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Mr. Mueller, Uncle Sam Needs You (and You Get Another Chance to Come Through)

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Dear Mr. Mueller.

I don’t get it.

You’re a smart guy, so you do understand what the stakes are in this crisis created by the Trump presidency, don’t you? You understand that …Nadler is right in saying that

“Now is the time of testing whether we can keep a republic, or whether this republic is destined to change into a different, more tyrannical form of government, as other republics have over the centuries.”

And you understand that whether this nation takes the right course at this dangerous crossroads is up to Congress and, since what Congress does is evidently governed largely by public opinion, that the outcome basically depends on the American people. You understand that, right?

And you must also understand, being a smart guy, that because of your unique standing in this crisis, history has dealt you a power not possessed by any other American to move public opinion. No?

(Indeed, it is hard to think of any time — maybe since FDR — where one person has been given the chance to have so positive an impact on the nation’s destiny.)

If you don’t understand all those things, that would be a puzzle.

And if you do understand all that, that presents another puzzle:

Why have you not conducted yourself as if what matters most to you is how to best assure that “truth, justice, and the American way” prevail in this battle over their opposites – over lies, obstruction of justice, and the dismantling of the American constitutional order (that Nadler has declared is under threat).

Why in your Report did you – as so many have said – “bend over backwards” to be fair to the President? Fairness is important, of course, but why be fairer than necessary when it is the nation, whose integrity that President threatens, that deserves your priority?)

Why, in your May 29 statement, did you speak in codes that only your legal colleagues can interpret? Why have you made your points so subtly that it leaves the public – who most need your guidance – in the dark?

  • The experts have said your Report is a “Roadmap to Impeachment.” But much of the public has no idea that’s the case. Why didn’t you speak plainly – as other Special Prosecutors have done?
  • The experts said your recent faint praise of Barr was damning by implication. But all the public heard was your affirmation of Barr’s “good faith.” Yet we know from your March letter to Barr that you recognize that he was (presumably deliberately) misrepresenting your findings to sow public confusion. So why did you not help the American people see clearly how Barr has abused the office of Attorney General to obstruct justice?

You presumably understand that the great majority of the American public will not read your Report, and will need a good deal more help to understand what that Report is telling the nation.

And yet you say that the Report “speaks for itself,” and go on to express reluctance to come to testify before Congress. And declare that you’ll say nothing that’s not in the Report.

Why? What explains that attitude? Why aren’t you eager to do what only you can do?

You have a long-standing, and apparently well-earned, reputation as an American patriot. So why is it all too clear that you have not been guided in all of this by the best answer you could come up with to the question, “What is the best way for me to act in this situation to help this nation come through this dangerous time in the best possible shape?”

If that hasn’t been your governing principle, what has been? What could be more important to you than that?

Whatever it is – not wanting to depart from your lifelong professional habits forged in meeting very different challenges; wanting to maintain your self-image; not wanting to be part of a political struggle; not wishing to get more abused by the agents of lawlessness than you already have been – I am surprised that anyone would have to say to you, this is not about you, or your comfort zone, but about what America urgently needs from you.

So you finally spoke out loud to the nation. It was a great opportunity, but you largely blew it.

(There’s that puzzle again: why would a guy whose gotten an A+ for his career of service at the top of American law enforcement would, perform in this new and historically most important role at maybe a B-, or a C+, level– falling far short of what was possible?

(The fact that even your coded, overly subtle communication at the microphone on May 29 had a big impact – on presidential candidates and Democrats in the House coming out for impeachment. But that just shows how much the nation is ready to respond to a clear message from you.)

But fortunately, you’re going to have another chance. You will be called to answer questions at congressional hearings. Please make the best of it.

Please speak in such a way as to maximize your positive impact on the American people. Please compose your performance so as to convey as effectively and powerfully as possible what your team’s findings should lead Americans to know, to understand, and to support.

Please do your very best to help our nation come out of this crisis of presidential lawlessness as intact as possible, with our constitutional order and the rule of law preserved, not shredded, and perhaps even reaffirmed and fortified.