Mueller Report Poses New Questions
On Thursday, the Department of Justice released a redacted copy of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, bringing in new questions to whether or not President Donald Trump colluded with the Russian government in the 2016 presidential election. The report also raised questions surrounding possible obstruction of justice on the part of the president.
This release from the Justice Department comes two weeks after Attorney General William Barr submitted a summary of the findings inside in the investigation. On the issue of whether the Trump Campaign had colluded with Russia, Barr wrote, “The Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”
Thursday’s release brought into light further complications as to the issue of collusion. Although Mueller confirmed Barr’s comments in that he “did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities,” it is not to say that there was no collusion. Rather, Mueller suggested that there was inconclusive evidence to suggest that President Trump and his campaign was directly involved in Russian crimes.
Perhaps more troubling was whether President Trump had obstructed justice after the election. In the report, Mueller studied 10 instances in which Trump may have obstructed justice, and proceeded to divide them in two phases. The most significant move that may suggest that President Trump had clear motives to obstruct the Russia investigation was when he fired FBI Director James Comey.
After firing Comey, the White House asserted that President Trump decided to fire the FBI Director at the suggestion of the Justice Department. However, the evidence suggests that Trump had not contacted the Department prior to dismissing Comey. President Trump later said to Russian officials that he “had faced tremendous pressure because of Russia” and felt that it had been relieved after firing Comey.
The Mueller report also spotlights the President’s reaction when told that a Special Counsel investigation would be appointed. President Trump said, “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m f*cked.” Consequently, this also led Trump to take aim at his former Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, criticizing him for recusing from the investigation. The Mueller report indicated that Trump had said, “How can you let this happen… you were supposed to protect me.”
Although Mueller concluded that he neither charges nor clears the president, it suggests that it is up to Congress whether or not to pursue with further investigations and impeachment proceedings. With calls for impeachment coming, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) reflected, “[Trump] is just not worth it. Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country.”
Following the release, Republicans came to the defense of the president. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said, “Nothing we saw today changes the underlying results of the 22-month-long Mueller investigation that ultimately found no collusion.”