Tuesday, March 26, 2019

One cloud over Trump recedes, but at a high cost

A cloud that hung over Trump since the day he entered the White House has receded.

However, Robert Mueller left open questions about whether Trump obstructed the investigation.

Several separate federal probes still put Trump in substantial legal jeopardy. Democrats will spend the coming months pushing for more details from the Mueller report, while continuing probes into Trump's administration, taxes, and business dealings.

Mueller's investigation provided public affirmation that Trump and his campaign did not conspire with Russia to swing the 2016 election.

The findings summarized by Barr, emboldened Trump and his re-election campaign.

Trump's vindication on the question of collusion with Russia came at a steep cost.

The investigation took down [among many others] his campaign chairman, his White House national security adviser and his lawyer. It also revealed the extent of Moscow's effort to swing the 2016 contest toward Trump, as well as Trump's pursuit of business deals in Russia deep into the campaign.

But in the end, Mueller concluded that Trump and his advisers did not work with Russia. There was smoke — but no fire.

After spending months questioning Trump's ties to Moscow, the Democrats' focus is shifting to the questions Mueller pointedly left unanswered: whether Trump obstructed the investigation.

"The fact that special counsel Mueller's report does not exonerate the president on a charge as serious as obstruction of justice demonstrates how urgent it is that the full report and underlying documentation be made public without any further delay," House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement.

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., declared: "Executive privilege cannot be used to shield or hide wrongdoing."

Trump's legal troubles are far from over. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are pursuing at least two criminal inquiries involving the president. One involves his inaugural committee and another on the hush-money that led his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, to plead guilty last year to campaign finance violations. New York Attorney General Letitia James is also looking into whether Trump exaggerated his wealth when seeking loans.

But in the hours immediately after the summary of Mueller's findings were released, those investigations appeared to be worlds away for Trump - and Trump's tweet-bots.