The Mueller report’s release creates more division and questions and talk turns to impeachment.
By Solomon Smith, Managing Editor
A redacted version of the long-awaited Mueller report was released Thursday finding no collusion with Russia but did provide more questions about the Trump Administration’s handling of the investigation and overall conduct.
The documenting, a hefty 438 pages, contains the work product of almost two years of investigation by Special Investigator Robert Mueller. Although released and available to the public it is heavily redacted and ends with no conclusions about obstruction of justice by the president.
“While this report does not prove the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” read parts.
Hope that Mueller’s report would end the fight over whether or not to impeach the president were dashed as each side prepared to explain its own interpretation of the document’s contents to the American people. Attorney General William Barr delayed the report’s release until just before a holiday weekend and held a press conference Thursday several hours before the release. His press conference painted a picture of a hounded president who cooperated fully and was unfairly treated.
“The President took no act that in fact deprived the Special Counsel of the documents and witnesses necessary to complete his investigation,” said Barr. “Apart from whether the acts were obstructive, this evidence of non-corrupt motives weighs heavily against any allegation that the President had a corrupt intent to obstruct the investigation.”
Barr failed to mention that Mueller’s team came to no conclusions about Trumps efforts to interfere in the investigation. The report places the responsibility for the decision of obstruction, however, squarely on congress.
After only a few days of inspection, there have already been a few discoveries that are not good for the Trump administration. There are ten different examples outlined in the report that show the president’s behavior was close to obstruction of justice.
“The president’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful,” wrote Mueller’s team, “but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the president declined to carry out the orders or accede to his requests.”
The investigation discovered that a story written in the New York Times in January 2018, one that Trump called “fake news,” was true. Trump had asked former White House Counsel Donald F. McGahn II, to tell then Attorney General Jefferson Beuaregard Sessions, to “unrecuse” himself and fire Mueller. McGahn had several times been instructed to interfere in the investigation but refused to participate. In volume two, page four of the report in a section titled “The appointment of a Special Counsel and efforts to remove him,” the Mueller team lays it out.
“On June 17, 2017, the President called McGahn at home and directed him to call
the acting attorney general and say that the special counsel had conflicts of interest and must be removed.” The report continues, “McGahn did not carry out the direction, however, deciding that he would resign rather than trigger what he regarded as a potential Saturday Night Massacre."
Deliberately lying to the news media and the voting populace had been flagged within the report and White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders has taken the brunt of the blame.
The list of inappropriate behaviors and lies by the president and staff is detailed through out the report.
While Republicans continue to either remain silent or tout the report as a victory that exonerates the president, Democrats are of two minds about what to do next. Many are calling for further investigations and impeachment. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D) has called for Mueller to testify leaving the possibility “open” for impeachment. Nadler’s committee will be one of the deciding factors. Others have simply called for impeachment outright.
"Mueller put the next step in the hands of Congress: 'Congress has authority to prohibit a President's corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice,'“ tweeted presidential hopeful, and Massachusetts senator, Elizabeth Warren. “The correct process for exercising that authority is impeachment."
The president himself has tweeted a Game of Thrones meme stating “game over”, and several tweets declaring “no collusion” and “no obstruction.” The most telling response from the president, who has tried to culture an air of defiance and indifference, is a quote of Trump in the report itself. In a conversation with Sessions in May 2017 Trump after learning Mueller would be investigating him: “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m f****d.”
There are now about 17 outstanding investigations ongoing as a result of the report. Mueller and McGahn, and several others are expected to testify before congress about it. This week House Democrats, led by Representative Nancy Pelosi (D) are planning to discuss what to do next.