The Mueller Report: Why The Average College Student Should Care

|| Graphic by Bernadette Berdychowski

|| Graphic by Bernadette Berdychowski

 

HOW DID THE MUELLER REPORT COME ABOUT

In December of 2016, President Obama ordered a full review of Russian hacking and influence efforts during that year’s campaign. In July of that year, the US intelligence community said that the Russian government has conspired to interfere with the election.

In order to complete a full review, a special counsel had to be created. The counsel was given the scope to look at all links or coordination between the Russian government and those associated with the Trump campaign.

Robert Mueller’s appointment to the Special Counsel came just over a week after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, Mueller’s successor. His firing came about due to Comey’s testimony that stated the FBI was investigating the possibility of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government.

As a part of the special counsel, the DOJ authorized Special Counsel Mueller to investigate and prosecute “federal crimes committed in the court of, and with intent to interfere with, the Special Counsel’s investigation, such as perjury, obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence, and intimidation of witnesses.”

Peter Carr, the spokesman for the special counsel later said that Mueller would act as a U.S. attorney would in supervising a local investigation.

Combined with the Special Counsel, Mueller began the investigation in May of 2017 to determine whether or not there was Russian collusion or obstruction of justice.

WHO IS ROBERT MUELLER

President George W. Bush joins FBI Director Robert Mueller and U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey during the playing of the national anthem Thursday, Oct. 30, 2008, at the graduation ceremony for FBI special agents in Quantico, Va. || White House photo by Joyce N. Boghosian

President George W. Bush joins FBI Director Robert Mueller and U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey during the playing of the national anthem Thursday, Oct. 30, 2008, at the graduation ceremony for FBI special agents in Quantico, Va. || White House photo by Joyce N. Boghosian

Born into a wealthy, Republican family from New York, Mueller grew up attending prep school before graduating from Princeton University. He served in Vietnam as a platoon leader, and found his way into politics in 1990.

After being nominated by President George W. Bush and unanimously confirmed by the senate, Mueller was sworn in as FBI director on September 4, 2001 – just one week before the deadliest terrorist attack in history. This jump started his career as the second-longest serving FBI director in the history of the agency.

Garrett Graff, author of The Threat Matrix: Inside Robert Mueller’s FBI and the War of Global Terror, told the Guardian that “[Mueller] is probably America’s straightest arrow, very-by-the-book, very professional.” These personality traits would become exceedingly important following the 2016 Presidential Election.

WHAT WE WERE EXPECTING:

As of February 19 of this year, Mueller filed charges against 34 people. Some of those people include:

Michael Cohen – President Trump’s former personal lawyer

Reason for indictment: making false statements to the U.S. Congress about Trump Tower Moscow

Mike Flynn – National Security Advisor for the Trump Campaign and President Trump

Reason for indictment: making false statements to FBI agents about his communications with Kislyak (the Russian Ambassador to the U.S.)

Paul Manafort – Former Trump Campaign Chairman

Reason for indictment: filing false individual income tax returns, failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts, bank fraud, bank fraud conspiracy, conspiracy against the U.S. and witness tampering

Roger Stone – Longtime Trump associate and short-term campaign advisor

Reason for indictment: charged with obstruction of an official proceeding, five counts of false statements, and one count of witness tampering

These are only four men of the 34 indicted, not not nearly as many people involved in the entire investigation. Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, is one of the many people accused of colluding with Russia as he had four meetings with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign as well as the presidential transition.

The investigation set out to find whether or not there had been such collusion with Russia and possible obstruction of justice by the President. As rumors had been spreading since the outcome of the 2016 election, many assumed that the report would favor the democratic agenda, however that did not end up being the case.

WHAT HAS BEEN ANNOUNCED

After the joint news conference of President of Russia Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump. First Lady of the United States Melania Trump (in the background). || Photo credit to the  Kremlin.

After the joint news conference of President of Russia Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump. First Lady of the United States Melania Trump (in the background). || Photo credit to the Kremlin.

Just after 5 p.m. on March 22, last Friday afternoon, it was announced that Mueller’s investigation and the resulting report are complete. This was NOT a release of the information found in the report, an extremely important difference. The information has yet to be released as of March 29.

Attorney General William Barr, who is tasked with reviewing the report, was told three weeks ago that the special counsel would not be making a determination on obstruction of justice. This shocking to many, who wonder why why the report was written if a strong conclusion wasn’t found.

On Sunday March 24, Attorney General Barr released a letter summarizing the Mueller Report. The letter explains that the special counsel found no evidence of the Trump Campaign, or anyone affiliated with the campaign, that conspired with the Russian Government. The letter also contained information from the report that concluded there was not enough evidence to determine whether or not President Trump had committed obstruction of justice.

Simply put, the report found no collusion with Russia and could not find enough evidence to charge the President with a crime.

WHAT’S NEXT

On Monday, March 25, President Trump tweeted “No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!”

Press Secretary Sarah Sanders backed this tweet up during her appearance on The Today Show that same day saying, “It is a complete and total exoneration. And here’s why, because the special counsel said they couldn’t make a decision one way or the other. The way that process works is that they then leave that up to the Attorney General. The Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General went through and based their decision off on Mueller’s investigation.”

Unfortunately for Sanders, Attorney General Barr’s letter states, “while this report does not conclude that they President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

As of right now, all that has been released is Barr’s letter summarizing the report. Before the media and public can come to an accurate conclusion about what the report states and if there was any obstruction of justice, the entire report (or at least the majority) must be released. Currently, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell has blocked two attempts from Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer to release the full report, calling it “premature” to release it.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has stated that the House will continue to push for the report to be made public. When asked by reporters for his opinion on the release, President Trump stated that it “Wouldn’t bother me at all.”

WHY SHOULD WE CARE?

The 2020 election is at hand. With more democratic candidates attracted to the nomination like flies on a peach, the Democrat’s agenda seems to be shifting. Before the conclusion of the Mueller investigation, many democratic politicians and private citizens pushed for the impeachment of President Trump. This was exemplified in the viral video of celebrities singing “We Wish You a Mueller Christmas”. For the Democratic Party, pursuing an impeachment of the president would do more harm than help. After all, the report found no collusion with Russia from the president or his campaign, and no clear answer to the question of obstruction of justice.

The president's nonchalance to reports about the release suggests that he still believes the document will fully exonerate him. With that in mind, the findings could suggest and confirm the validity of his presidency.

With this confirmation, the 2020 race could become more tense with President Trump remaining a candidate. The Democratic candidates will most likely turn their focus to their opposing policies to Trump to differentiate themselves as the “Russian Collusion” slander can no longer work in their favor.

The emphasis on the policies will help voters as they won’t be listening to open promises or small cat fights.

Democratic candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg told MSNBC, “I hope this motivates all of us to stay focused on the issues that really impact our lives in the everyday...part of how we lost our way in 2016 was it was much too much about him and it left a lot of people back home saying ‘O.K., but nobody’s talking about me.’”

Regardless of what the full Mueller report says, it is important to proceed with caution.

Stacey Abrams, a Georgia politician, heeded advice when it comes to assuming what the report says, even though she has little faith in Barr’s analysis of the report,

“I do not think we can assume that what he [Barr] has reported in his summary is an accurate summary of the report,” she told “CBS This Morning”. “But the best way to know what was said in the report is to read the report. And my belief is until we’ve seen the report we don’t know what it says.”

When that report is released, either weeks or months from now, it is important to respect the outcome of Mueller’s findings.