Rethinking America

Trump Triumphant – for Now at Least

Trump feels that he has been vindicated by the Mueller report. But a host of other investigations into his past activities are going forward.

Credit: Helga Esteb Shutterstock.com

Takeaways


  • Trump feels that he has been vindicated by the Mueller report. But a host of other investigations into his past activities are going forward.
  • One of Trump’s major fears was that Mueller would go after his children and Jared Kushner. They will be greatly relieved that no indictments are coming.
  • Trump and his followers are triumphant. The prospects that he will be impeached are now less than was widely expected.
  • Trump will now go on the offensive. He is likely to demand an investigation of the FBI’s motives, and for an investigation of Hilary Clinton.

President Donald Trump is ecstatic. He feels that he has been totally vindicated by the investigation pursued by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Indeed, the president, who has long believed that there was an FBI conspiracy against him from even before his election, today declared: “This was an illegal take-down that failed.”

Divergent views

Trump asserted that the Mueller report shows, “this was a complete exoneration.”

Late on Sunday afternoon, attorney-general William Barr released a four-page summary of Mueller’s report, which includes a direct quote from Mueller that states: “While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

The immediate reaction of Democrats in Congress is to demand immediate release of the full Mueller report, arguing that a four-page summary is inadequate.

Barr has stated that he will release as much of the report as possible taking into account information in the report that might violate Justice Department rules.

Where’s the money

A curious aspect of the Barr summary is that the word “money” is not mentioned, although Paul Manafort, Rick Gates and Michael Flynn – three top officials in the Trump campaign team – all enriched themselves from their dealings with Russians.

It would not be surprising if Trump pardons Manafort who has been sentenced to serve at least seven years in prison and who Trump has often asserted has been a victim of the FBI’s “witch hunt.”

Obstruction?

According to the Barr summary, there was no explicit links that rise to the level of criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia.

While Mueller did not make a final decision on whether actions by president Trump constituted obstruction of justice, Barr concluded that they did not as no underlying crime involving the president was found.

Democrats in Congress may take a different view and see obstruction of justice as a possible reason to try and impeach the president.

They will seek to obtain the full report and they are already warning the White House that they will refuse to accept any effort by the White House to block the release of information on the basis of executive privilege.

The attorney-general also stated that Robert Mueller is not recommending any further indictments.

Joyous Trump

Without doubt, Trump will now go on the offensive. He is likely to demand an investigation of the FBI’s motives for opening an investigation against him, and he will also demand that now there should be a new investigation of crimes that he constantly asserts were committed by Hilary Clinton.

One of Trump’s major fears was that Mueller would go after his children and his son-in-law Jared Kushner. They will be greatly relieved that no indictments are going to come down on them from Mueller’s investigations.

But, they will be key figures in hearings that Democrats have already announced in Congress about Trump’s finances.

As Trump strives to make the most of what he will call a victory, the harsh fact is that a host of other investigations into his past activities are going forward by federal and New York prosecutors into his finances and those of his businesses.

There are also law suits in the courts claiming that Trump has violated the U.S. constitution for making money while in office through the Trump Hotel in Washington from foreign government officials.

All of these investigations relate to Trump’s cash and have been stimulated by documents and information provided to prosecutors by Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, who is facing a three-year jail term.

It’s all politics now

Fundamentally, we are moving from the Justice Department’s stage to the political one. The judiciary committee of the House of Representatives will immediately call attorney-general Barr to publicly testify. Trump’s troubles are far from over.

Today, Trump and his followers are triumphant. Unquestionably, if the Barr summary of the Mueller report is accurate, then prospects that this president will be impeached are now less than was widely expected.

Impeachment will only happen if there is a clear case against Trump that shows that he pursued criminal actions while in office — actions that the American people will consider to be truly serious.

Put another way, it will be hard to impeach him on technical aspects of obstruction of justice, or for alleged violations of campaign finance laws for paying off women he had affairs with.

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About Frank Vogl

Frank Vogl is co-founder of Transparency International and author of Waging War on Corruption: Inside the Movement Fighting the Abuse of Power. [Washington D.C., United States]

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