The Not-So Thrilling Finale To The Mueller Investigation
Start writing a post

After almost two years of investigating, Robert Mueller has finally submitted his report on whether Donald Trump and his campaign enlisted the help of agents within and tied to the Russian government to gain an unfair advantage in the 2016 presidential election. The special counsel's finding? Negatory, my guy. Collusion, perhaps my new least favorite word, has been plastered across headlines, newsreels, and media clickbait in reference to accusations against the president and his associates since Mueller began his probe in May 2017. The ubiquity of this inquiry in American media culture has polarized the nation beyond the already extraordinary partisan divide fomented by Trump's inauguration. Detractors knew, fueled by so much bombast, so much relentless attention, that the president was guilty. Supporters knew, reinforced by constant ad hominin attacks directed against investigators and the transparently political rhetoric surrounding the probe, that it was all a farce. And now the vindication falls to the latter. Or does it?

Mueller's conclusion is not nearly as clear cut as the president's defenders and their defendant now victoriously claim. Despite not uncovering evidence to prove complicity on the part of the Trump campaign, Mueller acknowledges that Russia did attempt to influence the events of 2016. Operatives hacked the emails of Hillary Clinton and the DNC and promulgated a disinformation campaign across social media, fabricating stories to promote confusion among the American electorate. I think this revelation is easily lost in the not completely unwarranted gloating by Republicans that has swamped the news cycle is the aftermath of Mueller's submission. The profound connectedness of the world, while offering so many benefits, obviously creates a serious problem for the integrity of our most sacrosanct democratic institution. How do we determine what's real and what's fake when anyone, with resounding anonymity, can proffer believable claims to thousands, if not millions of people instantaneously?

The right's criticism of legit news-gathering operations has only made things worse. The more distrust people have for those committed to accurate news reporting, the more people seek information contradictory to what they hear and read from mass media. The more power real fake news has (however oxymoronic that sounds), the less we can make truly informed decisions. Only through a trustworthy press can we be a truly free, democratic society, but in the age of online news and endless fonts of information, we have to verify content for ourselves. We have to chisel out the truth by examining stories from multiple angles in order to understand the difference between perception and reality. Only by doing this can we secure ourselves from outside influence and generate holistic, correctly informed opinions.

Ironically, the issue left unresolved in Mueller's conclusion is the charge that precipitated the investigation in the first place: that Trump, through his firing of FBI director James Comey in 2017, attempted to obstruct the initial investigation into Russian election interference. Mueller neither threw out the charge nor found sufficiently indictable evidence that would credibly put impeachment on Congress's to-do list. Instead, the newly appointed Attorney General, William Barr, has declined to pursue the obstruction issue further. As he and his office along with the special counsel and his team are the only Americans privy to the entirety of the report, no one can say with certainty whether we should take Barr at his word. Any subsequent obstruction inquiries are now the responsibility of Congress, but with resistance from the AG and the full report's dissemination scheduled to be released in the near future, it remains to be seen whether congressional Democrats will continue in this vein.

According to NPR, just over half of the American public thinks Mueller's investigation has come to a satisfying conclusion, and 75% of respondents wish to see the full report, however, redacted this final document will be after the excision of sensitive details pertaining to national security, ongoing investigations, and executive privilege. I for one am interested in complete disclosure. While I doubt I possess the endurance to examine the more than 300-page report cover to cover, I think transparency is in the public's interest. We must be able to trust the integrity of the AG, and we must enable our legislators to perform their constitutional duty of presidential oversight.

But indeed, many people are ready to move on. And I can't blame them. Whether you lean to the right or the left, I hope we can all agree it's disgraceful that our nation's leader has languished under such domestic discord. It's painful that we've become so divided. I'm not saying the investigation was a waste of time. The results speak for themselves. Over the last 22 months, several people within the president's inner circle have faced charges and convictions for criminal actions, including Paul Manafort, Trump's one-time campaign chairman, and Michael Cohen, his former personal attorney. Although neither man was convicted of charges related to Russian election interference (Manafort for tax evasion and other financial crimes and Cohen for perjuring himself before Congress in regard to Trump's real estate endeavors in Moscow), such revelations have illuminated the reasons behind the president's staunch resistance to Mueller's investigation. Trump and his associates did have skeletons in the closet. They feared what might be dug up by the special counsel and rightly so. If this ordeal was, in fact, a witch hunt as Trump so often claimed, some cauldrons were found bubbling.

So, toil and trouble aside, where do we go from here? Although only 36% of Americans believe the investigation has eradicated any doubt of the president's wrongdoing, you have to look no further than Trump's initial response to the report's release to realize that many question why the investigation took place at all. Calling the now-concluded proceedings an "illegal takedown that failed," Trump immediately diverted the focus from himself, stating that he hopes "somebody's going to look at the other side." Was this all a vendetta-driven, cabal-sustained attack on the president? Did someone conjure up this "collusion delusion" to wring out "lies, smears, and slander" from the hate-saturated fabric of the deep-state?

Fox News pundits and those close to the president (not mutually exclusive categories) have flirted with the idea of demanding a new special counsel to look into these claims. While I think many of us are investigation-weary, perhaps this is the correct course of action. Were I in the position of the Trump camp, I'd want to leverage my sense of vindication to further justify my unwavering derision of Mueller's investigation. I would want my opponents to endure the stress that comes with a years-long inquiry into professional and political dealings. Revenge, as they say, is a dish best served probed. And were I one of the initiators of the Mueller investigation, I would welcome responsorial scrutiny so long as I had nothing to hide, because, in the end, the truth matters. We deserve the complete story, and I want to be assured that the FBI, the Justice Department, and Congress have been candid and accurate since the inception of the Russia investigation. Accountability is a two-way street.

In a perfect world or at least a perfect democracy, we would hopefully witness a boost in bipartisan compromise following the end to these proceedings. But, like the brussels sprouts slowly decomposing in the bottom of my fridge, the blood has gone bad. Perhaps even more so than in 2017, Democrats and Republicans deeply distrust one another, and the emotions surfacing in the aftermath of Mueller's conclusion only exacerbate the negative rhetoric. Despite the refreshing unanimity of the House vote to publicly release the report, I don't expect this camaraderie to continue, especially if Barr initiates new inquiries into the origins of the special counsel's appointment.

What we know for certain is that Trump has surrounded himself with ne'er-do-wells, whose crimes, without such an intensive investigation promulgated by the president's own suspicious behavior, would probably have evaded detection. We know that while Trump has been exonerated of extraordinary misconduct, Russia all-too-readily inserted itself into the 2016 election. We know that the public wants answers. But these answers differ. Going forward, let's try to heal our collective wounds. Let's try to be civil. Only by greater unison and better discernment as consumers of information can we protect ourselves in the future. And with 2020 looming, let's make sure we exemplify what it means to be a secure democracy.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Health and Wellness

Exposing Kids To Nature Is The Best Way To Get Their Creative Juices Flowing

Constantly introducing young children to the magical works of nature will further increase the willingness to engage in playful activities as well as broaden their interactions with their peers

1141552

Whenever you are feeling low and anxious, just simply GO OUTSIDE and embrace nature! According to a new research study published in Frontiers in Psychology, being connected to nature and physically touching animals and flowers enable children to be happier and altruistic in nature. Not only does nature exert a bountiful force on adults, but it also serves as a therapeutic antidote to children, especially during their developmental years.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

5 Simple Ways To Give Yourself Grace, Especially When Life Gets Hard

Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we are becoming.

722007
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

If there's one thing I'm absolutely terrible at, it's giving myself grace. I'm easily my own worst critic in almost everything that I do. I'm a raging perfectionist, and I have unrealistic expectations for myself at times. I can remember simple errors I made years ago, and I still hold on to them. The biggest thing I'm trying to work on is giving myself grace. I've realized that when I don't give myself grace, I miss out on being human. Even more so, I've realized that in order to give grace to others, I need to learn how to give grace to myself, too. So often, we let perfection dominate our lives without even realizing it. I've decided to change that in my own life, and I hope you'll consider doing that, too. Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we're becoming. As you read through these five affirmations and ways to give yourself grace, I hope you'll take them in. Read them. Write them down. Think about them. Most of all, I hope you'll use them to encourage yourself and realize that you are never alone and you always have the power to change your story.

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

Breaking Down The Beginning, Middle, And End of Netflix's Newest 'To All The Boys' Movie

Noah Centineo and Lana Condor are back with the third and final installment of the "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" series

740400
Netflix

Were all teenagers and twenty-somethings bingeing the latest "To All The Boys: Always and Forever" last night with all of their friends on their basement TV? Nope? Just me? Oh, how I doubt that.

I have been excited for this movie ever since I saw the NYC skyline in the trailer that was released earlier this year. I'm a sucker for any movie or TV show that takes place in the Big Apple.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

4 Ways To Own Your Story, Because Every Bit Of It Is Worth Celebrating

I hope that you don't let your current chapter stop you from pursuing the rest of your story.

477273
Photo by Manny Moreno on Unsplash

Every single one of us has a story.

I don't say that to be cliché. I don't say that to give you a false sense of encouragement. I say that to be honest. I say that to be real.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

How Young Feminists Can Understand And Subvert The Internalized Male Gaze

Women's self-commodification, applied through oppression and permission, is an elusive yet sexist characteristic of a laissez-faire society, where women solely exist to be consumed. (P.S. justice for Megan Fox)

293448
Paramount Pictures

Within various theories of social science and visual media, academics present the male gaze as a nebulous idea during their headache-inducing meta-discussions. However, the internalized male gaze is a reality, which is present to most people who identify as women. As we mature, we experience realizations of the perpetual male gaze.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

It's Important To Remind Yourself To Be Open-Minded And Embrace All Life Has To Offer

Why should you be open-minded when it is so easy to be close-minded?

433902

Open-mindedness. It is something we all need a reminder of some days. Whether it's in regards to politics, religion, everyday life, or rarities in life, it is crucial to be open-minded. I want to encourage everyone to look at something with an unbiased and unfazed point of view. I oftentimes struggle with this myself.

Keep Reading... Show less
Swoon

14 Last Minute Valentine's Day Gifts Your S.O. Will Love

If they love you, they're not going to care if you didn't get them some expensive diamond necklace or Rolex watch; they just want you.

292004

Let me preface this by saying I am not a bad girlfriend.

I am simply a forgetful one.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

10 Helpful Tips For College Students Taking Online Courses This Semester

Here are several ways to easily pass an online course.

196385
Photo by Vlada Karpovich on Pexels

With spring semester starting, many college students are looking to take courses for the semester. With the pandemic still ongoing, many students are likely looking for the option to take online courses.

Online courses at one time may have seemed like a last minute option for many students, but with the pandemic, they have become more necessary. Online courses can be very different from taking an on-campus course. You may be wondering what the best way to successfully complete an online course is. So, here are 10 helpful tips for any student who is planning on taking online courses this semester!

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments