Let’s try to boil this down.
The Trump campaign — and President Trump himself, according to the campaign’s deputy chairman, Rick Gates — knew full well that Russia had negative information about Hillary Clinton before they released it.
Trump tried, in multiple ways, to shut down the investigation into his campaign, the one first started by former FBI Director James Comey, and then the special counsel probe led by former FBI Director Robert Mueller. Some of his aides destroyed evidence, and Trump didn’t want his team to cooperate. Trump wanted his team to make up stories. His written responses to the Mueller probe strain credulity.
Is this conduct acceptable from the highest law enforcement officer in the land?
There’s also no smoking gun, no iron-clad document or recording showing that Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin had a plan, or money changed hands. Just a lot of smoke.
“Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference efforts,” the Mueller report, released Thursday, said.
What started as politics ends in politics.
Now it’s up to the House to decide whether it’s worth the effort of impeachment when there’s an election next year and Republicans control the Senate.
It’s not an easy call. There’s no evidence of treason or bribery, but high crimes and misdemeanors? Is this conduct acceptable from the highest law enforcement officer in the land?
The fact that the Senate won’t convict — and it is a fact — and that voters will get the opportunity to decide doesn’t necessarily, or shouldn’t, get the House off the hook. If this conduct is unbecoming of a president, the House should initiate impeachment proceedings, at least to draw a line in the sand on future conduct.
“The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” the Mueller report said.
Good luck, Nancy.
Steve Goldstein is MarketWatch’s Washington, D.C., bureau chief.
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