In April, after almost two years of investigation, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report into Russian interference in the 2016 election was released. After the release, further argument has been underway between Republicans and Democrats about whether President Donald Trump was vindicated or implicated by the conclusions, respectively. Wherever the country goes from here, any actions based on the report should be undertaken in a clear decisive manner, so as to finally resolve this issue for the good of the nation.
So what did Mueller’s report entail exactly? In 2017, after increasing reports of Russian involvement in our 2016 elections, former FBI director Robert Mueller was appointed as special counsel by the Justice Department and given a mandate to look into it. Upon the public release of the report, we saw it was split into two main volumes: Russian actions in the election and any links the Trump campaign had with Russians during that time period, and whether Trump committed any obstruction of justice offenses aimed at the investigation.
In the first volume, Mueller reports contacts between multiple Russian individuals and members of Trump’s campaign. However, the report states based on the evidence they have, they could not come to the conclusion the Trump campaign “coordinated or conspired with the Russian government in its election-interference activities.” The second volume discusses several instances where Trump took part in or ordered actions that the special counsel considered as obstructing the investigation. Mueller declined to make a decision on whether these actions could be prosecuted.
This is where the report gets interesting, as the declining to make a recommendation on obstruction of justice charges leaves the issue open to other action from Congress. A reason Mueller may have made the decision not to charge Trump on obstruction of justice is that it is Justice Department policy that a sitting president should not be indicted. While I do not agree with this, the president should be as accountable to the law as any other citizen, I can see the argument that an indictment would irreparably hurt the president’s authority to govern.
In that sense, Mueller has given Congress and the American people a choice, whether the evidence he has laid out against Trump on obstruction of justice is enough to warrant further investigation, or as some might call for, impeachment proceedings. Whatever Congress chooses to do, it should be done in a public and transparent manner, and work to quickly come to an appropriate conclusion.
If members of Congress choose not to pursue the issue, they should make a proper statement to that effect, and not leave the issue hanging ambiguously. President Trump, like any citizen, is innocent until proven guilty under the law, and if no legal or impeachment proceedings are brought against him because of this, he deserves to have his reputation protected just like other Americans accused of crimes and never charged.
If Congress chooses to investigate, members should make clear what exactly they are looking for and state their beliefs of what should or should not warrant further action like impeachment. When and if Mueller testifies under oath, he should also be asked if the only reason he declined to recommend charges against Trump was the Justice Department’s policy of not indicting a sitting president. That way, the public will know if these actions would have been prosecuted if Trump was a regular citizen, or if there were other factors at play.
After two years of investigation, the American people deserve a proper resolution to the issue of Russian interference and collusion. Following the facts, Congress should decide promptly and decisively what to do next and communicate it clearly to the public. After so much ambiguous debate over this issue, it’s vital it’s handled in such a way that the facts come out and a definite conclusion is reached. That way this issue is dealt with once and for all, either Trump is vindicated, or charged and removed. America can then move on to dealing with the other issues we face.
Connor Kockler is a student at St. John’s University. He enjoys writing, politics and news, among other interests.
with Cultural Bridges
Juliana Howard, St. Joseph
My husband and I moved to St. Jo(seph) in August and live at Serenity Place on Seventh, a wonderful assisted-living facility close to Klinefelter Park. I am so pleased to be part of this vibrant community with so much to offer – all within driving distance!
I have been volunteering with the ESL/ELL classes at the Spirituality Center and have found it’s a great way to meet new people and greet our immigrant and refugee population. The program is part of the St. Cloud school district but the teachers are all volunteer. It’s under the umbrella of Cultural Bridges, a local organization which supports other programs to reach out to our new neighbors. I recently attended one of their meetings and came away so grateful for the opportunity to be a small part of this citywide effort.
There are many ways one can volunteer with Cultural Bridges. You may want to be a part of this welcoming effort too. Call Dianne DeVarges at 320-345-0593 for more information.