It's Mueller time - buckle up, America

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Elie Honig says the end of the Mueller probe does not necessarily mean the end of legal troubles for people in the Trump orbit.

Posted: Mar 24, 2019 8:00 AM
Updated: Mar 24, 2019 8:00 AM

Strap in, America.

That was the advice of CNN legal analyst Elie Honig after Robert Mueller delivered his report examining Russian interference in the 2016 election to Attorney General William Barr on Friday. "A major milestone," wrote Honig. "But it is the calm; the storm lies ahead." Get ready, he warned, for a "multifront legal and political battle that will test fundamental notions of due process, executive authority and separation of powers."

Former FBI Director James Comey outlined Thursday in an op-ed for The New York Times what he hopes to see in the report: "a demonstration to the world -- and maybe most of all to our president and his enablers -- that the United States has a justice system that works."

As the nation waited to find out what's actually in the document, Julian Zelizer issued a reminder of the "damage that the investigation has already inflicted" -- including five high-level officials and Trump associates who have been "convicted or pleaded guilty, most of them after lying about their interaction with Russians."

The Conways aren't exactly "Love's Labour's Lost," but...

George Conway has been attacking Donald Trump on Twitter for months. He took aim again this week, this time at the President's mental state, and Conway's wife (and Trump's adviser) Kellyanne, decided to take sides -- and not with the guy with whom she shares a last name. Bill Carter said the ongoing marital saga managed to be resonant of "King Lear" and yet too obvious a comedy for the professionals: "If some writer at 'SNL' doesn't come up with a sketch that shows the Conways' conversations over things like kids' playdates and family vacation plans devolving into the pattern we often see in Kellyanne's arguments with (CNN's Chris) Cuomo, it will only be because the idea may be too obvious to be funny."

Why can't Donald Trump let John McCain rest in peace?

Trump himself took trolling up a notch by mixing it up with a dead man ... and a cathedral. After years of feuding with Sen. John McCain -- who died last August -- Trump mystifyingly revived the rancor on Twitter, and complained during a speech Wednesday: "I gave him the kind of funeral that he wanted, which as President I had to approve. I don't care about this. I didn't get thank you." In response, the National Cathedral in Washington -- site of McCain's services -- clapped back in a statement that produced a slew of incredulous headlines, like this one from Buzzfeed's Julia Reinstein: "Trump got dunked on by the National Cathedral. Yes, the National Cathedral."

The senator's widow, Cindy McCain, tweeted a photo of a horrific message sent to her by a stranger in the wake of Trump's tweets. Communications professor Richard Cherwitz wrote that such messages are an ominous partial index of the toll Trump's discourse has taken. Retired Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby addressed Trump himself: "With all due respect, sir, you need to stop railing against John McCain. It's beneath the office to which the American people elected you. And, quite frankly, it's beneath every measure of common decency."

Michael D'Antonio suggested something "is terribly wrong" with Trump. His chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, felt compelled to deny on television that his boss is a white supremacist, D'Antonio noted. Trump has become "a President whose behavior is so troll-like that Americans have come to expect him to act more like an out-of-control Reddit commenter than a chief executive of the United States."

The March Madness of Me, Me, Me

Few would accuse Donald Trump of modesty. But progressives are way off base if they think his supporters care about that, wrote Victor Davis Hanson. He offered 10 reasons they like him anyway -- among them, he wrote, Trump's transformative leadership amid record low rates of peacetime unemployment.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) filed a defamation suit against Twitter this week for, among other things, allowing users to post insulting tweets about him. Kara Alaimo observed that he had a point, but was missing a bigger one. "Nunes is right that online abuse is a big problem. But rather than seeking millions of dollars for himself, he should use his power as a member of Congress to pursue laws that compel social platforms and law enforcement bodies to take action to help all victims of online hate -- most of whom are much more vulnerable than he is."

More Democrats on the merry-go-round

The week brought a flurry of activity in the emerging battle royale for the 2020 Democratic nomination. After months of campaigning, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand officially declared her candidacy, South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg emerged as a dark horse sweetheart and Beto O'Rourke showed he could run with the big dogs (i.e., Bernie Sanders) when it comes to fundraising.

The big buzz, however, hovered around Joe Biden, and the rumors that he would soon announce his candidacy AND a running mate: possibly former Georgia gubernatorial candidate and political dynamo Stacey Abrams. Biden and Abrams would be an "odd pairing," reflected Paul Waldman in The Washington Post, as they "have fundamentally different ideas about how Democrats can win elections:" Biden wants to persuade GOP-leaning voters; Abrams' wants to mobilize Democratic-leaning voters.

Meanwhile, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, "even though she's not getting the breathless headlines of the B-boys -- Beto O'Rourke, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg," is "adeptly setting the bar for every other candidate in this race," assessed Jill Filipovic of Warren's performance at a CNN town hall Monday night. She nailed it, wrote Filipovic. "The question now isn't her skill, style or substance." It's whether the media will give a "steady, competent woman her due."

Warren made news Monday night when she suggested getting rid of the Electoral College. It's an idea worth considering, wrote Jamelle Bouie in The New York Times. He agreed with novelist James Michener, who as an elector in 1968 called the Electoral College a "time bomb lodged near the heart of the nation."

Not so fast, said senior Obama administration official Tom Wyler. "Don't kill the Electoral College. Just make it work better" -- by doing away with a winner-take-all approach in favor of allocating electoral votes on a proportional basis.

Another smart take:

-- Jen Psaki: What John Hickenlooper has to do to win

Say their names

As New Zealand and the world continued to mourn the 50 victims of the recent mosque attacks, a new resolve took shape: focus on the fallen, not the gunman. "You will never hear me mention his name," vowed Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Law professor Khaled Beydoun posted a widely shared Twitter thread featuring the lives and stories of the many individuals shot dead at prayer. He explained in an op-ed: "For far too long, American audiences have been largely unsympathetic to slain Muslims. ... Saying their names, and telling their stories as best I could ... immersing myself in learning about people, who were killed for adhering to my very faith, was an emotional journey like no other."

Advocate Igor Volsky and trauma surgeon (and gun violence survivor) Joseph Sakran were encouraged by Ardern's other words -- "our gun laws will change" -- which went beyond the typical American "thoughts and prayers." "Rather than stereotyping gun owners into good guys and bad guys," they wrote, the public health approach recognizes that firearms are dangerous and should be hard to get.

We asked how you feel about the college admissions scandal. Your stories were incredible

CNN Opinion asked readers to share their stories in the wake of the admissions scandal. From more than 400 responses, Jhodie-Ann Williams, Kirsi Goldynia and I curated a remarkable cohort of stories. Christian Badillo, a Stanford senior, who is the first person from his Chicago public high school to be admitted to the university, saw the alleged scheme as a "slap in the face to the American dream." High school senior Mick Hashimoto said of his peers -- many of whom are waiting this month to hear back from colleges -- "We are frustrated with what America has become."

And artist Aimee Manion wrote that college felt like a bait and switch; on the far side of it, "student loan debt shaped the course of my life." Read them all here.

Another smart take:

-- John MacIntosh: The corrupting influence of college sports

Health is the key to Africa's economic growth

Rwandan President Paul Kagame and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates sounded out the clear link for Africa's growing population between economic growth and greater investment in health care there: Every vaccination is "like a shot of adrenaline into the heart of the economy." In Rwanda, which has been working toward universal health care for its citizens since the mid-2000s, the country's GDP growth bears this connection out, they wrote.

More smart takes:

-- Nicole Slaughter-Graham: New postpartum depression drug won't help most mothers

-- Nisha Jogia Soni: What raising a child with Down syndrome really means

Dumbledore's love dares to speak its name -- and it's about time

J.K. Rowling set the global community of Harry Potter fans on red alert with a recent interview in which she described Albus Dumbledore's relationship with the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald as "incredibly intense" and "passionate." Putting out an important gay romance like this one "as an afterthought ... feels like a cop-out," opined Holly Thomas. "How wonderful it would have been for millions of children to have known that Dumbledore was gay from the beginning of the series -- and to have grown up with that knowledge woven into the books."

"The books can't be rewritten" for a more socially aware time, she wrote. "The best hope ... might be for any current or future children's authors to include clear LGBTQ narratives as par for the course, and for those stories to become as beloved, and as influential, as 'Harry Potter.'"

Don't miss these

-- Nic Robertson: The UK might be hacking off its constitutional limbs

-- Juliette Kayyem and Monica Medina: Why women should be required to register for the draft

-- Gavin Newsom: Why I put a freeze on the death penalty

-- Kate Maltby: Saudi Arabia and Iran share a mutual disdain for women who speak up

-- Carl Safina: A dead whale containing 90 pounds of plastic is message in a bottle

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