There are reports that the end of the Mueller investigation might be coming to an end. Though there have been false whispers of this before, this time is being treated with more legitimacy by Washington. Former FBI Director Robert Mueller was appointed as special counsel for the Department of Justice to oversee the investigation into Russian interference into the 2016 Presidential election. Since then, it’s been nearly two years of false reporting, Trump ‘trash-talking’ Mueller on Twitter and serious indictments for many of the president’s former inner circle. With the end hopefully insight, it is an opportune time to address what will happen when Mueller finishes his work. Will his report reveal substantive grounds for impeachment? Will the president survive, while the majority of this 2016 campaign team fall? Will we even get to see Mueller’s findings?
The most dramatic ending to the Mueller investigation would be the direct implication of Trump in the Russian operatives interference in the 2016 election.
It is public knowledge by now that Russian agents did interfere with the 2016 presidential campaign, with immense efforts being made online to sabotage Hilary Clinton’s campaign and ensure the election of Trump. Yet the importance of this probe for the future of Trump’s presidency lies in whether Mueller has evidence of Trump being aware of the Russian involvement in the campaign and to what extent Trump was consciously involved with this Russian intervention.
This would be strong grounds for Democrats to call for Trump’s impeachment, but even though this outcome of the Mueller investigation could cause immense damage to Trump’s political career, he is unlikely to face any legal consequences while in office, as the the Department of Justice claims that charging a sitting president with a crime is unconstitutional.
It is unclear what form Mueller’s report will take, whether he will explicitly list his legal findings or whether he will expose every instance of misconduct and potential wrongdoing to the public regardless of its legality.
It is entirely possible that the findings of Mueller’s investigation are not made public. The decision to disclose Mueller’s report lies with Attorney General William Barr. The recent Trump appointee has not confirmed if he will make the results of the Mueller investigation public, public with redactions, or not at all. Fortunately, if the Trump administration uses their executive privilege to hide some of Mueller’s findings, the Democrats in the House of Representatives do have some power to fight against this through subpoenas or asking Mueller to testify before the House.
If Trump is not revealed to be explicitly involved in the Russian election interference, another potential criminal implication could be on the table if Mueller’s report presents proof that Trump interfered with the Mueller investigation through witness intimidation or general obstruction of justice. The legal consequences of this path are even less likely than a direct implication of Trump in the Russian election intervention, but depending on the exact details of Trump’s attempts to obstruct justice, the political backlash could be even stronger.
Beyond this, the potential of Trump being legally implicated as a result of the Mueller investigation decrease immensely. Mueller’s findings could implicate a member of the Trump family, most likely Donld Trump Jr., or a business partner. It wouldn’t be unheard of for Trump to pardon anyone close to him that was indited and Trump could probably easily nurse the possible PR damage among his support base. Though any implication of a business partner might encourage the Democrats to push harder when looking into Trump’s taxes or business relations, no longer with the hope of impeachment, but rather to, at the very least, diminish his chances of a winning second term.
Perhaps the most disastrous possible end to the Mueller investigation for the Democrats would be if Mueller’s findings are made public and there are no further criminal implications beyond those who have already been indicted. This would be anti-climatic for the public, embarrassing for the Democrats and ultimately ego-inflating for Trump. Yet, even if Trump manages to escape the findings of the Mueller investigation unscathed, he still has to overcome the possible charges of campaign finance violations and money laundering coming from New York state prosecutors.
By Muireann O’Shea – CoEditor