Learning With: ‘Mueller Finds No Trump-Russia Conspiracy, but Stops Short of Exonerating President on Obstruction’

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Learning With: ‘Mueller Finds No Trump-Russia Conspiracy, but Stops Short of Exonerating President on Obstruction’

8. The authors write:

How many minds it changes is another matter. Opinions have hardened over time, with many Americans already convinced they knew the answers before Mr. Mueller submitted his conclusions. Some believe that the special counsel’s previous indictments, twinned with voluminous news reporting, have already shown a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Some believe that the investigation is, as Mr. Trump has long described it, a “witch hunt.”

What impact do you think the report will have on the country? Do you think it will change minds?

Finally, tell us more about what you think:

— What is your reaction to the Mueller report and Mr. Barr’s summary? Do they change your view of Mr. Trump and his presidency? Do you find Mr. Barr’s interpretation of the Mueller report to be satisfying?

— Has the investigation restored your confidence in the American system of law or in Mr. Trump and his presidency? Or has deepened your distrust?

— The investigation took over 22 months and cost over $25 million. Was it worth it? Why or why not? What, if anything, would you change about the proceedings? Do you agree that the full Mueller report should be made public?

— Should the nation now move on, or should Democrats continue their investigations into the issue of collusion?

— President Trump claims the Mueller report is a “complete and total exoneration.” Do you agree? Is he correct to have called the investigation a “witch hunt”?

— In “No Collusion, No ‘Exoneration’,” The New York Times’ editorial board writes:

… while Mr. Mueller may not have found sufficient evidence of a criminal conspiracy, let’s not lose sight of what we already know, both from his investigation and from news reports over the past two years.

We know that the Russian government interfered repeatedly in the 2016 presidential election, by hacking into computer servers of the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign. We know that it did this with the goals of dividing Americans and helping Donald Trump win the presidency. We know that when top members of the Trump campaign learned about this interference, they didn’t just fail to report it to the F.B.I. They welcomed it. They encouraged it. They made jokes about it. On the same day that Mr. Trump publicly urged the Russians to hack into Hillary Clinton’s emails, they began to do just that. And we know that when questioned by federal authorities, many of Mr. Trump’s top associates lied, sometimes repeatedly, about their communications with Russians. None of this is in dispute.

That Mr. Mueller couldn’t find sufficient evidence that Mr. Trump or anyone involved in his campaign had coordinated directly with the Russians may be explained by the fact that they didn’t need to. They were already getting that help.

We also know that what began as a counterintelligence investigation quickly turned into a criminal investigation, in large part because Mr. Trump surrounded himself with criminals. To date, his campaign chairman, Paul Manafort; his deputy campaign chairman, Rick Gates; his national security adviser, Michael Flynn; his campaign foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos; and his personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, have all pleaded guilty or been convicted of federal crimes. In January, Mr. Mueller charged Roger Stone, Mr. Trump’s longtime aide, with multiple counts of witness tampering, obstructing justice, and making false statements.

Imagine if we’d learned all of this just Sunday, in one fell swoop, rather than in a trickle of indictments and prosecutions over the last 18 months.

— Do you agree with the editorial board’s interpretation of the report? Which points do you find to be most persuasive? Which the least?

— In “Right and Left React to the Mueller Report,” Sarah Mervosh surveys the reaction to the report from across the political spectrum. Read through the short quotations provided and choose one article to read in its entirety. What different facts and perspective did this additional article provide?

— What do you think about the media coverage of the investigation? Do you think it was fair? If you feel it was not, in what ways do you think the media coverage was flawed? Why?

Other Resources:

“The Daily” Podcast: “Coordination: Not Established. Obstruction: More Complicated.

The Mueller Report: How Did We Get Here?

Mueller Has Delivered His Report. Here’s What We Already Know.