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Views from the Right column: Facts and misleading the public

OKeefe is a freelance writer and retired 3M business researcher who lives in Pierce County.

There's nothing like being accused of deliberately misleading readers in an opinion piece when different conclusions can be drawn from the same information. Differing conclusions are common in courts as well as with the Mueller Report.

Regarding President Trump's possible obstruction of justice, those who pine for impeachment proceedings want to believe that intent, if it exists, equals action. In two years, no actions of the president obstructed anything, regardless of any desire he might have had to stop an investigation built on allegations in a fake dossier. He has the legal right to fire a special prosecutor believed to have conflicts of interest, but he didn't.

And if thinking about doing something is the same as doing it, a lot of us belong behind bars. One role of White House legal advisors is to explain to the president what carrying through with an action could mean legally or constitutionally. Mueller's report was written for the attorney general, not for the Congress or the public. AG William Barr, a longtime Justice Department lawyer, concluded that obstruction did not take place.

To assume Barr's opinion is biased is to accept his guilt without proof. To assume opinions of political pundits, commentators, and reporters are unbiased is foolish. Why? Because media are often biased. A classic example is how candidate Donald Trump addressed the need for heightened border security in a 2015 campaign speech.

His words:

"When do we beat Mexico at the border? They're laughing at us, at our stupidity . . . When Mexico sends its people they're not sending their best . . .They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists, and some, I assume, are good people. But I speak to border guards and they tell us what we're getting."

What did The New York Times, Associated Press, Fortune, Rolling Stone, CBS News, Time, the L.A. Times, Hollywood Reporter, Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Politico, and The Des Moines Register report? That Trump called, branded, characterized, described, referred to, or otherwise labeled Mexicans or Mexican/Latino immigrants as rapists, criminals, or both.

Trump didn't call all Mexicans anything. Honest journalists would acknowledge that the rapist comment was made in the context of problematic people crossing the border from Mexico illegally — those who carry drugs, extort money, belong to violent gangs, or traffic, assault, or abandon women and children in the desert. He wasn't lying or exaggerating. Mexican drug cartels control most of the illegal entries and then, as now, the Mexican government did nothing.

Since media spokespeople deliberately reframed Trump's words to create a racist narrative — and succeeded masterfully — why wouldn't they conflate possible obstruction of justice with undeniable obstruction to win points in the court of public opinion? Unfortunately for them, in courts of law, only legal distinctions win or lose cases.

The Mueller report describes "three basic elements" necessary for an obstruction charge: an obstructive act; some form of nexus [link] between the obstructive act and an official proceeding; and criminal (i.e., corrupt) intent. Both AG Barr and Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein believe that not all of those elements were met. They "disagreed with some of [Mueller's] legal theories and felt that some of the episodes examined did not amount to obstruction as a matter of law."

An inspector general probe is underway to determine how warrants were procured from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court [FISA] to find evidence of collusion with Russia — collusion already known to be unlikely. If deception was used to acquire those warrants and the ensuing investigations went far beyond their intent, whose heads should be the first to roll?

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