08:48 GMT +322 January 2020
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    US Democrats are likely to step up their efforts to discredit President Donald Trump following the failure of US Special Counsel Robert Mueller to document any collusion between him and Russia, according Nicolai Petro, Silvia-Chandley Professor of Peace Studies and Nonviolence and Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island.

    US Special Counsel Robert Mueller, a former FBI director, in a report released on Thursday said there was no evidence of any collusion between Russia and Trump or his campaign during the 2016 US presidential campaign.

    Sputnik has discussed the situation amid the Mueller Report release with Nicolai Petro, Silvia-Chandley Professor of Peace Studies and Nonviolence and Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island.

    Sputnik: Democrats keep pressing Trump even after the long-awaited Mueller Report is released. They also resorted to accusing Attorney General Barr of editing the report in Trump's favour due to his alleged political views. Democratic congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer in a joint statement said the report painted a "disturbing picture of a president who has been weaving a web of deceit, lies, and improper behaviour". Congressmen want Robert Mueller to publicly testify before Congress. What are the hopes? What can be the new Democrat game plan?

    Nicolai Petro: The Democratic leadership in Congress never had any intention of giving up a cudgel with which to bash the president and thereby stoke their base in preparation for the 2020 presidential elections. Now that the Mueller investigation is concluded, and no charges will be filed against president Trump, the Democrat's game plan is to sow doubt about the thoroughness of the investigation. In the House of Representatives, which they control, they can do this indefinitely by holding hearings and then publicizing the predictable results.

    READ MORE: Trump Slams "Fabricated" Statements in Mueller Report

    They believe this is a winning strategy for recapturing political control of both houses of Congress and the executive branch, even if it further divides the nation, and makes it ungovernable.

    Sputnik: Mueller's report found no criminal conspiracy between Trump's presidential campaign and Russia, but Democrats insist that they want to obtain the full, unredacted document. What do they want to find?

    Nicolai Petro: Many in Congress, as well as most members of the elite media it seems, are not looking to find anything new. The case for Trump as a Russian agent was made to their satisfaction more than two years ago (recall "Trump, Putin, and the New Cold War" in The New Yorker magazine).

    Sputnik: Will Congress and the public ever get to see Mueller's full report?

    Nicolai Petro: Selected members of Congress will see the full report. Sharing the classified sections of the report outside of that small group would be a gross and intentional violation of the law. Nevertheless, while the public will not get to see the full report, I'm sure there will be people who consider their patriotic duty to leak to the press those portions of it that serve their interests.

    Sputnik: What is the possibility for President Trump's impeachment after the report's release?

    Nicolai Petro: Although the House of Representatives can, by a simple majority of votes pass a formal allegation, at which point the accuse has been "impeached", there will be no practical consequences to this, since the Republican controlled Senate would then have to conduct a trial of the president. Since there is no chance of this, it is not part of the Democratic leadership's strategy.

    Sputnik: How does the report affect the Democratic party ratings?

    Nicolai Petro: This is the most interesting question, because it is the hardest to predict. Democrats have always believed that Trump stole the election, but they are only 31% of voters. Republicans are 24%. That means that the presidential vote is decided by independents, if they even come to vote.

    READ MORE: Russian Companies' Foreign Contacts 'Taken to Absurd Level' by Mueller — Kremlin

    If the majority of independents perceive further Democratic investigations of the president as pointless and petty, given the findings of the Mueller Report, then it will hurt them come election time.

    Sputnik: What are Trump's chances for the second term now?

    Nicolai Petro: Somewhat better than they were before the report. For most Americans, however, the political spectacle in Washington is far less important than the welfare of their family. That depends on the availability of affordable health care, on whether or not they are unemployed, and on the overall state of the economy.

    Sputnik: Julian Assange faces extradition to the US now. What kind of problems can his extradition cause for President Trump due to the content of the Mueller Report, containing information on WikiLeaks?

    Nicolai Petro: Julian Assange has always denied one of the central pillars of this investigation; i.e., that it was the Russian government that gave stolen DNC emails to WikiLeaks. For national security reasons it is unlikely that his trial, should there be one, will be fully public. Still, to the extent that he is able to present any defence at all in court, it can only undermine this pillar and therefore benefit President Trump.

    Sputnik: Mainstream media has doubled down on Trump's investigation even after the release of Mueller's report. Why, do you think, they are not ready to give up?

    Activists participate in a 'Release the Report' rally in Times Square, April 4, 2019 in New York City
    © AFP 2019 / Drew Angerer / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA
    Nicolai Petro: This is actually one of be most well-researched phenomena in communications studies. Journalists behave like a herd of independent minds because, just like everyone else, they rely on existing cultural stereotypes to describe rapidly changing realities. Leading media researchers, like Murray Edelman, W. Lance Bennett, and John D. Klockner argue that such reliance inevitably produces "category mistakes" in reporting. Such mistakes occur when people continue to think in rhetorical categories that perpetuate the very problem they are trying to resolve.

    READ MORE: 'Why So Salty?': Alyssa Milano Blasts Mueller's Report, Gets Mocked Online

    In the coverage of the Mueller Report we have a textbook example before us-trying to explain the report's findings of innocence, within rhetorical categories that have already defined him as a traitor. It is obviously much easier, as well as more personally satisfying, to dismiss new evidence that challenges the established categories, than it is to change them. 

    The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect Sputnik's position.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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    Democrats, report, collusion, US Democratic Party, Robert Mueller, Donald Trump, United States, Russia
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