifetime, the leaders of the right have evolved from courageous WWII veterans, such as Dwight D. Eisenhower, George H.W. Bush and Robert Dole, to a group of cowards and provocateurs who hide behind desks and rally others to do their hateful bidding. For example, when Trump was eligible for the draft during the Vietnam War, he could have volunteered. He could have been drafted. Or he could have had the courage, as many did, to simply refuse to participate in an illegal, immoral and ill-considered war. Instead, he used his daddy’s influence and wealth to receive a deferment for “bone spurs.”

But that was only a hint of the cowardice yet to come.

Trump talks tough. But his words are as phony as his orange combover. He teases and spins and blows out a torrent of hate directed at the most vulnerable in our midst. He attacks the disabled, the grieving parents of fallen soldiers, and starving refugees as shamelessly and relentlessly as he once attacked women by the pussy. Then, after encouraging his legion of racist Trumpanzees to do his dirty work, he steps back to admire what he has created. When it inevitably turns ugly, he disavows any complicity or connection. He’s as reluctant to take credit for his hate speech as he is to confront Putin over election meddling. Such was the case in Charlottesville. In Miami. In Pittsburg. In Gilroy. And, most recently, in El Paso. There will be many, many more.

And he’s not the only one responsible for the growing white supremacist movement in the US. Almost equally accountable are the cowards behind the microphones: Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Tucker Carlson, Tomi Lahren, Alex Jones, Laura Ingraham, the crew of Fox and Friends, and others. And we must not forget the hateful contributions of Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, Jim Jordan, Rand Paul, Louie Gohmert, Steve King and the full range of Republican miscreants.

Rather than have an honest discussion about policy, like Trump, these cowards blame their listeners’ and their constituents’ problems on immigrants, Muslims, Jews, and people of color. Not a single one of them would stand up to face an opponent of equal standing one-on-one. Rather, they prefer to punch down to hurt the most vulnerable: Minorities, immigrants, refugees seeking asylum, and children. Even then, they often resort to cheap shots.

Despite their rants, they claim no responsibility for the death threats directed toward a Muslim congresswoman of color. They disavow a connection between their words of hate and crimes against those they have targeted. Yet they continue to create hateful memes, to retweet the words of like-minded white supremacists and to make up hurtful lies. Then, when someone is physically hurt, they cry crocodile tears. And they run when challenged.

Thanks to these cowards, our nation is hopelessly, and perhaps permanently, divided. It is not so much a political divide as it is a division of character. And a division of facts.

Too often, I have encountered their supporters who spout the “facts” as they know them. But their “facts” are wrong – the products of propaganda repeated by the aforementioned cowards, as well as Facebook, YouTube, and Breitbart. Even when shown the truth as reported by independent sources such as Factcheck.org, Politifact.com, the AP, Reuters, BBC and others, the supporters merely dismiss it as “fake news.”

How does anyone break through that?

Almost as often, I have encountered seemingly nice people who support the GOP’s racism. These are people who seem to be good neighbors, family members and co-workers. People who would never think of harming another. They claim to be patriots. But they are willing to suppress the minority vote. They claim to be good Christians. But they are somehow unable to understand that their support of Trump’s party results in denying others – gays, transgenders, people of color, and people of other faiths – their civil rights and, in some cases, their lives.

How does one discuss policy with someone like that? What can you have in common with someone who is unmoved by children in cages?

It seems to me that “the land of the free and the home of the brave” no longer applies to all Americans. Maybe it never has. Under this administration, many are having their freedom challenged. And too few are brave enough to stand up for minorities and the most vulnerable.

Is Ending Abortion More Important Than Preserving Democracy?

This is a serious question that I pose to my conservative friends. You have told me that you dislike Trump as an individual. Yet you have supported his presidency. Some of you have even embraced him as a messenger of God claiming he was sent to Earth to restore “godliness” in the United States.

Does such godliness now include marital infidelity? Extramarital affairs with porn stars? Illegal payoffs to buy their silence? An admission of sexual assaults as evidenced by the Access Hollywood tape? His pride in saying that he has walked into the dressing rooms of teenage women? Would a messenger from God tell thousands of lies and demand loyalty to himself over country? Would he appoint family and friends to his administration who would use their positions to corruptly line their bank accounts with taxpayer money?

Does godliness now include overt racism? The promotion of violence against people of color? Is it godly to tell women of color to go back to the “shithole” countries where they came from just because their ideas don’t agree with your own? Is it now godly to tear apart families? To pry babies and children from their mothers’ arms? Is it godly to place refugees in cages with no room to lie down? No soap and other toiletries? Limited food and water? Is it godly to embrace murderous dictators while turning your back on those they have tortured or killed?

Did you fall to your knees and pray that your Orange Jesus would deport military veterans who served in war zones despite having been given assurances that their service would result in the opportunity to become US citizens? Is it godly to ridicule a true military hero for allowing himself to be captured and tortured? To cruelly attack the parents of a US soldier who died in combat? Is it godly to deny constitutional rights to people because of their religion, race or choice of lovers? To mock a reporter with a physical disability?

Did your God command his messenger – your messiah – to spend millions of taxpayers’ money on golf at his own resorts while American citizens – many of them veterans – sleep on the streets because they are homeless? Did He order his messenger to deny food stamps to school children? Did He demand that the nation’s deficits be increased so that your messiah’s party might later justify taking retirement benefits and healthcare away from the elderly?

Jesus commanded his followers to turn the other cheek. Yet the “religious” followers of your new messiah now threaten violence against those who have political ideas different than your own. And in far too many instances – in Charlottesville, in Pittsburgh, in Miami and now El Paso – they have already acted.

You say that you are repulsed by the character of your new messiah. But you justify your support for him because he has packed the courts with judges and justices who promise to overturn Roe v. Wade. In the meantime, he has taken actions that will destroy our environment. Indeed the entire planet. He has broken treaties and norms and weakened our most critical institutions. He has committed crimes. He has dramatically increased spending for our war machine without any controls on that spending. At the same time, he has challenged the authority of our Constitution and caused harm to hundreds of thousands of innocent people. And by accepting help from a hostile foreign power in order to obtain his office, he has threatened democracy itself.

Is that really what you want? Is it worth all of this to protect zygotes and fetuses, many of which will ultimately be unable to survive a moment outside the womb?

What about the already living? What about our nation? What about democracy?

Free Stuff.

The GOP, its propaganda network, and the corporate-owned media are fond of accusing progressive Democrats of trying to buy votes by offering “free stuff” to voters. Disregarding the fact that nothing the government does is, in fact, free, this has been a popular accusation for longer than I can remember. The GOP used the same talking point when Social Security and Medicare were first proposed, claiming that the programs were unaffordable and that they would bankrupt the nation. Then, like now, the GOP also accused the Democrats who backed those programs of being socialists.

But it’s important to note that GOP candidates also regularly offer free stuff as a way of buying votes. And they also engage in a form of socialism. The difference is in the beneficiaries.

Social Security and Medicare are, in reality, retirement and medical insurance that directly benefit those who pay the premiums through payroll deductions – ordinary working Americans. And the current Democratic proposals, like universal health care and debt-free college education, would also directly benefit ordinary American workers.

The GOP proposals, on the other hand, pander to a different audience: Large multinational corporations, the military-industrial complex and the very, very wealthy.

Take the GOP-passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Most working Americans saw little to no cuts in their income taxes while corporations and the wealthy realized dramatic cuts to their tax burden. The law also allowed multinationals to “repatriate” corporate profits held offshore to avoid paying US income taxes. The GOP promised that the bill would boost the economy and create jobs. It didn’t. Instead, most of the money was used to pay executive bonuses and to buy back stock. That had the effect of starving the companies of capital resulting in layoffs. The same thing happened in 2004 when the US last “repatriated” corporate dollars at reduced tax rates. That year, 58 giant corporations realized 70 percent of the benefit, saving an estimated $64 billion in taxes while, at the same time, slashing an estimated 600,000 jobs.

The real cost of the 2017 tax cut has yet to be tallied. But it has already resulted in record deficits and a record national debt. It was nothing less than a giant gift to corporations paid for by average working Americans!

And that’s but one example. There are many, many others.

The GOP has pushed cuts to inheritance taxes and cuts to capital gains taxes that benefit the wealthy. And, under the guise of its repeatedly debunked trickle-down economic theory, the GOP offers much more free stuff to corporations. Those gifts take the form of corporate incentives to expand or to relocate, long-term tax relief to corporations for expanding in their current locations and promising, but seldom delivering, new jobs, and Tax Increment Financing which exempts corporate facilities from property taxes whenever their owners build or purchase a building and promise to create jobs – a practice so pervasive that many cities have never collected property taxes on their most iconic buildings. Sadly, some “moderate” Democrats have voted for these things, too.

In addition, there are many less obvious free gifts to corporations. Governments pay the cost of building utilities and other infrastructure to reach corporate building sites. And governments are often forced to pick up the cost of food stamps and housing assistance for the employees of Walmart and other companies that fail to pay a living wage. (The cost of subsidizing Walmart’s underpaid workers was estimated at $6.2 billion in 2014.) Governments also pick up the cost of cleaning up mines and other sites despoiled by extraction industries after the corporations have walked away with the resources and profits.

Even more subtle are the allocations to defense contractors who have little oversight and few, if any, real penalties for cost over-runs and delays. In fact, a 2016 study found that the Pentagon can’t account for trillions of dollars in spending. Similarly, private prison corporations have been given sweetheart deals by their GOP sponsors. During the current border crisis, it has been reported that private prison corporations are being paid more than $700 per day to house the refugees and economic immigrants in horrific conditions. For that price, the detainees should be living in luxury hotels. Not suffering in conditions where they are denied access to sufficient food and water, denied basic hygiene, and forced to sleep on concrete with only a foil blanket.

The estimated cost of universal healthcare and free education is dwarfed by the gifts currently being passed along to corporations and the uber-wealthy. Moreover, the progressive Democratic candidates have done something the GOP hasn’t. They’ve explained how they will pay for their “gifts.”

So, the next time you hear someone deride progressive Democratic candidates by calling them socialists and attacking them for their offers of “free stuff,” keep in mind that what’s being “given away” is simply a matter of priorities. The question is: What’s more important to you? American workers? Or greedy corporations and the very wealthy?

Dear Media, Stop Saying Trump’s Statements Are “Considered Racist By Some.”

Call them what they really are: Racist! This was settled decades ago. When someone tells a person of color to “go back where you came from”, that’s racist as defined by most every Human Resources department in America, including the government’s. Moreover, members of the white majority don’t get to decide what is racist. That’s up to the victims of racism to decide. If you’re confused, ask them.

When you say one of Trump’s Tweets or remarks is “considered racist by some”, what you’re really saying is that many in the white majority don’t think it’s racist.

And, on a related topic, the white conservative majority doesn’t get to claim “reverse” racism until white Americans’ employment resumes are filed in the trash because they have white sounding names; until their white suburban schools are given less resources than those of people of color; until police pull them over because they don’t look like they belong in the neighborhood; until police shoot and kill them during a routine traffic stop because “they felt they were in danger;” until the best neighborhoods are “redlined” to prevent them from purchasing a home there; until white-face becomes a thing in stage and theater as a way of demeaning them; until they are subject to poll taxes; until it becomes difficult for them to vote because of limited polling places and limited hours; until their congressional districts are gerrymandered to diminish their representation in government; until people of color begin calling the police on them for being white; until they are treated more harshly by the justice system; until they have far less wealth and far fewer resources available to them because of the color of their skin; until they are grossly underrepresented in movies, television shows and commercials because they don’t represent the majority; until they are blocked from attaining executive positions because they aren’t considered capable. That language in your reporting only perpetuates the problem.

So, Dear Media, the next time Trump or one of his supporters says something patently racist, please report it by calling it what it really is: Racist.

And as long as I’m giving advice – advice I gleaned from journalism school – the next time Trump says something verifiably untrue, stop reporting it as “unverified”, “unproven”, “questionable”, or even a “falsehood”. Follow the lead of the Washington Post and CNN. Both are now calling Trump’s lies what they really are: Lies.

It should be easy for you to identify his lies. If his lips are moving, or if it’s from one of his thousands of Tweets, there is a roughly 75 percent chance that it’s a lie.

Finally, Dear Media, stop giving Trump live coverage for his “chopper talks” and impromptu statements to the press. You haven’t done that for previous presidents. Anyway, almost everything he says in these sessions is an outright lie and all he really wants is to feed his narcissism by seeing his face on the news each evening. Better that you record video or audio and take notes. Then report only those things of truth and substance later. I guarantee you won’t be missing out on any bombshells or breaking news. No competitor will beat you to a story…unless the story is about his propensity to tell lies. Indeed, delaying your reporting will make your news media seem more insightful, more honest.

By refusing to participate in Trump’s propaganda effort, you’ll be doing the public a real service. And you’ll be secure in the knowledge that you’re not being treated as a modern day Leni Riefenstahl.

Why 2020 Could Be Deja Vu All Over Again.

Despite Robert Mueller’s testimony before Congress that the Trump campaign sought, embraced and used information supplied by Wikileaks and Russia, and despite his report that outlines numerous instances involving obstruction of justice, GOP congressional representatives refuse to admit the possibility that Trump has committed any wrongdoing. Indeed, many acknowledge that they have not read the Mueller report.

Further, despite Mueller’s warning that Russia has stepped up its plans to interfere in the 2020 elections, Mitch McConnell and the GOP-controlled Senate refuse to vote on any legislation intended to tamper-proof our election system. Why? Well, for one thing, McConnell has shamelessly accepted campaign donations from the makers of some of the most vulnerable computerized voting machines. For another, he sees no benefit in doing so. Russian interference benefited his party in 2016 and he likely expects to receive further tens of millions in campaign assistance from Russian oligarchs in 2020 as his PACs did in 2016.

And it must not be forgotten that, in a clear signal to Putin, Trump told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that he is willing to accept dirt on his political opponents from foreign governments for his re-election campaign.

These are all obvious signs that Republicans plan to steal yet another election.

During a recent interview on NPR, a former Facebook executive predicted that the 2020 election will be different. Instead of creating false accounts on social media to promote fake news as they did in 2016, he believes they will plant false narratives with US citizens and rely on them to distribute their propaganda. As an example, he referred to the Seth Rich conspiracy theory saying that the conspiracy originated with Russians, but that it was soon picked up and widely distributed by American right-wing media. (It was not only a regular story on Fox News. It was promoted by such “authorities” as Alex Jones Infowars and the mysterious – dare I say fictitious – QAnon.) More troubling, he says that Russia’s goal for 2020 is to seed chaos in the US. So he believes that Russia will execute a cyber attack on voting data (or at least give the appearance of one) to create doubt with the outcome of the 2020 election. That will lead the losing side to reject the outcome and perhaps resort to violence.

If that is the case, you can be certain that, if/when Trump loses, his supporters will be armed, locked and loaded. After all, in 2016, Trump convinced his followers that the election was rigged. In the event of a Hillary win, they threatened to “use their 2nd Amendment rights” to remedy the situation. Imagine what they will do if they think Trump is removed from office unfairly.

If the Russians are successful in 2020, it will pose a lose/lose problem for Democrats. If the Democratic nominee wins, he or she will very likely have to face the prospect of an armed insurrection which will further divide the nation. And, if the president-elect backs down under threat, it will cement the power of the lunatic right.

In either event, the beneficiaries will be Russia and the GOP.

Russia will benefit by a divided and weakened US. The division will also continue to benefit the GOP, which is desperately trying to maintain control of the oligarchy they helped create. Even if the GOP loses control of both the Senate and the White House, Moscow Mitch or his replacement will continue to block any and all initiatives intended to ensure fairness in our elections. They will continue to fight making voting machines tamper-proof and creating a paper trail. They will continue to fight all attempts to end gerrymandering. They will continue to fight the expansion of voting hours and the number of polling places. They will continue to fight automatic voter registration. They will continue to fight any efforts to limit the dirty money used to buy elections. And they will continue to fight any attempt to eliminate or modify the Electoral College.

They will fight these things because they have seen the studies that show a clear majority of Americans favor Democratic policies. They see the increases in voters of color. And they know free and fair elections will make them a minority for generations.

No Obstruction? Mueller And More Than 1,000 Federal Prosecutors Beg To Differ.

The president continues to claim the Mueller Report exonerated him of collusion and obstruction. It most certainly did not. With Mueller set to testify before Congress this week, I thought it would be helpful to publish the executive summaries of his report. Following is Executive Summary, Volume II which covers the obstruction investigation. As you can see, the president clearly intended to obstruct justice. And, if not for DOJ policy, he likely would have been charged. Indeed, more than a thousand former federal attorneys and prosecutors have signed a document stating that the evidence shows numerous instances of criminal obstruction. Pay particular attention to the boldface sections (boldface added) and judge for yourself.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY TO VOLUME II
Our obstruction-of-justice inquiry focused on a series of actions by the President that related to the Russian-interference investigations, including the President’s conduct towards the law enforcement officials overseeing the investigations and the witnesses to relevant events.

FACTUAL RESULTS OF THE OBSTRUCTION INVESTIGATION
The key issues and events we examined include the following:
The Campaign’s response to reports about Russian support for Trump. During the 2016 presidential campaign, questions arose about the Russian government’s apparent support for candidate Trump. After WikiLeaks released politically damaging Democratic Party emails that were reported to have been hacked by Russia, Trump publicly expressed skepticism that Russia was responsible for the hacks at the same time that he and other Campaign officials privately sought information [Redacted: Harm to Ongoing Matter] about any further planned WikiLeaks releases. Trump also denied having any business in or connections to Russia, even though as late as June 2016 the Trump Organization had been pursuing a licensing deal for a skyscraper to be built in Russia called Trump Tower Moscow. After the election, the President expressed concerns to advisors that reports of Russia’s election interference might lead the public to question the legitimacy of his election.

Conduct involving FBI Director Comey and Michael Flynn. In mid-January 2017, incoming National Security Advisor Michael Flynn falsely denied to the Vice President, other administration officials, and FBI agents that he had talked to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about Russia’s response to U.S. sanctions on Russia for its election interference. On January 27, the day after the President was told that Flynn had lied to the Vice President and had made similar statements to the FBI, the President invited FBI Director Comey to a private dinner at the White House and told Comey that he needed loyalty. On February 14, the day after the President requested Flynn’s resignation, the President told an outside advisor, “Now that we fired Flynn, the Russia thing is over.” The advisor disagreed and said the investigations would continue.

Later that afternoon, the President cleared the Oval Office to have a one-on-one meeting with Comey. Referring to the FBI’s investigation of Flynn, the President said, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.” Shortly after requesting Flynn’s resignation and speaking privately to Comey, the President sought to have Deputy National Security Advisor K.T. McFarland draft an internal letter stating that the President had not directed Flynn to discuss sanctions with Kislyak. McFarland declined because she did not know whether that was true, and a White House Counsel’s Office attorney thought that the request would look like a quid pro quo for an ambassadorship she had been offered.

The President’s reaction to the continuing Russia investigation. In February 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions began to assess whether he had to recuse himself from campaign-related investigations because of his role in the Trump Campaign. In early March, the President told White House Counsel Donald McGahn to stop Sessions from recusing. And after Sessions announced his recusal on March 2, the President expressed anger at the decision and told advisors that he should have an Attorney General who would protect him. That weekend, the President took Sessions aside at an event and urged him to “unrecuse.” Later in March, Comey publicly disclosed at a congressional hearing that the FBI was investigating “the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election,” including any links or coordination between the Russian government and the Trump Campaign. In the following days, the President reached out to the Director of National Intelligence and the leaders of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA) to ask them what they could do to publicly dispel the suggestion that the President had any connection to the Russian election-interference effort. The President also twice called Comey directly, notwithstanding guidance from McGahn to avoid direct contacts with the Department of Justice. Comey had previously assured the President that the FBI was not investigating him personally, and the President asked Comey to “lift the cloud” of the Russia investigation by saying that publicly.

The President’s termination of Comey. On May 3, 2017, Comey testified in a congressional hearing, but declined to answer questions about whether the President was personally under investigation. Within days, the President decided to terminate Comey. The President insisted that the termination letter, which was written for public release, state that Comey had informed the President that he was not under investigation. The day of the firing, the White House maintained that Comey’s termination resulted from independent recommendations from the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General that Comey should be discharged for mishandling the Hillary Clinton email investigation. But the President had decided to fire Comey before hearing from the Department of Justice. The day after firing Comey, the President told Russian officials that he had “faced great pressure because of Russia,” which had been “taken off’ by Comey’s firing. The next day, the President acknowledged in a television interview that he was going to fire Comey regardless of the Department of Justice’s recommendation and that when he “decided to just do it,” he was thinking that “this thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.” In response to a question about whether he was angry with Comey about the Russia investigation, the President said, “As far as I’m concerned, I want that thing to be absolutely done properly,” adding that firing Comey “might even lengthen out the investigation.”

The appointment of a Special Counsel and efforts to remove him. On May 17, 2017, the Acting Attorney General for the Russia investigation appointed a Special Counsel to conduct the investigation and related matters. The President reacted to news that a Special Counsel had been appointed by telling advisors that it was “the end of his presidency” and demanding that Sessions resign. Sessions submitted his resignation, but the President ultimately did not accept it. The President told aides that the Special Counsel had conflicts of interest and suggested that the Special Counsel therefore could not serve. The President’s advisors told him the asserted conflicts were meritless and had already been considered by the Department of Justice.

On June 14, 2017, the media reported that the Special Counsel’s Office was investigating whether the President had obstructed justice. Press reports called this “a major turning point” in the investigation: while Comey had told the President he was not under investigation, following Comey’s firing, the President now was under investigation. The President reacted to this news with a series of tweets criticizing the Department of Justice and the Special Counsel’s investigation. On June 17, 2017, the President called McGahn at home and directed him to call the Acting Attorney General and say that the Special Counsel had conflicts of interest and must be removed. McGahn did not carry out the direction, however, deciding that he would resign rather than trigger what he regarded as a potential Saturday Night Massacre.

Efforts to curtail the Special Counsel’s investigation. Two days after directing McGahn to have the Special Counsel removed, the President made another attempt to affect the course of the Russia investigation. On June 19, 2017, the President met one-on-one in the Oval Office with his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, a trusted advisor outside the government, and dictated a message for Lewandowski to deliver to Sessions. The message said that Sessions should publicly announce that, notwithstanding his recusal from the Russia investigation, the investigation was “very unfair” to the President, the President had done nothing wrong, and Sessions planned to meet with the Special Counsel and “let [him] move forward with investigating election meddling for future elections.” Lewandowski said he understood what the President wanted Sessions to do.

One month later, in another private meeting with Lewandowski on July 19, 2017, the President asked about the status of his message for Sessions to limit the Special Counsel investigation to future election interference. Lewandowski told the President that the message would be delivered soon. Hours after that meeting, the President publicly criticized Sessions in an interview with the New York Times, and then issued a series of tweets making it clear that Sessions’s job was in jeopardy. Lewandowski did not want to deliver the President’s message personally, so he asked senior White House official Rick Dearborn to deliver it to Sessions. Dearborn was uncomfortable with the task and did not follow through.

Efforts to prevent public disclosure of evidence. In the summer of 2017, the President learned that media outlets were asking questions about the June 9, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between senior campaign officials, including Donald Trump Jr., and a Russian lawyer who was said to be offering damaging information about Hillary Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” On several occasions, the President directed aides not to publicly disclose the emails setting up the June 9 meeting, suggesting that the emails would not leak and that the number of lawyers with access to them should be limited. Before the emails became public, the President edited a press statement for Trump Jr. by deleting a line that acknowledged that the meeting was with “an individual who [Trump Jr.] was told might have information helpful to the campaign” and instead said only that the meeting was about adoptions of Russian children. When the press asked questions about the President’s involvement in Trump Jr.’s statement, the President’s personal lawyer repeatedly denied the President had played any role.

Further efforts to have the Attorney General take control of the investigation. In early summer 2017, the President called Sessions at home and again asked him to reverse his recusal from the Russia investigation. Sessions did not reverse his recusal. In October 20 17, the President met privately with Sessions in the Oval Office and asked him to “take [a] look” at investigating Clinton. In December 2017, shortly after Flynn pleaded guilty pursuant to a cooperation agreement, the President met with Sessions in the Oval Office and suggested, according to notes taken by a senior advisor, that if Sessions unrecused and took back supervision of the Russia investigation, he would be a “hero.” The President told Sessions, “I’m not going to do anything or direct you to do anything. I just want to be treated fairly.” In response, Sessions volunteered that he had never seen anything “improper” on the campaign and told the President there was a “whole new leadership team” in place. He did not unrecuse.

Efforts to have McGahn deny that the President had ordered him to have the Special Counsel removed. In early 2018, the press reported that the President had directed McGahn to have the Special Counsel removed in June 2017 and that McGahn had threatened to resign rather than carry out the order. The President reacted to the news stories by directing White House officials to tell McGahn to dispute the story and create a record stating he had not been ordered to have the Special Counsel removed. McGahn told those officials that the media reports were accurate in stating that the President had directed McGahn to have the Special Counsel removed. The President then met with McGahn in the Oval Office and again pressured him to deny the reports. Tn the same meeting, the President also asked McGahn why he had told the Special Counsel about the President’s effort to remove the Special Counsel and why McGahn took notes of his conversations with the President. McGahn refused to back away from what he remembered happening and perceived the President to be testing his mettle.

Conduct towards Flynn, Manafort, [Redacted: Harm to Ongoing Matter]. After Flynn withdrew from a joint defense agreement with the President and began cooperating with the government, the President’s personal counsel left a message for Flynn’s attorneys reminding them of the President’s warm feelings towards Flynn, which he said “still remains,” and asking for a “heads up” if Flynn knew “information that implicates the President.” When Flynn’s counsel reiterated that Flynn could no longer share information pursuant to a joint defense agreement, the President’s personal counsel said he would make sure that the President knew that Flynn’s actions reflected ” hostility” towards the President. During Manafort’s prosecution and when the jury in his criminal trial was deliberating, the President praised Manafort in public, said that Manafort was being treated unfairly, and declined to rule out a pardon. After Manafort was convicted, the President called Manafort “a brave man” for refusing to “break” and said that “flipping” “almost ought to be outlawed.” [Redacted: Harm to Ongoing Matter]

Conduct involving Michael Cohen. The President’s conduct towards Michael Cohen, a former Trump Organization executive, changed from praise for Cohen when he falsely minimized the President’s involvement in the Trump Tower Moscow project, to castigation of Cohen when he became a cooperating witness. From September 2015 to June 2016, Cohen had pursued the Trump Tower Moscow project on behalf of the Trump Organization and had briefed candidate Trump on the project numerous times, including discussing whether Trump should travel to Russia to advance the deal. In 2017, Cohen provided false testimony to Congress about the project, including stating that he had only briefed Trump on the project three times and never discussed travel to Russia with him, in an effort to adhere to a “party line” that Cohen said was developed to minimize the President’s connections to Russia. While preparing for his congressional testimony, Cohen had extensive discussions with the President’s personal counsel, who, according to Cohen, said that Cohen should “stay on message” and not contradict the President. After the FBI searched Cohen’s home and office in April 2018, the President publicly asserted that Cohen would not “flip,” contacted him directly to tell him to “stay strong,” and privately passed messages of support to him. Cohen also discussed pardons with the President’s personal counsel and believed that if he stayed on message he would be taken care of. But after Cohen began cooperating with the government in the summer of 2018, the President publicly criticized him, called him a “rat,” and suggested that his family members had committed crimes.

Overarching factual issues. We did not make a traditional prosecution decision about these facts, but the evidence we obtained supports several general statements about the President’s conduct.

Several features of the conduct we investigated distinguish it from typical obstruction-of-justice cases. First, the investigation concerned the President, and some of his actions, such as firing the FBI director, involved facially lawful acts within his Article II authority, which raises constitutional issues discussed below. At the same time, the President’s position as the head of the Executive Branch provided him with unique and powerful means of influencing official proceedings, subordinate officers, and potential witnesses—all of which is relevant to a potential obstruction-of-justice analysis. Second, unlike cases in which a subject engages in obstruction of justice to cover up a crime, the evidence we obtained did not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference. Although the obstruction statutes do not require proof of such a crime, the absence of that evidence affects the analysis of the President’s intent and requires consideration of other possible motives for his conduct. Third, many of the President’s acts directed at witnesses, including discouragement of cooperation with the government and suggestions of possible future pardons, took place in public view. That circumstance is unusual, but no principle of law excludes public acts from the reach of the obstruction laws. If the likely effect of public acts is to influence witnesses or alter their testimony, the harm to the justice system’s integrity is the same.

Although the series of events we investigated involved discrete acts, the overall pattern of the President’s conduct towards the investigations can shed light on the nature of the President’s acts and the inferences that can be drawn about his intent. In particular, the actions we investigated can be divided into two phases, reflecting a possible shift in the President’s motives. The first phase covered the period from the President’s first interactions with Comey through the President’s firing of Comey. During that time, the President had been repeatedly told he was not personally under investigation. Soon after the firing of Comey and the appointment of the Special Counsel, however, the President became aware that his own conduct was being investigated in an obstruction-of-justice inquiry. At that point, the President engaged in a second phase of conduct, involving public attacks on the investigation, non-public efforts to control it, and efforts in both public and private to encourage witnesses not to cooperate with the investigation. Judgments about the nature of the President’s motives during each phase would be informed by the totality of the evidence.

STATUTORY AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEFENSES
The President’s counsel raised statutory and constitutional defenses to a possible obstruction-of-justice analysis of the conduct we investigated. We concluded that none of those legal defenses provided a basis for declining to investigate the facts.

Statutory defenses. Consistent with precedent and the Department of Justice’s general approach to interpreting obstruction statutes, we concluded that several statutes could apply here. See 18 U.S.C. §§ 1503, 1505, 1512(b)(3), 1512(c)(2). Section 1512(c)(2) is an omnibus obstruction-of-justice provision that covers a range of obstructive acts directed at pending or contemplated official proceedings. No principle of statutory construction justifies narrowing the provision to cover only conduct that impairs the integrity or availability of evidence. Sections 1503 and 1505 also offer broad protection against obstructive acts directed at pending grand jury, judicial, administrative, and congressional proceedings, and they are supplemented by a provision
in Section 1512(b) aimed specifically at conduct intended to prevent or hinder the communication to law enforcement of information related to a federal crime.

Constitutional defenses. As for constitutional defenses arising from the President’s status as the head of the Executive Branch, we recognized that the Department of Justice and the courts have not definitively resolved these issues. We therefore examined those issues through the framework established by Supreme Court precedent governing separation-of-powers issues. The Department of Justice and the President’s personal counsel have recognized that the President is subject to statutes that prohibit obstruction of justice by bribing a witness or suborning perjury because that conduct does not implicate his constitutional authority. With respect to whether the President can be found to have obstructed justice by exercising his powers under Article II of the Constitution, we concluded that Congress has authority to prohibit a President’s corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice.

Under applicable Supreme Court precedent, the Constitution does not categorically and permanently immunize a President for obstructing justice through the use of his Article II powers. The separation-of-powers doctrine authorizes Congress to protect official proceedings, including those of courts and grand juries, from corrupt, obstructive acts regardless of their source. We also concluded that any inroad on presidential authority that would occur from prohibiting corrupt acts does not undermine the President’s ability to fulfill his constitutional mission. The term “corruptly” sets a demanding standard. It requires a concrete showing that a person acted with an intent to obtain an improper advantage for himself or someone else, inconsistent with official duty and the rights of others. A preclusion of “corrupt” official action does not diminish the President’s ability to exercise Article Il powers. For example, the proper supervision of criminal law does not demand freedom for the President to act with a corrupt intention of shielding himself from criminal punishment, avoiding financial liability, or preventing personal embarrassment. To the contrary, a statute that prohibits official action undertaken for such corrupt purposes furthers, rather than hinders, the impartial and evenhanded administration of the law. It also aligns with the President’s constitutional duty to faithfully execute the laws. Finally, we concluded that in the rare case in which a criminal investigation of the President’s conduct is justified, inquiries to determine whether the President acted for a corrupt motive should not impermissibly chill his performance of his constitutionally assigned duties. The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the President’s corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law.

CONCLUSION
Because we determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment, we did not draw ultimate conclusions about the President’s conduct. The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that would need to be resolved if we were making a traditional prosecutorial judgment. At the same time, if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.