On April 20, a 448-page report detailing the investigation led by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller was released by William P. Barr, US attorney general, after being redacted by the Justice Department. Examining the extent to which the Russian government was involved in the 2016 US presidential election, this report is inconclusive as to whether President Trump is guilty of obstructing justice and whether members of the Trump Campaign conspired with the Russian government. Yet many people — including the Democrats — continue to question the report’s findings.
“Prior to the report’s release, William P. Barr, the US attorney general, repeatedly refused to directly answer whether the White House had access to the full Mueller report,” said Edward Lee (10), AP US History student. “This suggests to me that the White House could potentially have seen the entire report before it got disclosed to the public, meaning that there could have been redactions made to important information incriminating the president.”
With the public unaware of whether substantial deductions have been made, the report is open to various interpretations. Mr. Mueller concluded in the report that on the basis of his investigation, the president is neither exonerated nor convicted. The special counsel decided that there was not enough information to convict that the Trump Campaign and Russia coordinated in the 2016 election. However, according to the New York Times, the Special Counsel stated that because the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel has declared that sitting presidents cannot be indicted, he is barred from making direct accusations of the president. Nonetheless, Mueller did reveal that Trump had continuously asked staff members to stop the investigation and remove the special counsel. The fact that the staff members did not act according to Trump’s orders suggests Trump’s diminishing power in the White House.
“The disclosure of the report has important implications on the American government,” said Angela Lee (11), AP World History student. “Democrats continue to question the report’s conclusion. In fact, discussion about the impeachment of the president is reviving. On the Guardian, I read a statement made by Jerry Nadler, a Democrat, that some of the information released would be impeachable. Specifically, Trump’s continued efforts to prevent the investigation is in and of itself severe misconduct.”
In addition to increasing talks on impeachment, the report has escalated the conflict between Republicans and Democrats in Congress. Many Republicans continue to support the president, who claims that the allegations against him are spurious and demeaning to the country. Many Democrats, on the other hand, want Congress to continue investigating until a conclusion is made regarding Trump’s involvement with Russian tampering in the 2016 election. Meanwhile, polls on POLITICO reveal that Trump’s approval rate has hit an all-time low with 57 percent of Americans disapproving of the job the president is doing. Other public opinion voice out concern that the release of the report has not caused drastic differences to the status quo.
“My worry is that much of the report has been redacted for national security purposes,” said James Tyvand, AP World History teacher. “Thus the disclosure of the report may have not solved much, because neither the public nor the Congress will get to see the entire unedited report. So Trump’s supporters will continue to endorse him, while critics will continue to criticize him.”