What We Learned From the Mueller Report & Why Those Facts Should Outrage Americans
The Mueller Report only exonerates the President in the alternative reality of Fox News. His mantra of "no collusion, no obstruction" is wearing thin as Americans understand the magnitude of Russian efforts to get Trump elected and how far he was willing to go to cover it up.
Republican Sen. Mitt Romney may have captured that feeling best.
Romney via Politico: “I am sickened at the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty and misdirection by individuals in the highest office of the land, including the President,” Romney said. “I am also appalled that, among other things fellow citizens working in a campaign for president welcomed help from Russia.”
In a nutshell, we know that Trump and his campaign staff sought and received assistance from Moscow. They just didn't reach a specific criminal agreement for that help. And, If the President's actions to derail the investigation don't constitute obstruction of justice, it's difficult to imagine that anyone's ever would. He tried to sabotage the inquiry at every turn.
And here are three other things we know know for sure about President Trump and Russian interference in our 2016 election.
1. Russian President Vladimir Putin really, really wanted Donald Trump to defeat Hillary Clinton. Perhaps the President will finally stop saying that he didn't receive any help from Moscow. Or maybe not.
The Guardian Citing the Mueller Report: "Although Mueller did not find evidence amounting to a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Moscow, the report makes clear that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election “in a sweeping and systematic fashion”.
"It also notes that Russia was keen for Trump to win the 2016 election, beating Hillary Clinton. “The investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome.”
For a variety of reasons, including Trump's desire to do business in Russia, Putin believed that the real estate developer would be easier to deal with. And, Clinton had been a constant thorn in his side as Secretary of State.
ABC,AU.News: "Over the years she [Clinton] has said that Mr Putin "doesn't have a soul", she called him a "tough guy with a thin skin", and she compared his annexation of Crimea in 2014 to the actions of Adolf Hitler in the 1930s."
She also supported the economic sanctions placed on Russia after the annexation, and questioned the legitimacy of his election and his crackdown on dissent in Russia. Yes, Putin had lots of reasons to damage Clinton's campaign.
2. The Trump campaign reached out to Russia for their assistance but Mueller never found the smoking gun, evidence that Russia and Trump entered into a specific criminal conspiracy.
Bloomberg: "Mueller, in his partially redacted 448-page report released on Thursday, laid out a tapestry of contacts between Trump associates and Russian officials and their emissaries before and during the 2016 campaign. The interactions ranged from potential real estate deals in Moscow to the Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort handing off private polling data to an associate with ties to Russian intelligence."
"The investigation established multiple links between Trump campaign officials and individuals tied to the Russian government," Mueller wrote in the report. Although the campaign actively sought the help of Russians -- and even thought it would “benefit electorally” from the stolen emails -- it didn’t reach any criminal agreement with the Russians to break the law, Mueller wrote."
Trump sought and welcomed Putin's help, but there was never a bargain or agreement regarding Russian assistance. Putin had decided to help Trump for his own purposes, without a quid pro quo or coordinated strategy. It may be reprehensible to seek the help of a hostile foreign power to win an election, but there is no specific criminal statute that prevents it.
3. Mueller found plenty of evidence that the President tried to obstruct justice, but he was careful in his choice of words.
Mueller Report: "If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state...... Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards however we are unable to reach that judgment. The evidence we obtained about the president's actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred."
Attorney General William Barr's decision not to pursue an obstruction case is a political decision and generally irrelevant to an understanding of what happened.
NPR: "On obstruction, Mueller's team found a lot of evidence for it. The report points to 10 separate instances of the president's attempts to slow down investigations or oust officials such as Mueller or then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Trump, though, was thwarted at times by those close to him, aides and allies who decided for either legal or political reasons not to follow through on the president's requests."
"The most notable example was Don McGahn, Trump's White House lawyer, refusing to lean on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to fire Mueller. He decided "that he would resign rather than trigger what he regarded as a potential Saturday Night Massacre," according to the report."
In the end, the President may be saved from impeachment by officials in his administration who refused to follow his orders.
The Mueller Report: “The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.”
So, where do we stand now. Democrats must first obtain the unredacted version of the report and decide on impeachment. It's doubtful that they will select that course without some hope that enough Republicans in the Senate could be convinced to convict on the House's Articles of Impeachment. That is quite unlikely unless there are some bombshells within the investigations that Mueller handed off to other prosecutors to pursue.
A better plan would be to lay out a case to voters that Donald Trump has defiled the Presidency and that the Democratic Party will repair America's image, unite us around common goals and restore the nation's global leadership.
By: Don Lam & Curated Content