A weekly window on the American political scene hosted by the Monitor's politics editors.

What does the Mueller report prove? Depends on who you ask.

Why We Wrote This

The Department of Justice released the Mueller report, but what the report means for the president and his administration is still being debated.

Patrick Semansky/AP
Attorney General William Barr holds a press conference about the Mueller report at the Department of Justice in Washington on April 18 prior to the redacted document's release.

Dear readers:
It was pretty much a given that special counsel Robert Mueller’s account of his two-year investigation would be spun by partisans on both sides.
Still, in the run-up to the report’s release, there was hope that the meticulously documented, 448-page tome would finally provide us with at least a common set of facts. That it might stand as an impartial, evidence-based delineation of Trump campaign officials’ awareness of and involvement in the Russian interference campaign during the 2016 election, as well as the president’s subsequent efforts to impede the investigation.
One of the most striking things about the report has been the diametrically different readings of it. Democrats see the report as providing ample evidence of obstruction of justice as well as various other unethical actions by the president. Many Republicans see an unfounded, Inspector Javert-like pursuit.
To The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Strassel, the report consisted of “tens of thousands of words describing trivial interactions between Trump officials and various Russians.” She writes: “The sheer quantity and banality of details highlights the degree to which these contacts were random, haphazard and peripheral,” making it utterly clear that “the notion that the Trump campaign engaged in some grand plot with Russia is a joke.”
Over at New York magazine, however, Jonathan Chait saw the report as documenting a “historic scandal.” He writes: “Mueller’s report shows in excruciating detail the moral culpability that oozed out of the candidate and covered everybody beneath him.” While the report “failed to establish ‘coordination’” between the Trump campaign and Russia, Mr. Chait notes that that does not mean there was no evidence suggesting such coordination might have occurred. And had investigators been able to obtain additional evidence, their conclusions might have been different. He concludes flatly: “The Mueller report is the story of a crime that succeeded and a cover-up that quite possibly did too.”
House Democrats are picking up where the report leaves off, planning hearings with Mr. Mueller himself, and pressing for access to redacted sections and underlying documents.
Yet Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she sees no benefit to pursuing impeachment as a purely partisan exercise. And it’s clear that that’s what it would be.
At this point, it seems nothing is likely to change anyone’s view of the matter.
Let us know what you’re thinking at csmpolitics@csmonitor.com.

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