The full Mueller report is rather like a Rorschach test of your political inclinations. Conservatives tended to believe the report (mostly) exonerated President Trump, although it depended on whether you bought Attorney General William Barr’s explanation of what constituted obstruction of justice or whether you were more inclined to look at Robert Mueller’s more expansive definition of obstruction. Liberals certainly were prone to agree with Mueller’s definition.
Take this sub-headline from Wired: “If Donald Trump isn’t guilty of obstruction of justice, who ever could be?”
This depends on whether or not you believe Trump was trying to stop an investigation into Russian collusion for corrupt purposes. Given that the investigation ended up finding absolutely zero evidence of that, good luck there.
The Democrats are obviously going to try said luck; freshman Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan (she of “we’re gonna go in there and we’re going to impeach the motherf—–!” fame) has pledged to try and impeach the president, with fellow freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez being the biggest name to sign onto Tlaib’s resolution.
That’s in the Democrat-controlled House, of course. The Senate is controlled by Republicans, who’ve indicated they plan to look into how the Obama administration handled the Russia probe when it was in their hands, both in terms of preventing election interference from happening and investigating it — including getting surveillance warrants against a Trump campaign official using a dossier that had been assembled as opposition research as evidence.
In a statement issued by the Republican National Committee on Thursday, after the full Mueller report had been released, the GOP made it clear they were targeting how the last administration handled the threat.
“Now that the entire Mueller report has been released, it’s clear how much President Obama and his administration completely dropped the ball on Russia’s interference in the 2016 campaign,” Steve Guest, the GOP’s rapid response director, wrote in a blog post Thursday.
“Well before the 2016 election, the Obama admin was aware of Russia’s intentions to interfere in the 2016 [election], and decided to do absolutely nothing about it.”
Guest noted that the Obama administration was aware of potential Russian interference as early as 2014 — more than a year before President Trump announced his presidential campaign, as the Independent Journal Review pointed out.
“In July 2016, CIA Director John Brennan arranged an interagency sharing of information with top officials concerning the Russian election interference plans. By that time, officials in the Obama admin had ‘no question’ that Russian state-sponsored hackings were behind the cyberattacks and release of stolen Democrat materials,” Guest wrote.
“Obama chose not to ‘strike back’ because he wanted Russia to cooperate with the Iranian Nuclear deal.
“Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice even told two of her subordinates to ‘stand down’ and ‘knock it off’ in response to Russia meddling.”
Guest cited The Washington Post, which reported in June 2017 that the Obama administration retaliated by instituting “economic sanctions so narrowly targeted that even those who helped design them describe their impact as largely symbolic.”
“It used to not be a partisan issue to criticize the Obama administration’s response,” Guest wrote.
“Rep. Adam Schiff said the ‘Obama administration should have done a lot more’ about Russia’s actions. The Washington Post reported a senior Obama official described the Obama admin’s response to Russia as ‘the hardest thing about my entire time in government to defend. I feel like we sort of choked.’ And Obama’s ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul said, ‘The punishment did not fit the crime.’
“Bottom line: Not only did Mueller confirm that there was no collusion, we also learned the full extent of how much the Obama administration failed to act while Russia messed with America’s electoral process.”
In terms of returning this to the days of being a non-partisan issue, good luck with that. Schiff’s House Intelligence Committee has, according to his Twitter account, “formally invited Special Counsel Mueller to testify on the counterintelligence investigation,” saying that, “(a)fter a two year investigation, the public deserves the facts, not Attorney General Barr’s political spin.”
The House Intelligence Committee has formally invited Special Counsel Mueller to testify on the counterintelligence investigation.
After a two year investigation, the public deserves the facts, not Attorney General Barr’s political spin. pic.twitter.com/PWIXvl7MLv
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) April 18, 2019
The Post, meanwhile, was busy with headlines like “Paranoia, lies and fear: Trump’s presidency laid bare by Mueller report” and “Report paints a damning portrait of the Trump presidency.” Mentions of the Obama administration’s response, you might imagine, were in short supply.
Republicans, meanwhile, seem to be following the party’s lead on this one and focusing on investigating the Obama administration’s failings.
“Now that the Special Counsel investigation is completed, the American people have a right to know whether the initial investigation was in keeping with long-standing Justice Department standards — or even lawful at all,” Vice President Mike Pence said in a statement. “We must never allow our justice system to be exploited in pursuit of a political agenda.”
As for the Senate, Sen. Lindsey Graham has proposed a special counsel to look at how the former administration acted during the 2016 election process — including dealing with the Russian threat, getting a FISA warrant on Carter Page and the decision not to prosecute Hillary Clinton for her email server.
In short, the GOP seems determined to flip the script and use the Mueller report to seek answers from the Obama administration. Whether they get them is another matter.
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