When last updating the Donald Trump saga, following the release of Attorney General's William Barr's four page summary into Russia investigation, I urged caution in drawing conclusions before the actual Mueller Report was published. Now a heavily redacted version has been released, that analysis is vindicated.
Betfair markets dismissive of Mueller
However judging by the market moves both before and after Thursday's release, those warnings fell on deaf ears. At [2.3], the president is shorter to win the 2020 Election than at any time since his inauguration.
There isn't anywhere near enough space here to go through the report in detail. Those wishing to do so can buy a redacted copy online - it is number one on the best-seller lists.
In short, we already knew that Mueller had determined that any collusion with the Kremlin had not met the bar required for criminal charges. As it turns out, that is about the only good news for Trump.
Report very damaging on multiple fronts
Mueller has done what was expected of a special prosecutor. He has laid out the evidence and arguments in detail, making a plethora of criminal referrals, while handing the big, political questions over to Congress. Few legal experts ever predicted he would declare a 'smoking gun' found. It is a complex process and experienced prosecutors were always going to play it by the book.
What he has done is make it clear that Trump is anything but exonerated on obstruction of justice, either with regards the sacking of James Comey or attempts to undermine the inquiry. The president showed clear criminal intent but underlings such as White House Chief of Staff Don McGahn didn't act upon it.
Nor does the report in any sense justify Trump's messaging that the Russia scandal is a witch-hunt. On the contrary. It lays out numerous meetings and co-ordination with Kremlin actors. That no criminal conspiracy could be proved misses the point - this is political poison.
Next, Congress takes control. Democrat-led House Committees are sending dozens of subpoenas. Mueller and Barr will doubtless have to appear. So too McGahn and many more Trump staff and associates. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders - exposed by Mueller as lying over the Comey sacking - has lost any lingering credibility.
Most damaging information is probably redacted
Moreover, Congress will eventually manage to obtain an unredacted version. Mueller referred no fewer than 14 related investigations to other FBI divisions - such as the infamous Southern District of New York that charged Michael Cohen and has a long, hostile relationship with the Trump Organisation. 12 of the 14 were fully redacted.
So much cannot be discussed publicly because it would prejudice ongoing investigations. For example the court filings for the sentencing of Russian gun-rights activist Maria Butina imply the Kremlin was consulted over Trump's choice of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. He, incidentally, says today that Trump asked him to commit criminal acts.
Even without that information and before investigations into Trump's long relationship with Deutsche Bank bear more poisonous fruit, calls for impeachment are growing as people digest the report.
Warren merely the first to call for impeachment
On the Democrat side, Elizabeth Warren became the first presidential candidate to call for impeachment. She was widely praised for doing so and I strongly expect her rivals to follow suit. First-stage Impeachment, by the House of Representatives, is rated a [5.0] chance on Betfair. Get on.
It is true that impeachment is not politically expedient for the Democrats. As it stands, they will take on a historically unpopular president, mired in scandal, next autumn. An impeachment process would not only fail in the Republican-controlled Senate but it might hurt Democrat candidates in red states. That is why Nancy Pelosi said "he's not worth it".
However as I have consistently predicted, events and revelations will take over. Those Democrats and commentators who are most engaged with the Russia investigation believe and will argue with ever greater fervency that impeachment is now a constitutional duty. Their mandate at the mid-terms was to hold Trump accountable.
Sure, there is political risk but that equally applies to doing nothing. We are just a few weeks away from the Democrat nominee debates. Taking as tough a line as possible against Trump is imperative. Those in Congress will not resist the opportunity to create viral footage. Keep a very close eye on Eric Swalwell. He's prominent on the House Intelligence Committee, a media regular and one of Trump's chief tormentors. I'm on at [400.0].
Nor is this strictly a partisan affair. Mitt Romney said he was 'sickened at the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty...including the president...and appalled that his campaign 'welcomed help from Russia'. Would-be GOP primary challenger John Kasich didn't miss an opportunity to distance himself.
Another significant takeaway from the report is that Mueller is clear that, while the Department of Justice are not able to indict a sitting president, Trump would not be protected once he leaves office. This is extremely important in predicting how this plays out in the months ahead.
I'm sticking with my long-term prediction that Trump won't run in 2020. A recent poll showed even 22% of Republican voters want him to resign. The early fallout from Mueller showed his approval rating falling to 37% - the lowest rating this year. Trump will face a primary challenge and this sort of attack-ad from his own side.
Fearful of a catastrophic defeat on all fronts in 2020, Republican power-brokers will try and force Trump into standing aside. At present he has no incentive to do so, given the legal troubles that will await once leaving office. But what if he were offered an immunity deal in exchange for standing aside? Could that be the final act of this incredible moment in history?
Bet on the Trump Presidency here
Will Trump be impeached by the House of Representatives during his first term?
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2020 Republican Nominee
2020 US President
Follow Paul on Twitter and check out his website, Political Gambler.