Washington Post Wants A Repeat of 2016

Washington Post and Journalist Jennifer Rubin Publish Over 20 Attacks Against Bernie Sanders

by Letitia Page, TYT Army

A disturbing trend has saturated the mainstream media’s coverage of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, one that is awfully similar to what we witnessed in 2016. While we continue to debate the reasons for the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, one thing is certain: the mainstream media played a significant role in elevating then-candidate Donald Trump through their coverage with billions of dollars of free publicity. Similarly, their coverage of the Democratic primary gave Hillary Clinton a significant advantage over Senator Bernie Sanders: first, by allocating Sanders’ campaign little to no coverage—even ignoring his announcement to run for president1—then, by oscillating between a near media blackout of Sanders’ platform and a constant bombardment of unwarranted attacks in the press.2,3,4,5

The disparaging mantra of the mainstream media throughout the primary was abundantly clear: Sanders can’t win.6 His policies are far too radical for the center majority of voters.

Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin appears intent on following the media playbook from 2016. She has published more than 20 anti-Sanders, anti-progressive hit-pieces in The Washington Post since March.7 While Rubin is not the only journalist to continually harp on Sanders, she is certainly one of the most prolific. Her bias towards establishment Democrats is well-known, but she presents her articles as though she is offering objective reporting. As a writer for a widely read media platform, Rubin has a particular responsibility to shape her opinions based on fact, not simply conjecture, whether it be in an opinion piece or an investigative report. Yet, her articles often lack substance, facts, or even credible arguments. This allows her to use her influence to alter voter opinion with little to no accountability. 

Rubin Misconstrues Voter Enthusiasm as Moderate Candidate Appeal

In her rush to downplay the popularity of Sanders’ progressive platform, Jennifer Rubin misconstrues the enormous enthusiasm from millenials in 2018 by conflating higher voter turnout rates with support for centrist candidates.8 Rubin quotes census data stating that, “[a]mong 18- to 29-year-olds, voter turnout went from 20 percent in 2014 to 36 percent in 2018, the largest percentage point increase for any age group—a 79 percent jump…” Her conclusion is that “while moderate candidates showed the ability to energize a diverse electorate, the same cannot be said for the far left.”

Assertions like this are an attempt to drive home Rubin’s counterfactual argument that the majority of voters—including millennials—are more willing to vote for moderate, centrist candidates than for progressives. Rubin echoes the mainstream media’s narrative that the safer bet in 2020 would be to pick a centrist like Biden, whom people ages 18-29 will be “more than happy to vote for.” 9,10,11,12,13

The 79 percent jump in millennial voter turnout that Rubin cites is more likely due to the progressive policies put forth by the majority of Democratic candidates. According to an analysis by the Progressive Change Institute, 65 percent of freshman House Democrats support some version of Medicare for All, while several red states have passed progressive legislation as a result of the 2018 elections. In an article for The Atlantic, Elaine Godfrey highlights some of these progressive wins: “Missouri and Arkansas passed a bill to raise the minimum wage; Louisiana passed criminal-justice reform; and Medicaid expansion was approved in Utah, Idaho, and Nebraska.” Such victories are hardly a sign that most of the country is center-right.

Rubin frequently pushes the idea that Biden’s moderate incrementalism is the best bet for defeating Trump, but she often overlooks the key takeaways from 2016.14,15,16,17 One of the chief reasons self-proclaimed moderate Democrat Hillary Clinton lost was her status-quo, “incremental change” approach to the issues.18,19,20 This was predominantly true in the key swing states she needed to win, where former Obama voters, still seeking change, opted for the empty promises of Trump rather than promises of little or no change made by Clinton.21 Backing Biden, arguably more centrist and right-leaning than Clinton, would be implementing the same losing strategy Democrats tried in 2016, all but guaranteeing another Trump victory.  This risk seems lost on Rubin as she makes her case against Sanders and progressives, whom she has deemed too far left to win.22,23,24

Although defeating Trump is a high priority for Democrats in 2020, the kind of candidate voters believe can win is not as cut and dried as Rubin might have us believe. In one-on-one match-ups with Trump that poll heavily from moderate Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents over 50 (who typically favor Biden) Bernie Sanders beats Trump by five points or more in nearly every poll. So, picking a centrist Democrat is not only unnecessary in 2020, but ill-advised, haphazard, and far from the best bet for a Democratic nominee.

To win key voters in the swing states that Clinton lost to Trump, the better bet would be to pick a populist candidate who appeals to the working-classes and Democratic-leaning base, as Sanders did in 2016. Sanders’ working-class, millennial base of support has not waned and has quite possibly increased. In swing districts where Sanders won the 2016 primary but Trump won the general election, Sanders runs second to Biden among the moderate, white, over-50 voters comprising most polls, and leads the millennial vote in those states, usually by a big margin.25 It is reasonable to assume that Sanders’ base will turn out in greater numbers for him than for Biden in 2020, and by a larger majority than over-50 voters, since Boomers and the Silent Generation are projected to decline from their 2016 eligible voter totals by 44 to 36 percent in 2020. Gen-Zs, millennials, and Gen-Xers aged 18-52 are poised to make up about 62 percent of eligible voters in 2020. That leaves room for an even bigger margin than the 2.1 million votes millennials and Gen-Xers cast over Boomers and older voters in 2018.

Rubin Downplays Progressive Wins, Misleads Readers

In a May 10, 2019 op-ed for The Washington Post, Rubin downplays progressive wins in 2018 by pushing a quote from Third Way, a self-described “center-left” think tank. Third Way compares the 32 out of 37 primary swing-seats that moderate New Democrats won in the House to Our Revolution’s “under 40 percent” primary win rate.26 The quote states that “23 New Democrat-backed candidates flipped House seats to help gain the majority, while not a single Our Revolution-endorsed candidate captured a red seat. Zero.”27 While these two statements are independently factual, her analysis is an apples-to-oranges comparison that a journalist should call out, not propagate.

Rubin is quick to point out that Our Revolution did not endorse the 23 Democrats who flipped House seats. She is also quick to forget that 10 Our Revolution-backed candidates won House seats in 2018: five incumbents and five freshmen, who have been influential in pushing the progressive agenda in Congress. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Ro Khanna, and Pramila Jayapal are some of the well-known progressives Our Revolution endorsed—an impressive success which Rubin minimizes.

Instead, Rubin sides with Third Way’s assessment that “despite some electric wins by ultra-progressives in cobalt-blue House districts, the real story is how well mainstream and pragmatic progressive Democrats fared” (emphasis added). From this, Rubin concludes that “the lesson from 2018 was that moderate Democrats could flip seats from red to blue. While they won over college-educated suburban voters, they also ginned up turnout among young and non-white voters.” 

Rubin’s analysis of what appealed to midterm voters concentrates on House red-to-blue races and ignores the many significant wins by Our Revolution candidates and the platforms they successfully campaigned on. Rubin fails to mention that Our Revolution, a two-year-old organization in 2018, did not target red-to-blue House races: they ran candidates across the board, and their “under 40 percent” primary win rate is actually phenomenal for such a new organization. 

Rubin also fails to acknowledge that in addition to winning “cobalt-blue House districts” at the federal level, Our Revolution-backed progressives won 35 state House and Senate seats, predominantly in swing and red-states. Their victories include progressive wins in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming, illustrating just how far the progressive message carried in 2018. 

In fact, the overall victories for Our Revolution amounted to 118 candidates in the primaries, 82 candidates in the midterm elections, and 26 ballot measures in 2018. Failing to mention any of these wins and only emphasizing New Democrat victories in the House paints a starkly different picture of what appealed to voters across the country—even in those pesky, hard-to-win swing states where Rubin claims moderates did so well.

Americans Favor the Policies Rubin Calls “Too Radical”

Despite support for progressive policies from a wide cross-section of voters as noted above, Rubin insists that presidential campaigns have been “bamboozled by ultra-progressives goading them to take more radical positions.” 28

Rubin uses mischaracterizations like these to bring home her oft-repeated point that  moderates like Biden are the most electable, while Bernie Sanders and progressive policies like his are “too radical” for the majority of voters.29,30,31 Rubin’s sweeping generalities about Medicare For All and other proposals from Sanders often land without facts or evidence to back them up.32,33 When repeated often enough, her statements serve to solidify in the minds of her readers the idea that Sanders is a liability.34

In an article published in July 2019, Rubin claims that Biden is electable because 

…he is accessible to the broadest array of voters. Quite simply, he hasn’t followed Sanders and others over the cliff on Medicare For All, free college for everyone and the other positions that prove popular with a narrow stratum of voters but are irrelevant to or actually turn off others.35

Rubin uses declarative statements to present her opinions as if they are accepted truths, often playing fast and loose with the facts. Recent polls challenge Rubin’s assertion that only a “narrow stratum” of irrelevant voters support Medicare For All. In a Morning Consult poll from July 2019, not only did Medicare For All poll at 53 percent among all voters, it went up to 55 percent when voters were told they could keep their providers. Among Democrats, Medicare For All polled even higher at 77 and 78 percent in those two categories, respectively. Other polls in recent months consistently demonstrate support for Medicare For All from an overwhelming majority of Democrats.

In another article from March 2019, Rubin warns Democrats they might need Biden to save them from Sanders’ socialism: 

[Biden] has the stature, the money, the name ID and the popularity to seize the party by the scruff of the neck and pull it back from the brink…he must play the role of the wise patriarch, there to remind Democrats… if they pick scary socialists or rank novices incapable of governing (such as Trump!), they will never achieve aims such as checking climate change, expanding health-care coverage, reducing income inequality and keeping the United States safe and respected. 36

These sentiments may appeal to moderates who desire a return to normalcy and the stature of the Obama era. However, one is left wondering how “pragmatic” moderate Democrats—whose policies have contributed to the climate crisis, the lack of healthcare coverage, rising income inequality, and continual wars—will somehow lead the way to fixing the very problems they helped to create.

Despite Rubin’s dire warnings, when it comes to fixing systemic problems in America, voters may prefer progressive policies to centrist incrementalism. In fact, recent polls indicate that progressive policies are incredibly popular among voters—not just among Democrats, Democratic-leaning independents, and millennials, but with moderates and Republicans as well:

  • 65 percent of voters support Medicare-for-All, Real Clear Politics. May 15, 2019.
  • 80 percent support the Green New Deal, 92 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of GOP voters. Yale Survey, Dec. 12, 2018.
  • 84 percent of republicans and 92 percent of Democrats support ending corruption, University of Maryland Study, May 2018.
  • 57 percent of voters are for tuition free public colleges while 60 percent are for a higher minimum wage. CNBC Survey, Mar. 27, 2019.

The incremental change offered by centrist Democrats may not be ginning up as much support as Rubin thinks. According to Third Way, 60 of the New Democrats who won House races in 2018 were incumbents defending their seats, not swing-district challengers, while centrist Blue Dog Democrats shrunk to a mere 24 members following the midterms—nearly half their previous size.37,38 In a year of unprecedented wins for Democratic women across the board, two of the few incumbents to lose their reelection bids were Blue Dog Senators Claire McCaskill and Heidi Heitkamp, both of whom ran center-right campaigns.

In contrast, the legislative priorities of strong progressives like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other freshman members of Congress not only align with Sanders’ views, but with his progressive policy agenda. Medicare for All, a $15 minimum wage, the Green New Deal, College for All, eliminating student debt, ending corruption, and campaign finance reform are pillars of the progressive platform: policies that progressives ran on—and won.

With Rubin’s Record of Factual Ignorance, You’ve Got to Wonder Why WaPo Still Runs Her Pieces

Jennifer Rubin has full liberty to print her conjectured opinions, but the American readership should not have to decipher truth from subjective thoughts. Her excessive number of heavy-handed opinion-pieces disguised as factual reporting reflects negatively on the Washington Post’s credibility. Printing an occasional op-ed on a candidate and their policy agenda is one thing; posting 20-plus smears on one candidate and his policies borders on journalistic malpractice. Now more than ever, it is imperative that the media remain objective and factual in their coverage. Attacks by Rubin under the banner of The Washington Post typify a continuing trend of anti-Sanders and anti-progressive media bias that does not reflect the priorities of the American people, desperate for real change.

Editors: Elizabeth Griffith, Marci Abraham, Nancy Weaver, and Alison Hartson3+

Share this:

  1. “Ed Schultz: MSNBC told me not to cover Bernie Sanders campaign launch” Newsbusters, 20 Apr. 2018 https://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/nb/pj-gladnick/2018/04/20/ed-schultz-msnbc-told-me-not-cover-bernie-sanders-campaign-launch
  2. “Washington Post ran 16 negative stories on Bernie Sanders in 16 hours” FAIR, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, 8 Mar. 2016, https://fair.org/home/washington-post-ran-16-negative-stories-on-bernie-sanders-in-16-hours/
  3. “Today’s Front Page… Bernie’s Sandy Hook Shame — Defends Gunmakers against Newtown Kin Suit.” Twitter, New York Daily News, 6 Apr. 2016, twitter.com/NYDailyNews/status/717685017418268672.
  4. “Did Sanders supporters throw chairs at Nevada Democratic convention?”Snopes,Fact Check, 19 May, 2016, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/did-sanders-supporters-throw-chairs-at-nevada-democratic-convention/.
  5. “Media slammed for preemptively crowning Hillary Clinton” Truthdig, 8 Jun. 2016, https://www.truthdig.com/articles/media-slammed-for-preemptively-crowning-hillary-clinton/
  6. “A short history of media smugly dismissing Bernie Sanders’ campaign at every step of the way” In These Times, 5 Apr. 2016, http://inthesetimes.com/article/19030/despite-the-medias-constant-dismissal-bernie-sanders-is-still-competing-wit
  7. “17 op-eds by Jennifer Rubin from The Washington Post” The Washington Post, 20 Mar.-20 Jun. 2019, https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1skqTakWbH_DT4C7msMjeXSlRK4AzXfKlfcoaUsBxuOo/edit#gid=0
  8. Rubin, Jennifer. “Democrats Don’t Need a Left-Wing Nominee to Turn out the Base.” The Washington Post, 10 May 2019, http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/05/10/media-shouldnt-parrot-lefts-debunked-talking-points.
  9. Kessler, Jim, and Lanae Erickson. “Don’t Let Progressives Fool You. Moderate Democrats Can Win.” The Washington Post, 7 Nov. 2018, http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dont-let-progressives-fool-you-moderate-democrats-can-win/2018/11/07/37648218-e2b1-11e8-ab2c-b31dcd53ca6b_story.html. 
  10. Edsall, Thomas B. “Opinion | How Far Left Is Too Far Left for 2020 Democrats?” The New York Times, 10 Apr. 2019, http://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/10/opinion/democratic-candidates-primaries.html.
  11. Scher, Bill, et al. “Did the Left Misread the 2020 Democratic Primary?” POLITICO Magazine, 14 May 2019, http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2019/05/14/joe-biden-2020-226872. 
  12. “Harris Challenges the Thinking on the Best Way to Challenge Trump.” West Central Tribune, 4 May 2019, http://www.wctrib.com/opinion/columns/4608378-jennifer-rubin-harris-c
  13. “Joe Biden might be the best bet for beating Trump. But he might not get that far” Washington Post, 25 Apr.2019, https://beta.washingtonpost.com/opinions/joe-biden-could-be-the-best-bet-to-beat-trump-if-he-gets-that-far/2019/04/25/57196880-6759-11e9-82ba-fcfeff232e8f_story.html
  14. How Biden can show he is the best bet for beating Trump” Washington Post 6 Apr. 2019 hhttps://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/04/26/biden-can-show-whys-hes-best-equipped-beat-trump/?utm_ter&utm_term=.15db2f4f3e5d
  15. “How Joe Biden plans to defeat Trump” Gulf News 28 May 2019, https://gulfnews.com/opinion/op-eds/how-joe-biden-plans-to-defeat-trump-1.6404616
  16. “How Biden gets his electability back” Washington Post, 10 Jul. 2019, https://beta.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/07/10/how-biden-gets-his-electability-back/?noredirect=on&utm_terp 
  17. “Biden says he can beat Trump” Journal Now, Washington Post 27 Apr. 2019, https://www.journalnow.com/opinion/columnists/jennifer-rubin-biden-says-he-can-beat-trump/article_a28845df-de5a-554f-b400-4d35c1afaca9.html
  18. “How Bernie Sanders 2020 map might change without the #never hillary vote, Five Thirty Eight, 21 Feb.  2019, https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/bernie-sanders-was-helped-by-the-neverhillary-vote-what-does-that-mean-for-his-chances-now/
  19. “If ‘I did not vote’ had been a candidate in the 2016 election, it would have won by a landslide” Brilliant maps, 13 Nov. 2016, https://brilliantmaps.com/did-not-vote/
  20. “Why I didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton” New Haven Register, 16 Apr. 2018, https://www.nhregister.com/opinion/article/Letter-to-the-Editor-Why-I-didn-t-vote-for-12860715.php
  21.  “Why Clinton lost, an interview with Melissa Harris-Perry” Contexts, 16 Apr 2018, https://contexts.org/articles/why-clinton-lost/
  22.  “What the media doesn’t get about Joe Biden” SF Gate 12 Apr. 2019, https://www.sfgate.com/opinion/article/What-the-media-doesn-t-get-about-Joe-Biden-13762537.ph
  23. “Here’s the thing about electability” Washington Post 5 Feb. 2019, https://beta.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/02/05/heres-thing-about-electability/
  24.   “Bernie’s week goes from bad to worse” Washington Post 25 Apr. 2019, https://beta.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/04/25/bernies-week-goes-bad-worse/
  25. “June National Poll: All eyes on the Democratic Debates; Biden, Sanders, Warren Separate from the Field.” Emerson Polling, 21 Jun.- 24 Jun. 2019
  26. Rubin, Jennifer. “Democrats Don’t Need a Left-Wing Nominee to Turn out the Base.” The Washington Post, 10 May 2019, http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/05/10/media-shouldnt-parrot-lefts-debunked-talking-points.
  27. Kessler, Jim, and Lanae Erickson. “Don’t Let Progressives Fool You. Moderate Democrats Can Win.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 7 Nov. 2018, http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dont-let-progressives-fool-you-moderate-democrats-can-win/2018/11/07/37648218-e2b1-11e8-ab2c-b31dcd 53ca6b_story.html
  28. Rubin, Jennifer. “Democrats Don’t Need a Left-Wing Nominee to Turn out the Base.” The Washington Post, 10 May 2019, http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/05/10/media-shouldnt-parrot-lefts-debunked-talking-points.
  29. “Sanders likely can’t turn it around, but Biden can. Here’s how” Washington Post, 3 Jul. 2019, https://beta.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/07/03/sanders-likely-cant-turn-it-around-biden-can-heres-how/?utm_te
  30.  “Don’t let Bernie duck the hard questions” Twin Cities Pioneer Press 5 Apr. 2019, https://www.twincities.com/2019/04/05/jennifer-rubin-dont-let-bernie-sanders-duck-the-hard-questions/
  31. Three rules will keep democrats from falling off a cliff” Washington Post 2 Feb. 2019, https://beta.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/02/08/three-rules-will-keep-democrats-falling-off-cliff
  32. “They blew it: the candidates who foolishly mimic Sanders’s healthcare gambit” Washington >>Post, 10 Apr. 2019, https://beta.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/04/10/they-blew-it-candidates-who-foolishly-mimic-sanderss-healthcare-gambit/
  33. “Warren and Delaney had a good night. CNN had a terrible one” Washington Post, 31 Jul. 2019, https://beta.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/07/31/warren-delaney-had-good-nights-cnn-had-terrible-one/
  34. “‘Electability” and “Bernie” don’t belong in the same sentence” Washington Post, 31 Mar. 2019, Berniehttps://beta.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/03/31/electability-bernie-dont-belong-same-sentence/
  35. “ How Biden gets his electability back” Washington Post, 10 Jul. 2019, https://beta.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/07/10/how-biden-gets-his-electability-back/?noredirect=on&utm_ter
  36. “Democrats might need Biden more than they know” Washington Post, 7 Mar. 2019, https://beta.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/03/07/democrats-might-need-biden-more-than-they-know/
  37. “New Democrat Coalition” 30 Nov. 2018, https://newdemocratcoalition.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/new-democrat-coalition-inducts-30-members-elect-and-elects-new-leadership?1
  38. “Blue Dog caucus page” 27 Nov. 2018, https://bluedogcaucus-costa.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/blue-dog-coalition-announces-leadership-new-members-for-the-116th

What the Mueller Report Says about Obstruction & the Subject of Impeachment

I was going to do a brief analysis of what the Mueller report says about Obstruction, but once I began reading the details, I realized that wasn’t going to be as easy I’d hoped. But, given the significance of the story, and Mueller’s recent appearance in front of Congress, I wanted to at least do an update on the pertinent points the summary contained. I should also preface this by saying I am not a lawyer, so this is entirely a layman’s interpretation of Mueller’s report.

Most significant to me was the amount of time and effort spent explaining the reasoning behind the analysis and the findings in the report- without entirely clarifying what, if anything, had been established. Given the extensive explanation, I thought the information to be important, and most of what I focused on here. Rather than give the ample examples of Obstruction that were also included (which are telling in and of themselves), I focused on a few key aspects related to whether impeachment is warranted.

But first, we should have some context for what we are talking about. I’ve included an explanation of what Obstruction of Justice is, legally, and how it has been applied to sitting presidents in the past. I also included a brief summary of the kinds of obstruction the Mueller report mentioned that could apply in this case.

1. The legal definition for Obstruction of Justice:

“The crime or act of willfully interfering with the process of justice and law especially by influencing, threatening, harming, or impeding a witness, potential witness, juror, or judicial or legal officer or by furnishing false information in or otherwise impeding an investigation or legal process.”

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

2. From the Mueller Report, on the issue of Obstruction by Trump:

“These actions ranged from efforts to remove the Special Counsel and to reverse the effect of the Attorney General’s recusal; to the attempted use of official power to limit the scope of the investigation; to direct and indirect contacts with witnesses with the potential to influence their testimony.”

3. How has the obstruction charge been used in the past?

There were three articles of impeachment brought against Nixon. The first article of Impeachment was for Obstruction of justice.

“Richard Nixon, using the power of his high office, engaged personally and through his close subordinates and agents, in a course of conduct or plan designed to delay, impede, and obstruct the investigation of such illegal entry, to cover up, conceal and protect those responsible; and to conceal the existence and scope of other unlawful covert activities.”

How do the two investigations compare?

The biggest difference between the Trump and Nixon investigations is that the underlying crime in Nixon’s case was established, while conspiracy with the Russians to rig the election was not. Still, the last sentence of Nixon’s obstruction charge says, “to conceal the existence and scope of other unlawful covert activities.” This could inform how the obstruction charge might be applied to Trump.

Another more minor difference between Nixon and Trump’s investigation was the way in which they both engaged in obstructing the FBI. In Nixon’s case, he and his allies attempted to delay the FBI’s investigation into Watergate. Trump instead made continual attempts to shut the entire investigation down, arguably a much more egregious offense. Though whether that is true under the law, I cannot say.

Several similarities exist between Nixon and Trump and the possible impeachment charge(s) as well. One such similarity is the charge against Nixon of withholding funds from congress for federally approved projects he didn’t agree with. This parallels Trump’s recent efforts to divert funds allocated for other purposes to pay for the border wall. Like Nixon, Trump violated congressional budget agreements that , in Trump’s case, put an end to the month and a half long government shutdown. Trump’s reallocation of funds approved for other purposes to pay for building the wall that congress had denied increased funding for, may have been an act of presidential overreach. While this isn’t an obstruction of justice charge, it is related to another article of impeachment that Nixon faced- Presidential Abuse of Power.

Another notable similarity between the two is how each of them were named in Grand Jury indictments. Nixon was named an ‘un-indicted co-conspirator’ in court documents. Similarly, Trump was named “individual number one” (the President) in Cohen’s Grand Jury indictments, an indictment which resulted in a guilty plea from Cohen. However, this is also a point of some confusion. In Mueller’s summary, it states that prosecutors were not allowed to name Trump as an un-indicted co-conspirator, even in sealed Grand Jury indictments. Yet, Nixon and Trump were both so named in their Grand Jury indictments which resulted from the Special Counsel’s investigation.

After some preliminary research, it seems this might be due to the difference between what a prosecutor can reveal and what a Grand Jury indictment can include, even in its release to the public. According to an article written by law expert Carol C. Lam, former US attorney for the Southern District of California, there is a difference between the two:

“Government prosecutors — and that includes the special counsel and his team, and anyone who works at the U.S. Department of Justice — cannot disclose to Congress or the public any transcripts or summaries of witness testimony before the grand jury. A cautious prosecutor probably also won’t publicly release documents obtained by grand jury subpoena…But the grand jury secrecy requirements of Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e) do not apply to a grand jury indictment itself, which is a public document. In an indictment, the prosecutor and the grand jury are free to include information obtained in the grand jury.”

Carol C. Lam, former US attorney for the Southern District of California

Other key similarities between the Trump and Nixon investigations are related to whether or not you can indict a sitting president. Following the Grand Jury indictments of his aides, Nixon’s prosecutors informed the court they would likely be unable to indict a sitting president due to constitutional rules. This left impeachment the only option. However, when Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski turned over evidence to Congress, he offered no analysis of the material. Nor did he make recommendations on whether or not to impeach the President. Similarly, while Mueller does include analysis and a conclusion on conspiracy and obstruction, he does not make a determination on the possible Obstruction charge. His reasons were similar to that of Nixon’s Special Prosecutor, Jaworski. Due to Department of Justice rules and constitutional concerns over indicting a sitting president, Mueller and his team determined not to make a recommendation on any indictable offenses.

Obstruction of Justice & How it Applies to Trump

After a lengthy section of the report listing at least ten examples describing Trump’s attempts to obstruct justice, Mueller concluded that obstruction did apply in this case and could be used by congress as grounds for impeachment. Here are some examples of what Mueller concluded would fall under the legal definition of obstruction:

  • “The crime or act of willfully interfering with the process of justice and law.”
  • “Influencing, threatening, harming, or impeding a witness, potential witness, juror, or judicial or legal officer.”
  • “Furnishing false information in or otherwise impeding an investigation or legal process.”

Three Key Findings on Obstruction vs. Collusion:

The biggest difference in question is what the Mueller report concluded about Collusion-and why, versus what they concluded in the case of obstruction. Here are key experts to highlight those differences:

1. “When substantial evidence enabled the Office to reach a conclusion with confidence, the report states that the investigation established that certain actions or events occurred. A statement that the investigation did not establish particular facts does not mean there was no evidence of those facts.”

2. “Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released (by) the Russian efforts, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

3. “If (the Mueller team) found the President clearly did NOT commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to make that judgment.”

Mueller and his team used the framework of “conspiracy law”, not collusion in their investigation since collusion is not a crime under the law. But, in their detailed explanation on the obstruction of Justice charge, Mueller and his team explain that they “determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment.” Instead, they offered an opinion finding, for the following reasons:

“The Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) has issued an opinion finding that ‘the indictment or criminal prosecution of a sitting president would impermissibly undermine the capacity of the executive branch to perform its constitutionally assigned functions’ in violation of ‘the constitutional separation of powers”.

The report goes on to say that “while the OLC opinion concludes that a sitting President may not be prosecuted, it recognizes that a criminal investigation during the President’s term is permissible.” The report further states:

“The OLC opinion also recognizes that a President does not have immunity after he leaves office. And if individuals other than the President committed an obstruction offense, they may be prosecuted at this time. Given those considerations, the facts known to us, and the strong public interest in safeguarding the integrity of the criminal justice system, we conducted a thorough factual investigation in order to preserve the evidence when memories were fresh and documentary materials were available.”

In other words, Mueller and his team never intended to make a judgment on any indictable crime while the president was still in office, leaving impeachment the only current option, with possible future indictments in mind once he left office. The report also mentions concerns about making a declarative statement on a possible criminal indictment without violating constitutional rights and DOJ rules.

Some ‘Difficult Issues’ to talk about

With the sheer number of examples illustrating Trump’s myriad attempts to thwart the FBI investigation, it’s unlikely that not enough evidence was established for an obstruction charge. Rather, the underlying crime Trump appeared to be obstructing an investigation of was not established. This appears to be one of the “difficult issue” referred to in Mueller’s report:

“The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

-from the Mueller Report

A second “issue” surrounds Justice Department rules that prohibit prosecutors from naming un-indicted co-conspirators in an indictment. 

“The courts struck down with strong language efforts by grand juries to accuse persons of crime while affording them no forum in which to vindicate themselves”. 

This seems to further confirm how limited Mueller and his team felt they were in what their assessment could conclude, due to the rules governing the special prosecutor’s role, laid out by the Justice Department, and constitutional concerns.

“Under long-standing Department policy, a President cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. That is unconstitutional. Even if the charge is kept under seal and hidden from public view—that too is prohibited…the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting President of wrongdoing…it would be unfair to potentially accuse somebody of a crime when there can be no court resolution of an actual charge…from (these rules) we concluded that we would not reach a determination — one way or the other — about whether the President committed a crime.”

-excerpts from Mueller’s press conference statement, following the summary of the report made by Attorney General Barr-From the Mueller report

2 Key Phases to Trump’s Obstruction

The summary also identifies two phases to Trump’s obstruction efforts that indicate more “difficulties” in determining no “wrong-doing”. The first phase, before firing James Comey. The second, after his firing when Trump “became aware that his own conduct was being investigated for obstruction-of-justice inquiry”. At which point, Trump began engaging in “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.”

Eyewitness accounts of Trump’s behavior claim that upon learning he was being investigated by the FBI, Trump purportedly slumped down in his seat and said, “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m f#!%ed,” That’s a strange response from someone with nothing to hide from the FBI. But, reactions like these are what made the conspiracy charge so plausible to investigators. There was clearly something he was trying to cover up, but what that something was remains undetermined since the ‘conspiracy’ concern was not established.

Questions were also raised about if, in fact, it’s considered obstruction if actions occur in the public view. Mueller clarifies this point succinctly:

“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.”

To me, it’s clear that sufficient evidence was found of Trump’s attempts to obstruct the FBI’s investigation into his ties with Russia, and possible discovery of other crimes that fell outside the scope of conspiracy to rig the election. But, Mueller and his team were limited by the scope of what they could investigate, or reveal without directly implying grounds for an indictment, based on DOJ rules. Further, that by even hinting at a possible indictment would violate the same constitutional rights of due process and Justice department rules that prevented them from indicting a sitting president, which I believe is why this passage is so murky.

I fully concede that my assessment may not be legally correct. I am also not a mind reader, so I can’t say with certainty that this was what Mueller and his team were inferring. But, given what Mueller included in his press conference statements, and reaffirmed during his congressional hearing, it seems a fair assessment of their intent.

Types of Obstruction that Apply to Trump

The summary concludes with an explanation of the two types of obstruction that would apply to obstruction if congress were to conduct an impeachment investigation and trial. The Mueller team determined that both statutory and constitutional defenses could be applied, meaning either or both were applicable to their findings on Trump’s actions to obstruct the FBI investigation, or for other impeachable offenses.

More specifically, the Mueller report states that,  “Congress has the authority to prohibit a President’s corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice.” and that the president cannot use his Article II powers to give himself immunity.

“The conclusion is 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 one is above the law.”

-In other words, congress, unlike special counsel, can totally impeach the president on grounds of obstruction, based on what Mueller found and documented in his summary report on Trump’s Obstruction of Justice.


Let’s get real about military-style assault rifles in the hands of the public

-From a conversation I had with a friend online about how we talk about AF-15 assault rifles in the public sphere.

For me, it’s relatively simple. I am against guns, of any kind. I don’t even think police should use guns, though I don’t know how that would work with so many guns on our streets today. But the culture of violence that we live in has got to stop.

I am also not a hunter, so it’s hard for me to understand putting hunting rights ahead of our children’s safety. Or the public’s safety. I know not everyone feels this way and were these normal times, then this could be a normal debate about gun rights. But this isn’t normal times, and we are not having a normal discussion. We aren’t doing ‘normal’ right now. We’re not doing much of anything at all, except point fingers, yell, and try to make this a political issue with sides, -rather than the public safety issue that it is.

We aren’t having a legitimate debate in Washington or in most of the media, where they are still debating whether to pass background checks-or not, whether military-style assault weapons should be banned- or not.

We’re arming teachers, we’re yelling about second amendment rights, and ignoring the 70% of people in this country who want these guns off our streets.

For me, this isn’t whether or not people use AR-15 style assault weapons to hunt with, modify them to shoot bean bags, use them to hunt for food or protect their home from ‘invasion’.

To me, whatever else that gun may be used for, that tells me what I need to know:
This gun was designed to shoot the most amount of people as possible as fast as possible.
It is designed for war.
It is designed to kill,

Why would we arm a public with guns designed to kill people in war? Why would we think this doesn’t send the message that anyone you have a problem with, you have the “right” to kill as though they are an ‘enemy combatant’ of war?

Would we allow the public to indiscriminately arm themselves with bombs that similarly could kill a lot of people quickly?-bombs designed for war or mass destruction?

Are we going to war with our neighbors? With school children? With nationalized citizens? With innocent bystanders?
-Where do we draw the line?

The truth is, no one needs military-style assault rifles to hunt with.
No one needs them to shoot beanbags, or for safety. The only thing anyone would “need” a gun like this for is to kill a mass amount of people as quickly as possible.

They have no place in our communities, our schools, our public spaces, in the hands of community police officers, or even in our homes. And apparently, 70% of America agrees -that’s a clear majority.

The guns themselves are only a part of the gun violence crisis we are facing. But they are a big part of that problem. We are the only industrialized country in the world with this kind of gun problem.

Yes, we need to do better in the way we talk about these issues. To me, this means not getting sidetracked by political talking points or inaccuracies in the media that obscure and supplant what we all in our guts and hearts and minds should know.

We need to get real with ourselves and each other about gun violence and lead with discernment:
Arming our citizens with military-style guns designed to kill people is simply wrong and it needs to stop now.


What an AR-15 Can Do to the Human Body
All guns can kill, but they do not kill equally. Compare the damage an AR-15 and a 9mm handgun can do to the human…www.wired.com

The Climate Wars

It’s a familiar place, our current existence. It’s not like we haven’t been here before. For those of us who didn’t live through WW2 or don’t remember much of tenth grade history class, we may not be aware of the colossal undertaking of launching a war effort at a time when we were immersed in our own struggles as a nation. The far-reaching effects of the 1929 stock market crash that reverberated through every town and community, rural and big city alike, that still echoes in ways we have only yet to understand, or perhaps appreciate, in the parallels between that time and now.

The level of corruption and income inequality, the lack of good paying jobs or consistent employment, the dwindling or then nonexistent safety net to protect us when our economy fell due to the whims of the stock market. The “fat cats in Washington” and the all-too-big-to-fail banks that profit by the billions off our collective misery-then, as today. We faced the same kinds of oppression and accompanying bigotry that comes when the upward mobility of the country remains squarely in the hands of the corporate few, while millions of workers toil away in a disappearing middle class and fading and distant hope of attaining anything like the American Dream.

In the times of the Great depression preceding WWII, people died in the streets as they stood in bread lines, we’re told. The elderly, sick, and impaired, the young and most vulnerable among us, the marginalized communities of color, the indigenous people, the women, suffered the most. The heavy toll of an economy they were not fully a part of or allowed to partake in, much like the circumstances for some of us today. These were the generations of the silent majority. The quiet, yet resilient pioneers who willing or not, ambitious or not, understood the importance of community. Who valued individual liberty and believed in a lofty set of ideals to always strive for if never fully achieve. These were the backbone and the marrow of our America…or at least the folklore we grew up on and unreservedly believed in.

The young and ideal of generations that followed raised on the idealistic pride of the underdog, conquering the Nazi’s and preserving the sanctity of a democracy still imagined. A swift rebound and vitalization as a nation at our most desperate hour, plagued with saving the world from the all-too-prescient threat of a dictator like Hitler, and the ideology of the Third Reich. At a time when we existed in an atmosphere of poverty, hunger, and homelessness. The unemployed masses, lacking prospects, access or education, and levels of income inequality we had yet to rival, until today.

Then an era of prosperity following all our good intentions. The American Dream, born out of our productive efforts to mobilize a war effort that, despite all odds, surpassed anything we could have imagined or hoped for, except in our most optimistic and patriotic dream. A war we’d neither planned for nor were prepared for, and one that brought the same devastating unforeseen consequences of war along with our victories. The weapons of mass destruction-originator, the atomic bomb, and the industrial revolution that led us to the climate crisis we now face.

It’s from this context that we must place our understandings of our current predicament, and what we imagine possible in our hearts and efforts. The past mistakes learned and examples set should guide our compass as we prepare to wage another World War against a different kind of enemy- the all-too omnipresent existential threat of catastrophic climate change.

This pontificating may seem like hyperbole, but I assure you it is not. This is the quintessential threat we face as a nation, as a people, as human beings fighting for a continued existence that isn’t born of a nightmarish imagining in an apocalyptic future. Most of us want our children to live and prosper, to be healthy and happy. To live free in a world we raised them to believe existed, somewhere, if not in reality, then perhaps in a distant imagined dream for the future.

Some of us who have not yet embarked on parenthood question the morality of that undertaking given our current circumstances. I for one have felt no end of guilt for selling my child a bill of, albeit naively believed-in goods about the world as we know it. The monumental responsibility I’ve placed on her shoulders through my inaction and apathy, and acquiescence to the ‘norm’, like a bird-with-head-deeply-in-sand, still and immovable in my blind resolution.

While I would never wish her out of existence in a million of a million years, I still feel shame and utter despair at the lot I’ve sentenced her to. A visceral imperative to ease that burden, if not for myself, then utterly and completely for her, plagues me daily.

I know I am not alone in this feeling. My generation started coming-to in the wake of the Trump presidency, the 2016 primary, the fading imprint of Occupy, in the era of sexual harassment and culture of rape. The incarceration of a near entire generation of people, people of color, in systemic slavery under the guise of a criminal justice system. In a time of Black Lives Matter and the ominous forewarning of its long-forgotten predecessor, the Rodney King beating. Our recent histories come back to bite us- Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, Reaganomics and the Bush’s, the Iran Contra, the scapegoating of Ollie North, the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill hearings, all made relevant once again in the era of Trump.

In the aftermath of 9/11, the war on terror, the war on drugs, the never-ending wars for oil, the culture of wealth obsession and materialism and endless status-seeking where we’d sell our souls in worship of achievement, ownership, power and control over the ‘almighty dollar’ and in pursuit of personal wealth. The death of journalism in an era of alternative truths. The end of a free press, as we knew it. The dawn of the inter-connected highway on the world-wide-web. An the absence of personal privacy, personal freedoms, personal rights. A hi-jacked economy, government, and political system. The death-toll of the sick-care health system that places profits over people and corporate interests over individual lives.

The climate denial that, from its biggest proponents falls the ironic wisdom that what we’d refused to accept is now far too big to ever fix, so not worth the effort to even try. These defeatists attitudes of the not-so-long-for-this-world who neither have the time nor inclination to face the troubles they’ve helped lay at the rest of our feet’s. These are the haunters’ voices we must remember, yet persistently ignore- remember to not repeat, ignore in their fatalism that all is lost so why bother now?

-the unspoken answer, if for no other reason than when you have nothing left to lose, there is little reason not to at least try.

Perhaps the fool’s errand is not so foolish after all. Not when the outcomes of combating climate change are still, however bleakly, within our grasp. If we collectively mobilize against it- as we did in the Great Depression, the WWII war effort, that birthed the industrial revolution and invention of the middle class. Yes, it’s monumental, yes it requires a massive mobilization and a will to try, and to acknowledge this is the war. A war for our own existence. The world war to end all wars as never before on a far-reaching and tangible scale.

From this perspective, other battles may feel petty. Fighting ‘terrorism’, fighting each other, fighting for and against our prejudices. Fights over identity, politics, party, ideology, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, race- all can feel superfluously lost in the shadows of the very real and prescient threat of disastrous climate change.

Yet, irony of ironies, it’s within the intersectionality of these trials that the battle for our climate plays out. It’s in these spaces where we resolve our conflicts, transform ourselves and our society and mobilize our war to end climate change. A war we each take part in whether we want to or not. From our front line communities, as immigrants and asylum seekers, as the extreme disparate of the rural and urban working poor. As single parents consigned to starvation wages, or religiously persecuted, to the broader majority of the 99 percent. We all battle against the climate crisis from within our individual and historic wars. From the same fields we’ve fought for equality, acceptance, justice and equity, where we win the Climate Wars.

We know how to fight these sort of battles, and we know how to survive them. So, now is not the time for towel throwing. It’s a time for mobilizing with our emerging leaders, our groups and communities standing resolutely on the front lines of hopeful victory. This is the cataclysmic event to unify around, the resounding last call for solidarity in a fight to protect our planet and continued existence. It’s a time for greatness and great change where heroes are born of everyday people, in the most unlikely of corners.

Like the invisible waitress from the Bronx who on a hope and a dream knocks on neighbors doors to win a seat as the youngest member of congress, defeating number four in democratic leadership, who goes on to launch a new fervor and urgency that puts a much-needed spotlight back on climate, with a bold new plan for reform.

Or the old guard still obstinately defiant, railing against a corrupt system as he has done for nearly half a century. The willful independent senator from Vermont who has stood his ground, never lost his footing, never changed his message, and never altered course. Even when his was the only voice of reason in a sea of doubting naysayer’s. He managed to change the conversation and lead the country towards the most pressing and widely supported initiatives of today- Medicare for all, a Green New deal, the Fight for $15, ending income and wealth inequality, union workers, criminal justice reform, college for all, and more. The working-class champion of decades past now come back ‘round to popular opinion. The rarest of enigmas-an honest politician. Though not so rare now. His answered call for a political revolution from the ‘Not me, Us’ bottom-up grassroots crowd is winning hearts and minds anew everyday.

And what about the Somalian refugee speaking words of wisdom and uncomfortable truths to power on taboo subjects. Raging war against oppression and fighting for human rights and dignity from her congressional podium as she stands demonized and threatened. The brave immigrant in a headscarf who continues to speak for those who can’t amidst shameful attempts to silence her using the same tools of discrimination hurled in accusation at her guiltless head.

What about the first generation Indian-American from Silicon Valley. The second-term congressman, leaping tall buildings to champion policies like ending the war in Yemen, the Stop Bezos Act alongside Bernie Sanders, or sitting down with DCCC head to explain why blacklisting primary challengers and their supporters might not be such a good idea. The handful of justice democrat fighters, already making waves toward long overdue reforms.

And what of the youth-led activists, the Parkland survivors fighting for their lives in the name of silenced classmates with cries for much needed gun control. Or the voices of the Me-too movement. Or the quiet professor asked to appear at a congressional hearing for a supreme court nominee. Their brave voices reaching out, even when it endangered their careers or caused life-altering consequences. The brave women risking everything with their honest revelations, even when they’re ignored, mocked or made the villain. The powerful example of launching a losing battle, yet valiantly doing it anyway because it’s the right thing to do. These exceptional and resilient souls that inspire so many more of us to reexamine our own lives to decide what we will or will not tolerate or accept anymore.

Or how about the anonymous everyday people who care enough to still give a damn about their fellow human beings. The independent media truth-sayers, the peace warriors, the water protectors who doggedly persist in the face of sometimes brutal opposition to make all our voices heard. The union organizers, the community activists, the climate innovators, the public school teachers, the blue collar union workers, all of those among us who refuse to let their privileged or not-so privileged eye turn blind, or tolerate the eye-turn of others in the face of tyranny.

And what about the ones who have yet to seize their moment that wait in the wings of change in the world. All of us together, we can and must move mountains to defeat the real obstacle standing at the door. The long-reaching arm of momentum-killer: a lack of political will.

This is what we’re called to action for, with cries for a mass mobilization around a Green New Deal. Uniting us in this battle, a strong-armed trifecta: The Sunrise Movement, politicians like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ed Markey, and Bernie Sanders, and a New Consensus, the architect of the Green New Deal Resolution. Their apt comparison to what American philosopher William James coined ‘the moral equivalent of war’:

“…in the twin crises of climate change and worsening income inequality. Like an actual war, the challenges we face are both “existential” in their importance and in need of a full national mobilization to be vanquished.”

– from New Consensus on the Green New Deal and the moral wars of economics and climate change.

So, let’s get to fighting, if we haven’t already. Let’s be inspired by valiant efforts of unsung heroes. Let us call back to our former selves when we still believed, and remembered, that ordinary people can change the world if enough of us just stick together-and then let’s do some sticking on the battlefields of war to defeat climate change.

For more about the Sunrise Movement, New Consensus, or the Green New Deal Resolution, and how you can get involved- please click their link.