Saturday, March 30, 2019

GateHouse: Mueller Report has nothing to celebrate

Matthew T. Mangino
GateHouse Media
March 29, 2019
The report is in - neither the president nor anyone involved in his 2016 campaign for president “colluded” with the Russian government or any Russian organization to interfere in the election. We know this because recently appointed Attorney General William P. Barr released a four-page summary of Robert Mueller’s 300-page report.
Mueller and his team issued 2,800 subpoenas, executed 500 search warrants, obtained 230 orders of court for communication records and interviewed approximately 500 witnesses. Yet, we know little more now than we did 675 days ago when the investigation began.
While President Donald Trump and his supporters celebrate - the report summary gives America a glimpse into a sinister - and maybe successful - effort by a foreign government to influence the outcome of a national election in this country.
There is no time for gloating. The president and his campaign may not have conspired with Russia, but they may have been duped and benefited by the influence of a foreign government.
Barr disclosed in his March 24, letter to Congress that the Special Counsel outlined the “Russian effort to influence the election and documents crimes committed by persons associated with the Russian government in connection with those efforts.”
The alarm bells should be ringing on both sides of the aisle. If we earnestly and enthusiastically accept the four-page summary of this report as they relate to the president, we should equally accept with utter mortification that the Russians - without the help of any American - may have swayed the election.
The Attorney General’s summary suggests that there were two elements to Mueller’s investigation regarding Russian influence. First, an internet disinformation operation - fake news - by a Russian organization to “sow social discord, (and) eventually ... interfering with the election.” Second, the Russian government hacked into the Clinton Campaign and the Democratic Party and disseminated information through WikiLeaks to influence the election.
Senator Lindsey Graham wants to investigate the Obama justice department’s handling of the Clinton email investigation while the Russians hacked Clinton’s emails in order to influence the outcome of the election. Shouldn’t we expect more from our leaders than just settling an old political score? How about looking into whether the Russian government helped elect our current president?
While the president takes a “victory lap,” remember that his Attorney General thought it important to include the following quote from the Mueller Report, ”(W)hile this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
However, Mueller deferred on the issue of obstruction of justice and the attorney general and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein ”(C)oncluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish the president committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.”
The Special Counsel’s investigation is closed. Barr acknowledged that Mueller did refer some aspects of the investigation to other offices, but there will be no more indictments from the special counsel.
The Mueller Investigation resulted in the indictment of 34 people - seven of whom have been convicted so far - including some senior members of the Trump campaign.
So what is left? A lot, there are roughly 16 separate ongoing investigations involving Trump, his associates and his businesses. Some of those investigations are headed by Trump appointees.
For instance, the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York is investigating the Trump inauguration committee regarding illegal foreign contribution to the committee. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia is investigating the WikiLeaks’ release of hacked Clinton campaign emails.
There are also investigations by the Attorneys General of New York, New Jersey and Maryland as well as at least seven ongoing Senate and House committee investigations including the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Trump’s victory tour may be a bit premature, but, as with everything else - facts are seemingly unimportant in modern politics.
Matthew T. Mangino is of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly & George P.C. His book The Executioner’s Toll, 2010 was released by McFarland Publishing. You can reach him at and follow him on Twitter @MatthewTMangino.
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