If you’re bored senseless by the Brexit debacle in the UK and across the European Union, then at least the political landscape in America is far more interesting.
Donald Trump is back in the news this week – when he is not – with the findings of the Mueller report published.
That found at least ten ‘episodes’ in which Donald Trump’s election campaign contacted Russian government officials and vice versa, and so the charge that Trump obstructed justice cannot be ruled out.
The accusations date back to the presidential campaign prior to the bouffanted TV star and businessman taking office in the White House. It has been suggested that the election was ‘interfered with’ by the Russian government, although of course that is a monumental accusation that would take some proving.
However Robert Mueller, who has overseen the investigation as part of the Special Counsel, refused to rule out the possibility. “If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state,” he wrote in the conclusion of the report.
“Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgement.”
Finer Details Require Further Investigation
Mueller’s 448-page dossier – not the kind of page-turner you’d take on your beach holiday – is full of intricate details that pose more questions than they answer.
In it, Trump is alleged to have told one of his closest advisers that he was ‘f*****’ when hearing that Mueller had been tasked with investigating the election, which as admissions of guilt goes is up there with writing ‘I am guilty’ on a billboard in Times Square.
Mueller was appointed special counsel a matter of months after Trump fired FBI head honcho James Comey, who many assumed was given the boot for getting too close to the truth about any Russian involvement in the election. Comey, you may recall, was instructed to drop an investigation into the former national security adviser Michael Flynn at the behest of Trump himself.
In the end, the investigation reveals that there wasn’t an active ‘criminal level’ relationship between Trump’s campaign team and the government of Russia, although Mueller stops short of presenting total exoneration on the president’s part – as he himself had suggested in the media.
As much as he might try, there is no way that Trump can brush off the claims of the report that the Kremlin had interfered in the election in a ‘sweeping and systemic fashion’.
From targeted social media campaigns and ‘fake news’ reports, one of Trump’s own favourite rejections of the truth, to the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s emails – one of the factors that brought Hilary Clinton down, there is no doubting as far as the investigation is concerned that Russia was involved in the US election. Rigging is a strong word, so I’ll stick to ‘interfering’ in the hope that I’m not whisked off for an all-expenses paid trip to Guantanamo Bay.
So Could Trump Be Impeached by the Mueller Report?
It must be stressed that the Special Counsel Investigation confirms that the president was not involved in a criminal conspiracy with the Russian government, and so it would be difficult to make charges with any levity stick.
Instead, the investigators made it clear that Trump was ‘receptive’ to backing from the Kremlin, and really that is the grey area which the highest powers in US law must find some consensus.
Obstructing the course of justice is a crime that comes with many different punishments, and Mueller refused to stop short of clearing Trump of the charge. “The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful,” he wrote.
“But that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.” That quite clearly refers to the occasion in which Trump asked his most senior legal aide to have Mueller fired from the investigation into his activities.
The report also unearthed details of a property deal in Moscow, of which Trump sought the approval of the Kremlin. It’s a project that is set to earn the president millions of dollars – is that how the owner of the most powerful position in world politics should be behaving?
Be under no illusions, if the likes of Barack Obama or Clinton herself had been outed so publicly the roar for them to resign, be impeached or lynched would be deafening.
But this is Donald Trump, a man who is the political equivalent of Teflon. He is here to stay, for better or worse.