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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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A&M professors discuss Mueller investigation, Barr’s summary of the report

Photo by White House Archives

The Mueller Investigation began nearly two years ago on May 17, 2017 following the dismissal of FBI director James Comey.

Two weeks ago, U.S. Attorney General William Barr released a summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, ultimately stating that he could not find a case for collusion with the information Mueller’s team had generated.
While President Donald Trump and his supporters claimed full exoneration, there has been a demand for the release of the full report.
The Mueller Investigation started nearly two years ago on May 17, 2017. Many speculate on the motivations for the investigation, but Department of Communication and Public Policy Research professor Kirby Goidel said it was launched due to Trump’s actions.
“The Mueller Investigation started when Donald Trump fired James Comey,” Goidel said. “Then after initially saying it was because of his handling with the Hillary Clinton email scandal, he later came on television and said he fired him because of the Russia Investigation. Therefore it was really his actions that brought about the Special Counsel.”
While Goidel said Comey’s inappropriate firing was motive for the Mueller investigation, Associate Professor of the Practice and Director of the Certificate in Advanced International Affairs Program Ronald Sievert said that Trump had additional credible reasons to do so.
“Our basic theory was indict or shut up,” Sievert said. “You either have your evidence and you indict the person or you don’t have the evidence. You shouldn’t sit there and say well I’m not indicting this person but by the way they are an idiot. This is the mistake Comey made with Hillary Clinton.”
According to Sievert, even if Trump fired Comey for reasons other than this, Trump still never did anything to prevent or halt the investigation.
“No one ever testified that Trump tried to interfere with the actual investigation,” Sievert said. “Trump knew he wasn’t going to stop the investigation just by replacing the leader. The investigation is done by the organization, so he knew he wasn’t going to stop it. In fact, it has been resorted that in a seldom aired part of the NBC interview he said he knew the investigation would take longer after he got rid of Comey. There were, of course, many reasons to fire him unrelated to Russia.”

Robert Mueller followed in leading the investigation after Comey’s firing, appointed by the Attorney General Rod Rosenstein after the recusal of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Goidel said Mueller was a strong pick with credibility to satisfy both parties.
“He has respect on both sides of the aisle and he was a Republican, so you could get rid of the charge it’s a bunch of Democrats investigating the President, even though Trump made that charge anyway,” Goidel said.
According to Goidel, after the Mueller Report was complete, Barr became the voice of the investigation and has been the only insight the public has as to what the investigation entails.
“Special Counsel provides a report through the Department of Justice which then makes a decision of what to do with that report,” Goidel said. “In this case, Barr decided to write a four-page summary of findings, we still haven’t seen the report so we have no idea how accurate that summary is. This summary is pretty much all we know about the report. Which said there was not enough evidence for a criminal charge of collusion.”
Sievert recognizes skeptics are hesitant to accept Barr’s summary, assuming it to be biased toward Trump. However, Sievert rejects this claim.
“I trust Barr and believe that his conclusion is essentially correct,” Sievert said. “I know Barr’s history and worked with him and was very impressed, so I do not think that he is a political hack. Barr is not going to put something out there that totally misrepresents the facts knowing that in a few weeks the entire report would be released.”
Goidel agrees that Barr is a moral person, however he still is hesitant to trust his conclusions due to the actions he has taken recently as Attorney General.
“He didn’t just make the decision, he made the decision and didn’t release the reports,” Goidel said. “Nobody has seen the report other than him so we don’t really know what he’s looking at.”
The full report is said to be released within the next few weeks, but until then there is no evidence that can be used to combat Barr’s conclusions.
“All Democrats can do is say they would like to see the report, they can’t really argue yet until they see the evidence themselves,” Goidel said.
While defending Trump and Barr, Sievert said that definitive comments cannot be made in the absence of Mueller’s 400-page investigation being available to the public.
“Without reading the actual report, I am still relatively cautious as to my conclusions,” Sievert said. “Everything I am saying is based off what we know now. With that being said, it’s practically almost impossible to obstruct justice if you are not guilty of the crime being investigated.”
As citizens and lawmakers alike await the release of the report, recent news has developed from the Mueller team claiming that members within the investigation are angered with the summary Barr has arrived at, according to the New York Times.
“Some of Robert S. Mueller III’s investigators have told associates that Attorney General William P. Barr failed to adequately portray the findings of their inquiry and that they were more troubling for President Trump than Mr. Barr indicated, according to government officials and others familiar with their simmering frustrations,” according to an article in the New York Times.

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