For a long time, the public and the White House alike have been waiting with bated breath to hear the final reports of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. And finally, this past weekend, Mueller relayed his full comprehensive report and recommendations to Attorney General William Barr.
In the letter Barr delivered to Congress, he did not express the findings of the whole report but only made mention of its “principal conclusions.” According to Barr, Mueller’s report says that there is no evidence that the Trump campaign “conspired or coordinated” with the Russian government or a Russian “troll farm” in events such as the hacking of Democrats emails or the release of Wikileaks emails.
Naturally, the president saw this as a victory, tweeting “No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION.” It’s easy to see why Trump would consider the report a total victory. After all, Mueller was appointed almost two years ago to look into possible connections between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. During that entire time period, Trump repeatedly denounced the investigation, regularly calling it a witch hunt.
But Mueller did not exonerate Trump. He didn’t even absolve the president of obstructing justice. According to Barr, Mueller stated that “while his report didn’t conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” Mueller’s investigation also concluded that Trump’s campaign received “multiple offers” of assistance from Russians. However, Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein concluded that Trump wouldn’t be accused of obstruction of justice.
Seeing how they got to that conclusion isn’t that hard to comprehend. Before Trump even nominated him to replace Jeff Sessions, the attorney general previously wrote a memo criticizing Mueller’s investigation. But we can also give him the benefit of the doubt: there are longstanding Justice Department guidelines that state a sitting president cannot be charged.
If anything, these polarizing conclusions leave looming questions that should push the Justice Department to release the full report. Elected leaders have been calling for its release too. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said “it’s imperative for Mr. Barr to make the full report public and provide its underlying documentation and findings to Congress.” Recently in the House of Representatives, there was a 420-0 vote urging the Justice Department to release the full report. Even Trump himself has called for its release.
This is a major governmental issue that Americans and Congress demand transparency in. Whether the report will make a huge difference– and we suspect it won’t– it still needs to be released. And hey, maybe the release will satiate those who believe that this was indeed a witch hunt. Maybe the full report will give them exactly what they need to believe that this investigation was important. But let’s look at some of the statistics of Mueller’s investigation. The investigation has led to 199 criminal charges, 37 indictments or guilty pleas and five prison sentences. Many of these cases involve some of Trump’s top officials and advisors. Paul Manafort, George Papadopoulos, Michael Flynn, Roger Stone and Michael Cohen are all former Trump associates who have found themselves in hot water for lying to investigators about their connections to Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign. This investigation has definitely uncovered some truths.
Mueller’s investigation was that of great national importance. In keeping up with the spirit of our democratic system, which is so desperately at stake, release the full report. Transparency is the only way to keep our government running.