On March 22, 2019, Robert Mueller and the special counsel’s office submitted his report, on the question of Russian interference in the 2016 American presidential election to, the Attorney General William Barr. Attorney General Barr then, on March 24th of the same year, released a four-page summary of this report. Barr’s summary has been both criticized and lauded by many people of varying political ideologies. Regardless of political leanings, the American people are left with more questions than answers in this situation.
Mueller’s investigative report was authorized by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on May 17th, 2017. The investigation was given the scope to probe allegations of collusion between President Trump’s presidential campaign and the Russian government. The investigation was also given headway to expand, should proper evidence arise, as is the case with examinations into potential obstruction of justice on the part of the president. The special counsel worked in congruence with an extant FBI investigation as to determine whether or not the President committed obstruction of justice when he relieved James Comey of his position as Director of the FBI early into the investigation of Russian ties. By the end of the investigation, there were a total of 34 indictments of foreign nationals and organizations, as well as American citizens. Additionally, 7 convictions have been made to date, including President Trump’s former campaign chair and aide, and his attorney. Roger Stone, a former adviser to the president still awaits trial for his charges of obstructing of justice, witness tampering, and lying to congress, to which he plead not guilty, and Michael Flynn, a former national security adviser, awaits sentencing for his guilty plea of lying to the FBI.
Attorney General Barr was appointed by the president early in March, after the president had removed Jeff Sessions from the position last month. This is Barr’s second stint as Attorney General, having served under President George H.W. Bush from 1991-1993. The summary Barr released (which can be read here) was deemed insufficient by many politicians, politicos, and people on both sides of the political aisle. The House of Representatives voted 420-0 in favor of a non-binding resolution to release the full extent of the Mueller report to both congress and the public. Eleven days later, when Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer attempted to pass the non-binding resolution in the Senate this time, the move was blocked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. In fact, the majority of the public polled are also in favor of the full release of the report. This is an issue Democrats are willing to litigate. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff has expressed interest in subpoenaing Robert Mueller as well as the report and solving this matter in court, depending on how Barr handles the summary.
Barr’s summary stated that Robert Mueller and the special counsel did not find sufficient evidence to charge President Trump and other indicted Americans in this investigation, and also that Mueller was unable to find the evidence needed to charge the president with obstruction of justice. While Mueller did find that the Russian government interfered with the 2016 elections, he did not seem to find that President Trump assisted them.
This is a contentious issue and there is no clear path of how these events will unfold. As this is being written, there have not been any further legal developments following the submission of Attorney General Barr’s summary. For now, this is a waiting game.
By: Jackson Gibbs
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