Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from> around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

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Neal K. Katyal: The Mueller Report Is Coming. Here’s What to Expect.

A concise report will probably act as a “road map” to investigation for the Democratic House — and to further criminal investigation by other prosecutors.

The special counsel Robert Mueller will apparently soon turn in a report to the new attorney general, William Barr. Sure, there is still a lot of activity, including subpoenas, flying around, but that shouldn’t stop Mr. Mueller.

The report is unlikely to be a dictionary-thick tome, which will disappoint some observers. But such brevity is not necessarily good news for the president. In fact, quite the opposite.

For months, the president’s lawyers have tried to discredit Mr. Mueller and this report, but their efforts may have backfired. A concise Mueller report might act as a “road map” to investigation for the Democratic House of Representatives — and it might also lead to further criminal investigation by other prosecutors. A short Mueller report would mark the end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end.

The report is unlikely to be lengthy by design: The special counsel regulations, which I had the privilege of drafting in 1999, envision a report that is concise, “a summary” of what he found. And Mr. Mueller’s mandate is limited: to look into criminal activity and counterintelligence matters surrounding Russia and the 2016 election, as well as any obstruction of justice relating to those investigations.

Anthony D. Romero: Trump’s ‘Emergency’ Declaration Is Illegal

Trump’s emergency declaration is a blatant abuse of power in the service of his anti-immigrant agenda and a brazen attempt to subvert the constitutional separation of powers

President Donald Trump declared a “national emergency” on Friday to pay for his border wall. In doing so, he’s violating the law, subverting the Constitution and hurting American communities. That’s why we’re taking him to court.

We all know what an emergency really is. It’s when something unexpected and dangerous happens that requires an immediate response. Trump himself admitted that there is no emergency when he said, “I didn’t need to do this.”

Trump added that his reason for the declaration was that he wanted to build the wall “much faster.” But that’s not how our democratic system works. Congress considered his desire for $5.7 billion in wall funding — and rejected it, instead appropriating $1.375 billion for new border barriers. The president cannot now try to get his way by unilaterally taking money that Congress has already budgeted for other things.

The Constitution assigns Congress the power of the purse. Members of Congress fight to secure funding for national priorities and their constituents’ needs during the yearly budget battles that dominate Washington for months.

Paul Waldman: There’s yet another Trump administration scandal brewing. And it’s a doozy.

That the Trump administration is deeply, profoundly corrupt is not in question. But there are layers to that corruption that we have barely begun to explore. We are now learning of an absolutely shocking story that shows how so many people in Donald Trump’s orbit see his presidency as an opportunity for personal enrichment, and how that corruption may be warping U.S. policy.

There are jaw-dropping revelations on just about every page of a 24-page report just issued by the House Oversight Committee, based on information provided to them by multiple whistleblowers within the Trump administration. But I’ll do my best to break down the story and its implications. It stars a cast of familiar and not-so-familiar characters — including former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, Trump buddy and billionaire investor Tom Barrack, and even Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law.

We begin with a company called IP3 International, described as “a private company that has assembled a consortium of U.S. companies to build nuclear plants in Saudi Arabia.” IP3, which has an all-star team of former generals and federal officials on its staff and board, was pushing hard on the Trump administration to approve its plan to build these reactors despite the lengthy process required to transfer nuclear technology abroad. And according to the Oversight Committee’s report, they had help

Jennifer Rubin: Mueller’s ‘winding down’ may be less than it appears

The Post reports, “Justice Department officials are preparing for the end of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s nearly two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and believe a confidential report could be issued in coming days, according to people familiar with the discussions.” That report will go to Attorney General William Barr, who refused to promise during his confirmation hearings that he would release the entire report but has little reason to bottle up a report that Congress could subpoena anyway.

The Post report continues, “An adviser to President Trump said there is palpable concern among the president’s inner circle that the report might contain information about Trump and his team that is politically damaging, but not criminal conduct.” That would be the best-case scenario. [..]

Trump and his team are right in one respect: Mueller is highly unlikely to indict a sitting president in violation of Justice Department guidelines. (As a former Justice Department official who has worked with Mueller over the years told me, “He’s not a guy to color outside the lines.”) The immediate consequences for the president will be political. Once Mueller is done, the host of other investigations will continue while the focus moves to Congress. Congress and the voters get the last say as to when and under what conditions Trump’s presidency will end.

Sarah Schulz: Immigrants Aren’t the Emergency—Unchecked Capitalism Is

Communities like mine, in small-town Michigan, are told to blame immigrants when greedy corporations hurt us. We don’t buy it.

Midland, Michigan, where my husband and I are raising our two young children, is a small town surrounded by rural communities. Many of us living here have seen, generation-by-generation, that we’re falling behind.

Our anxiety is real, but we wholeheartedly reject attempts by those in power to blame immigrant families who have their own struggles, or to suggest that a made up “national emergency” is any kind of solution. We know better. [..]

In situations of growing desperation, it’s natural to want to blame someone or some group of people, especially when our loudest leaders are constantly presenting us with an enemy to focus on. We’ve been inundated with messages in the last three years inciting us to blame immigrants for all our troubles, whether it’s lack of jobs or the cost of health care.

Baloney. We all know that our system of unchecked capitalism is to blame.

Too many profitable companies don’t insure their employees or their families. Mega-corporations like Amazon pull in billions — and pay no federal income taxes — while their workers go on food stamps. Others, like General Motors, take tax huge tax breaks only to ship thousands of jobs overseas.

My small-town Michigan neighbors understand that other people, struggling just as we are, aren’t the ones to blame for these harms.