On Friday, Robert Mueller delivered the findings of the special council concerning the Russia investigation to the Attorney General’s office, stating that he would not suggest any charges against the President, but would leave that decision to the Department of Justice and Congress. On Sunday, Acting Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein publicly released their summary of the report, saying that they found no cause to press charges.
Obviously, there are still hurdles the report must pass in Congress before we are done with the investigation, but at this point, it feels as though the era that was held dominant by the investigation is over. If Barr and Rosenstein felt there was no reason to press charges, it seems unlikely that the Republican controlled Senate will find cause to remove President Trump. Barring extraordinary circumstances, Donald Trump will not be leaving office before the 2020 election.
It feels like an era has ended within American politics, and it’s hard to know exactly what that means moving forward. Congressional Democrats up to this point have made the Russia investigation a key point of their attacks against the President, and they may still choose to pursue that route. Or they may drop it — Nancy Pelosi, the current Democratic house speaker, has made it a point before that she felt her colleagues focus on the Russia investigation could potentially be damaging in the case of such an outcome as this, and urged them to look into more important policy agendas. She may find they are more willing to listen to her advice now.
This is something I personally welcome, I would like to see Democrats move on to more important issues and away from focusing solely on Trump and his qualifications to be president. But it also implies certain darker themes that may develop within foreign policy and election oversight.
Congress needs to stay vigilante of Russia even as we move past Robert Mueller. I think it should be clear to anyone that knows about Putin and his regime that he is not someone we want to work with in the foreign setting. Russian imperialism, human rights violations and anti-Democratic policies are not something I want our country to support, and, at least to this point, Congress has had the same opinion.
What remains to be seen is whether or not that will continue now that the investigation is over. Trump has made it clear, repeatedly, that he wishes to work with and support Russia. Without the pressure of scrutiny, he may push ahead with doing so, and now he may be able to win congressional support on removing sanctions and participating in joint military activities.
It also remains to be seen how Congress will act to try and stem foreign powers from interfering with elections. Even if there was no collusion between Trump and Russia, the findings were clear that Russia did have a significant influence on the outcome of the election. This is still something that needs to be addressed. Voting systems still remain mostly insecure, and there has been very little done to prevent Russia or even domestic actors from continuing to pursue often unethical strategies to influence the American populace and divide them.
All in all, the Russia investigation is ending, but the focus on Russia should not be over. There are still legacies from the investigation that need to be addressed.