“Total Exoneration”

Special Counsel Robert Mueller concluded his investigation last week and found that there was no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election.

As anti-climactic as the findings may be, they certainly aren’t terribly surprising, and some argue that they even justify the president’s repeated cries that the whole affair was a “witch hunt.”

Others, however, point out that there never needed to be proof of collusion to justify an impeachment case considering the president and his administration have been found to be complicit in campaign finance crimes and the fact that the president is still the subject of multiple investigations.

What it all comes down to, argues David K. Johnston, a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist who has covered Trump since the eighties and teaches constitutional law, is the standard by which the president is judged.

Rather than judging the president by a criminal standard, “beyond a reasonable doubt,” Johnston argues that Trump should instead be measured by the constitutional standard, “which doesn’t require any criminal offense of any kind, as the 18 impeachment proceedings we’ve had in this country have established beyond a doubt.”

Still others point out that all our conclusions thus far have been based not on the actual Mueller report, but on the four-page letter sent to Congress by newly appointed Attorney General William Barr, who many argue was virtually hand-picked by the president based on his beliefs that the president cannot be indicted as the head of the executive branch.

Barr has come under intense criticism for taking only 48 hours to conclude that the president was not guilty of obstruction of justice despite the fact that the only line that has thus far been directly quoted from the report explicitly says that the investigation does not exonerate the president.

Jerrold Nadler, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, delivered a statement calling on Barr to release the full report to the public as well as all relevant documentation related to the investigation.

Nadler also clapped back at the president’s assertions that he had been totally exonerated.

“First, President Trump is wrong. This report does not amount to a so-called total exoneration. Special counsel Mueller was clear that his report, quote, “does not exonerate,” close-quote, the president. The special counsel spent 22 months uncovering evidence of obstruction and other misconduct. Attorney General Barr, who auditioned for his role with an open memorandum suggesting that the obstruction investigation was unconscionable and that a president—and that it was almost impossible for any president to commit obstruction of justice since he is the head of the executive branch, made a decision about that evidence in under 48 hours. His conclusions raise more questions than they answer, given the fact that Mueller uncovered evidence that, in his own words, “does not exonerate” the president. It is unconscionable that President Trump would try to spin the special counsel’s findings as if his conduct was remotely acceptable.”


The House has already voted 420-0 to demand the release of the full report.

As previously mentioned, it is important to remember that the president is still the subject of investigations conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York as well as those led by the attorney general of New York and congressional Democrats, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, fondly known as AOC, who laid the groundwork for obtaining the president’s tax returns during Michael Cohen’s testimony last month.

Whether or not Mueller’s report is in, the war over the president’s conduct is far from over.


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