By Bill Mefford
While the report from Special Counsel Ken Starr was made available to Congress in 1998 literally the day after his exhaustive investigation into the sleazy activities of President Clinton ended, the report from Mueller’s investigation into the criminal activities of the trump campaign and administration was kept from Congress from March 22 through April 17; almost a full month. Then, after Attorney General Barr went out of his way four different times to frame the Mueller report in a way favorable to trump before anyone could even see his redacted report (somewhere around 1600 lines were hidden from view), Barr finally released the report on Maundy Thursday; a time when Congress was on recess and right before a long holiday weekend.
Barr could not have buried it deeper if he’d used a shovel.
But as we learned throughout the day Thursday, almost every ten minutes some reporter or lawyer/pundit found incredibly damning evidence of trump’s immoral, unethical, and even illegal activities. Mueller’s exhaustive investigation shows trump’s campaign AND administration to be the most corrupt in the history of this country. As the day passed, I began to think that maybe releasing this on Maundy Thursday - the day of the last supper of Jesus and Judas’ betrayal - is perfect timing.
Easter weekend is about transformation, perhaps above all else. One of the most intriguing stories of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus is that of Peter. Peter valiantly pledged his dedication to Jesus and was considered a leader among the disciples. But yet, after Jesus was betrayed by Judas and his arrest led to his eventual torture and resurrection, Peter’s valiant pledge quickly evaporated as he betrayed he even knew Jesus three times in one night. Peter’s brokenness came when he realized how he had failed. He was broken when he allowed himself to face his own failure and betrayal. Peter’s leadership in the new church in Acts directly emanates from his transformation and his transformation emanates - as it always does - from his honest admission that he failed badly in his allegiance to Jesus.
I think Easter is a perfect time for this report to be issued. It is a perfect time for donald trump to follow in the footsteps of Peter and have a Peter-like experience of realizing his own brokenness, failure, and betrayal.
To know the transformative love of God, we must come to the realization of of our own inability to engineer the transformation we so desperately need to find life. We must be convicted. And the Mueller report most certainly contains information that should pierce the heart of donald trump if he has the strength to deal with it honestly.
Here are just a few instances that should provide trump with the experience of betrayal and brokenness:
Though Mueller's investigation did not conclude that there was a criminal conspiracy between the trump campaign or administration and Russian officials, the report concludes that Russia decided that trump’s victory was in its best interests and both parties - trump’s campaign/administration and the Russian government - worked together to see trump win the election. There was in fact, collusion. Lots of it in fact. As Mueller put it, "[T]he investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts..." This is textbook collusion.
The only thing that kept trump from committing obstruction of justice at least seven times were his aides at the time who simply refused to follow his unethical and illegal orders. On one occasion on June 17, 2017, trump orders White House Counsel Don McGahan to fire Robert Mueller and call him back when he has done it. McGahan refused to do so, noting that doing so would have repeated Nixon’s ill-fated Saturday Night Massacre. In other words, trump’s failure to be an effective leader helped save his current job, for the time being. This is devastating.
One last one, though trump and his army of defenders (including, shamefully, his Attorney General) gleefully told the world Thursday that trump was “exonerated,” nothing could be further from the truth. Though Mueller’s investigators could not prove trump or his son, Don Jr, "willfully" violated the law, they definitely saw that the investigations should not end with their report. They identified numerous crimes and saw that as part of their responsibility to hand the ball to Congress to continue to investigate. They also worked with US District Attorneys, such as the District Attorney in Lower Manhattan, to especially follow the multiple illegalities surrounding the money. The Mueller report is not the end of this. It is simply the beginning.
These are just three instances within a 448 page report. This is thoroughly ruinous to trump’s administration. Anyone with half a brain can easily see that this administration is corrupt to its core. And so, it is a perfect time for it to be released as this is a perfect time for trump, like Peter, to experience the depths of his actions; his betrayal to so many individuals and to the country as a whole and his brokenness at being an abysmal leader and human being. He is at a nadir.
trump has only one challenge that lies between the rock-bottom point he has reached and a road to liberation: honesty. Peter recognized his betrayal. Peter allowed his heart to be laid bare. Just think about it, the only thing lying between trump’s hellish existence and the sweet joy of liberation in Christ is his willingness to be honest.
This is my Easter prayer. I am praying that the man who lies like me and you breathe must, for God to break through and begin trump’s very long road to repentance and transformation, be honest.
But isn’t Easter the time for the totally unexpected?
Though Jesus had spoken throughout his life and ministry about his death and resurrection, no one believed he would conquer death. No one. But Jesus did. And it is because Jesus conquered death that we believe that we have the tools to conquer oppression, to eliminate racism, to eradicate homophobia, to create justice, to provide room for those at the margins, and to live into God’s perfect love. Because Jesus conquered death we can even believe that donald trump can experience divine liberation and be born again.
Lord let it be so.