It’s finally over — after almost two years, thousands of subpoenas, hundreds of witnesses, speculation, etc. special counsel Robert Mueller’s report is out. Attorney General William Barr summarized the findings for Congress, saying the investigation “did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia.” President Donald Trump and his supporters are claiming exoneration — even though the summary specifically said it did not exonerate the president of obstruction of justice. And many Democrats are questioning the report’s findings — despite the fact that for two years, they praised Mueller and his investigators for their diligence and eagerly awaited an outcome they assumed was inevitable. Here are some thoughts from both sides of the political divide.
10. “Mueller’s conclusion — he found no evidence of collusion with Russia but was unwilling to exonerate on obstruction of justice — is likely to propel Washington into a period of prolonged and even more heightened partisan combat. The report, as summarized Sunday by Attorney General William P. Barr, contains fuel enough for both sides to cling to their version of the truth about the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, and not nearly enough for either side to alter their views.”
9. “Nothing Trump is accused of from now on by the press will be believed by huge chunks of the population, a group that (perhaps thanks to this story) is now larger than his original base. … Stories have been coming out for some time now hinting Mueller’s final report might leave audiences ‘disappointed,’ as if a president not being a foreign spy could somehow be bad news.”
— Liberal journalist Matt Taibbi, author of the 2017 book on Trump, Insane Clown President, contending the media’s credibility took a big hit after two years of promoting the collusion angle.
8. “I think Democrats and the liberal media owe the president and they owe the American people an apology.”
— White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, on NBC’s “Today.” Host Savannah Guthrie had asked Sanders if Trump owed Mueller an apology, after having denigrated him by calling him “a national disgrace, discredited, a prosecutor gone rogue who oversaw a gang of thugs.”
7. “The evidence was very clear [Trump] was guilty. That’s number one. Number two, on the point of obstruction, it’s very clear that an underlying crime is not required to have a case of obstruction.”
— Former assistant Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine Banks, on MSNBC.
6. “Well, I don’t know if I received bad information but I think I suspected there was more than there actually was. I am relieved that it’s been determined there was not a criminal conspiracy with the Russian government over our election.”
— Former CIA Director John Brennan, a persistent critic of Trump on Twitter and TV news shows, walking back his criticism on MSNBC. Brennan had previously cited his sources to accuse Trump of “treasonous” acts and “high crimes and misdemeanors.”.
5. “So, what next? What do we do? Mr. President, pardon the people who are collateral damage to this witch hunt. Pardon General [Michael] Flynn and Roger Stone and George Papaplatypus. [Paul] Manafort? Commute his sentence to one consistent with the sentences given others of the elite guilty of similar crimes — which effectively means commute his sentence to nothing. There cannot be two sets of rules. They must apply equally to everyone or no one.”
— Conservative pundit Kurt Schlichter, arguing in support of Trump advisors convicted of crimes unrelated to the initial investigation into possible collusion.
4. “It was a conspiracy and, worse yet, a conspiracy ignited and carried out from within the FBI and the Department of Justice. Nothing could be more dangerous to a democratic society than that. How high this conspiracy went is still somewhat unclear. I say ‘somewhat’ because the likelihood of it having reached into the White House of the previous administration is great. It’s hard to imagine how it could have happened otherwise.”
— Roger Simon of PJ Media, hinting the roots of the collusion allegations originated in the Obama Administration.
3. “Trump and his lieutenants interacted with Russia while Putin was attacking the 2016 election. … They aided and abetted Moscow’s attempt to cover up its assault on the United States (which aimed to help Trump win the White House). And they lied about all this. … None of the evidence underlying this is in dispute. No matter what the Mueller report contains, a harsh verdict remains: Trump and his gang betrayed the United States in the greatest scandal in American history.”
— David Corn, an MSNBC and Mother Jones analyst, arguing that even if no crimes were committed, Trump’s and his associates’ actions were “treachery.”
2. “There has to be a full and complete investigation, with at least as much enthusiasm as this one, to figure out where did this charge emanate, who started it, who paid for it.”
— Trump’s personal attorney and former New York City mayor, Rudy Giuliani, telling Fox News there should be an investigation into the origins of the Russian collusion angle.
1. “Barr’s document is particularly vague on some points … (but) even the most unequivocal report would be subject to the deeper forces: the death of the neutral arbiter. All in all, this reflects a collapse in trust in two core American institutions: politically independent federal law enforcement and the free press. This lack of faith, combined with a concomitant rise in partisanship, means that virtually every major political event is interpreted through a partisan lens. There’s no political institution widely accepted as being neutral anymore; instead, Americans judge the quality of the country’s leading institutions based on how favorable each one’s outputs are to their political interests.”
— Zack Beauchamp, on the liberal website Vox.com.