Monday, June 3, 2019

Can't Anybody Here Play This Game?

One almost feels sorry for Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leadership.

With Robert Mueller all but saying flat out the Democrats must impeach President Trump, and right on the heels of his legally toxic statement closing out the Office of Special Counsel, we learn that the evidence within Mueller's report is not all that it appears to be.

One of the evidences proffered in the Mueller Report is the transcript of a voicemail left for Lt. General Flynn's attorney by then Trump attorney John Dowd. That same transcript was part of a court-ordered filing as part of Flynn's sentencing for lying to the FBI.

The transcripts do not match.  As Twitter user "Rosie Memos" tweeted on May 31st:
"What else did they manipulate?" -- It is difficult to imagine any question more lethal to any prosecutor's case. The moment such a question gains traction, all of the evidences provided by a prosecutor falls under a cloud of suspicion.  This is why trial procedures have rules of evidence, and why evidence can be excluded if gathered improperly. 

That the question is gaining traction is argued rather persuasively by Thomas Lifeson at American Thinker. Independent journalist Sara Carter reports that Congressman Devin Nunes also caught the discrepancy, tweeting it out for public consumption. All this comes after conservative blog provided a more complete analysis of Rosie Memos' initial identification of the discrepancy.

This one piece of evidence is now arguably tainted. That the transcript in the Mueller Report is different from the transcript submitted to Judge Emmett Sullivan's court is indisputable fact.

Nor is it the first indication Mueller's team might have played fast and loose with the rules of evidence. Rosie Memos also highlighted an instance from April where another lawyer, for another Mueller defendant, Giorgi Rtskhiladze, fired off a letter to Mueller demanding corrections be made to the evidentiary record, citing several misrepresentations of his client by the Mueller team.

"What else did they manipulate?" There is at least some indication they manipulated a few things besides the John Dowd transcript.

It is not hard to imagine a frustrated Nancy Pelosi fuming at this point, and channeling Casey Stengel's famous question from the New York Mets' inaugural season: "Can't anybody here play this game?" Robert Mueller spent millions of dollars, took nearly two years, issued hundreds of subpoenas, and not only failed to establish any case for criminal collusion, but now it seems that even his case for obstruction will not withstand much scrutiny. A case that was already tenuous at best because of questionable legal theories of obstruction is now saddled with tainted evidence. 

All the while a rabid legacy media and several Democrat hotheads are doing the one thing Pelosi clearly wants to avoid: obsessing over impeachment to the exclusion of all else. Pelosi wants to do what a Speaker of the House does--shepherd substantive and meaningful legislation through the Congress. Pelosi does not want every sentence she speaks to be about President Trump.

Now, every sentence anyone in Washington speaks appears to be about the veracity, integrity, and reliability of the Mueller Report. 

In order for impeachment to be a political benefit to the Democrats, the process has to at least make a dent in President Trump's base of support. It must force his job approval numbers down by a noticeable margin. Anti-Trump voters are already anti-Trump, and impeachment is not going to alter their voting allegiances one bit. Only by altering the perceptions of independent voters and pro-Trump voters can impeachment help the Democrats in 2020.

Moving the needle in that fashion requires a credible case be made. Televised hearings are needed, with testimony based on the Mueller Report, to lay that case out before the American people. The Mueller Report is already controversial, given Mueller's choice to conduct his investigation as a proxy impeachment inquiry for the Congress. Adding grounds to attack the Mueller Report as unreliable, as tainted, as even perjurious, makes the case for impeachment that much more difficult to make.

All of which puts the Democrats between the proverbial rock and hard place. On the one hand they cannot simply walk away from the notion of impeaching the President, but on the other hand the case for impeachment is already starting to crumble. At the same time, the Democrats have no other media narrative besides impeachment--in part because Nancy Pelosi herself opted to sabotage efforts to work with the President on infrastructure by accusing him of a "cover up".

Pelosi's ideal strategy has always been fairly obvious: keep the investigations going, keep the specter of impeachment hanging over the Trump Presidency, while at the same time pushing a legislative agenda that would give Democrats something to talk about in 2020. That strategy likely would have been effective; it could have kept the President on the defensive while the legacy media would make it easy for the Democrats to go on offense about all the good they want to do for America, but for those pesky intransigent Republicans.

But that strategy required two things: messaging discipline and at least a plausible case for impeachment. Both of those elements are now gone. The legacy media demands impeachment, with the radical elements of the Democratic caucus in the House happy to echo those demands, and now Mueller's investigation is proving more baggage than boon.

Nancy Pelosi would like nothing better than to see Donald Trump get shellacked in next year's elections. Unless the Democrats and their legacy media allies get on the same strategic page and start showing a bit of old-school political savvy, come November 2020 Donald Trump will be doing the shellacking, and the Democrats will the ones shellacked.

Which means right now it really sucks to be Nancy Pelosi.

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