ALTHOUGH “the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion … the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
That’s the conclusion reached by former FBI Director Robert Mueller, who was appointed as special counsel by then-Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on May 17, 2017 to investigate charges of Russian collusion by President Donald Trump and his campaign.
Mueller’s team convened a grand jury in Washington, issued more than 2,800 subpoenas, made 13 requests to foreign governments, obtained more than 230 court orders for records, and interviewed 500 witnesses, including current and former members of the Trump campaign and the president’s administration.
But after their two-year, $35 million investigation, Mueller’s 19 hand-picked attorneys and some 40 FBI agents, intelligence analysts, forensic accountants and others assigned to the probe found no collusion with the Russians—by Trump, by his campaign staff, or by any Americans for that matter, according to the 448-page report.
“The Special Counsel did not find that any U.S. person or Trump campaign official or associate conspired or knowingly coordinated” with the Russians “despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign,” Attorney General William Barr reiterated in his March 24 summary of the redacted report.
On the second major charge against Trump, obstruction of justice, Mueller had this to say: “While this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
But Barr, in consultation with Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein, determined that Trump’s sometimes bizarre reaction to the two-year Russian collusion probe outlined in Volume 2 of Mueller’s report did not rise to the level of criminal obstruction. In the absence of “an underlying crime related to Russian election interference,” Barr told Congress, obstruction “could not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is what our system of justice demands the government produce before someone is deemed guilty of a crime. The special counsel admitted, and the attorney general and his deputy concurred, that the government cannot prove that Trump obstructed justice during its investigation of non-existent Russian collusion. If that’s not exoneration, what is?
Democrats on Capitol Hill and various pundits who had hitched their stars to the collusion bandwagon and were left in the lurch by the Mueller Report’s findings now seem determined to continue looking for a “smoking gun” that Mueller’s team somehow overlooked.
House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff, D–Calif., claimed that Trump’s behavior was “far worse” than Watergate, the scandal that forced former President Richard Nixon to resign. But even Bob Woodward, one of the former Washington Post reporters who broke the Watergate story, said that the intelligence community’s reliance on the unverified “garbage” in the Steele dossier funded by Hillary Clinton’s campaign that started the whole thing “is highly questionable” and “needs to be investigated.”
Former U.S. Attorney and special counsel Joe DiGenova, who called Trump “the Alfred Dreyfus of the 21st century,” questioned why the Trump campaign was not told about Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election and has also called for an investigation of the investigators. The American people have the right to know if any laws that forbid spying on American citizens were violated.
If the charges of collusion with Russia had been proven true, and Trump was exposed as a traitor who had been working with a foreign adversary to get elected to the White House, it would have triggered a constitutional crisis unprecedented in American history. But they weren’t true.
Partisan politics aside, the fact that Mueller’s exhaustive investigation found no evidence that President Trump or any of his associates conspired to tamper with the 2016 presidential election with one of our nation’s greatest enemies is good news.
It means our electoral system is sound; attempts by a foreign power to undermine our republic failed; and whether you love or despise the current occupant of the Oval Office, his presidency is legitimate.
And all Americans should be thankful for that.