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Right Opinion

Robert Mueller, Health Care, and Jussie Smollett

Bill Wagner · Mar. 29, 2019

We are now being told that the Robert Mueller report is 300 pages long, which virtually guarantees that there is enough detail in it to provide fodder for different points of view. One man’s inelegant campaign conduct that doesn’t rise to the level of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt is another man’s collusion worthy of jail or, at minimum, more investigation.

We already know that Mueller’s obstruction punt fits that model, and the collusion piece is likely to be sufficient enough for Democrats and the media to stay the “Trump colluded” course. It’s all they have.

The full report, redacted to follow the law, will also have enough gaps to fuel the continuing narrative. Furthermore, the fact Trump will be given an opportunity to review the report in advance will further inspire cover-up conspiracy theories.

Key Democrats are telling us that Attorney General William Barr’s summary is misleading. They’re also saying Barr himself can’t be trusted and there are still grounds to pursue obstruction charges. And the only way to be sure is to ramp up even more investigations. Additionally, Trump is now on the revenge war path, and there must be congressional action to protect the brave men and women who conducted the collusion investigation in good faith.

After one night of test-driving another narrative throughout its entire prime-time lineup — namely the Nancy Pelosi-inspired pivot to health care — CNN saw its ratings drop by 50%. So much for that strategy; back to Russia collusion 24/7.

Debate rages among the GOP on how aggressive to be in going after the origins of the Mueller probe. Trump has it about right — definitely go after those who tipped the dominoes in the FBI’s and DOJ’s favor, but do it through the inspector general, attorney general, and Senate committees. Declassify the relevant documents, but let others run with them. Trump can hint that “higher ups” may have been involved, but he should stay above the fray and use his newfound “victim” status to pursue policy initiatives in health care, immigration, and entitlements.

It is inconceivable that Barack Obama was not aware of the Hillary Clinton email investigation and the actions being taken by those in the intelligence services. But the odds of a smoking gun are as close to zero as you can get.

Even with the FISA-warrant scam, you can predict the “he said, she said.” Of course we needed the FISA warrant; there were numerous indications of collusion that implied illegal conspiracies between Trump and a hostile foreign power, and we needed to sort it out for national-security reasons. Yes, maybe the Christopher Steele dossier was critical to our FISA application. And yes, maybe we didn’t independently verify it. But we trusted Steele; after all, he had provided us with great, accurate intel in the past, and we had no reason to doubt him. And about that footnote that said there could be political bias in the dossier, we thought that was enough for the FISA judge. Adding that Hillary paid for it was redundant. Moreover, if the FISA judge was too stupid to dig deeper if he thought there was a problem, well, that’s on him.

No doubt the inspector general will find misconduct by the FBI and DOJ, but criminal culpability is another matter. And if that won’t be enough to nail the worker bees beyond maybe being fired and losing pensions, then anything that aims at Obama is going nowhere, except to provide racial-bias ammo for Democrats in 2020. Ditto with bringing the Hillary email probe back into the spotlight. All roads lead to Obama, and no one wants to go there.

I love Trump’s tactic of firing a health-care shot across the bow of the GOP and putting a marker down that will force Congress to act and come up with an alternative to Obamacare. You can almost feel the shaking coming out of Congress as it is put on the spot to actually do its job. That’s true regardless of what the courts say about the constitutionality of Obamacare. It’s a winning GOP issue if done right with market-based solutions, consumer choice, incentives to deal with addiction, and alternative ways to address the preexisting-condition issue.

Democrats cannot make forcing insurance companies to cover preexisting conditions work, and yet people with those conditions need a way to get health care. Covering preexisting conditions is not insurance; it’s after-the-fact expense reimbursement. Just like covering predictable everyday expenses (like birth-control pills) is not insurance; it’s prepaid expenses. Have the debate. The GOP can come out ahead, but it needs a well-thought-out “replace,” not just a repeal.

This may come as a shock, but I am terribly upset by the fact Jussie Smollett had the charges dropped after he did a few hours of community service and left his $10,000 bail payment on the table. I don’t even care if the community service involved stuffing envelopes for Jessie Jackson. I would have preferred a much larger “fine” to reflect the time, effort, and resources his hoax cost.

But a couple other things are far more important. After all, slaps on the wrist for nonviolent crimes like filing false reports by first-time offenders are staples of our glorious justice system.

The most glaring problem is that plea deals should always include an admission of guilt and, ideally, some remorse. A falling-on-the-sword PR tour, particularly by a highly visible celebrity, touting the damages, encouraging people never to try this at home, and a valiant plea to heal racial tensions would have been nice. Instead, we got no admissions, a continued insistence on being a victim, and an O.J. Simpson-like vow to find the real perpetrators.

I suspect the strings that were pulled by friends of Michelle Obama were aimed at Smollett’s morals clause in his TV contract. A felony would provide grounds for firing, and now with the record cleared, it would not be legal for the studio to use the incident as a basis for any action. It’s nice to have friends in the right places, unlike, say, the hundreds of other Chicago minorities serving five to 10 years in prison for nonviolent drug possession.

Another more important factor is the damage caused to other minorities who might be true victims of hate crimes. And that’s coming from someone who thinks hate crimes are ridiculous. A crime is a crime; whether it was motivated by some perceived grievance against some favored group is irrelevant.

But if you favor these laws, how do you decide which groups are covered? I can’t seem to find anywhere in the law some extra protection for religious middle-class white teens who wear MAGA hats. But the law is on the books, so it is what it is. And who in Chicago (or anywhere else for that matter) is going to give the benefit of the doubt to the next accuser of a real violent attack supposedly motivated by anti-black or gay bias?

White privilege indeed.

Thank you, Jussie. But be careful what you ask for; the FBI is still in the mail-fraud mix.

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