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Mueller's exit opens door for 2020 Dems to challenge Trump on issues

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 3/26/2019 Joseph Simonson
Elizabeth Warren standing in front of a crowd © Provided by MediaDC: Washington Newspaper Publishing Company, Inc.

Even as some Democrats show obvious dismay that special counsel Robert Mueller failed to find collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, the end of the investigation provides President Trump's Democratic challengers a chance to showcase their policy proposals and contrast their ideas with his.

"I don't know what world people are living in, but I have not heard of a Democrat campaigning on this report, they're focused on a policy agenda," Democratic strategist Antjuan Seawright told the Washington Examiner.

"What the conclusion of the investigation does is take out the oxygen from Republicans from talking about the special prosecutor. It allows for less noise about impeachment that the right-wing wants us to talk about. It gives a bigger stage and platform to the issues."

While a number of Democrats, both on the campaign trail and in Congress, have been focused on presenting policy alternatives to the current administration's, the media and a number of congressional Democrats kept their focus on the special counsel's investigation. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has been speaking to black voters in Mississippi about her plan to fix America's healthcare, whereas California Rep. Adam Schiff has been on television promising a legal reckoning for the Trump administration once Mueller finished his report.

To be sure, a number of Democrats have promised even more hearings after they see Mueller's report in its entirety, and there's no sign parts of the Democratic Party's base will ever admit that the president or members of his campaign didn't collude with the Russian government to win in 2016.

Still, the biggest divisions within the field of Democratic candidates are not disagreements over the role that Russia played in Trump's victory but arguments over policy ideas such as Medicare for All, universal basic income, and wealth taxes.

"Democrats win on the issues against Republicans. The narrative of 2020 will be what has this president done for you? No candidate is going to win on the ideas that Trump is a Russian operative," Democratic strategist Jennifer Holdsworth told the Examiner.

For a candidate proposing radical changes to America's healthcare system and economy such as Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the conclusion of the special counsel investigation allows the self-proclaimed democratic socialist to share his ideas without worrying about his previous run for the nomination.

Nevertheless, some 2020 contenders might find themselves without an issue they crave. Sen. Kamala Harris of California, who has been running on her history as a prosecutor in California, a lack of legal challenges to the president might be a future hindrance. And former Rep. Beto O'Rourke of Texas awkwardly remarked on Saturday, right before Attorney General William Barr's summary of the Mueller report, that it is "beyond the shadow of a doubt” that Trump colluded with Russia in 2016.

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