Will They Impeach? Part Three

What Does The Release of the Mueller Report Mean For The Trump Presidency

The two-year long investigation led by Robert Mueller found no evidence that President Donald Trump or any of his aides coordinated with the Russian government’s 2016 election interference, according to a summary of the special counsel’s key findings made public on March 24. Mueller, who spent nearly two years investigating Russia’s effort to sabotage the 2016 Presidential Election, found no conspiracy “despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign,” Barr wrote in a letter to lawmakers. Mueller’s team drew no conclusions about whether President Trump illegally obstructed justice, Barr said, so he made his own decision. The Attorney General and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, determined that the special counsel’s investigators had insufficient evidence to establish that the president committed that offense. Attorney General Barr cautioned, however, that Mueller’s report states that “while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him” on the obstruction of justice issue.

The release of the findings was a significant political victory for President Donald Trump and lifted a cloud that has hung over his Presidency since before he took the oath of office. It is also likely to alter discussion in Congress about the fate of the Trump presidency, as some Democrats had pledged to wait until the special counsel finished his work before deciding whether to initiate impeachment proceedings. President Trump and his supporters trumpeted the news almost immediately, even as they mischaracterized the special counsel’s findings. “It was a complete and total exoneration,” Trump told reporters in Florida before boarding Air Force One. “It’s a shame that our country had to go through this. To be honest, it’s a shame that your president has had to go through this.” Trump added, “This was an illegal takedown that failed.”

Attorney General William Barr’s letter was the culmination of a tense two days since Robert Mueller delivered his report to the Justice Department. Barr spent the weekend poring over the special counsel’s work, as President Donald Trump strategized with lawyers and political aides. Hours later, Barr delivered his letter describing the special counsel’s findings to Congress. Barr’s letter said that his “goal and intent” was to release as much of the Mueller report as possible, but warned that some of the reports were based on grand jury material that “by law cannot be made public.” Barr planned at a later date to send lawmakers the detailed summary of Mueller’s full report that the attorney general is required under law to deliver to Capitol Hill. Despite the comprehensive nature of the report on the Mueller investigation, many Congressional Democrats expressed concern regarding its findings. For example, shortly after the release of the Mueller findings, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said in a Twitter post that he planned to call Barr to testify about what he said were “very concerning discrepancies and final decision making at the Justice Department.”

It can be argued that the release of the Mueller report is beneficial for President Donald Trump going into the 2020 Election.

Overall, the findings of the Mueller report will have a significant impact on American politics going forward. The biggest takeaway from the report is that there is no tangible evidence explicitly connecting President Donald Trump to Russian efforts to sway the 2016 Presidential Election in his favor. The lack of evidence in this area weakens the efforts to impeach President Trump. While there is ample evidence that Trump committed serious financial crimes prior to his Presidency and was involved in White Supremacist hate groups such as the KKK since at least the 1970s, the US Consitution makes it difficult at best to indict a sitting President. The only area that Trump can potentially be indicted on is his attempt to cover up his affair with Stormy Daniels and violate campaign finance laws by doing so, though there is little will on the part of Congress to pursue these charges.

Additionally, it can be argued that the partial exoneration of President Donald Trump will have a positive effect on his poll numbers going into 2020. For example, President Trump’s approval rating has hovered between 42-48% over the past few months. Many observers note that the President’s approval ratings remained in this range due to the ongoing Mueller investigation. With the Mueller investigation behind him, it is likely that Trump’s approval ratings will increase over the coming months assuming that the economy remains strong and no major foreign policy issues will emerge. These higher approval ratings may linger into 2020 and might be enough to (unfortunately) carry Trump to a second term in office.

References   [ + ]

1. (Rep. Nadler
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Matt has been studying and analyzing politics at all levels since the 2004 Presidential Election. He writes about political trends and demographics, the role of the media in politics, comparative politics, political theory, and the domestic and international political economy. Matt is also interested in history, philosophy, comparative religion, and record collecting.

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