The News Memo
Stories this week:
AG’s Summary of Mueller Report: No Trump-Russia Collusion, Unclear on Obstruction of Justice
The special counsel, which was established two years ago to investigate whether or not Mr. Trump, or anyone in his campaign colluded with the Russian government, has come to an end. Mr. Mueller, who headed the special counsel, turned over the much-anticipated report to the Attorney General last Friday evening.
What does the summary say?
On Sunday, Mar. 24, AG William Barr publicly released a 4 page summary of the key findings of the Mueller report. Here are the central takeaways:
On Trump-Russia Collusion:
According to Barr’s summary, Mueller’s report found no Trump/Russia collusion. The summary states,“The Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”
On Obstruction of Justice: The report was unclear on whether President Trump obstructed justice. The summary states, “The Special Counsel therefore did not draw a conclusion - one way or the other - as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction.” The question of obstruction was passed on to Barr, who concluded with Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein that it was not prosecutable.
While Barr’s summary of the report said the investigation did not find that Trump or his team coordinated with Russia, it did find that Russia meddled in the 2016 election in two primary ways:
Reactions to the report: After Barr’s letter was released, Trump tweeted, “No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!” Mr. Trump has indicated he supports the full release of the report.
Democrats are suspicious of Barr’s brief summary, insisting on the full release of the report. Regarding Barr’s summary, Nancy Pelosi said, “We don’t need you interpreting for us. It was condescending, it was arrogant, and it wasn’t the right thing to do. Show us the report and we can draw our own conclusions.”
What will be made public: It is unclear at this point what all will be made public. Some of the information will likely remain classified because it contains grand jury material (which the law restricts from being released without approval) and material sensitive to ongoing investigations.
However, Barr has said he is working with Mueller and Rod Rosenstein to determine what can be made public, and stated that he wants to release as much as possible as soon as possible. Congress is unanimously in favor of receiving the full report, with a redacted report being made available to the public. The report is more than 300 pages long.
Moving Forward: President Trump indicated that because he is now cleared of collusion charges, he will press to investigate the process that launched the investigation, which he called “an illegal takedown that failed.”
All Charges in Jussie Smollett Case Dropped
Jussie Smollett, star of the TV-Series “Empire,” was charged on Feb. 20 with planning and staging a racist hate crime in Chicago against himself. Smollett, who is black and openly gay, alleged he was mugged by two white Trump supports in MAGA hats on Jan. 29 at 2:00 AM, after getting a Subway sandwich. He said the two men yelled, “This is MAGA country,” and attacked him.
However, police soon began investigating whether Smollett staged the incident. Police found that the two men who attacked Jussie were not white Trump supporters, but two Nigerian brothers who have been featured in episodes of “Empire.” The two brothers began cooperating with investigators, and said they were paid $3,500 by Smollett to perform the mugging. Police said they obtained copies of the checks that were used to pay the brothers and buy the rope that was placed around Smollett’s neck. Throughout the investigation and subsequent charges, Smollett has insisted the events transpired as he described them, and has insisted he is innocent.
What happened this week?
Prosecutors abruptly dropped all 16 of the felony charges against Smollett. The mayor of Chicago and the police chief were indignant at the revelation, with Mayor Rahm Emanuel calling the decision “a whitewash of justice,” and criticizing Smollett for abusing hate-crime laws for his own gain.
It is fairly unclear at this point why the charges were dropped. Often times when charges are dropped, the defendant is required to admit to committing the crime and offer a formal apology. However, Smollett’s team has issued no such statement. The Cook County State Attorney’s office, in their statement explaining the decision, mentioned Smollett’s lack of a violent criminal history, his forfeiting of the $10,000 bail payment, and his community volunteer service (Smollett has had a history of social activism).
DOJ Agrees With Court Ruling That Obamacare Is Unconstitutional
In 2018, a group of Republican attorney generals filed a lawsuit contesting Obamacare was unconstitutional. Then, in December 2018, U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor (Texas) ruled in favor of the suit. He stated, “In sum, the Individual Mandate ‘is so interwoven with [Obamacare] regulations that they cannot be separated.” The individual mandate that he mentioned was repealed in December 2017 as part of the Republican tax cut bill, killing the underlying structure of Obamacare.
The mandate forced people who did not opt in to Obamacare coverage to pay a fee. Without the requirement to purchase insurance, the suit argued that Obamacare could not then force insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions (a cornerstone of Obamacare) and other “essential services.” The ruling from O’Connor is currently under appeals process, but may rise to the Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of O’Connor, Obamacare, as it currently stands, would be gutted.
Trump DOJ Agrees With Court Ruling
On Monday (Mar 25), the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed its determination that Obamacare is unconstitutional. Three DOJ lawyers crafted the determination that was filed in the 5th circuit court saying, "The Department of Justice has determined that the district court's judgment should be affirmed."
Trump tweets following the announcement
Divide Within The White House
Members of the Trump administration were divided regarding the decision, and some Republican congressmen were upset by the decision, as they currently do not have an alternative health care plan to replace Obamacare. Reacting to the announcement, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell said, “I look forward to seeing what the president is proposing and what he can work out with the speaker.”
UK: 4-Year Old Girls Ask ~ 390 Questions a Day
According to the UK study, British mothers on average are asked just under 300 questions a day by their children. It found girls age 4 ask the most, averaging an incredible 390 questions per day - an average of 1 question every 1 min 56 sec of their waking day.
We hope you enjoyed the Memo this week.