Charles Laffiteau’s Bigger Picture (April 2019)
2019-04-01 15:55:11 -
World News

In his letter to the US Congress summarising his views on the findings in Robert Mueller’s investigation of the Trump Presidential campaign’s collusion with Russia, what Attorney General William Barr actually said was that Mueller didn’t find enough evidence to “establish” that the Trump campaign and Russia were working together.


That does not mean that Mueller found no evidence of collusion between Trump and Russia. And it’s far from Trump’s claim that it was “a complete and total exoneration”. It simply means that what Mueller and his investigators found probably wasn’t enough to convict Trump of collusion. Barr also said there’s “evidence on both sides of the question” as regards obstruction of justice.


General Barr says that “while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him”. He goes on to say that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein “have concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.” Does that sound like a “complete and total exoneration” to you?


Despite his own Attorney General’s stated opinion that Mueller’s report, President Trump continues to ignore the facts and instead promulgates the ‘fake news’ that he has now been cleared of all accusations. But while Trump and his children no longer have to worry about being prosecuted by the Special Counsel, they are a long way from being out of the woods. Federal prosecutors in New York are still investigating Trump’s inauguration committee and New York State attorneys are looking into Trump’s charity and business dealings.


There is also the little matter of federal campaign finance violations involving hush money payments by Michael Cohen to Stormy Daniels, as well as state investigations of the Trump family’s business and charitable operations for fraud and tax evasion. While Trump may be able to pardon his friends and family members — or even get one for himself — state prosecutors can still pursue defendants on state crimes even if they’ve received a pardon on federal charges.


But enough about President Trump. We are now just 10 months away from the Iowa caucuses, and we also have just over 19 months until votes are cast in the 2020 General Election. It was around this same time 12 years ago that I first began discussing the then newly elected senator from Illinois who I predicted would not only wrest the Democratic presidential nomination from Senator Hillary Clinton, but would also defeat the Republican Presidential nominee, Senator John McCain. His name was Barack Obama.


As I noted at the beginning of this year, although I am still a member of the Republican Party, I am supporting Beto O’Rourke for US president in 2020 because, unlike many other Republicans, I put the interests of the American people ahead of my political party. I also noted that if O’Rourke wins the Democratic nomination and subsequently defeats President Trump next November, he will join Abraham Lincoln as the only presidential candidates to ever be elected directly on the heels of losing a Senate race.


Previously I’ve pointed out the similarities between the last Democratic president, Barack Obama, and the first Republican president, Lincoln. There are also some similarities between the political and personal careers of Obama and Beto O’Rourke.


On the personal front, both O’Rourke and Obama were 46 years old when they announced their presidential candidacy; both have two children, and both of them had been married for 15 years.


On the political side, there are some even more important ways both men are alike. They have demonstrated a special talent for raising money: during the first quarter of the 2007 presidential race, Obama raised almost the same as Hillary Clinton and from that point on raised more. In the first 24 hours after he announced, O’Rourke raised $6.1m, more than the $5.9m of Bernie Sanders. Beto and Barack have also demonstrated a talent for not only winning over a larger percentage of younger voters than their rivals, but also for energising those younger voters to turn out and vote.


Finally, O’Rourke just hired Obama’s 2012 deputy campaign manager, Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, who said she was supporting him because he was “a new generation of leadership I think we need”.


Charles Laffiteau is a US Republican from Dallas, Texas pursuing a career in public service. He previously lectured on Contemporary US Business & Society at DCU from 2009-2011 and pursued a PhD in Public Policy and Political Economy.

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