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    Completion of Mueller Probe Could Pave Way for Trump's 2020 Re-Election - Prof

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    After a 22-month inquiry, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has finally completed his report on the investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections. What did the probe find?

    Sputnik has discussed the issue with Dr. Clodagh Harrington, a Lecturer in Politics at De Montfort University.

    Sputnik: The Mueller report found that neither Donald Trump nor any of his campaign members colluded with Russia in an attempt to influence the 2016 election result. What do you think of the news of Trump being cleared of conspiring with Russia? Does this come as a surprise to you?

    Dr. Clodagh Harrington: No, not really. I remember reading a book from one of his aides that came out a while back. And basically the argument that was put forward in the book — which I thought was very convincing — was that the Trump 2016 campaign was extremely chaotic, they were sort of making it up on the hoof.

    Obviously, it had a very strong sense of what a lot of the public wanted, [US President Donald Trump] was a fantastic communicator. But in terms of a cold, hard, foremost strategy and plan, apparently there really wasn't one.

    So the idea that they would have been organised enough and proactive enough to collude with a hostile foreign power seemed always farfetched. I mean, probably a lot of people were really hoping that it was true.

    So personally, I'm not surprised that it isn't true. I think probably there's more of a story maybe in terms of the extent to which he may have obstructed justice. And then also there are other investigations ongoing as well. But in terms of the big smoking gun, the big drama, the big thing that would have taken him down or caused impeachment, I think that's clearly not going to happen now.

    Sputnik: In his letter to Congress, William Barr highlighted the report’s mixed assessment on the issue of obstruction of justice. Barr quoted the document: “While this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” Nonetheless, Trump tweeted it was “a complete and total exoneration”. As there seems to be some sort of clash of information here, how can Trump say he has been exonerated, when he actually wasn’t?

    Dr. Clodagh Harrington: This is the era that we live in now, isn't this? He can claim victory; there is no smoking gun, there isn't any huge finale to this.

    But, if you are a Trump supporter and you follow Donald Trump on Twitter, and you see that he's claiming full victory — you know, it was a 'witch hunt,' it's over now, I can move on, et cetera — that's good enough for his supporters.

    They're not going to be following up about, “Oh, what does page 472 of the Mueller report say?” They've got their response, and that'll be good enough for them. So in terms of others who don't support Trump, they will maintain their suspicions. It could well be a case that it doesn't stop here anyway: Democrats in Congress will be bursting to see the full report and have it released, and not be just taking the word of Attorney General Barr and his four-page summary.

    I can't imagine they're going to take that line down. So I guess there's a couple of things: one is that it really is good for the country that this turned out to be not the case, that his campaign was colluding with a foreign power.

    That should be a relief for everyone, no matter what their political persuasion. It now means that the chances of Donald Trump being impeached are deeply unlikely, and that is really a good thing for the country. But I think in terms of how the truth of it is perceived: if you're a Trump supporter, you'll take his tweets at face value; and if you're not, you will be convinced that there is more to this story.

    Sputnik: The outcome of what many dubbed a “witch hunt” towards Trump could boost his chances to be re-elected in 2020. So what’s next for the American president?

    Dr. Clodagh Harrington: It has been a difficult thing: normally a special prosecutor investigation doesn't happen until well into the second term. That's the kind of standard time for it to appear. In his case, [Trump] was inaugurated in January, and the Mueller investigation was underway by May.

    So the whole first two years of his administration have been operating to this cloud of suspicion, and 'did he, didn't he' whatever. And now he's free of that. So he can look his supporters in the eye and say, "I have been exonerated. I am the man for 2020. Look at the economy. It's really doing quite well. I am delivering for my people".

    And I think one specific point would be that any Republican contenders who were thinking about challenging him in the primaries for the Republican nomination, now they might be stopping and thinking, "Mh, is this a thing that we want to do now that he's just had this huge boost in terms of his own support?"

    Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Dr. Clodagh Harrington and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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    re-election, nomination, probe, collusion, Russiagate, Dr. Clodagh Harrington, Robert Mueller, Donald Trump, United States
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