Trump’s troubles not over

Published 8:56 am Friday, March 29, 2019

All Americans should take comfort that the president of the United States did not participate in a criminal conspiracy to win the 2016 election by colluding with the Russian government.

Such a finding by the special prosecutor would have challenged our political system in ways unseen in our history. In the final report by Robert Mueller, we should acknowledge that the special prosecutor did his job and, instead of a witch hunt, found the president did not actively cooperate with the Russian government to the extent of complicity.

Along the way to the special prosecutor’s final report, however, numerous crimes by those closest to the Trump 2016 presidential campaign were discovered. All the crimes entailed evidence that these men lied about contacts made with Russians. These Russian denials have led to six Trump campaign officials being charged, convicted or indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice. We will be left with the important unanswered question: If no conspiracy occurred, then why all the lies about Russian contacts?

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Nor are the American people convinced that conspiracy to collude with the Russians did not occur, even after the Mueller report’s findings. In a new poll reported by CNN, 56 percent of Americans do not believe the president and his campaign have been exonerated of collusion. The poll also reports that nearly 60 percent of Americans want Congress to continue the investigation of conspiracy and obstruction.

We are also left with the question of what actions by the president may constitute an obstruction of justice charge. New Attorney General William Barr would have us believe that Mueller’s two years of effort in studying this issue made clear that no crime was committed, but Barr’s two-day review and conclusion of no obstruction reflect more of Barr’s political affinity for the president than a keen observation of the facts. Barr has done little yet to earn the trust of the American people.

Americans saw clear evidence of obstruction of justice in the firing of FBI Director James Comey and in Trump’s numerous efforts to derail the investigation into Russian election interference. There can be no resolution of this issue without making the Mueller report, in its entirety, available to Congress so that congressional oversight can be satisfied.

Beyond all the remaining questions about the special prosecutor’s report, it is noteworthy that the president and his Republican supporters seem elated before the critical outstanding questions and issues can be addressed by examination of the Mueller report.

It is much like shouting out, “We win,” when your baseball team hits a single in the first inning. Team Trump, your hand-picked attorney general just did you a solid, but the Mueller report is unlikely to do the same upon examination.

Of more concern, and why cheering “exoneration” is cringeworthy today, the president faces numerous other serious charges, none more serious than being named an unindicted co-conspirator with convicted felon Michael Cohen in the campaign payoffs to porn stars.

Additionally, Trump was forced to pay $25 million in 2018 to Trump University students who were defrauded. The Trump Foundation agreed to shut down in December 2018,  following allegation that Trump and others misused foundation funds.

Outstanding investigations include bank fraud in overstating assets to secure loans, intentional violations of the emoluments clause of the constitution from Trump hotels and golf courses and properties, tax fraud and nepotism resulting in security violations in the White House.

The president might want to withhold any more victory laps until these investigations conclude. In the meantime, impeachment is, and should be considered as, a last resort, as in less than two years the voters can determine if this man is suited to serve and represent the American people.

Jim Crawford is a retired educator, political enthusiast and award-winning columnist living here in the Tri-State.