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We don't need the Mueller report

DW Nachrichten TV Oliver Sallet
Oliver Sallet
April 18, 2019

The Mueller report will fuel yet more controversy about Donald Trump and his administration. It also confirms what we already know: This president is not fit for the White House, says DW's Oliver Sallet.

Mueller Report
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/J. Elswick

The Mueller report has finally been published, and Donald Trump thinks he's the winner. His regular Twitter tirades about a "witch hunt" and "fake news" have grown even louder.

But the mud-slinging has only just begun. The Democrats and Republicans are going to fight over the truth and what should become public. Thankfully, the American people can sit back and relax. They don't need to read special counsel Robert Mueller's 400-page report, because they already know enough.

Obviously people want to know what exactly Mueller means when he says he can't conclusively say whether or not Trump obstructed justice. After all, the report acknowledges that he repeatedly stood in the way of the investigation.

However, we already knew the most important points before the report was published, because Trump has behaved suspiciously from the start. He fired FBI Director James Comey after he launched the Russia investigation, and even the president himself later said it was the reason he fired him. When Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from overseeing Mueller's work, Trump deemed him persona non grata. He eventually replaced Sessions with William Barr, who had publicly criticized the Russia investigation.

Lies and loyalty

This is not the behavior of an innocent person, but rather someone with something to hide. Trump has damaged the office of the US president like no other before him.

DW TV Oliver Sallet
Oliver Sallet is DW's correspondent in WashingtonImage: DW

But Trump has remained true to himself from the start. He took the shady tricks he learned in real estate with him to the White House, rewarding loyalty and exacting revenge on anyone who steps out of line.

True to form, Trump's new attorney general has announced he is going to investigate the Russia investigation itself.

Tactics like this are an attempt by Trump to deliver his version of the truth. He already lauded his "total exoneration" before the Mueller report was even published. But the report clearly states Trump has not been totally exonerated when it comes to obstructing justice.

Coming to terms with the truth has always been a problem for this president. Trump simply adopted the lies his closest confidantes told about their contacts with Russians during the election campaign and repeated them to his voters. That was also clear before the Mueller report came out.

During the investigation itself, we learned a lot about those lies. Many people in Trump's inner circle have paid a high price for their loyalty – from former campaign chief Paul Manafort and personal attorney Michael Cohen to longtime advisor Roger Stone.

Indeed, a number of Trump's former confidantes can now accurately be called criminals – something we also didn't need the Mueller report to tell us.

In fact, one of the most damning allegations was known even before Trump won the election: the payoff to porn star Stormy Daniels to cover up an extramarital affair, an act that may have violated US campaign finance law. We haven't heard the last of that story yet.

The teflon president

Unfortunately, Trump's supporters don't seem to care. He remains popular as ever among his base. Some 90 percent of Republican voters approve of him. As he himself said during the campaign: "I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters."

As far as his supporters are concerned, Trump can breathe easy: He is firmly in control and the US economy is growing. What could the Mueller report do to him?

For everyone else, we have known who this president truly is since long before the report's publication: someone who surrounds himself with criminals, lies almost daily and bends the truth as he pleases. He won the election with Russian help, and the damage he's done to democracy is enormous.

The 2020 election campaign, as well as Congressional inquiries from Democrats, won't deliver tangeable results. They will only serve to entrench both camps in this fight. The "witch hunt" will continue, with or without the Mueller report.