By Aaron Maté
Source: The Nation
The prevailing view among prominent Democratic and media voices is that special counsel Robert Mueller, with his closing remarks last week, has referred President Trump’s impeachment to Congress. This consensus is worthy of careful consideration in light of what the investigation found, what Mueller said, and what the consequences of an impeachment attempt could be.
It is important to recall that Mueller did not indict anyone for a Trump-Russia conspiracy and that his investigation “did not establish” that such a plot occurred. The Mueller report’s first volume provides an exhaustive account of Trump campaign officials interacting with people who either hail from Russia or claim to have ties to it. None of these interactions offer any evidence of a conspiracy—in fact, they cumulatively undermine the case for it. On top of finding no evidence for a conspiracy prior to the election, Mueller reports in the aftermath that “Russian government officials and prominent Russian businessmen…appeared not to have preexisting contacts and struggled to connect with senior officials around the President-Elect.” If top Russian officials and elites had really conspired with the Trump campaign before the election, it’s likely that they would have known whom to contact—and how to reach them—after their supposed plot succeeded.
Now that it has become no longer tenable to call Trump a Russian agent or accomplice, the goalposts have shifted. The main issue is no longer collusion, but Trump’s alleged obstruction of justice. Mueller’s choice of words at his closing news conference has been widely interpreted to endorse the narrative that Trump is guilty of an impeachment-worthy effort to interfere with the probe. But it is far from clear that that’s what Mueller meant. And even if that were a fair reading of…