The Mueller Investigation began on May 17, 2017, after Deputy Attorney General appointed Robert Mueller III as the Special Prosecutor in a case to determine whether government officials colluded with the Russian government to help Donald Trump win the 2016 presidential election. After almost two years of a giant cloud over the Trump administration, Robert Mueller finally handed his report to Attorney General William Barr.
After appearing in serious political jeopardy during the investigation, President Trump and senior administration officials were found not to have colluded with Russia. In a letter to lawmakers, Barr stated that the Mueller investigation found no evidence of coordination with the Russians, “despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign,” according to The New York Times.
The report also did not conclude on whether President Trump has obstructed justice while in office. Barr concluded on his own that, based on the report, there was not sufficient evidence to support the idea that the President had obstructed justice. However, Barr did write that, “while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him” on the issue of obstructing justice.
Following the letter to lawmakers, President Trump acknowledged his apparent political victory on Twitter, writing “No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!” Sarah Sanders, President Trump’s press secretary wrote that the findings of the Justice Department were “a total and complete exoneration of the President of the United States.”
Several Democrats, including some running for President in 2020, demanded that Barr release the full report to the American people. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, and Kamala Harris, and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, all called for the immediate release of the report to the public. Additionally, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Representative Jerry Nadler said that he planned on calling Barr to testify in front of the committee about “very concerning discrepancies and final decision making at the Justice Department,” according to The New York Times.
With the details of the report coming out in the next couple of days, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats have to decide which direction they will go from here. As members of Congress, they have the Constitutional authority to define “high crimes and misdemeanors” from Article II Section IV of the U.S. Constitution and decide whether to begin impeachment proceedings. Pelosi has stated in the past that she would not support impeachment unless it had an overwhelming amount of bipartisan support. Barr has a broad view of presidential power. He expressed doubt in a private memo in June of 2018 about whether a president could be accused of obstruction of justice for exercising his constitutional authority.
Even though the American public might have thought that the release of the Mueller report would be the end of an exhausting two years of media coverage, it seems there will be more drama to come. As Barr and Mueller are expected to be summoned to Congress to testify about the investigation, Democrats and Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee are expected to spar over the Mueller Report. Republican defense of President Trump is antcipated and Democrats are seeking more information from Barr and Muller.
Although President Trump has been vindicated on the issue of Russian collusion, there are still multiple criminal investigations into potential criminal activity. The office of the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York is currently investigating whether President Trump violated campaign-finance laws while in the oval office with his payments to his former attorney, Michael Cohen. During Cohen’s testimony to the House Oversight Committee, he presented the signed and dated checks from President Trump, which were paid to Cohen to secure the adult film star Stormy Daniels’ silence on her alleged affair with the President. This ongoing investigation headed by prosecutors from New Yok, also involves the President’s family.
While President Trump is not completely out of the woods, he can declare a major victory. After being hounded by reporters, political commentators, and politicians for alleged Russian collusion for nearly two years, the Mueller Report initial details seem to prove the President’s innocence.