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Thursday, May 30, 2019
“It is now time for House Democrats to follow his lead, and do what must be done. An impeachment inquiry must now be launched”—Jeffrey C. Isaac
“Robert Mueller’s public statement [yesterday] was, apparently, ‘vintage Mueller’—I say apparently because I don’t know this guy at all, and am relying on the comments of those who do. He was careful, concise, by the book, and delivered with all the dispassion he could muster.
“Mueller essentially reiterated what has already been clear: (1) his investigation was a professional endeavor warranted by overwhelming evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 election, and was the farthest thing from a ‘witch hunt’ or a ‘coup’; (2) the report which resulted from the probe contains substantial evidence of Trump campaign cooperation with the Russian effort, even if not ‘criminal conspiracy’; (3) the report contains more substantial evidence of Trump’s obstruction of justice, but it did not recommend criminal indictment for one simple reason: such a recommendation was inconsistent with Justice Department rules, and thus with Mueller’s charge as a Justice employee; (4) it is for Congress to decide whether and how to act on the evidence contained in the report.
“Mueller stated that he did not wish to say anything else ‘in this manner,’ i.e., in unprompted public testimony, and that if called to testify before Congress, he would do little more than reiterate what he has said here, which is that ‘the report is my testimony.’ Fair enough. Mueller is a by-the-book ex-Marine, a professional federal prosecutor who is scrupulous about his job and its limits.
“His very terse judiciousness puts the lie to White House claims of ‘witch hunt.’ And in his own exceedingly legalistic way, Mueller is now the second Republican in [three] days—and Mueller is most definitely a registered Republican—to make plain that it is Congress that has a Constitutional responsibility to deal with the evidence contained in his Report. The first is Republican Congressman Justin Amash, who yesterday held a town meeting explaining to his constituents—in language much bolder and more emphatic than Mueller’s—that an impeachment inquiry is necessary.
“It is both ironic and embarrassing that it is now two Republicans who are schooling Nancy Pelosi and her so-called Democratic ‘leadership team’ about the responsibilities of Congress. It is now for Congressional Democrats to take the lead in moving the process forward. And an impeachment inquiry is the only way to move it forward in a powerful, publicly-focused way.
“And the first order of business of such an investigation will be to invite, and if necessary subpoena, Mueller to testify. He might not want to testify. He might truly believe that the report is his testimony. But that is not for him to decide. And if he has clearly demonstrated the backbone to stand by his sense of professional responsibility, it is not for House Democratic leaders to demonstrate their backbone in the performance of their responsibilities, by requiring Mueller to testify. Because, here's the problem, the report does not ‘speak for itself.’
“And there are a great many procedural questions that really need to be answered—questions that are not contained in the report but are about the report—related to how the investigation chose to limit itself, and how it decided who to interview and how not to interview (Don Jr.?), and what other information relevant to Congressional oversight was turned over to other Justice Department probes.
“Mueller must be required to speak about these things, in a careful and serious way, by answering careful and serious questions put before him by Congressional inquirers, in a public hearing. In order for this to happen, House Democratic leaders must get serious about their responsibilities and about politics: a careful, well-organized impeachment process, designed to expose the malfeasance of the Trump administration, is both constitutionally necessary and politically necessary to weaken this dangerous president, so that he can be legitimately defeated in November 2020.
“This requires a very honest, transparent, and public process, designed to inform the public at large. Without such a process, the information contained in the Mueller report—the truth uncovered by the Mueller investigation—will remain obscured, mute, irrelevant, and thus null. For in order for the truth to have the power of truth, it must be properly communicated.
“John Dewey explained this well in his 1927 classic, The Public and its Problems, where he criticized this naivete of ‘scholastics’ who imagine that ‘truth’ is ever self-evident: ‘The schools may suppose that a thing is known when it is found out… [but] a thing is fully known only when it is published, shared, socially accessible. Record and communication are indispensable to knowledge. Knowledge cooped upon in a private consciousness is a myth, and knowledge of social phenomena is peculiarly dependent upon dissemination… A fact of community life which is not spread abroad so as to be a common possession is a contradiction in terms. Dissemination is something other than scattering at large. Seeds are sown. Not by virtue of being thrown out at random, but by being so distributed as to take root and have a chance of growth…’
“The knowledge contained in the Mueller Report must truly become public knowledge. This can only happen through a public process of communication of the report and about the report. And this process must be more than simply a ‘scattering at large’ of information. It must be a deliberate (and deliberative) process centered on the sharing of a range of facts, inquiry and debate about the meaning of the facts, and then action on the facts.
“Only impeachment can accomplish this now. Mueller must speak in public, before Congress, as part of a broader inquiry into the many ways that President Trump and his administration represent a clear and present danger to constitutional democracy. Mueller all but invited this conclusion in his very terse comments [yesterday]. It is now time for House Democrats to follow his lead, and do what must be done. An impeachment inquiry must now be launched.
Jeffrey C. Isaac is James H. Rudy Professor of Political Science at Indiana University, Bloomington. His books include: Democracy in Dark Times (1998); The Poverty of Progressivism: The Future of American Democracy in a Time of Liberal Decline; and Arendt, Camus, and Modern Rebellion.
Friday, May 24, 2019
“Nobel prizewinner Koichi Tanaka says the predictive blood test for Alzheimer’s disease he and colleagues spent almost a decade developing is a double-edged sword”
“Without medications to stave off the memory-robbing condition, identifying those at risk will do nothing to ease the dementia burden and may fuel anxiety. But used to identify the best patients to enroll in drug studies, the minimally invasive exam could speed the development of therapies for the predicted to develop the illness by 2050.
“‘We must be cautious on how the test is used because there’s no curative treatment,’ Tanaka said in an interview at Kyoto, Japan-based , where he’s worked for 36 years. The 59-year-old engineer, who shared the Nobel for chemistry in 2002, said he hopes the test he helped pioneer will one day be administered routinely, but right now it belongs in the hands of drug developers and research laboratories.
“More than a century after the telltale signs of Alzheimer’s were first seen under a microscope, and billions of dollars in research spending by , , and other companies, there’s still slow down the disease.
“In the absence of medical breakthroughs, the worldwide cost of dementia is projected double to by 2030. While scientists debate the cause of Alzheimer’s, most agree that no treatment is likely to work on patients with significant cognitive impairment. That’s because their brains have been irreversibly damaged by clumps of misfolded and that jam nerve cells.
“‘There are many reasons why drug makers have failed to develop a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but it’s too late to start treatment when patients already show symptoms,’ Tanaka said.
“In a study published in in January last year, Tanaka and colleagues showed it was possible to use a novel biomarker discovered by his lab to accurately quantify minute traces of amyloid-beta from a teaspoonful of blood, and gauge the progression of Alzheimer’s -- allowing identification of people likely to develop dementia over the coming decades.
“Previously, the brain changes that occur long before Alzheimer’s symptoms appear could only be reliably assessed by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron-emission tomography (PET) scans, and from measuring amyloid and another errant protein called tau in spinal cord fluid -- methods that are expensive and, in the case of a spinal tap, invasive.
“‘Our finding overturned the common belief that it wouldn’t be possible to estimate amyloid accumulation in the brain from blood,’ Tanaka said. ‘We’re now being chased by others, and the competition is intensifying.’
“About a dozen companies and research groups from around the world, including Roche, Spain’s , and Lexington, Massachusetts-based , are pursuing blood-based diagnostic tools for Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.
“‘These blood tests are very important to that aim of trying to get these groups identified and ready to go into trials, and make them faster and less expensive,’ said Christopher Rowe, a neurologist who heads molecular imaging research at the Austin Hospital in Melbourne. ‘That, in turn, is the greatest hope for having a significant impact on the epidemic.’
“The global Alzheimer’s disease diagnostics and therapeutics market is predicted to reach in 2024 from $7.5 billion last year, ResearchAndMarkets.com said in March.
“‘The greatest benefit from screening blood tests for Alzheimer’s will come once treatments are available to prevent dementia symptoms,’ said , the Charles F. and Joanne Knight distinguished professor of neurology at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis. Bateman and colleagues presented in 2017 a for measuring plasma amyloid levels using a similar approach to Tanaka’s group.
“‘You really get exceptional accuracy,’ said Bateman, whose lab studies the causes, diagnosis and treatments of Alzheimer’s disease. ‘I could see that easily becoming a clinical standard.’
“Both the Shimadzu and Washington University groups use an analytical technique called that can search for a particular compound based on its specific molecular weight and charge. The method was found to be 90% accurate when it was checked against brain scans, Tanaka and colleagues said in their Nature paper.
“Tanaka likens the approach to fishing with bait that only a specific fish will take. It enabled him to more precisely quantify amyloid in blood than an older, antibody-based method, he said.
“New digital technology has bolstered the antibody-based test, with Quanterix using it to detect the errant proteins associated with the start of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as -- a marker of neurological injury that can be elevated by conditions including concussion, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis.
“‘There’s an incredible opportunity to transform brain health by understanding your neuro baseline,’ said Kevin Hrusovsky, Quanterix’s chief executive officer.
“Several drugmakers are trying to get tests for neurofilament light chain validated clinically as a complementary diagnostic tool because they will enable patients’ responses to medications to be monitored in real time, providing an early signal of efficacy, Hrusovsky said. “’here’s a lot of evidence that this is going to be game-changing,’ he said.
“Roche is evaluating the use of , which tests cerebrospinal fluid for signs of Alzheimer’s, in blood plasma, the Swiss company said in an emailed response to questions.
“The global demand for tests that can provide an early and accurate Alzheimer’s diagnosis, as well as predict the disease trajectory is ‘enormous, with 50 million people already affected today and many more people going undiagnosed,’ according to Roche. ‘It’s a market that has room for many different technologies and players, from digital biomarkers to imaging and protein biomarkers.’
“Shimadzu finished analyzing amyloid levels in blood-serum samples from 2,000 patients in March, Tanaka said. The company is preparing to offer the service in the U.S. this year before extending it to Europe and China.
“‘One thing we are looking into is running prospective cohort studies targeting people who have started to build up amyloid in the brain and see whether anything -- food, exercise -- can intervene to slow the progression of the disease,’ the Nobel laureate said. ‘There are many things to be done.’”
Wednesday, May 22, 2019
One year ago, I made the foolish mistake of not reading every document carefully before signing each one
May 23, 2018
Gerald Naperville, Inc.
1661 Aurora Ave.
Naperville, IL 60540
Dear Anthony Triner, Sales Manager:
I purchased a 2015 Subaru Forester on May 22nd. During conversations with one of your salesman, my wife and I were told the car had your so-called $2000 Gerald Protection Plan. We assumed, however, that this protection was already included in the overall price of the vehicle because the salesman never said we had to pay additionally for such a plan. Note: I never saw the current selling-price invoice of the vehicle, nor was I given one for my records.
Moreover, to verify our assumption, Gino Tairi, one of your sales managers, wrote down his quoted price for the car on the back of his card: “$18,995. + Title, Taxes and License for $20,736.” He did not include the cost of the Protection Plan. Though Mr. Tairi also offered $2800 for my truck, it didn’t occur to me until the next morning that we paid too much for the car: a total of $19,863. Without the so-called Protection Plan, I should have paid $17,879. In a whirlwind of “sign here; sign here” over several exhausting hours, I made the foolish mistake of not reading every document carefully before signing each one.
Furthermore, regarding the Gerald Protection Plan, here are five reasons why I believe your dealership did not perform the work required by your so-called plan (“Clear Door Guards, Wheel Locks, Theft Protection, Nitrogen Tire Fill, Paint & Fabric Protection”) as well.
1) I brought my car in the following morning for replacement of two plastic adhesive Door Guards that were pealing off.
2) There are no Wheel Locks for the tires.
3) The original invoice of the car reveals it already had a Theft Protection System installed in 2015.
4) It is doubtful that air in the tires of the car were deflated just to put in Nitrogen. It is more likely Nitrogen was already inflated in the tires in 2015.
5) It is evident that a dealership that does not do simple tasks, such as placing wheel locks on the tires and checking and replacing damaged door guards, would undoubtedly not provide Paint, Fabric and Vinyl Protection for the car either.
Finally, when I buy new or used cars, I receive two sets of keys for the automobile. The salesman told me: “We really don’t have control over trades that we take in and if the customer provides us with a second key.” I was then told by the service department that I would be charged $400+ for a second key.
Unfortunately, what I have experienced doing business with Gerald Kia/Subaru of Naperville is that this multi-million dollar company seems unethical and dishonest, and that I also made a serious mistake buying a car from Gerald Kia/Subaru of Naperville.
On May 24, I received a full refund check for the Gerald Protection Plan after meeting with the General Sales Manager. I also received a second key, free of charge.
Monday, May 20, 2019
“The Tory Government has outdone itself when it comes to neglecting animal rights this week – by effectively declaring that all animals (apart from humans, of course) have , including the ability to feel pain. While debating the Brexit bill, MPs voted not to transfer into UK law the parts of EU legislation which recognise animals have sentience, and can feel pain and emotions.
“Remember all that campaigning against the badger cull and May’s attempt to bring back fox-hunting? It was probably all a waste. As the Government begins to shape the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, it has taken a vote to scrap EU legislation that sees non-human animals as sentient beings. Once we leave the EU in 2019, it’s not only badgers and foxes that will be threatened by this change in law, but all animals that aren’t pets. So basically all animals that it will be profitable to exploit.
“This vote comes in contrast to extensive that shows that other animals do have feelings and emotions, some even .
“But politicians clearly think that they know better about animal brains than the majority of on the planet. This complete lack of logic leads me to believe that many of our MPs probably have less intelligence than a jellyfish. But unfortunately I don’t have any stake in Parliament to vote through my personal opinions, unlike those MPs…”
Sunday, May 19, 2019
“Angels don’t look pretty. However, these angels save countless animal lives all over the country. Through their organization, Rescue Ink, their main goal is to save as many animals as possible. They investigate cases of animal abuse, save pets from their violent owners, and help the animals to find new homes.
“They stated: ‘Some people like to think of us as superheroes. The truth is, we are super animal lovers. Through the years, and through many caseloads, obstacles, and downright challenges, we remain strong and dedicated to our mission.’
Saturday, May 18, 2019
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 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' 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 2017, 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 is 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. In 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…
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.
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.
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(6) aimed specifically at conduct intended to prevent or hinder the communication to law enforcement of information related to a federal crime.
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 regard less 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 II 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.
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...
Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election: Executive Summary to Volume II of that Report