Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro has eight key takeaways from Attorney General William Barr's release of a redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's much-ballyhooed report on purported "collusion" in the 2016 presidential election between then-Republican candidate Donald Trump and the hostile Russian government. I would be hard-pressed to disagree with any of Ben's conclusions. And, as I wrote last month, I remain righteously indignant at the intensive Democrat-Media Complex-inflicted assault upon what Kurt Schlichter likes to refer to as us "Normals":
The unfathomable media malfeasance has been nigh criminal — and its gaslighting comical. Overly zealous Democrats, such as [Adam] Schiff and a myriad other hucksters, have enough collective egg on their faces to feed an entire Afghan province. Our purportedly apolitical gatekeepers in the venerable intelligence community have beclowned themselves to the point of being written off as one oleaginous cesspool of partisan hackery.
To be sure, Lee Smith, writing last month at Tablet, remains spot-on in castigating the Russiagate caper as "the biggest political scandal in a generation."
But it is worth emphasizing one point, in particular, about Mueller's report. The one-paragraph ultimate conclusion, presented on page 394 of the available document PDF (and labeled page 182 in the report itself), amounts to a remarkable warping and distorting of the prosecutorial function. Mueller refuses to expressly exonerate Trump and states that, "while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him."
The fundamental problem is that this is simply not how prosecution works, under the Anglo-American legal system.
As a political matter, Mueller's refusal to expressly exonerate Trump opens the door for a tendentious Democratic push of articles of impeachment, as Ben notes. But the potential legal implications of Mueller's conclusion are even more dastardly, in the long run, than are the political implications. Former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy hit the nail on the head yesterday at the New York Post:
In his report, Mueller didn’t resolve the issue. If he had been satisfied that there was no obstruction crime, he said, he would have so found. He claimed he wasn’t satisfied. Yet he was also not convinced that there was sufficient proof to charge. Therefore, he made no decision, leaving it to Attorney General William Barr to find that there was no obstruction.
This is unbecoming behavior for a prosecutor and an outrageous shifting of the burden of proof: The constitutional right of every American to force the government to prove a crime has been committed, rather than to have to prove his or her own innocence.
Mueller's complete legal distortion of the burden of proof is, in some ways, actually even more egregious than the political distortion of the burden of proof that Senate Democrats fomented in L'Affaire Kavanaugh — conduct which I still genuinely consider to be something closely approximating the lowest moment that any major political party has had in the modern history of Western civilization. Whereas the Kavanaugh imbroglio was a political matter for Senate Democrats, who could have ultimately seen fit to withhold consent on the judge's Supreme Court nomination for any ostensible reason imaginable, the Mueller's distortion is a legal matter that has potential — especially if its logic were to extrapolate from the idiosyncratic legal situation of a sitting president to the broader civilian realm — to coarsen and corrode the very social contract between citizen and state, wherein legal innocence is presumed unless a prosecuting government entity can firmly prove guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt."
If a prosecutor does not have the evidence to formally bring forward charges against an individual, then he ought to not equivocate. The prosecutor simply ought to state that he does not, in fact, have that evidence and that there will therefore be no charges filed. Period.
With Kavanaugh, the Left threw away thousands of years of "innocent until proven guilty" civilizational norms, but at least it occurred within a context of a political judgment. The extension of that discarding of the "innocent until proven guilty" civilizational norm to the legal realm ought to be downright harrowing for anyone who cares about resisting authoritarianism. It amounts to nothing less than the complete inversion of one of the most foundational tenets of our Anglo-American legal order. And it ought to be stridently and unequivocally rebutted, lest it perniciously spread any further.