In what passes for tradition here at Wickersham’s Conscience, we spend the last week of each year thinking about the year that is ending, and making our wishes for the coming year. This fourth blog post is firmly in that tradition.
It’s a depressing commentary on the state of our nation: the United States, avowedly a nation of laws, has a President with no regard for the law. It’s so bad that a man who follows the law, who abides by the Constitution and rule of law, has become remarkable. Which is why Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III is WC’s Person of the Year.
Partly it is because he simply does his job, without leaks, without fear and without currying favor. He may be unique in the Trump Administration in that regard, certainly in the top echelons. Rudyard Kipling wrote in his poem, “If—”
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too.
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
Never mind the antecedents of the poem,1 it celebrates a kind of professionalism and stoicism that seems to define Mueller’s character. The lies, insults, false accusations and subversion that President Trump attempts against Mueller might provoke a reaction from another prosecutor. Mueller ignores them or, better still, evaluates whether Trump’s actions constitute a crime.
Keep your expectations for Mueller’s report firmly in check. As WC has written, he doesn’t expect Mueller’s report to have such overwhelming evidence that the U.S. Senate will convict him under articles of impeachment from the House. The Senate Republicans have hitched themselves to strongly and conspicuously to Trump. We can hope, of course, but WC thinks it is unlikely.
It’s also unlikely that Mueller will indict Trump. U.S. Department of Justice policy is to not seek indictments of a sitting president. It would be pretty unusual for Mueller, a career USDOJ employee, to depart from official policy. We can hope, of course, but WC thinks it is unlikely.
What we can expect is a methodical, meticulous report that exposes and analyzes each and every aspect of Trump’s election and Presidency. Such a report will be devastating because Trump, as a suspect, offers an embarrassment of riches for a prosecutor. But it won’t save our government, or restore our international credibility, or restore our ravaged environmental protections. It may help us, but Mueller’s report won’t be a magical touchstone.
Rather, it will be an instance of the rule of law.
- The poem celebrates the military actions of Leander Starr Jameson, leader of the failed Jameson Raid against the Transvaal Republic to overthrow the Boer Government of Paul Kruger. The failure of that mercenary coup d’état aggravated the political tensions between Great Britain and the Boers, which led to the Second Boer War (1899–1902). ↩