President Donald Trump declared “Game Over” after special counsel Robert Mueller’s redacted report on his probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election was released Thursday, but Democrats have signaled the “game” could last months longer, eyeing hearings and possible impeachment proceedings that could test the public’s appetite for investigations of the Trump White House.
While Mueller’s team recounted numerous instances of contacts and attempted contacts between Trump associates and Russians, they did not find any evidence of a conspiracy between the campaign and the Russian government to influence the election. Their 448-page report offered a more complicated finding on whether President Trump obstructed justice, concluding in part that only Congress can judge some of his actions.
“The conclusion that Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the president’s corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law,” the report states.
According to the report, Mueller’s team chose not to consider whether Trump committed a crime because they felt bound by Justice Department policy that a sitting president cannot be indicted. They decided it would be unfair to accuse him of crimes without affording him the opportunity to clear his name through the legal system, but they stressed they were not exonerating him.
"If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state," the report states.
The report offers a detailed analysis of Trump’s actions in ten instances, their nexus to official proceedings, and the intent behind them. In some cases, investigators offered competing explanations for Trump’s motives and acknowledged he may not have had sinister intent, but in others, they made clear they believe he was trying to derail their investigation.
The picture the Mueller report paints of President Trump allegedly trying to take control of the investigation over and over, only to be thwarted by his own aides resisting his commands complicates the political calculation for Democratic leaders who have been punting on impeachment of Trump for months.
“It comes down to whether Democrats are going to be aggressive enough in disseminating the facts of the Mueller report across the country,” said Democratic strategist Hamza Khan, warning that his party must first overcome its struggles with messaging and media operations, particularly in middle America, to take advantage of the report’s findings.
Author: Stephen Loiaconi
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