In all likelihood, Americans will decide if they want to put the Donald Trump era behind them during the during the 2020 presidential election, not before.
Some Democrats have wanted to initiate impeachment proceedings against the president, but in the wake of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s conclusions, they would have a struggle convincing a majority of Congress to agree. At the end of a 22-month investigation, Mueller affirmed that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in 2016.
Every cloud has a silver lining. Trying to impeach the president would have certainly provoked a national psychodrama – some even predicted a new civil war. The billionaire Republican’s supporters were, for the most part, convinced that Mueller’s investigation was a witch hunt. They were under the impression that Democrats were nothing more than a band of thieves trying to steal the presidency from Trump. They would have called it a coup d’état.
Considering Mueller’s conclusions from this angle is a good way to look at the glass as being half full.
It was, at the same time, crucial, as former FBI Director James Comey wrote last week, that the United States could demonstrate it has “a justice system that works because there are people who believe in it and rise above personal interest and tribalism.” This has been accomplished, as the special counsel was able to carry out his investigation to the end.
It’s been accomplished despite Donald Trump. It’s important to make that clear. The manner in which the president tried to torpedo the investigation over the course of the past few years and undermined its credibility (even yesterday calling it “an illegal takedown”) was abhorrent; it reflected the contempt he shows for the rule of law.
Incidentally, the second part of the special counsel’s report – or at least what we know of it, since we can only read a four-page summary prepared by Attorney General William Barr – is incriminating for the president on this subject. As for the question of obstruction of justice, the Mueller report did “not conclude that the president committed a crime,” but “it also does not exonerate him.”
That is also important to clarify. In declaring himself “totally exonerated,” Trump simply told another lie.
Even before knowing the results of the special counsel’s investigation, it was obvious that Trump had tried to prevent any light being shed on his connections with Moscow. He fired Comey. He called for Mueller’s dismissal. He refused to accept that his former attorney general, Jeff Sessions, had properly recused himself from the Russia investigation. He crossed a red line many times with a carelessness unbefitting an American president.
Democrats have, incidentally, reason to demand that the full report be published. Having access to the special counsel’s conclusions is the only way to rightfully evaluate the president’s wrongdoings regarding obstruction of justice.
It is also essential if we want to understand why Mueller feels that there was no collusion with Russia, even though more than a dozen members of the Trump campaign talked to Russian officials during the campaign, and even though it has been proven beyond any doubt that Russian authorities exerted substantial effort to ensure the Republican candidate’s election.
Mueller’s report could also fuel other Congressional investigations. Even if the topic of collusion is no longer on the agenda, Congress and the Justice Department are still looking at many other instances of presumed misappropriation and tampering by Trump and his entourage.
Republicans did not work hand in hand with the Russians during the last presidential election, but this changes absolutely nothing about the fact that Trump is a pathological liar, a crook and a cheat, as he was described by his former lawyer, Michael Cohen.
Not only was the American president not totally exonerated yesterday, but proof is accumulating that he is capable of orchestrating the most twisted of dirty deals. Very well, there was no collusion. All the better! But to pretend that the man is as pure as the driven snow is an insult to our intelligence.