By Rich Belzer

Do you have a point you’d like to make or an issue you feel strongly about? Submit a letter to the editor or a guest column.

I read the Mueller Report. It is not really 400 pages as nearly one-half of each page is footnotes.

The Mueller Report details an extensive program run by the Russian Government to influence voter opinion in favor of Donald Trump. It also discusses the numerous contacts that took place between members of the Trump campaign and various cooperative Russians. It did not, however, find that there was sufficient evidence to prosecute anyone involved in the campaign for conspiring with Russia to defeat Hillary Clinton.

In regard to obstruction of justice, the report builds a substantial case against Donald Trump. The evidence is so extensive that it is hard to conceive that a federal prosecutor would not bring an indictment based on these facts.

Mueller stated that he believed, based upon Justice Department guidelines, that he could not indict the president. Mueller also believed that he should not reach a judgment on Trump’s guilt as, without an indictment, Trump would have no ability to counter the charges in court. Thus, we have a long list of contributing factors to obstruction without a judgment of guilt. In addition, Mueller is specific that Trump was concerned that he might be guilty of a crime in regard to the Russians and was, therefore, determined to obstruct the investigation.

Now what? This is a dilemma for Democrats who seem inclined to follow the road map laid out by the Republican Party in its investigations of Hillary Clinton. On this basis, one would investigate Trump extensively through multiple House committees between now and November, 2020, and remove him from office by defeating him at the polls.

But congressmen and senators take an oath to “support and defend the Constitution.” At this point, they not only possess evidence that the president has committed the federal crime of obstruction of justice but, based upon the investigation in the Southern District of New York, that he has violated federal campaign laws, which is also a federal crime. Is it reasonable to ignore these crimes in favor of a political solution in 2020?

As an aside, two different congressional committees are going after Trump financial documents — his tax returns and audits by the Trump Organization’s accounting firm. Trump brought these investigations on himself by failing to release his tax returns, the norm for the past 40 years, and by failing to divest himself of his businesses by putting them in a blind trust. Trump remains insistent on keeping his past business activities under wraps. The Southern District of New York has its own investigation of the Trump Organization so it does not seem unreasonable that Congress should be interested as well, especially given the conflict of interest inherent in his continuing to own his businesses.

At present, the Trump administration is attempting to stonewall every congressional request. It should be noted that during the Nixon impeachment investigation, his unwillingness to provide documents was viewed as an attempt to obstruct a congressional investigation. In addition, those who fail to comply with congressional subpoenas can be jailed for a year and fined up to $1,000. There are people in this administration who will have to decide what they are willing to risk in the defense of Donald Trump. Money? Reputation?

Michael Cohen testified as to how 10 years of working for Donald Trump and doing his “dirty deeds” had destroyed his life. Will there be others? A few highly respected people in the administration, such as John Kelly and James Mattis, left with their reputations intact. Kirstjen Nielsen, a Kelly protégé, waited too long and will be remembered as the person who separated children from their parents.

Will House Democrats take the political road or defend the U.S. Constitution? How will the administration’s decision to ignore subpoenas fare in federal court? Finally, here’s a civics lesson for today … Donald Trump tweeted that if he is impeached, he will “first head for the Supreme Court.” Should our President know that this is utter nonsense?

— Rich Belzer lives in Bend.

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