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The News of the Day

The News of the Day

August 1st, 2019 // 4:03 pm @

The Mueller Hearing

Two big things do stand out. First, Mueller was asked a number of questions about the report but frequently didn’t know what the report said. Even when Congressmen read quotes from the report, Mueller repeatedly couldn’t remember names or details. He seemed to not know much of what was written in his own report. Strange. To give someone so much power—literal power over the lives of real Americans—but who seems feebly unaware of what his own report says or even the names and details written in his report, is scary. Also, to the chagrin of many on the Left, it came out that Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who famously met with Don Jr. in Trump Tower to share “dirt” on the Hillary campaign, actually met more times and much longer with the Hillary campaign to communicate “dirt” on Trump—making everything critics have claimed about the “inappropriate” Trump Tower meeting much worse for Hillary than for Trump.

Second, and this is a big deal, the Mueller Report, and Mueller’s testimony in the hearings, states that the Special Counsel didn’t “totally exonerate” the accused. This is a whole new approach to American law. Prosecutors in the United States have never had the authority or power to “exonerate” anyone. They can charge, or not charge, a person. But they don’t exonerate, or withhold exoneration. This is at the heart of the freedom that the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty. If we live in a nation where a citizen must receive “exoneration” from a government prosecutor or be presumed guilty, or receive “total exoneration” from a prosecutor or be presumed partially guilty, we’ve lost a major part of American freedom. Indeed, this was the most important difference between Anglo-Saxon law and European Norman law in history—and the American Framers loudly rejected the Norman approach and established “innocent until proven guilty” as the bedrock of American law. When asked about this Mueller doubled down that the prosecutor can decide whether to exonerate or not exonerate an accused American, a return, at least in his mind, to the historical Norman approach of Dictatorial law.

No prosecutor in U.S. history has had, or claimed to have, this power until now. This is a serious and dangerous example of “creep” by government usurping powers that are not part of the Constitution. Unless Americans refuse to let this stand, another major freedom will be lost. This campaign is already underway. For example, the lead headline for the hearings by CBS was: “Mueller: President Trump was not totally exonerated in Russia probe…” In response: First, he was in fact entirely cleared of Russian collusion charge. The not “totally exonerated” language was applied only to the issue of “obstruction of justice”. CBS absolutely lied in printing the headline this way. Second, no prosecutor in U.S. history has ever had the power to proclaim an accused American “not totally exonerated”; nor does any prosecutor in the U.S. have that power today; nor does Robert Mueller have that power. But the media pretended, and reported, that he does. Another lie. A very dangerous one. A number of other media outlets issued similar misleading headlines during and after the hearings (see, specifically, NBC, ABC, CNN, HuffPost, NPR, BBC).

If Americans let this view stand, I predict we’ll see every future U.S. President, from both political parties, who faces an opposing party in the House, attacked by such hearings and special investigations and be labeled “not totally exonerated”. Likewise, and worse, we’ll see this Mueller precedent abused by numerous prosecutors around the nation who use “not exonerated” as a new power against American citizens, and “innocent until proven guilty” will decline as a basic freedom. Any prosecutor who claims “we didn’t exonerate” an accused person is directly rejecting the system of “innocent until proven guilty” and replacing it with “guilty unless a prosecutor exonerates you”. This moves us back toward the Norman dictators, away from the Anglo-Saxon and American Founding systems of law. Any prosecutor who does this is directly attacking the U.S. Constitution. This includes Robert Mueller. On a personal note, I haven’t been this sickened by the actions of a national government official since the George W. Bush Administration used the Justice Department to investigate political opponents for the specific purpose of influencing the election, or since Eric Holder covered up Fast and Furious. All three are examples of glaring government corruption. Add the Benghazi scandal to this same disgusting list.

In the weeks ahead, many Democrats, and many in the left-leaning mainstream media, will likely repeat the storyline that Mueller “has given us evidence of Trump obstruction”, and the Right will continue to say the exact opposite. The words of the Constitution should be the way we clearly understand this. Did the president engage in “treason, bribery, or high crimes and misdemeanors” with regard to Russia in the 2016 election? Meuller said no, in both his Report and the hearings. Did the president engage in “treason, bribery, or high crimes and misdemeanors” in regard to obstructing justice? Mueller said in the Report that there was not “sufficient” evidence to charge the president for this, but he said in the hearing that if a regular citizen, not a president, had been the target of the investigation, he would have seen sufficient evidence to charge. He later also joked that he probably wouldn’t have found “sufficient” evidence if the target was a member of Congress. This jest, and the way the crowd of Congressmen reacted to it, reinforces the shocking double standard at play in all this. Government officials are to be treated differently than regular citizens, by this standard. What does the actual law say about this? Most attorneys and judges on the Right say no, there was not sufficient evidence to charge a regular citizen, and most on the Left say yes–at least those cited in the media. This is political posturing, pure and simple.

Compare this to the Bill Clinton investigation. The Independent Counsel indicted Clinton on 11 specific counts. Special Counsel Mueller’s report says they didn’t have sufficient evidence to charge Trump on even 1 count, or to recommend to the Attorney General a charge on even 1 count. Let’s just apply the Constitution. If a majority of the House believes the president has committed “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors”, they should impeach him. And then the Senate can judge and make the final decision—impeaching by a two-thirds majority if it so chooses. Then the citizens can analyze what each Congressman and Senator voted on this, and respond to it in the next election. That’s the Constitutional way to handle it. The problem is that the media is trying hard to sway popular opinion in this, instead of simply reporting the facts. But that’s okay. The American people are smart enough to see through media bias in reporting. It’s so blatant now that almost everyone notices.

The big danger, something few Americans do realize, is that we now have the basis for a new precedent, a legal approach that some prosecutors will almost certainly claim as precedent in the future (and that some judges will inevitably allow), that an accused American can be presumed guilty “in certain circumstances” unless he/she is “totally exonerated” by the prosecutor. Such a reversal of “innocent until proven guilty” to an alternative standard of “guilty unless declared ‘totally exonerated’ by the prosecutor” is a disaster for freedom. Most people won’t even realize it’s a thing for many years to come unless it is used directly against them in court. But if it is ever used in America, even once, it is a massive attack on freedom. It will likely be applied quietly and behind closed doors many times, if it follows the normal pattern such precedent take in our history. This is precisely how past major reversals of our freedoms have gained traction in the judicial branch, one case and one courtroom at a time. For example, this is how precedent became a “higher law” of the land and gave the Court unconstitutional power over all law instead of just authority in one specific case at a time, how people serving on juries largely lost their official power to nullify bad laws in a specific case, and how trial by jury became trial by people who don’t know the accused rather than trial only by people who knew the accused (the legal term is “jury of the vicinage”). All of these changes are now the norm, and most people think they always have been the American way. But they are in fact major losses of our freedoms, drastic departures from the intent of the Founding Fathers and the Constitution. Few people even know about them, mostly because all of them were lost the same way “innocent until proven guilty” is now being undermined—quietly, in the fine print of distant courts. But the loss of freedom is drastic and real. The Mueller Report, the strongest attack on “innocent until proven guilty” in American history, marks a very bad day for America, and for our freedom.

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