The Mueller Mess
(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)
Immediately after Attorney General Barr’s four page letter with conclusions from the Mueller report became available Trump started lying about it, claiming that he had been ‘completely exonerated.’ In fact, the letter said that no criminal conspiracy had been established, but that the Special Counsel had not been able to exonerate the president with regards to obstruction of justice. In Mueller’s place Barr decided to exonerate Trump, which is not surprising since the Attorney General got his job because of his conviction, expressed in an unsolicited memo last summer, that Mueller could not investigate the president for obstruction of justice, a peculiar opinion because both Nixon and Clinton were accused of obstruction of justice in impeachment procedures. Considering that the Special Counsel was installed to prevent political appointees from making such calls Barr was way out of line, and his curveball made observers question the rest of his reporting to Congress. We’ll have to wait at least weeks for the lengthy report that 82% of Americans want to see to become public, and as for the counter-intelligence origins of the probe we may never know how deeply compromised Trump is.
It is not surprising that Mueller didn’t conclude that there had been an organized conspiracy with the Russians, because the Trump campaign from the beginning of the probe looked like the Keystone Cops of collusion, and the Russians, who are great at hacking but not at conspiring, probably didn’t want to get too chummy with a bundle of amateurs they didn’t need to interfere with the US elections. Instead of continuing to be delighted with Barr’s version of Mueller’s main findings Trump got into a vicious rage, and subsequently accused his Democratic opponents of treason, asked the TV networks no longer to invite his critics on their shows, announced an investigation of the investigators, and eventually blamed the probe on Obama. Maybe to give it to his predecessor one more time, the next day the president decided to no longer defend Obamacare in court but instead to ask for it to be totally dismantled, against the advice of his AG, his Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Minority Leader of the Republicans in the House. At least the latter understands that without a replacement that Republicans have not been able to develop since 2010 this is a suicidal move.
Other than his need to undo everything Obama has achieved there is ample speculation about Trump’s motives here. Some observers think that he cannot do without a fight, and that because he considers the Mueller fight over he has moved on to the next one. According to others Trump feels invincible and believes that he can now do anything, including taking coverage away from 20 million poor Americans, scrapping protections for pre-existing conditions and taking young adults off their parents’ insurance.
Trump’s latest attack on Obamacare is a godsent for the Democrats, who were divided between those who wanted to strengthen Obamacare and those who wanted ‘Medicare for All’ immediately, and who are now united in the first position. Since the legal fight about Obamacare will stretch well into 2020 it will be the most important election issue, and since the Democrats control the House they are in charge of health care legislation.
In spite of Trump’s trumpeting that ‘the Russia Hoax’ is over, according to recent polling 56% of Americans don’t believe that Trump has been exonerated, and his approval rating is stuck at 41.6%. In Michigan, a state Trump desperately needs in 2020 where he held a rally last nigh, only 31% of the voters would re-elect him. The man is not really winning.
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