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More Mueller Reflections

Bill Wagner · Mar. 27, 2019

Early indications of the post-Robert Mueller era are encouraging and about as expected.

Democrats and the media are doubling down, mostly because they have nowhere else to go. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told her caucus that Attorney General William Barr was appointed for the sole purpose of providing cover for Donald Trump’s obstruction of justice and can’t be trusted. She also says the Mueller report must be released in its entirety so that Trump’s clear attempts to obstruct Mueller can be identified and investigated. And while Mueller may not have been able to establish any collusion between Trump and Russia, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t any corruption and evidence of influence by a foreign power, as the full report will demonstrate. Until we get that, we cannot accept Mueller’s conclusions.

The Democrat roadmap is drawn.

Incredibly, the media is patting itself on the back for getting the entire Mueller matter spectacularly wrong. The rationale seems to be that the story of a U.S. president potentially conspiring with a foreign power to steal the election was so huge that it warranted 24/7/365 coverage, and it wasn’t their fault that Trump acted in a way that innocent folks would not, so the 93% negative reporting was no surprise.

The media continue to compare what they did — which, by the way, resulted in Pulitzers for The New York Times and The Washington Post (and no, they will not give them back) — to Watergate, but neglect to add that the Watergate reporting took a couple years to see the light of day because senior staff demanded rigorous standards like multiple on-the-record sourcing. The first domino was The New York Times’s permission slip for reporters to inject opinion into their stories because Trump was so bad that he needed to be stopped, journalism notwithstanding. It allowed the narrative of biased newsrooms to overrule facts and was celebrated, not condemned.

The worst of the bunch was John Brennan, primarily because he came fully equipped with the street cred of being the former director of the CIA. He must have inside information and impeccable sources, right? But what comes with that should have been a higher standard of proof, and his excuse was that he was misled by his sources.

Who were they? He can’t say. And so far he still has a job.

The media has so conditioned its audience to expect Trump’s downfall that to pivot to anything remotely close to a fair and balanced presentation of real news would be the kiss of death financially. So you had MSNBC listing the 10 aspects of the Barr summary that begged for further congressional investigations and a New York Times headline entitled, “As Mueller Report Lands, Prosecutorial Focus Moves to New York” — as in the Southern District’s focus on Trump’s loan applications, insurance filings, and tax returns from 20 years ago.

This will not change unless the ratings and/or circulation tank, and that’s not likely to happen anytime soon — particularly if Congress and the Southern District of New York grab the ball.

On the GOP/Trump front, I can only hope that the trends continue. Trump has struck the right tone by appearing to have difficulty keeping his anger in check — anger that seems perfectly justified given his correct claims of innocence were ignored for two years. Without naming names, he has put a shot across the bow of the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton by stating that the treasonous activities of those who conspired to destroy him and clear Hillary involved those “high up.” He is calling for full disclosure of the Mueller report so he can’t be accused of a cover-up (even though he knows the full report can’t be disclosed) and by inference is encouraging investigations of those in the food chain at the FBI, Justice Department, and the intelligence community under Obama. All of which is good.

But he is also pivoting to policy issues. The veto override pertaining to Trump’s national emergency failed, so border security will remain front and center. Trump’s DOJ just joined the district-court case urging the complete overturning of Obamacare. When asked if that would hurt the millions who rely on Obamacare and those with preexisting conditions, Trump said to watch this space because the GOP will be known as the health-care party.

This is a direct focus on an issue that caused the GOP to lose the House in 2018 and is also a perfect setup to force the GOP to come up with a repeal-and-replace health-care plan that is market based and covers preexisting conditions.

China is making new noises about doing a trade deal, perhaps not coincidentally a few days after the Mueller report, which makes one wonder how much Trump could have accomplished in terms of foreign policy if his counterparties weren’t worried if he would still be around.

The Senate forced a Green New Deal vote that most Democrats showed their true unprincipled colors on by voting present, and the GOP has found the courage to call out Democrats for boycotting AIPAC, painting them as anti-Semitic and chipping away at the Democrat voter base. All while keeping Trump’s tweets well within reasonableness parameters.

It’s not going to be easy for Trump to stay the course on these topics, but it’s exactly the right thing to do. The speed of the news cycle will tempt him to ratchet up the volume to compete for attention with things like the Jussie Smollett case being dropped, but here’s hoping he will resist the temptation at all costs and keep his eye on the 2020 prize.

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