I read the Mueller report, and it was not an easy read. However, it was interesting - even though there were not too many surprises. The first part required a bit of extra attention because there were many places where words, lines, and even pages had been redacted, making it difficult to follow the train of thought. William Barr and his crew made extensive use of their black markers in that section.
Prior to allowing the report to be available to the public Barr gave his take...and his interpretation was definitely misleading. Robert Mueller found it necessary to speak out...indicating that Barr had not correctly presented the Special Counsel's findings. On the day this column is made available in our local paper, Robert Mueller will be answering questions regarding the investigation.
Mueller was not able to find verification that there was an actual conspiracy between Russia and Trump to interfere with the 2016 election. However, a number of people involved with the Trump campaign already have spent time in prison or still are behind bars. Special Counsel further indicated that Russia did interfere in the U.S. election. As I read that portion of the report it seemed very, very likely that Donald Trump invited that interference. Future trials may add weight to collusion or conspiracy. Regarding the famous June 9, 2016 meeting with guests from Russia, Hope Hicks made the statement, “It will never get out to the public.”
The second part of the report dealt with obstruction. That portion not only pointed to many instances of attempts to obstruct...but also added weight to the possibility of conspiracy with Russia to affect the 2016 election. Trump wanted Attorney General Jeff Sessions to un-recuse himself, then fire Mueller. Trump wanted Corey Lewandowski to get Sessions to try to get Special Counsel to limit any Russia investigation to future elections only. In other words, they wanted no attention paid to possible collusion/conspiracy related to 2016.
If anyone is in doubt about obstruction of justice - or if they were wondering about the likelihood of conspiracy - reading the Mueller Report will alleviate those doubts. I am quite sure Mitch McConnell and his fellow republicans have read the report. They are probably praying that the majority of citizens in that country won't bother. I am not sure how much of Robert Mueller's testimony in Congress will be available to be heard by the public. However, if testimony is heard by the citizenry it may cause a few people to stop wearing their red MAGA caps.
Because Trump cannot be indicted while he is in office, Mueller did not want to say he was guilty. In being fair...an accusation of guilt when there could be no trial to answer to the charges was not something his office would do. However, Mueller did note his office could not say that Donald Trump was innocent.
As for me...the report said a lot. I also have noted that, to date, 22 women have come forward to state that Trump assaulted them. He was heard on tape bragging about how he could “grab” women. He has made numerous demeaning statements about various women's appearance. He mocked a disabled reporter at a rally, and he shows no compassion for families fleeing dangerous situations. Small children are being separated from their parents...left to sleep on concrete floors. The president treats allies like enemies, while getting cozy with dictatorships. When someone does not agree with his policies or actions, he resorts to name-calling. His behaviour speaks volumes.
I will be following any testimony given by Robert Mueller. I suspect it will only support – more clearly – the results of the Special Counsel investigation. Impeachment hearings may be on the table.
Shirley Hallee is a freelance writer living in Amherst. Her column appears weekly in the Amherst News.