smh: The report by special prosecutor Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 US election and obstruction of justice by the White House after that has now been released but it is not likely to make much difference to the political balance in Washington.
Fans of President Donald Trump will seize on the fact that the special prosecutor has not recommended charging him. Mr Trump is already tweeting that it is “game over” for his accusers.
His Democratic opponents and the fans of the more extreme conspiracy theories about Mr Trump’s links to Russian president Vladimir Putin will be disappointed but they have also been given plenty of ammunition. Some Democrats are still considering trying to impeach Mr Trump.
The report confirmed the abundance of what one staffer called “crazy shit” going on in the Trump administration. Mr Trump emerges from the report as a liar with little respect for the due process of the law.
The report confirms that Donald Trump jnr met a Russian lobbyist to talk about Kremlin dirt files on Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign. Although Mr Mueller decided there is not enough evidence to prove that the Trump team deliberately broke the law, this meeting should never have occurred. It has undermined Mr Trump’s credibility that he told a bald-faced lie about the purpose of the meeting after it became public a year later.
It is also clear from the report that Mr Trump did try to thwart Mr Mueller’s investigation which he believed was ruining his whole presidency. Mr Trump sacked James Comey as FBI director for failing to stop the investigation and he repeatedly ordered his legal team to sack Mr Mueller who only survived because they refused. Mr Mueller pointedly said the facts did not exonerate Mr Trump from obstruction of justice but he said a prosecution would be hard for technical reasons.
The report leaves some questions dangling. It is not clear why, if he had nothing to hide, Mr Trump went to such lengths to get rid of Mr Mueller. Democrats can also ask what has been hidden in significant sections of the report which have been redacted, especially parts which discuss an ongoing investigation into the role of the controversial WikiLeaks information network.
Mr Mueller said Russian military intelligence had used WikiLeaks to distribute emails hacked from the Democratic Party to hurt Hillary Clinton at a crucial state in the 2016 campaign. It said WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange tried to hide his links to the Kremlin in several public statements.
The report confirms that Mr Trump’s team was aware of WikiLeaks plans ahead of time which at the very least points to Mr Trump’s hypocrisy. On one hand, Mr Trump’s administration has charged Mr Assange over allegations he played a role in helping Chelsea Manning gain access to government information but on the other Mr Trump was happy to use Mr Assange’s hacking services to win office.
All the facts deserve further scrutiny and the Democrats would be justified in subpoenaing Mr Muller and others to testify in Congress. They go to Mr Trump’s judgment and ethics.
For all Mr Trump’s failings, overblown claims about him undermine his opponents’ credibility. The continuing investigations into Mr Trump and Russia are important but they will not change the minds of undecided voters. It is up to the Democrats to deliver a candidate and a program that appeal to the American people.
Source: Published by smh