There is ample evidence that Russians were deeply involved in disrupting the 2016 presidential election. Hackers stole thousands of emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta and the Democratic National Committee. These emails were weaponized through Wilileaks and released at strategic times to damage Clinton during the summer and fall of 2016.
Russians were also involved in spreading disinformation through social media that disparaged Clinton and bolstered Trump’s erratic campaign. During hearings before the Senate Intelligence Committee lawyers for Facebook, Twitter and Google admitted that Russian agents surreptitiously established accounts on their sites starting in 2015. With these platforms they presented false advertisements and spread inflammatory messages during 2016 that reached millions of Americans. A lawyer for Twitter stated that 2,752 accounts suspected of Russian connections had been suspended – after the damage had been done.
Like drops from a leaky faucet, one after another of the connections between Russians and President Trump’s family members and his campaign staff splashed across the evening news. Last May the intensifying Russian scandal led Trump to fire FBI director James Comey. Since Attorney General Jeff Sessions had previously recused himself from the Russian investigation, Trump’s abrupt action caused Assistant Attorney General Rob Rosenstein to appoint Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Hearings by intelligence committees in the Senate and the House have been ongoing for almost a year. Reports by these committees could be the only official source of information for the public on how deeply Russians were involved in the 2016 election and the Trump campaign’s complicity with these attacks.
Mueller’s investigative findings will only be made public when charges are filed against persons involved in criminal activities. Two of Trump’s campaign staff have already pled guilty to lying to the FBI. And Trump’s former campaign manager and his associate have been indicted for conspiracy and money laundering unrelated to Trump’s campaign. These initial charges, however, could be just the tip of the iceberg if the investigation continues.
But after Trump’s former national security advisor Michael Flynn was indicted for lying to the FBI in early November it became more obvious that members of the Trump campaign — and perhaps Trump himself – might have been involved in criminal activity.
I believe that Flynn’s guilty plea was a wakeup call for many congressional Republicans. To maintain control of Congress in 2019 they decided they must protect Trump. So, Republicans have pushed to shut down the investigations in Congress and are openly trying to discredit the FBI and the special counsel’s team. Some are even pressuring Trump to fire Mueller.
Trump’s constant haranguing about further investigations of the Clinton Foundation and Clinton’s emails defects attention from him but also raises huge red flags about his attempts to influence the Justice Department. Sadly, the FBI seems to be complying.
Justice Department investigations are supposed to be independent of presidential influence. But Trump thinks he’s above the law and that the attorney general has a duty to protect him. Clearly when Justice bends to his will a precedent is being set that undermines the very foundation of our system of justice and the Constitution.
In an attempt to cast suspicion on Mueller’s investigation House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) issued unprecedented subpoenas for sensitive FBI investigative documents. He is backed by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) have written the Justice Department seeking a criminal investigation of the ex-British agent who authored the damning Trump dossier. After these blatant attempts to protect Trump — among others — every American should be demanding to know if Republicans are attempting to tip the scales in Trump’s favor.
The public also wants to know how the Mueller investigation will end. Well, I believe there are several possibilities; and with Republican obstruction I don’t think the result will provide a satisfactory resolution of the issues.
If Trump fires Mueller – which I think is likely — the fate of the Russia investigation will fall to the public and to Congress. After Nixon fired Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox, public outcry forced him to appoint another special prosecutor. There’s no way Trump would do that and Republicans in Congress would likely have his back. They are already preparing for that possibility.
If Mueller’s investigation is allowed to run its course I believe it’s likely Trump will be charged with obstruction of justice and possibly criminal conspiracy in colluding with Russians during the election. Whatever the charges, it appears that Republicans would refuse to impeach Trump in the House if they are still in control. It appears they are in the process of making a case against impeachment.
The least likely outcome of Mueller’s investigation would be that no charges are brought against any other participants in Trump’s campaign so I won’t even go there.
Trump has Republicans on the horns of a dilemma and maintaining power is their overriding objective. If he goes down, they fear they will go down with him. If they can halt the investigations perhaps, just perhaps, they can keep control of Congress. It is a risky gamble that I believe will leave this nation’s democratic processes in shambles.
In my opinion, the best outcomes – and those we should work diligently to effect – are that Republicans lose control of Congress in 2018 and that Trump either resigns in disgrace or is soundly defeated in 2020.