After two long years, special counsel Robert Mueller finished his investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Many Americans, myself included, anxiously awaited this report. Whether you support the president or not, we should all agree the end of this investigation is welcome — but some cannot, because it doesn’t fit the narrative they invested in for two years.
After all, this story dominated headlines and political discussion for 674 days. Twenty-two months, 19 lawyers, 40 FBI agents, 2,800 subpoenas, 500 witnesses and one unlimited budget later, Mueller, one of the most respected prosecutors in our country, determined definitively no collusion or coordination occurred between President Donald Trump or his campaign and the Russian government, despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to help the campaign. Case closed, right?
Every American should be thankful for this conclusion. You don’t have to wear a MAGA hat to appreciate that Trump didn’t collude with a notorious foreign government and betray the sanctity of our elections.
Despite the report’s findings, which many Democrats said would be their definitive answer on the matter, some continue to tell the American people there’s significant evidence of collusion, undermining Mueller’s conclusions.
On Thursday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff insisted the president is still guilty despite three investigations now saying the opposite.
“I don’t think it’s OK. I think it’s immoral. ... And yes, I think it’s corrupt — and evidence of collusion," Schiff said, just days after the investigation ended.
Schiff isn’t alone. He and many other Democrats rushed to prejudge the investigation’s conclusion, even using it as a platform for their own notoriety while undermining our intelligence agencies.
In the year after Trump took office, Schiff had given 111 interviews and spent 26 hours on television, all on the Russia investigation — which found no collusion.
Schiff hasn’t given up. By Friday, he was fundraising off of the Mueller investigation, asking for dollars when Mueller’s conclusion didn’t match his own predetermined “guilty” verdict.
How do we expect our intelligence community to take Congress seriously if we continuously tell them we don’t believe them — and then use fabricated doubt for our own personal gain?
The complicit media was also egregious with its constant, breathless coverage, trying to connect the dots with years of countless stories of shady Russians and the Trump campaign, implying collusion and infecting the masses with a public smear campaign of the president well before the investigation ended.
Many Democrats and this paper parrot the line that the Mueller report “doesn’t exonerate” the president. The reason for that is simple: Prosecutors don’t exonerate people — they search for evidence and determine whether it’s significant enough to press charges. They either find that evidence or they don’t.
Mueller looked for 22 months and found none. It isn’t there. No collusion. No obstruction. Again, case closed.
I do believe the Mueller report should be public. Like LNP, I favor transparency. I voted on March 14 to make the Mueller report public — by a vote of 420-0 in the House.
But the rush for transparency should not outweigh our legal process and our judicial foundations though — everyone, including our president, is entitled to a free and fair justice system.
While I’m sure we all would love to see the full report immediately, leaking classified information is illegal. Attorney General William Barr should have time to redact sensitive information on behalf of our country’s security. This isn’t unreasonable.
Releasing “the full” Mueller report or “all of it” — as LNP asked twice for (“Post-Mueller: What must happen now,” March 26) — potentially releases classified information, which would be illegal. Redactions aren’t just throwaway lines. They’re important and take time.
We do need to hold wrongdoers accountable. Russian actors conducted cyberattacks aimed at our democracy and tried to interfere in our elections. Republicans clearly agreed with that conclusion when the intelligence committee reported it in March 2018.
So a Republican Congress then passed legislation to help shore up our election process. We also passed legislation to sanction Russian officials who interfered in our elections.
Trump’s political opponents and their media allies mocked him relentlessly for standing firm that there was no collusion.
Well, it turns out he was right after all.
It’s troubling so many people are still unwilling to believe him — and worse that some are seemingly disappointed by this report’s conclusions. Maybe two years of biased stories are hard to undo? Maybe that was always their hope?
Instead of peddling further conspiracy theories and urgently demanding more information — looking for evidence that isn’t there — I believe we should instead move forward — for the sake of our democracy and our country.
U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker of West Lampeter Township is a Republican who represents the 11th Congressional District.