A still-developing news story has been topping national news outlets every day since Sunday — that of Attorney General William Barr’s summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller III’s report.
For two years now, Mueller has held an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
On Friday, the Special Counsel submitted a confidential report to Barr regarding the conclusions he reached.
In the summary, Barr wrote, “Although my review is ongoing, I believe that it is in public interest to describe the report and to summarize the principal conclusions reached by the Special Counsel and the results of his investigation.”
According to Barr, “The Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election. As the report states: ‘[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.’”
That being said, the investigation did prove that there were Russian efforts to influence the election, including evidence of “disinformation and social media operations in the United States designed to sow social discord,” and computer hacking operations.
The Mueller report also addressed the potential of the obstruction of justice by Trump.
Specifically, “the Special Counsel states that ‘while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.’”
However, Barr wrote, “…Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and I have 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…Generally speaking, to obtain and sustain an obstruction conviction, the government would need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person, acting with corrupt intent, engaged in obstructive conduct with a sufficient nexus to a pending or contemplated proceeding.”
Barr wrote that due to his knowledge of public interest surrounding this investigation report, he will release as much of it as he can; however, he does have to deal with the restrictions of the disclosure of grand jury information in a criminal investigation and prosecution.
The full summary can be found here.
Although this is a developing story, both Creighton College Republicans and Creighton College Democrats have released statements regarding Barr’s summary and the investigation overall.
Creighton College Republicans wrote that they are happy to see the investigation has concluded.
“This investigation into the 2016 election has cost taxpayers around $35 million trying to prove that collusion never existed,” the statement read.
The club’s members also stated that they do not believe there was any obstruction of justice because they do not believe a crime was committed by the Trump administration.
“Donald Trump has been saying for 2 years that this was a witch hunt to try and end his presidency and he was correct,” Creighton College Republicans wrote. “This will help him win re-election in 2020.”
In addition, they don’t believe the full report will be released, as it “will not change the verdict. President Trump was vindicated.”
Creighton College Democrats members said they are also satisfied to see the end of the investigation, but they hope the full investigation report will be released for all Americans to see.
They also stressed the fact that they would rather focus on other political matters moving forward rather than this investigation.
“While there is still a significant number of illegal activities performed by this president and his advisors that must be investigated, the Democrats continue to keep the bulk of our focus on the issues that are impacting everyday Americans,” they wrote. “From rising healthcare costs to student debt, climate change to criminal justice, the end of the Mueller report allows our message to be amplified above the media's obsession with the president.”
The Creighton College Democrats believe that the focus should be solely on the American people, not Trump, anyway.
In regards to the 2020 election, they wrote, “…the key 2020 distinction can now be made between Democrats, who are seeking to address the pressing issues of our time that are faced by ordinary people, and Republicans, who are satisfied with a status quo that benefits the ultra-wealthy.”
Scott Hendrickson, assistant professor of political science at Creighton, said that he believes the investigation has been worthwhile.
“Yes, Barr’s letter indicates that Mueller ‘could not establish’ that anyone from the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with Russia to interfere with the election, but the investigation clearly did,” Hendrickson said, citing guilty pleas from Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos, among others.
In addition, Hendrickson believes that potential obstruction, along with other investigations being conducted, still poses problems for Trump and his administration.
“Moreover, if the full Mueller report is released,” Hendrickson said, “it may still describe behavior by the president or other officials that, while not criminal, may still be embarrassing for the administration.”
Another political science professor at Creighton, Richard Witmer, said that he believes two separate reactions will stem from this summary.
“The president will try to spin it as a complete victory by claiming no collusion and no obstruction. His supporters will latch onto this message,” Witmer said. “However, Democrats will also try to spin the report as anything but a vindication for the president, noting the number of convictions secured by Mueller of close associates of Trump, the many ongoing investigations of Trump, his business and family, and the fact that the full report has not yet been released but rather a summary. The president's opponents will latch on to this message.”
Regarding the fate of Trump’s presidency, Witmer said he sees both the support and opposition to Trump remaining steadfast.
“My expectation is [Trump’s fate] won't change much with this report,” he said. “Supporters will say ‘we told you so,’ while opponents will point to ongoing investigations in Washington, D.C. and the Southern District of New York as evidence that Trump is in legal trouble regardless of the Mueller Report.”
Witmer also believes that because Trump is “such a polarizing figure,” it is not likely he will be impeached unless other criminal activity emerges; thus, he said the fate of Trump is in the hands of the voters in 2020.
A compelling controversy, Witmer said, will be the arguments for and against releasing the full report.
“[Republicans] back the President and likely want to remove any appearance of hiding the findings of his innocence, and politically this may be a good move for the president to remove a talking point for the Democrats,” Witmer said. “The Democrats may benefit from withholding the report as they can claim some type of cover up of the findings. And given Barr's report that he and Rod Rosenstein decided that there was no obstruction when the Mueller Report made no such determination, they will be able to continue to raise doubt without the full release of the report.”