The American people have a right to decide for themselves.
Let’s see the report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Let’s read it and decide for ourselves how convincingly it clears Donald Trump and his presidential campaign of collusion with Russia and obstruction of justice.
The Mueller report, if we are to believe a four-page summary released on Sunday by Attorney General William Barr, should put to rest serious talk of impeachment. As Republicans learned two decades ago when they impeached President Bill Clinton for lying about sex, that’s a fool’s game unless the American people are behind you — and the Mueller report’s findings are not about to turn more Americans against President Donald Trump.
If Trump is a terrible president — and he is — the better course is to vote him out of office next year.
But in the interest of pulling a polarized country closer together, if only slightly, the Department of Justice would do well to release as much of the Mueller report as possible, within the rules of grand jury secrecy.
If in fact Mueller found no evidence that the Trump campaign worked hand-in-hand with the Russians, as Barr states in his summary, let’s hear that in the report’s own words. If there is insufficient evidence that Trump attempted to obstruct justice — Barr’s conclusion, based on his reading of the report — let’s also read that for ourselves.
With due to respect to Barr, he simply can’t be trusted on this second point. He may have made up his mind a long time ago. He was appointed attorney general by Trump in February after submitting a 20-page legal memo on why the president had not obstructed justice.
We’d like to read the full Mueller report, or as much as prudently possible, because we’re inclined to think we’d accept its findings, and we’d like to move on.
We suspect millions of other Americans, Trump critics included, would like to do the same.
Whatever else one might say about the Mueller report, it is the product of an honorable man and team who shut out politics and put the law first. The completion of the report marks a good day for America. Consider what it took to get us here:
An attorney general, Jeff Sessions, refused to shut down a Justice Department investigation despite constant pressure and ridicule from his boss, the president. A deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, appointed the superbly qualified Mueller to head the investigation, despite further furious attacks from Trump. And Mueller and his team quietly dug for two years, issuing 2,800 subpoenas and interviewing some 500 witnesses, despite Trump’s almost daily cries of “witch hunt.”
This was no witch hunt. It was the American system, prevailing.
“I’m just very proud that this happened,” Chicago attorney Dan Webb, who was a special counsel in the Iran-Contra Affair in the 1980s, told us. “It’s a good result for the country. … Government worked as it’s supposed to.”
Trump has called the Mueller report a “complete and total exoneration,” which it is not. Especially as to the matter of obstruction of justice — whether the president tried to kill the investigation — that remains an open question. Barr sees no obstruction of justice, at least nothing that rises to the level of a crime, but members of Congress may see it otherwise, once allowed to read the report for themselves.
The fact that Mueller found no proof of an underlying crime — no collusion with Russia — does not matter.
Now, however, the investigative spotlight should turn more to Trump’s business dealings, past and present.
While the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York is busily investigating possible past financial crimes by Trump and his various businesses, Democrats in the House would be wise to step up their investigation into any current financial and personal conflicts of interest.
The FBI launched the original investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election because, in part, Trump was behaving like Vladimir Putin’s lapdog, taking the Russian president’s side against our nation’s best interests and seeing no evil.
People wondered what Putin had on Trump — and they wonder still. Nothing there has changed.
If Trump is in any way beholden to Russia, Saudi Arabia or another foreign power — as his secret efforts to seal a deal for a Trump hotel in Moscow during the 2016 campaign would suggest — we had better find out.
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