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“Make America great again!” How ironic.
Since winning the 2016 election, President Donald Trump has done considerably more to change the nation than any other president of America. The difference? They are not good changes.
There has been a conflation of issues surrounding his controversial presidency—the hacking and leaking of illegally obtained information versus propaganda and disinformation; cyber-security issues, the hacking of election systems, information operations and warfare; paid advertising via coercive message or psychological operations—especially when it comes to discussing the “Russian meddling” of the 2016 US presidential elections.
Yet, despite these largely questionable accusations resurfacing time and time again, with each mention backed up with more facts than before, the federal court has still rested on this suspicious decision: “There is no evidence that Russian efforts changed any votes!”
The truth is undeniable. Ever since the explosion of information on the 37-page indictment issued by American lawyer and government official Robert Mueller last year on Russia’s Internet Research Agency and leadership, any attempt to claim that the 2016 presidential election was not affected by Russian meddling is absolutely laughable.
The Russian efforts described in the indictment focused on establishing long-term identities for individuals and groups within specific communities. There have been processes involving the masking citizens involved in the election, suggesting a deception designed to make it appear that the activities involving the 2016 election were being carried out by Americans.
Additionally, the indictment mentions the Russians meddling involving to create an information environment and narrative vehicle designed to achieve goals of subversion and activation, to amplify and promote a certain someone in the election through a variety of means.
Mueller’s indictment showed that Russian accounts and agents accomplished more than just changing the views of their audience—they created content such as video, visual, memetic, and text elements to push conspiracies and character attacks—to further harden their views on what is right and wrong.
Although it may be extremely difficult to change a person’s view or even behavior based solely on one advertisement, consistent exposure over a period of time has a complex impact on a person’s cognitive environment.
Ultimately, Mueller’s indictment hits some strong points in his investigation against the collaboration–but is nothing compared to the report he finally delivered to attorney general Bill Barr on March 22.
Although the Mueller report on the case shows no proof that he ever conspired with Russia to tip the scale in his direction during the election, Mueller declares that the report definitely does not exonerate him from the issue.
Among those who had been criminally charged are Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort; longtime ex-political adviser Roger Stone, former personal lawyer Michael Cohen; and numerous Russian nationals. There have been numerous guilty pleas and convictions– but none of the charges have directly accused Trump or anyone in his orbit of conspiring with Russians, despite their complete involvement with the corruption.
Additionally, Mueller issued more than 2,800 subpoenas, executed almost 500 search warrants, obtained more than 230 orders for communication records, issued almost 50 orders authorizing use of pen registers (which detail to whom and when someone made calls and from where), made requests of 13 foreign governments for evidence, and interviewed approximately 500 witnesses, all efforts of which blatantly supported the report.
If that is not evidence of suspicious activities, Trump even submitted written responses to his questions in November, lacking detailed responses, avoiding direct questions and refusing an interview because he was afraid it would be a “perjury trap”.
Addition to skeptical actions of the President, a background check on Mueller’s position makes the case seem just a little more suspicious.
Mueller was appointed special counsel on May 17, 2017, just eight days after Trump fired former FBI director James Comey had been leading the investigation into Russian meddling and any possible Trump campaign involvement. Suspicious, isn’t it?
Moreover, the President initially said he had removed Comey at the urging of Rosenstein and then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, but he later told NBC “Nightly News” anchor Lestor Holt that it was his decision, citing “his frustration with the Russia probe”. This subtly hints at the fear of Trump’s involvement with secret organizations.
Despite the bold statement said from Mueller that “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” [Emphasis added] this of course does not stop Trump from claiming he had “complete and total EXONERATION” even though the report clearly stated the opposite. As American journalist Ben Wittes noted, “The failure to indict is not a finding of innocence.”
Furthermore, a new poll from The Washington Post and the Schar School asked voters if they would support the effort to impeach the president and remove him from office?
Six-in-ten Americans said yes.
Nearly two-thirds of respondents said they would—including a third of Republicans.
The question is dependent on what Mueller finds—yet it is not clear that the public will learn everything that Mueller concludes when his investigation is still incomplete.
It should be alarming to Trump that more than a third of his own party believe that obstruction is an impeachable offense. Now that the report is out, it is once again, only up to Congress and the American public to change what they want. Democracy is going to have to save itself.
Relying on semantic distinctions to eliminate a chance for impeachment stemming from evidence of interfering with an investigation is not a strong position for a president, especially one seeking reelection next year.