Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s two year investigation into possible crimes committed by President Donald Trump concluded on Mar. 22. Attorney General William Barr summarized Mueller’s findings in a letter to Congress two days later.
Barr’s summary stated that while the Justice Department had found definitive evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, “the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
Because Mueller had not made a determination regarding Trump’s alleged obstruction of justice, the attorney general was left to make a determination regarding the obstruction charge. Attorney General Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein decided that they had insufficient evidence to bring charges against the President. They reasoned that if the President did not collude with Russia, as the Special Counsel’s report states, then he had nothing to obstruct. Many legal scholars, however, have criticized Barr’s logic.
“While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” wrote Barr in his summary, quoting the Special Counsel.
At the demand of members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, a redacted version of Mueller’s report was released on April 18. Reactions to the report and to Barr’s summary have been almost entirely divided along party lines.
Republicans have tended to agree with the President’s claim that the Special Counsel’s report was a “total exoneration.”
“I think it was a waste of two years and of government resources that could be used for better things, said Bailey Rethaber ‘20. “We know that Trump didn’t do anything wrong.”
Some have begun to argue that an in-depth investigation ought to be launched into the origins of the Mueller probe to determine the motives behind it. Still others believe that the party’s best interest would be in moving on from the Russia investigation entirely.
“I’m all good, I’m done with the Mueller report,” said Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Senate Judiciary Chairman, in an interview with CNN.
Democrats are split in their responses to the report. Initially, almost all members of the party had been skeptical of Barr’s summary and his decision not to charge the president with obstruction due to the Attorney General’s potential bias toward President Trump.
“I think [Barr’s decision] was protecting the president, not the people,” said Keira Pender ‘22.
Many now believe that the evidence included in the report is sufficient to constitute obstruction of justice, and that the House should begin impeachment proceedings. Others, such as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), believe that the country needs to move on. They argue that the best move for the Democrats is not to impeach and rather to beat Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
“Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country,” said Pelosi in an interview with The Washington Post. “He’s just not worth it.”
Members of both parties have advocated for Robert Mueller himself to testify before Congress. The results of such testimony would decide any future course of action with regards to impeachment.