Gather 'round, everybody: the Mueller report is out.
First, remind me how all this started. For old times' sake.
You got it. In 2017, special counsel Robert Mueller was tapped to look into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election. After Mueller finished his probe, Attorney General William Barr summed up his findings. The skimm of it: Mueller's team didn't find any collusion between Russia and the Trump team. And Mueller couldn't decide whether Trump tried to obstruct justice during his investigation. But Barr and Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein don't think Mueller's findings meet the standard for obstruction charges. Now Barr is letting everyone check his work.
So…what did we find out?
That Mueller looked into 10 incidents to figure out whether Trump obstructed justice. We won't get into all 10, because time. But they include things like that time Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, tried to get Mueller fired, and appeared to encourage witnesses (cough Paul Manafort cough) to not cooperate. He said that the Comey firing was within Trump's authority as president. And in part because Mueller couldn't conclude that Trump was guilty of an underlying crime, he didn't charge him with obstruction of justice. But also didn't exonerate him.
So that's it? A two-year investigation to say...what?
Well, depending on who you ask: that either Trump and his team are scot-free from the accusations. Or that obstruction of justice is harder to provethan people (see: Dems) thought. There are 14 other investigations that have spun off from this one – which is why some of the info was redacted. So if you still have questions about Russia's interference and its communication with the Trump campaign, hold the report up to the light and try to see through the blackout.
I'll work on that. How's everyone feeling about this?
Well this may surprise you, but Republicans and Democrats are reading into this report a lot differently. Republicans say that since there were no charges against Trump, it's time to move on. Dems are laser-focused on the part of Mueller's report that says he couldn't completely clear Trump's name of obstruction of justice. Meanwhile, Trump's feeling vindicated and said yesterday was "a good day."
Cool cool. So what happens now?
The report suggested Congress could take up the obstruction of justice issue on its own. House Dems are saying, 'on it.' They're calling on Mueller to testify, and say they'll subpoena the Justice Dept for the full unredacted report.
For two years, the hype around this report had some thinking Mueller would deliver a stinging review of the president. And Trump's actions raised some questions about obstruction of justice. But Mueller couldn't find conclusive evidence that the president met that threshold, for a number of reasons. Now it will be up to Congress to decide how to move forward.
REPEAT AFTER ME...
What to say when you're tired of the word 'report'...
Hold that thought. Yesterday, Reporters Without Borders released its annual World Press Freedom Index. The non-profit ranks countries based on things like journalists' safety and independence. This year, the top slot went to Norway and the bottom went to Turkmenistan (I'll take 'where is Turkmenistan for 400'). In case you're wondering how the US stacked up...it dropped three spots to the "problematic" category. That's in part because of what the report called an uptick in death threats, as well as anti-press rhetoric from President Trump. Heads up, this isn't the first time the US has slipped in the rankings – it's gone down four of the past five years. Speaking of 'problematic' and 'journalism': the National Enquirer. The tabloid was bought for $100 million by a guy whose family started Hudson News (that place at the airport where you can buy a trashy novel and maybe some Cheez-Its because flying is stressful and you deserve it). Oh and in other money news, the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits is the lowest it's been since 1969. Cha-give me a raise.
$: What's money got to do with it? Here's how low unemployment could benefit your wallet.
What people are watching…
Violence in Northern Ireland. Yesterday, a 29-year-old journalist was shot and killed after rioting broke out there. Police are calling it a "terrorist incident." The shooting happened in a residential neighborhood authorities were searching because they suspected a group of "dissident republicans" were storing firearms and explosives. Violence broke out, including people throwing petrol bombs at police. Northern Ireland has a history of sectarian violence, which is why the UK and the EU are trying to avoid setting up a hard border there post-Brexit. This incident is raising fears that violence could flare up again.
What many will be thinking about over Easter…
Notre Dame. Investigators reportedly think an electric short-circuit was behind this week's fire. But they won't know for certain until it's safer to investigate the area.
What to say when someone doesn't remember HitClips...
You're too young. Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wants to raise the minimum age to buy tobacco in order to improve public health. In case you needed a reminder, cigarette smoking kills 480,000 Americans every year. And teenage vaping is on the rise. McConnell plans to intro a bill to raise the buying age from 18 to 21 in the hopes that it will curb these issues. In other things you swore off in 2019, McDonald's. It's getting rid of the Signature Crafted burgers and sandwiches it came up with two years ago to compete with Shake Shack and Wendy's. And will be returning to its cheaper, fast-serve-burger roots. Ba da ba ba ba I'm hungry and impatient.
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