Opinion: Mueller report gives no respite for Donald Trump | Opinion | DW | 25.03.2019
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Opinion: Mueller report gives no respite for Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump feels "totally exonerated' by the Mueller report's conclusion. But other investigations into his administration and his business dealings will continue unabated, says DW's Alexandra von Nahmen.

The conclusion of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation represents a disappointment for all those who thought the Russia scandal could spell the end of Donald Trump's presidency.

Mueller's team searched for almost two years, but found no evidence that Trump and his campaign team conspired with Russia to manipulate the 2016 presidential election.

Even the infamous meeting held by the president's son Donald Trump Jr. and other campaign advisers in Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer, who had ties to the Kremlin and who had sought to provide them with incriminating information about Hillary Clinton, apparently did not constitute a crime to investigators. 

Read more: Why the Mueller report will not end Trump's predicament

Trump: 'Complete and total exoneration'

The president's reaction on Sunday was fitting. "Complete and total exoneration," Trump tweeted shortly after US Attorney General William Barr provided his summary of Mueller's report to Congress.

Appearing in front of reporters at his Florida residence, Mar-a-Lago, Trump was angry. He said it was a disgrace that he and the country had to suffer through the investigation, an investigation that the president believes had only one goal from the beginning: to finish him.

But when it comes to traditional standards of political culture, Trump comes out of this episode as anything but unsullied.

The fact that his son was at least willing to accept help from Russian government associates, even if nothing came of it, looks just as a bad as revelations that his former campaign manager Paul Manafort had served oligarchs linked to the Kremlin for years, and that other campaign aides were indicted for lying in connection with Russia-related investigations.

Alexandra von Nahmen

Alexandra von Nahmen

A public numb to scandals

In the Trump era, the bar for what constitutes a tangible and concrete scandal is simply infinitely higher than in "normal times." The US president has managed to make the American public numb with a series of never-ending scandals, big and small.

So now, regardless of what details the Mueller report holds, Trump can sell it as a victory and claim that it was all just a "witch hunt," an illegal campaign to remove him from office.

But even if the president feels vindicated, if he believes the Special Counsel report solves all his problems, he is mistaken. When it comes to obstruction of justice, Mueller did not reach an unequivocal conclusion.

The report does not conclude that Trump committed a crime, but it does not exonerate him either. As a result, Democrats will spare no effort in order to obtain and make public the report in its entirety.

Read more: Donald Trump will be impeached in 2019, says 'prediction professor'

Did Trump impair justice?

In the meantime, a series of investigations into potential illegal activity and irregularities in Trump's business dealings are still ongoing, both in Congress and in Trump's home state of New York. None of these will likely remove the US president from office, but they could result in him facing justice at the end of his term — whenever that may be.

These lingering investigations could also hurt Trump politically. Even as his most loyal followers stick with him and the rest of the country is left exhausted and jaded, many Americans are sick of seeing the highest representative of their nation caught up in scandals on a daily basis.

If Democrats manage to nominate a respectable and charismatic candidate who can hold his or her weight against Trump in a presidential contest, that might prompt many voters to seriously consider whether they want to continue with the "Trump show" for yet another four years.

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Trump: Mueller report a "complete and total exoneration

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