President Trump Appears to Be Off the Hook: Receives Complete Exoneration

President Trump speaking at the Detroit Economic Club in 2006 before his election. (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)

WASHINGTON — Special counsel Robert Mueller found that neither the Trump campaign, nor anyone associated with it, “conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election,” according to a letter that Attorney General Bill Barr sent to Congress on Sunday. Barr also wrote that after reviewing the evidence compiled by Mueller, he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein “concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.”

As President Trump golfed with Kid Rock at a resortyour Saturday may have been spent binge watching Netflix while Attorney General William Barr spent his time at the U.S. Department of Justice poring over Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report that was submitted on Friday and wraps up a two-year investigation on alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election and “collusion.”

The big news: no new charges or indictments according to an unnamed justice department official. However, the justice department will continue to pursue a handful of investigations—and potentially more prosecutions — that began with or were supported by the special counsel’s work—and a significant portion of them still focus around President Donald Trump, who broke his 40 hour Twitter silence, Sunday morning by tweeting, “Good Morning. Have a great day!” And, “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” 

In the course of his investigation, Mueller and his team have already charged 34 people — including six former Trump aides (Paul Manafort, former campaign manager;  Michael Cohen, former lawyer and fixer and Michael Flynn, former national security adviser)  and a dozen Russians—as well as three companies.

None of those charges directly related to the allegations of collusion between the campaign and Moscow—allegations that President Trump has always denied.

Democrats who have cited the report as a basis for calling for impeachment may have to take a different tack because the report appears to put Trump and members of Trump’s family – including Donald Trump Jr. and son-in-law Jared Kushner – in the clear as far as the special counsel’s probe goes.

Barr has said he intends to release as much of Mueller’s report as he can,  including sending Congress a summary of the special counsel’s main conclusions and that will reportedly happen sometime on Sunday, March 24. As of 11 a.m. (ET), Attorney General William Barr’s motorcade was seen arriving at the U.S. Department of Justice.

As of Sunday morning, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle continue to await the release of Mueller’s findings.House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” that if necessary, he would subpoena the Justice Department for the Mueller report and “absolutely” be willing to take the fight to the Supreme Court if it came to that. Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, disagreed with Nadler on “Fox News Sunday,” saying it was “not the Department of Justice’s job” to give Congress information for “a purely partisan investigation that may lead toward impeachment.”

Two sources close to President Donald Trump said “no one is panicking,” which was evidenced by the President casually going out to golf at Mar-a-Lago Saturday. The source added that “we’re letting it play out,” and said there is no war room set up right now in anticipation of the findings of Mueller’s investigation, unlike the Clinton White House after former independent counsel Ken Starr finished his investigation

Another official said it wasn’t a mistake White House lawyers Emmet Flood and Pat Cipillone are in Florida with Trump this weekend and that it could very well be that they are cautioning the President to lay low until they have a better understanding of what is in the report. 

In the presidential drama to end all presidential dramas Mueller’s recommendation against new indictments is rather anti-climactic.  And, anyone expecting juicy details within special counsel’s report may be in for a bit of disappointment. It doesn’t seem likely there will be a detailed investigative narrative presented to the public similar to the multi-tome report produced by Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr back in 1998.

Starr’s wide-ranging investigation that started with a real-estate inquiry and ended up laying bare Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky,  was governed by a federal statute with different rules. And, Starr himself, a former judge and Republican administration lawyer, was a different kind of man compared to the by-the-books Mueller, who is an ex-Marine In addition, Mueller’s probe is conducted under the tenets of the Justice Department and is governed by its regulations.

Attorney General William Barr is the ultimate decider as to whether it would be in the “public interest” to make any of these reports or communications accessible to the rest of us—unless a law suit is filed and the issue lands squarely at the court of last resort.

President Trump appears to have received a complete exoneration.


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