When Attorney General William Barr released his four-page assessment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's 400-page report, I was disappointed at many of my colleagues who immediately jumped on board the "no collusion" and "no obstruction" and "presidential exoneration" bandwagons.

As I write, Barr and his team are scrutinizing the Mueller report for legally required redactions. These include grand jury testimony about people not indicted -- referred to by lawyers as 6(e) materials -- as well as evidence that is classified, pertains to ongoing investigations or the revelation of which might harm national security.

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"If the provisions of the Constitution be not upheld when they pinch, as well as when they comfort, they may as well be abandoned." -- Justice George Sutherland (1862-1942)

Here we go again. The legal battle over the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act -- Obamacare -- will soon be back in court due to the largely unexpected consequences of a series of recent events.

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Last Sunday afternoon, U.S. Attorney General William Barr released a letter, which he said summarized the report he had received from special counsel Robert Mueller about alleged crimes committed by President Donald Trump. Barr wrote that the president's exoneration is complete with respect to any conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence to affect the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. He also wrote that though Trump will not be prosecuted by the Department of Justice for obstruction of justice, the special counsel did not exonerate him.

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"When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal." -- Richard M. Nixon (1913-94)

Legal scholars have been fascinated for two centuries about whether an American president can break the law and remain immune from prosecution. During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln ordered troops to arrest, without warrant, and incarcerate, without due process, many peaceful, law-abiding journalists and newspaper editors -- and even a member of Congress -- in the Northern states. Wasn't that kidnapping?

During World War I, Woodrow Wilson ordered federal agents to arrest people who sang German beer hall songs or read aloud from the Declaration of Independence in public. Wasn't that infringing upon the freedom of speech?

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"Emergency does not create power. Emergency does not increase granted power or remove or diminish the restrictions imposed upon power granted or reserved. The Constitution was adopted in a period of grave emergency. Its grants of power to the federal government and its limitations of the power of the States were determined in the light of emergency, and they are not altered by emergency." -- Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes (1862-1948)

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In an ideal world, the president of the United States would succeed in negotiating a nuclear arms treaty with a foreign government -- and do so with full congressional support; his lawyer would respect the attorney-client privilege and not reveal confidences publicly; Congress would abide the old adage that politics ends where the water's edge begins and lie low when the president is overseas on a delicate mission; the president would not engage in a grievous constitutional overreach that provokes a congressional negation; no one in his administration would have a top-secret security clearance who failed to be truthful to the law enforcement and intelligence folks investigating him; and the president would not fear RICO.

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 Earlier this week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told a group of supporters and journalists that in her view, gun violence is the real emergency. Such a statement, in the context in which she made it, should send shivers down the spines of all who believe in personal liberty protected by the Constitution.

Notwithstanding the terrifying analogy she made about gun violence -- terrifying to those who believe in the individual right to keep and bear arms as articulated by the Second Amendment and interpreted and upheld by the Supreme Court -- Pelosi wasn't really speaking about guns. She was speaking about the presidency and the Constitution.

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Much has been made lately of language in a recently enacted New York state statute that permits abortion up to the time of birth if necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother. New Jersey has had the same provision for two generations via a regulation of the Board of Medical Examiners.

Sadly, when New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the new legislation into law two weeks ago, he did so in a joyful and celebratory atmosphere. What moral person could find joy in this?

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Last Friday, on a quiet residential street at 6 in the morning, the neighborhood exploded in light, noise and terror. Seventeen SUVs and two armored vehicles arrived in front of one house. Each vehicle had sirens blaring and lights flashing. The house, which abutted a canal, was soon surrounded by 29 government agents, each wearing military garb, each carrying a handgun and most carrying high-powered automatic rifles.

In the canal were two amphibious watercraft, out of which more heavily armed government agents came. Circling above all this was a helicopter equipped with long-range precision weaponry and high-powered spotlights.

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Last weekend, The New York Times reported that senior FBI officials were so concerned about whatever President Donald Trump's true motivation for firing FBI Director James Comey was that they immediately initiated a counterintelligence investigation of the president himself.

The Times reported that these officials believed that Trump may have intentionally or unwittingly played into the Kremlin's hands by firing Comey so as to impair the FBI investigation into what efforts, if any, Russian intelligence personnel undertook in attempting to influence the 2016 presidential election and what role, if any, the Trump campaign played in facilitating those efforts.

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When Donald Trump was looking for a catchy phrase during his 2016 presidential campaign to address the issue of immigrants entering the United States unlawfully -- a line that would resonate with his supporters -- he came up with the phrase "build the wall." The reference, of course, is to what Trump advertised would be a 30-foot-tall, thousand-mile-long Mexico-financed physical wall along our border with Mexico.

At first, most folks seemed to dismiss this a pie in the sky. Why would the government of a foreign country pay for a wall in the United States built so as to keep its own citizens and residents from entering the United States? The answer: It wouldn't.

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1) On Jan. 1, 2020, Donald Trump will be

  1. fighting an indictment for fraud.
  2. fighting impeachment proceedings.
  3. running for re-election.
  4. no longer president.

2) In 2019, the House Democrats will

  1. drive Trump crazy with subpoenas and investigations.
  2. finally get their hands on Trump's tax returns.
  3. try to make it more difficult to own a gun.
  4. collectively agree to keep the government within the confines of the Constitution.

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    s2smodern

What if Christmas is a core value of belief in a personal God who lived among us and His freely given promise of eternal salvation that no believer should reject or apologize for? What if Christmas is the rebirth of Christ in the hearts of all believers? What if Christmas is the potential rebirth of Christ in every heart that will have Him, whether a believer or not?

What if Jesus Christ was born about 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem? What if He is true God and true man? What if this is a mystery and a miracle? What if this came about as part of God's plan for the salvation of all people? What if Jesus was sent into the world to atone for our sins by offering Himself as a sacrifice? What if He was sinless? What if His life was the most critical turning point in human history? What if the reason we live is that He died?

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s2smodern

It seems that every time we look at the legal maneuverings that reflect upon President Donald Trump, the allegations of unlawful behavior by him add up. We know that two teams of federal prosecutors are examining his pre-presidential and his in-office behavior.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether Trump and his campaign reached an agreement with any foreign nationals -- particularly Russians -- to receive anything of value and whether he obstructed justice by trying to shut down an FBI investigation of his first national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. And federal prosecutors in Manhattan are looking at bank fraud and campaign financing fraud.

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s2smodern

The nation has paused this week from its toxic political battles to remember the kindness and gentleness of President George H.W. Bush. He was kind to Bill Clinton, who defeated him in 1992, and to Ross Perot, whose unusual entry into the presidential race that year siphoned conservative voters away from Bush and enabled Clinton to amass a majority of electoral votes with only 43 percent of the popular vote. The Bush I knew was the post-presidential one, who, by all appearances, harbored no bitterness or sense of defeat.

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s2smodern

When Donald Trump became president, he swore an oath to uphold the Constitution and enforce federal laws "faithfully." James Madison, who was the scrivener at the Constitutional Convention, insisted on using the word "faithfully" in the presidential oath and including the oath in the body of the Constitution because he knew that presidents would face the temptation to disregard laws they dislike.

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Mike Scruggs