Monday 25th March 2019 served as the best day of the Donald Trump Presidency as he was cleared of conspiring with Russia during his election campaign in 2016, in an investigation he has branded as an ‘illegal witch hunt.‘
The report was, in the President’s own words, a ‘total exoneration’ from the accusations that have plagued his first term in office. However, the findings of the report, delivered by Attorney General William Barr, do not clear the President of obstruction of justice, instead deciding that there was not enough evidence to come to a verdict that found him guilty or innocent. Democrats, who firmly believe in the President’s ability to obstruct justice have demanded that the report is released in full to the House Judiciary Committee. The investigation, however, highlighted the corruption within the US legal and political system as well as establishing the President’s authority, providing him with a much-needed boost with just over 18 months until the next election.
No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 24 March 2019
Special Counsel Robert Mueller, FBI director for 12 years during the Bush and Obama administrations was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to head the investigation into a collusion between the Trump Campaign and Russia. The two-year investigation led to several Trump Aides being arrested. Two of the most notable of these were Paul Manafort who served as the campaign chief during the 2016 election, and Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s lawyer before he became President.
Manafort was sentenced to 43 months, and later a further 13 months for Conspiracy to Defraud the United States and Witness Tampering. He was questioned over his links with political lobbying in Russia and Ukraine, yet the charges themselves did not shed any light on Mueller’s official investigation. Cohen was indicted for his hush-payments to porn star Stormy Daniels as well as for perjury, with the lawyer later stating that the President had instructed him to lie to Congress around the construction of a Trump Tower in Moscow. However, like Manafort, Cohen’s arrest and conviction did not lead to any further developments in Mueller’s investigation into collusion.
The lack of results in terms of linking the Trump Campaign to collusion with Russia has led to high-profile criticism of Mueller’s investigation. Indeed, the President has stated several times via his personal Twitter account that he perceives the investigation to be a ‘witch hunt’ and the product of ‘fake news media.’ This accusation from the President is of course directed at the media sources that have opposed much of the President’s legislation thus far, with CNN and MSNBC considered as Trump’s mainstream media adversaries.
The Fake News Media has lost tremendous credibility with its corrupt coverage of the illegal Democrat Witch Hunt of your all time favorite duly elected President, me! T.V. ratings of CNN & MSNBC tanked last night after seeing the Mueller Report statement. @FoxNews up BIG!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 27 March 2019
Indeed, the Conservative media have criticized the responses to the Mueller report, with Fox Journalist Howard Kurtz believing that despite the report proving the Trump campaign’s innocence in the matter of Russian collusion, the ‘Left-Wing’ media are refusing to back down in their coverage of the Trump/Russia scandal. Other news outlets such as the New York Times have also resisted the findings of the report. An article written the day after the report was published, accuses Mueller of allowing Trump to ‘throw out the rules’ and commit ‘norm shattering interventions’ when the matter of obstruction of justice is considered.
The report, however, has seen some media outlets that the President views with disdain, give up some ground. CNN Political Analyst and Journalist Jeffrey Toobin had foreseen the outcome of the report before it was released, as he stated that the lack of later indictments by Mueller to anyone in the Trump circle was nothing but good news for the President. This was followed by discussions from CNN as to possible pardons for former members of the President’s inner circle such as Manafort.
What is clear from the investigation is that its findings are nothing short of welcome to Donald Trump’s re-election campaign. With multiple Democrats announcing their intentions to run in 2020, and the release of the report looming, it seemed that the President would find himself on the end of the ‘blue wave’ which was coined by the Democrats upon their regaining of the House after last November’s mid-term elections.
However, the exoneration of the President and his electoral campaign with regards to collusion has certainly given the President some breathing space, as it is a question constantly thrown at him by opponents that he can categorically state he is innocent of. With former Vice-President Joe Biden, who many people see as the only man who can possibly beat Trump in 2020 yet to announce his candidacy, it is clear that the President has now been afforded a strategic advantage as the countdown to the election begins.