For two years, the Mueller report has been a prominent media story and conversation topic among the American public. It rose above other scandalous antics of the Trump administration — over his affair with Stormy Daniels, mocking a disabled reporter, bragging about sexual assault and many more — that we discuss and then dismiss. The investigation has consistently captivated the world with the notion Robert Mueller could release findings at any moment incriminating President Donald Trump for colluding with Russia during the 2016 presidential election. In Trump’s America, an era filled with offensive rhetoric and damaging policies on climate change, immigration, foreign relations and civil rights (to name a few), the Mueller report had the potential to end Trump’s shameful performance as president with criminal charges and impeachment.
However, Attorney General William Barr released a four-page letter March 24 summarizing the Mueller investigation. The letter stated there is insufficient evidence that the president colluded with Russia. Many on the left are frustrated and conflicted about the results of the Mueller investigation. Although Trump has proven himself over and over again to be ill-qualified in leading the free world, the American public should not be mourning a lost chance to impeach him. Rather, we should be relieved that the president is — at the very least— not in the pocket of the Russian government.
The same cannot be said for the rest of Trump’s administration. Through his many interviews with those closest to Trump, Mueller exposed a cloud of dishonesty surrounding Trump’s inner circle. To date, his campaign chairman, Paul Manafort; his deputy campaign chairman, Rick Gates; his national security adviser, Michael Flynn; his campaign foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos; and his personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, have all pleaded guilty or been convicted of federal crimes. In January, Mueller charged Roger Stone, Trump’s longtime associate, with multiple counts of witness tampering, obstruction of justice and making false statements.
These charges are all results of the Mueller investigation, proving the lengthy process to have been necessary and not the “illegal witch-hunt” the president has claimed it to be. At the very least, the Mueller report has revealed the level of dysfunction and dishonesty within the White House.
Democratic officials are calling for some version of Mueller’s report to be released, which is necessary in order to put the public’s mind at rest. I agree –– not because I believe I am a better judge of whether the president colluded with Russia, but because we need to access the facts about the amount of Russian influence in the 2016 election. Congress needs to protect our democracy from outside interference, and the public should move forward with a collective understanding of what actually happened in 2016. Our personal political preferences should not affect our understanding of this issue.
Although Trump will not be criminally charged for collusion, Mueller’s findings did not exonerate him from obstruction charges. Obstruction of justice is a serious crime, but the idea that Trump is a compulsive liar is already apparent. Since Trump was elected, it has been clear he is not fit to serve. He willingly degrades our democratic ideals and institutions, and his supporters show no opposition to his lies, so it should come as no surprise he is still behaving in an incendiary fashion.
Trump may be guilty of dividing the country, but he is not guilty of collusion. I understand the desire to see him punished for the damage he has caused, but when Democrats wish for Trump to be convicted of a crime he didn’t commit, we follow the same undemocratic logic for which we criticize him. We no longer have the Mueller report to hold onto as a means of impeaching him, and it would be hypocritical to continue harping on it.
While the release of a redacted Mueller report may create something of a final hope, I predict it will only be an expanded version of Barr’s summary, at least in regard to collusion and provable obstruction. We should not rely on potential criminal charges to get rid of Trump. Instead, we must try to use the democratic systems in place to pick a better president. It is not Robert Mueller’s job to get rid of Trump, it’s the people’s prerogative, and we will only see those results in 2020.
Gwyneth Osborne is an undeclared first year. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.