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Approval ratings drop as Congress protects its own

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Dear Editor:

There is one thing the left, right and center agree on: We disapprove of Congress. According to a Statista poll, the approval rating of Congress between March 2018 and February 2019 has ranged from a low of 15 percent to a high of 21 percent. Only in March of this year did the approval reach 26 percent. Congress' handling of the Mueller report has been a driving topic. On the left, much of the discussion is about whether or not to impeach (other polls show Democrats nearly equally split on this question.) On the right, there are a variety of voices, but they do not seem to get the same press the arguments within the Democratic party. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska, asked some thoughtful questions of AG Barr in the hearings last week. Said Sasse: "I think it would be helpful for us to have a shared understanding as we head into the 2020 election, of what campaign operatives should well understand is beyond the pale." That is a forward-looking statement, and if Congress actually acted on that, making clear what is legal and illegal, it would help preserve our republic.

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, also voiced concerns after reading the Mueller report: "I am sickened at the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty and misdirection by individuals in the highest office of the land, including the president. I am also appalled that, among other things, fellow citizens working in a campaign for president welcomed help from Russia." Remember, years ago Romney identified Russia as the U.S.'s most serious foreign policy concern. Most other Republican senators want us to move on from the Mueller report. Lindsey Graham said recently that without a crime, there can be no obstruction. That is the exact opposite of what Graham said when Bill Clinton was being impeached.

This "laws only apply to my political opponents" approach to preserving the republic are common in the political class -- it is seen in both parties. The McConnell Republicans want us to move on and act as if there is nothing to see here. Some Democrats want to impeach because they see it as a constitutional duty important to the preservation of the republic while others want to impeach merely for political gain. If you read even the redacted Mueller report, you know that Romney is right -- there is a lot of behavior demonstrated by the Trump administration that is appalling. AG Barr's very short summary of the Mueller report whitewashes all the ethical and legal peril described in the Mueller report. Yet 400 former Department of Justice prosecutors have signed a letter saying Mueller's report should have led to "multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice." Mueller did not charge the president because of Department of Justice policy that prohibits charging a sitting president although Mueller did state that the president can be charged after leaving office.

The Constitution says Congress's responsibility is to act as a check on executive branch abuse. Should we reward the Congress by re-electing them if they want to brush these ethical and legal abuses under the rug? Is winning more important than the rule of law? If we, as citizens and voters, reward the political class for such abuses, then we encourage Congress to not work constructively to solve hard problems, but rather we ensure a long future of low-approval of Congress while they continue to act in their own interests, not the interests of constituents. The vote is the only real check citizens have on poor congressional behavior. Our republic, our nation where nobody is above the law, truly depends on this. I urge all DCI readers to read the full Mueller report. It takes time and effort, but citizenship is work. Sasse seems to think behavior described there is "beyond the pale." I agree, the acts and behaviors described are beyond the pale, no matter the party who committed them. What do you think?

Joseph McGill

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