March 24, 2019
FINALLY, the investigation into whether Russia meddled in the 2016 US presidential election and whether US President Donald Trump or his campaign colluded with Moscow to win the high-stakes race for the White House is over.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who spearheaded the months-long probe, submitted his report to US Attorney William Barr on Friday (Saturday in Manila). The report remains confidential, but the Washington press has widely reported that the Mueller report did not call for new indictments.
The Mueller investigation report is bound to be disclosed, or at least parts of it, to the public as President Trump himself had expressed willingness to release it.
It is also bound to disappoint and even upset the opposition Democrats, who have made no secret of their utter disdain for President Trump and his supposedly “White Nationalist” policy agenda. Freshmen Democratic legislators, who helped take over the US House of Representatives during the November 2018 midterm elections have, in fact, been itching to impeach Trump.
It is one thing to allege that Moscow tried to tip the US election in favor of Trump and his conservative Republican Party; it is another to say that the billionaire New York property mogul actively colluded with the agents of Russian leader Vladimir Putin to steal the vote from the doomed Democratic contender, Hillary Clinton.
There have been a few significant indictments. One of them was Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, caught lying to the US Congress about the Trump organization’s real estate venture in Moscow.
Long-time Trump adviser Roger Stone also lied about his contacts with Wikileaks, which, perhaps, cost Clinton the presidency by releasing a motherlode of emails ahead of the 2016 election.
Also indicted was Paul Manafort, the shady lobbyist who was convicted of fraud in connection with his Russian consultancy contracts. Filipinos might remember him as a lobbyist for the Marcos regime and a host of dictators.
Scandalous these wrongdoings might have been, these have no straightforward connections to the Oval Office, are hardly impeachable and are certainly not enough to secure a conviction in an impeachment trial.
The speaker of the US House of Representatives, San Francisco congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, has herself disengaged from impeachment moves, to the consternation of her rabidly anti-Trump caucus, as these are counterproductive, highly divisive and ultimately not in America’s best interest.
Russia’s meddling in the internal affairs of other countries is a serious issue that could, however, be easily dealt with through various mechanisms, such as sanctions.
There are more pressing problems that deserve Washington’s attention, among them the need to denuclearize the Korean peninsula, the Middle East peace process, the need to finish off the Islamic State, and the complex process of extricating Great Britain from the European Union.
These issues would be better resolved by engaging, not distracting, President Trump.
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