by Mort Collin
When news broke that the Mueller Report had been made available to the American public, a twitter firestorm ensued. Most Americans it seemed, were curious about this report. Furthermore Americans who had no idea what this report was all about were in the majority. This is not abnormal as it has been part and parcel of this nation’s history stretching back to the days of European colonization of the New World. As in the past, so it is here in the present. The majority of Americans are not typically tuned into news about political occurrences on a consistent basis. Therefore it’s easy to miss and/or misunderstand major things that happen in Washington DC. We’re here to help.
The United States government is divided into three branches: the legislative branch, the executive branch, and the judicial branch. The legislative branch makes the laws. The executive branch executes or implements and enforces these laws in the public sphere. The judicial branch judges existing law as either constitutional or unconstitutional. This branch is the court system of the nation. The executive branch of the United States government is the largest of all three branches. It employs more people, owns more building square footage, and utilizes more resources (financial and otherwise) than the other two branches. The executive’s large size is attributable to its large amount of responsibilities. In other words it is the branch of the government that takes laws on paper created by the legislative branch, and implements them across the nation amid a populace of approximately 325,000,000 people. This massive implementation requires a substantial amount of people and resources.
The head of the executive branch is the President of the United States. He appoints cabinet secretaries who run each of the departments of the executive branch that execute or implement and enforce federal law pertinent to the scope and responsibility of each of their respective departments. There are 15 executive departments. They are as follows: Education, Homeland Security, Veterans’ Affairs, Commerce, Transportation, Energy, State, Defense (formerly War), Treasury, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, the Interior, Labor, Housing and Urban Development, and Justice.
The head of the Department of Justice is the Attorney General. The scope and responsibility of the Department of Justice is federal law enforcement, investigation of government crimes, and investigation of potential violations of federal law in general. Since the attorney general is nominated by the president, the legislative branch has passed laws dealing with potential violations of federal law by the president. In order to eliminate potential bias in favor of the president by his attorney general and others appointed by him to leadership roles at the Department of Justice should he be investigated, a special counsel may be called upon to conduct the investigation. The special counsel and his/her team of lawyers operate independently of the Justice Department in investigations of the president but are required to report to the attorney general for resources, etc.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), a law enforcement agency within the Department of Justice, began an investigation into Russian influence on the outcome of the 2016 Presidential Election months before the election took place on November 8, 2016. Attorney General Jeff Sessions eventually recused himself from the investigation, citing the fact that he had been involved in the Trump campaign, which could cause people to see a conflict of interest. To recuse oneself is to have no role in an ongoing investigation. Suspecting President Trump may have had something to do with the Russian influence, democrats in the legislative branch began calling for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate. With Attorney General Sessions having recused himself, it was Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (the number 2 man at the Justice Department) who would be supervisor of the FBI’s investigation into Russian influence on the election.
Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate Russian influence as well as the possibility that the president may have colluded with the Russians in that influence so as to help himself win the presidency. Mueller was appointed on May 17, 2017. He concluded his investigation in March of 2019. In accordance with US law, a final report (the Mueller Report) of the investigation was handed over to the attorney general. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, having resigned in January of 2019, was not on the receiving end of the Mueller Report. The man who did get the report was new Attorney General William Barr.
US federal law states that it is up to the attorney general to decide what he and the Department of Justice can release to the American public. This is because there is often sensitive and/or classified material contained within the report. Once Attorney General Barr had the report in his possession, he read it and released its principle conclusions of to the American people as well as the legislative branch. Democrats in the legislative branch were unsatisfied with these principle findings. They wanted the full Mueller Report and said as much. Both the attorney general and the president agreed to release the whole report with redactions of sensitive and classified material. A redaction is a portion of a document that is blacked out and thus unable to be read.
The Mueller Report states that President Trump DID NOT collude with Russia to influence the Election of 2016. it also states that the special counsel cannot reach any conclusion about obstruction of justice by the president. In other words, it cannot reach a conclusion as to whether or not the president fired FBI Director James Comey and/or did other things to block the investigation. That decision was left up to the attorney general and the Department of Justice as a whole. Attorney General Barr concluded that the president did nothing to obstruct justice or block the investigation. Thus we have no collusion and no obstruction of Justice. The Mueller Report exonerates President Trump.