Jack Cross should be ashamed of himself for opposing the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report (“Newspaper has shown bias against President Trump,” The Daily News, April 3). And Cross is wrong to refer to Mueller’s investigation as a “debacle.”
Despite its limitations, this report provides compelling evidence that the Trump-Russia connections and the president’s obstruction of justice constitute one of the biggest political scandals in U.S. history.
Cross doesn’t mention the Russian intervention in the presidential campaign, or the felony charges against 26 Russian nationals, three Russian enterprises, Trump’s campaign chairman, his campaign vice chairman, his first national security adviser, and his personal attorney. Of course, Trump himself has never forthrightly acknowledged the Russian actions on his behalf.
Cross errs when he asserts that “a dossier paid for by Hillary Clinton” launched the Mueller investigation. The FBI began investigating the Trump-Russia connections in July 2016 after an Australian diplomat reported that Trump adviser George Papadopoulos revealed that Moscow had damaging information on Clinton. Mueller was appointed special counsel in May 2017.
Cross is misleading when he claims that Mueller “cleared the president and everyone in his administration of conspiring with the Russians.” In fact, the report found “numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign.” These include the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting at which senior campaign officials met with Russians who said they had damaging information on Hillary Clinton. Paul Manafort, Papadopoulos and other Trump advisers also met with Russians who wanted to help the campaign.
The investigation “did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” But as former FBI agent Frank Montoya told Reuters, this language “doesn’t mean a subject is innocent. It means investigators didn’t find enough evidence to charge a crime.” Former Supreme Court clerk Marissa Malek told Politico that “the report did not exonerate the president even with respect to conspiracy and coordination” and pointed to evidence that may have been suppressed or may yet be found.
Cross is silent on Trump’s obstruction of justice. Mueller wrote that the report “does not conclude that the President committed a crime, (but) … also does not exonerate him.” Mueller cites Trump’s misleading public statements, his firing of FBI Director James Comey, his directive to the White House counsel to fire Mueller and eight other actions to impede the investigation.
Justice Department policy prohibits the indictment of sitting presidents. But the report refers to “constitutional processes for addressing presidential misconduct,” and, as Yoni Applebaum wrote in The Atlantic, implies “There is sufficient evidence that President Donald Trump obstructed justice to merit impeachment hearings.”
Two years on, it’s time for the House of Representatives to begin impeachment proceedings against the president. If Trump isn’t held accountable for his unethical and illegal actions, the danger of fascism will grow.