Recap on Mueller Report

Derek Swanson, News Editor

Since the beginning of President Trump’s term, his opponents have speculated as to whether or not collusion with the Russian government is what put him in office. To determine if there was any merit to the claims, Special Counsel Robert Mueller was tasked with investigating the extent of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Now, in late April, the full 448-page Mueller Report has been released to the public.

Attorney General William Barr received the full report on March 22, and two days later he explained to congress what he believed were the key findings. The main point that Barr emphasized was that based off the findings of the report, there was a lack of sufficient evidence to establish a clear connection between the Trump campaign and Russian conspirators. Furthermore, Barr went on to claim that the evidence presented in the report was not extensive enough to establish an obstruction of justice offense against Trump.

However, certain critics of Barr’s response did not completely buy into his dismissal, considering that Barr had previously written a memo to the Department of Justice, where he wrote the investigation against Trump was “fatally misconceived.” Tied to his relatively quick response to the report, certain critics, including Chris Wallace of Fox News, went as far as to call Barr’s actions more reminiscent of a defense attorney, rather than an attorney general.

“Just because Mueller did not indict President Trump on obstruction of justice charges does not mean that he is innocent,” said Dr. Steven Nawara, associate professor of political science. “In fact, the Mueller report goes out of its way to plainly assert that if the president was cleared of these crimes they would have said so.”

On top of everything else, Barr wrote just a four-page summary of the Mueller Report. The summary also noted that Mueller did not bring obstruction charges against the president, however Barr did not make clear that it was done because Mueller was operating on the assumption that only Congress could address presidential obstruction of justice through impeachment. This led to further criticism of Barr’s handling of the report, as to many it appeared to be a rushed job.

“All of the actions and words stemming from Attorney General William Barr’s handling of the Mueller report were carried out in the most favorable way possible towards his boss, President Trump,” said Nawara. “Barr’s four-page summary of the 400+ page report emphasized the lack of criminal conspiracy charges but did not detail the extensive list of unethical actions taken by the Trump campaign with regards to Russian interference in 2016.”

Though Barr’s assessment of the Mueller Report has concluded, that has not stopped other members of congress and the media from taking a deep look into the report. In a recent development, Mueller wrote to Barr about his handling of the report, writing, “(Barr) did not fully capture the context, nature and substance of this Office’s work and conclusions.” Yet because of the favorable attention President Trump received from Barr’s assessment of the report, the administration has called the report a win.

“What the entirety of the report shows is a president that repeatedly put his own personal interests before the interests of the nation and any sense of the rule of law,” said Nawara.       

should this be "was" as it refers to the singular "merit" and not the plural "claims" ?