Opinion

Mueller Report: There was no Collusion. There was no Obstruction. Let it Go | Opinion

To call what went on in the 24 hours leading up to Attorney General William Barr’s Thursday press conference a “feeding frenzy” would be an insult to vultures tearing apart fresh carrion by the roadside. Democrats, mostly, but also a few Republicans went into overtime trying to get ahead of what the nation’s top law enforcement official would be saying about the contents of the Mueller Report.

The situation is unprecedented in modern American politics. As the attorney general acknowledged, a strange confluence of events caused Donald Trump to enter the White House with a cloud over his presidency. He was not expected to win, therefore, according to many Democrats and not a few media pundits, the only way he could have achieved victory was by cheating, probably with help from an outside force like the Russians. 

The narrative took on a life of its own as people who ought to have known better pushing 24/7 for the appointment of a special counsel which, history will record, they eventually got. 

His report is complete. The redacted version has been made available to Congressional leaders and the American people. Based on the evidence presented they will have the opportunity to decide for themselves whether Trump and/or people connected to his campaign did anything wrong which, despite all the expressed concerns about Russian efforts to influence voters in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, has really been the point of the whole exercise. 

Mueller’s conclusion, as explained Thursday by Barr, is simple. No collusion. No obstruction of justice. The president has been telling the truth all along and those who have said otherwise have been lying or, to be charitable, allowed their partisan leanings to interfere with their judgment, leading them to premature and inaccurate conclusions. 

Ultimately the Trump haters will get everything they asked for, everything, that is, except his removal from office. They wanted a special counsel. They got one. They wanted a grand jury empaneled. They got one. They wanted to see the counsel’s report – which the attorney general is by law not required to make public – they got it. And, according to what Attorney General Barr had to say at his press conference, a select, bi-partisan group of lawmakers will be given the opportunity to read a version of the report unredacted except for grand jury information which, by law, cannot be disclosed.

That won’t be enough to satisfy everyone, of course. There are those who still cannot accept the American electorate, using the standards in place at the time of the election, chose Donald Trump to be president over Hillary Rodham Clinton. These people will probably go to their graves convinced Trump got away with something. No amount of evidence, or lack thereof to the contrary, will ever persuade them otherwise.

In the meantime, the rest of us need to get on with our business. This includes the politicians in Washington who should have better things to do than launch investigation after investigation into the president’s conduct. One thing it would be useful to know is just how a piece of political propaganda, a “dirty trick” paid for by the opposing campaign was able to trigger an investigation involving the nation’s top national security and law enforcement organizations. The attorney general has admitted to Congress that “spying” did take place. We need to know more.

The Steele Dossier, as it has become known, was supposed to be the proof – or at least the probable cause – to credential the belief the Trump campaign, perhaps even the candidate himself, was conspiring or colluding with the Russians to influence the outcome of the campaign. As campaign mischief goes, it ranks up there with the “third-rate break-in” that precipitated the downfall of President Richard Nixon. The American people have the right to know how it happened and who was responsible. 

Attorney General Barr has indicated his desire to launch an investigation into how it all came about. He should, using the same powers Robert Mueller and his team had at their disposal, to establish – if it can be established – who started the lie, who perpetuated it, who paid for it, and what impact it had on actions taken by officials of the U.S. government. Those responsible should be sanctioned and some of them should, it’s not unreasonable to assume, go to jail. People have been sent away for lesser offenses.

After two years we now know. There was no collusion and no obstruction of the effort to uncover whether there had been. The White House cooperated fully. The president has insisted on the greatest level of transparency possible in the publication of the Mueller Report. That should end it. It won’t, but it should.  

Newsweek contributing editor Peter Roff has written extensively about politics and the American experience for U.S. News and World Report, United Press International, and other publications. He can be reached by email at RoffColumns@GMAIL.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeterRoff

The views expressed in this article are the author's own.​​​​​

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