In the long-awaited, widely anticipated “bombshell” report by special counsel Robert Mueller, President Trump and his campaign were cleared of “collusion” or cooperation with Russians to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. From the start of the investigation almost two years ago, Trump branded it a witch hunt, and he said the report totally exonerated him.
A summary of the report, released by Attorney General Bill Barr, said Mueller “employed 19 lawyers who were assisted by a team of approximately 40 FBI agents, intelligence forensic accountants and other professional staff.” Barr said the special counsel’s investigation included more than 2,800 subpoenas, nearly 500 search warrants, more than 230 orders for communication records and “13 requests to foreign governments for evidence.” Exhaustive is the word. Estimates of the costs range up to $35 million.
Barr quoted this directly from Mueller’s report: “the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” Expanding on that critical point, Barr’s summary said, “the special counsel did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in these efforts, despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.”
On the “obstruction of justice” question pursued relentlessly by Democrats and their media wing, Mueller punted. He cited evidence “on both sides of the question,” and asserted that “while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it does not exonerate him.” After reviewing Mueller’s report and consulting with DOJ officials, Barr and Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein — who appointed Mueller — concluded that the evidence was “not sufficient to establish that the president committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.”
The outcome served to keep the political pot boiling, virtually made to order for the Democrats and their media sycophants who had shown even before Mueller’s report that they would keep stoking their 33-month campaign to bring down Trump. Democrats in Congress demanded to see the complete Mueller report and declared Barr’s summary was biased because he was appointed by the president.
Just how little Mueller’s exhaustive investigation mattered was expressed by Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, a vociferous Trump antagonist. Regardless of the report summary, Schiff declared, “Undoubtedly there is collusion.” He pledged to continue to investigate whether Trump or people around him “compromised in any way with a hostile foreign power,” saying it did not appear that “was any part of Mueller’s report.” Targets of investigations include talk of a Trump Tower to be built in Moscow and allegations of money laundering and loans involving Trump properties. Democrats may haul Barr before a congressional committee to testify about the Mueller report and investigation, and some Democrats want to call Mueller as well.
A point made by Trump should resonate across the land. He said those who pushed the false narrative linking him to Russian interference and worse did a terrible thing. “We can never let this happen to another president again,” he said. “We can never, ever let this happen to another president again.” If only that would be the result, how much better our divided country would be, but don’t look for such an outcome in the foreseeable future.
On another point, there is wide bipartisan agreement. Without a dissenting vote, the House recently called for Mueller’s report to be made public — and Trump agreed, telling reporters: “Let it come out. Let people see it.” But he said the decision is Barr’s to make. As for how complete any release will be, there are laws and DOJ rules and policies that require certain information be kept secret including references to people not charged with any crime.
Barr has said in congressional testimony, “My goal will be to provide as much transparency as I can consistent with the law. I can assure you that where judgments are to be made, I will make those judgments based solely on the law and I will not let personal, political or other improper interests influence my decision.”
That’s the right course. All the information that can legally and properly be released should indeed be made public as quickly as possible. As Trump has said, “Let the people see it.” After all, they are on the hook for up to $35 million. Let the people see what they got for their money.