After 675 days, 500 witnesses, 2,800 subpoenas, dozens of indictments, and eight guilty pleas or convictions - not to mention more than $25 million in expenses - the conclusion of the Special Counsel investigation has left many Americans feeling either elated or deflated, depending on which side they are on.
Trump supporters - along with the administration itself - claim vindication by the Special Counsel's conclusion of "no collusion." A dark cloud has been lifted, which may give Trump and the Republicans some much-needed momentum as we move toward the 2020 election. That supposed vindication has also led both the President and his allies to call for an investigation into the people behind the Russia investigation.
For those who wouldn't be caught dead in a MAGA hat, much the opposite is true. If there was no collusion, why all the lies? And why are the lies only in regard to one country - Mother Russia? Although how and when things happened can be hard to keep track of, there has to be something there.
So while the President claims that he and his associates are "completely exonerated," that's not exactly what the report says. (Keep in mind, U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein are the only people presumed to have seen the entire report - thus far).
Let's take a deeper dive.
- The Trump campaign's potential collusion with Russia
- Obstruction of justice by the President of the United States
According to quotes from the actual report, "The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities."
However, in reference to obstruction of justice, it also states that "while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him."
So while Bill Barr's letter - which only summarizes the Special Counsel's findings - offers some answers, there is seemingly much more that has been left unsaid. Some questions that quickly come to mind include:
- Did the Special Counsel assume that Congress would determine the obstruction case - not Bill Barr?
- How did Mueller come to his conclusions - and what evidence did he use to get there?
- Was The President of the United States somehow compromised by the Russians, even if not through direct collusion?
- What effect will this report have on the perceived value of future Special Counsel investigations?
The one thing to bear in mind is that the Democrats are not letting this go without a fight. Even while they are demanding the release of the full report and plan to subpoena Robert Mueller, they are also opening investigation after investigation into the President's companies, taxes, charities, and business dealings.
After all, what is a democracy without transparency?