• 50°

The Russia thing simplified

Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller resigned this week, having completed his investigation on the Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election.

His conclusions were startling and, as he remarked in his 10-minute closing speech, “should concern every American.”

Basically, intelligence officers in the Russian military gained access to Hillary Clinton’s campaign emails for the purpose of helping Donald Trump win the election.

Further, other Russians infiltrated social media with a campaign to damage Clinton and help Trump. The degree to which their efforts influenced the 2016 election has not been determined.

The emails were leaked through social media and by Wikileaks beginning in July 2016. But the knowledge that Russia had compromised the Clinton campaign database was known by the Trump campaign months before the FBI knew of the Russian interference.

George Papadopoulos, a Trump advisor, was told in March that the Russians had Clinton emails, and that discovery by the FBI led to the investigation of four men in the Trump campaign.

All four, Papadopoulos, Paul Manafort, Mike Flynn and Rick Gates had unusual and continued Russian contacts during the campaign. All four have since pleaded guilty to lying about their Russian contacts.

Trump said: “I have nothing to do with Russia.

He told reporters, “To the best of my knowledge, no person that I deal with does.”

However, during the campaign, the 17 Trump campaign officials had over 100 individual contacts with the Trump organization including a Trump Tower meeting requested and held with Russians identifying the interest of the Russian government in helping the Trump campaign.

Trump lied, not only about those contacts, but also several other of his campaign officials. Trump’s lie extended into his own secret attempts to land a hotel deal in Moscow during the campaign.

The Mueller investigation has indicted, convicted or gotten guilty pleas with 34 individuals during the investigation.

The final Mueller report stated that the investigation had “insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy” to work with Russians to win the 2016 election. The president was not exonerated of this charge as he has repeatedly claimed.

The Mueller report also concluded that in the issue of obstruction of justice by the president, “… if we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime we would have said so.”

Mueller then explained that the investigation could not indict a sitting president due to Department of Justice regulations and that the remedy constitutionally lies with Congress.

The referred to remedy is impeachment for obstruction of justice.

The response of the president to these inconvenient facts is to continue to claim “witch hunt,” “fake news,” “treason,” “Never-Trumpers” etc. Oh, and Trump wants the FBI, the CIA, NSA, and foreign intelligence agencies investigated for opening up the investigation in the first place.

After all, what is unnatural about a Trump campaign official knowing the Russians had Clinton campaign data months before the FBI knew the campaign had been hacked?

And why would anyone think it strange for 17 campaign officials to have contacts with Russians over 100 times?

And why would it not be merely a joke when Trump said: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing, I think you will probably be rewarded mightily…” on July 27, 2016, when Russia that same day attacked the Clinton servers.

And why not have the attorney general investigate the FBI only one year after the FBI’s Inspector General ruled the Mueller investigators showed no bias in their investigation?

Maybe what is wrong with the picture here is obvious…Trump, like any criminal on the run, is tossing out bombs and distractions as fast as he can to obscure the obvious: The Trump campaign did not meet with the Russians, know about the hacked emails in advance, and talk to WikiLeaks out of innocence, but out of a lifelong pattern of cheating to win that describes this president.

The special prosecutor cannot indict Donald Trump, but we can fire him through Impeachment or in 2020, and we should.

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