O Over 200 guests were present to hear Jill Wine-Banks talk about the corruption in the Trump Administration, the Mueller Report, or what our speaker calls "Trumpgate." President Ken Marsh kicked off the luncheon by mentioning that Jill Wine-Banks would conclude this year's annual speaker series titled "Threats to our Democracy." Next year's theme will be "The Politics of Science Denial." Board member Bob Gary introduced Jill Wine-Banks who witnessed first hand the abuses to our freedoms of the Nixon White House that led to his impeachment. She was a major player in the Watergate tapes hearing, cross-examining Rose Mary Woods, President Nixon’s secretary, about the 18½ minute gap in a key White House recording. Her experiences and wisdom are as valuable today as they were in the 1970’s. Bob informed us that Jill is writing her memoir, which may be turned into a film. In addition to her key role in the Watergate investigation, Jill Wine-Banks is a respected legal analyst for MSNBC and former Executive Director of the American Bar Association.
Why All the Lies and Attempts to Cover Up?
Jill Wine-Banks started out to applause by telling us that the House is going to subpoena the Mueller Report, which the public had not seen. We do not even have an adequate summary of the investigation at the time of her presentation. There was definitely intrusion into our elections by Russia. There are plenty of additional investigations ahead. Lots of questions will need to be addressed and probably more indictments. One of the overwhelming questions, "Why all the Lies." Our speaker asked, "If nothing happened, why the lies?" With regards to the Barr's 4 page summary that was released on March 24, “How could Barr make the decision so quickly? It makes no sense. We need facts. Barr misled us in his four-page memo. He must know that eventually the truth will be coming out and he’s going to look like a fool.”
Should There Be an Impeachment?
During the Nixon investigation impeachment resulted from high crimes and misdemeanors. Anything that threatens our national security is an impeachment offense. We know that Russia interfered into our elections. The Barr summary concludes there was no collusion. Even if Mueller concluded that there is no proof of conspiracy or criminal events, the exact extent of Trump's involvement is unknown. Barr only had three weeks to reach his conclusion of a two-year investigation. Mueller wants Congress to make the judgement about further action. Jill Wine-Banks did not think that Congress should begin the impeachment process, but continue the fact-finding hearings to see whether impeachment should be pursued. The issues that led to President Nixon's impeachment are very similar to those that President Trump has been accused of.
What Do We know that Establishes Obstruction and Collaboration?
Although the report may not conclude that the President is guilty of conspiracy, it also does not exonerate him. The Barr summary should not be taken as the final conclusion of either obstruction or conspiracy. Barr did not have enough time to reach these conclusions. Barr is being deliberately misleading in his four page summary, Jill Wine-Banks told us. There are facts that should result in a finding of obstruction. These include the firing of Sally Yates, the protection of Michael Flynn, and the firing of James Comey. His threats to fire Mueller and his attacks on the media are acts of trying to obstruct justice. There is lots of evidence that obstruction occurred. The Don, Jr. meeting and the false statements of what that meeting was about are strong indications of collaboration with the Russians. There is lots of evidence that there was some cooperation with Russia. Mueller did not find criminal acts, but that sets the standard too low.
What are Some of the Remaining Questions? Will the Report be Redacted to meaninglessness?
We still need further investigation after the report. We still need interviews with those involved the Russia interactions and the obstruction events. We need public hearings that will bring all the facts forward and that will hopefully stimulate Republicans to take action. The President should be held accountable for his actions, even if they technically did not break the law.
What Can the Public Do?
We need to get out the vote and work to find a candidate that can defeat Trump.