“More Than Enough To Begin Impeachment”
First, let me note I respect the work you do for The Progressive and I’m glad you responded to my essay.
You write, “Can’t we also see in the Mueller report that Russia attempted to interfere in our election (as other countries also do) and the Trump campaign accepted that help.”
“When they learned Russian officials were peddling sensitive stolen emails, they not only had a duty to report it to the authorities, they lied to pretend the meeting was about adoptions.”
This is not the section where claiming the meeting was about adoptions appears, but it is relevant to your point in my opinion:
In late July 2016, soon after WikiLeaks’ first release of stolen documents, a foreign government contacted the FBI about a May 2016 encounter with Trump Campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadapoulos. Papadopoulos had suggested to a representative of that foreign government that the Trump Campaign had received information damaging to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. That information prompted the FBI on July 31, 2016, to open an investigation into whether individuals associated with the Trump Campaign were coordinating with the Russian government in its interference activities.
This does not specifically mention stolen DNC emails nor does it mention Podesta emails. It vaguely indicates “information damaging” was received, whatever that may be. Clearly, it was not anything that rose to the level of a chargeable campaign finance violation, according to Robert Mueller’s team.
I don’t know what “underlying evidence” you think might be there that would’ve changed anything.
“Also, didn’t Mueller already successfully prosecute Manafort for Russian collusion?” you write.
The prosecution of Paul Manafort exposed financial crimes related to work in Ukraine. During his first trial, a Virginia judge said the charges “manifestly don’t have anything to do with the  campaign or with Russian collusion. [Aaron Maté outlined several related details meticulously for The Nation.]
You continue, “I’m a big fan of Kevin and Taibbi’s work, but I saw a bunch of articles come out after Barr’s initial deceptive misinterpretation of the report that seem to conclude there was less wrongdoing than the report, once released, does show.”
Attorney General Bill Barr’s summary was clearly a part of a political effort to help the Trump administration move on in the aftermath of an investigation that has lasted for the vast majority of the duration of the Trump presidency. But I do believe the extent of deception in the summary has been overstated by Democrats. Even Mueller does not really quibble with anything specific.
The letter released in the press contains a call to release the executive summaries in the report along with what Barr put out. To do that immediately would’ve required redactions. Barr chose (conveniently or not) to stick to a timeline of making redactions to the entire two-volume report. It was released. These summaries were withheld, and the public was able to judge if Barr was misleading.
It is fair to debate the differences between what was in the Barr summary and the Mueller report, but on the two key points, I believe he represented the conclusions. It’s largely why I did not need to go back and rewrite any of my essay.
Mueller found no conspiracy or coordination with Russia. All the caveats in the world do not change this reality — that simply the scandal we were told took place was not corroborated by Mueller’s team. So, it did not happen and everything else is grist for political discussion over Trump’s motives and policy that are entirely subjective, even if worthy of addressing.
“I can appreciate those that say there are plenty other Trump crimes to go after, like tax fraud, campaign finance fraud, or emoluments violations, but I don’t think Trump’s campaign should get a pass on Russian interference just yet,” you write.
Let’s presume there is evidence that Trump campaign officials were involved in Russian interference. The House of Representatives can draw up articles of impeachment based on contents of the Mueller report. They can also enforce subpoenas and threaten criminal penalties by going to the courts. But as with the Bush administration and the Iraq War, we’re seeing that Speaker Nancy Pelosi does not want impeachment to be on the table. We’re seeing Democratic leadership tell their base they will not follow this investigation to the conclusion desired.
Why is that? Is it because they recognize the evidence is thin? Or is it because they do not want to be politically divisive?
Either way, the House could go beyond political performances and launch impeachment. The Democrats only want to use Russian interference allegations to bolster their chances of winning elections. However, the problem is since the outcome desired in early 2017 was not achieved Trump and the GOP will turn the Mueller investigation against Democrats. They already are in the process of making good on threats to investigate how the investigation was launched in the first place to argue it was purely political. They will weaponize this throughout 2020 and try to force Democrats to abandon their talk of Trump being a puppet of Russia.
I don’t think this is an issue of tempering expectations and suggesting to Rachel Maddow or other news personalities that they were wrong. We are entering a particularly dangerous phase of the Trump presidency provoked by Democrats if Trump officials are able to persuasively convince people to re-elect Trump on the basis that officials within institutions were hostile against him from the beginning and he did not deserve it. More and more Americans will cheer Trump for exercising executive authority against the will of Congress and Cabinet agencies.