By TAYLOR FERREIRA
This week, The Mueller Report was submitted to the attorney general, outlining the thorough investigation of President Trump’s suspected collusion with Russian infiltrators during the 2016 election, as well as his possible attempts to obstruct deep investigation. The report is not yet released to the public, however, a letter written by William Barr, outlines the conclusion of the case.
The Barr Letter was submitted to Congress on Sunday, March 24th, to summarize his conclusions on the investigation. He begins by emphasizing the depth of the investigation, highlighting how “the Special Counsel issued more than 2,800 subpoenas, executed nearly 500 search warrants, obtained more than 230 orders for communication records, issued almost 50 orders authorizing use of pen registers, made 13 requests to foreign governments for evidence, and interviewed approximately 500 witnesses,” in order to obtain information on Trump’s supposed attempts at collusion and obstruction.
The main conclusion that the report provided, as stated by William Barr, was that the “investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.” The report outlined the activities of Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA) and its attempts to “conduct disinformation and social media operations in the United States” in order to cause discord and ultimately interfere with the 2016 election. It also highlighted certain Russian “nationals and entities” that were charged with criminal offense for hacking into computers in the United States to further sway the election’s outcome.
As for obstruction of justice, Barr explains the report was inconclusive based on the investigated conduct. However, the Special Counsel also stated that, “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” This means that the result of the report may not condemn the President for certain actions, but it is also not conclusive enough to declare his innocence–rather leaving it for the Attorney General to decide whether the “described conduct constitutes a crime.” Barr then explained that the government would need to prove “beyond reasonable doubt” that the President committed obstruction with “corrupt intent”, and has had a connection to a current or past lawsuit in order to convict him. Based on the information found in the investigation however, they were unable to find actions that met these requirements.
As for the release of the report, many factors have to be considered before it can be made public. It has yet to be sent to Congress, and is in high demand from Democrats and Republicans alike. Barr expressed his desire to release as much of the report as possible, but made it clear that the report will have to be closely analysed and censored–in order to protect the information pertaining to matters that are still “occuring before grand jury”–before this can occur.
Many investigations on the President’s past actions are still underway, including further study into the “collusion” and his financial background separate from the Mueller Report. In an article from NPR, the National Security editor, Philip Ewing, explains what the “Post-Mueller Era” may bring to Trump’s administration. He points out how the Barr letter only refers to investigations regarding the main interferences with the campaign and not the other, predetermined “non-main” methods of influence. He also tells his audience to expect more hearings from Barr and potentially a subpoena for Trump in order to be directly questioned by Mueller.
The Mueller Report was a long sought-for conclusion, meaning there is a fresh bout of questions to answer. Trump asserted that the investigation would be a “witch-hunt”, and the results so far show that this might be the case. Many are hoping more will be unearthed with the further investigations, and others are taking the report as a lesson against jumping to vast conclusions.