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Let Mueller Report indictments play out in courts, not court of public opinion

President Trump delivers remarks at Mar-a-Lago shortly after Mueller Report delivered

President Trump delivered short remarks at the Lincoln Day Dinner on March 22, at the President’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, shortly after Attorney General William Barr confirmed Special Counsel Robert Mueller had completed his report.
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President Trump delivered short remarks at the Lincoln Day Dinner on March 22, at the President’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, shortly after Attorney General William Barr confirmed Special Counsel Robert Mueller had completed his report.

This year, my prediction of the Mueller Report turned out to be better than my March Madness picks, even though the results seemed to shock both liberals and conservatives.

If you were a liberal who expected President Trump to be indicted, you’ll be disappointed. But I would have been shocked if he had. It would mean that he had some complete surprise witness or previously unknown evidence, like secret accounts or emails.

Keep in mind that the mission of Robert Mueller report was to investigate Russian meddling in the election, not to “get Trump,” though some critics against it sure acted like it was.

A smart, experienced prosecutor isn’t going to bring a case to a grand jury or court unless he or she has a good chance of winning. A dumb prosecutor will bring wild charges before the media, trying to win the court of public opinion. Unless he definitively had a defendant on a charge, Mueller won’t demand a trial. This is why he didn’t indict Trump on collusion with Russia, or even obstruction of justice.

The smartest thing some of the defense lawyers did was to restrain Trump from testifying. Though he insisted on doing so, Trump would have likely perjured himself, and might have been in a lot of hot water. More than 30 others associated with Trump, his campaign and with Russia were indicted showing that there was a lot going on that will cause Team Trump some trouble.

It also shows the foolishness of the Trump Administration. This is the day you point out that your guy avoided being indicted for the worst charges, and let the rest go through the courts. Move on. But that’s not what was done.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders crowed that Trump was exonerated on all charges, which was clearly not the case. Some said the Mueller investigation was a waste of time, or “found nothing,” when that’s clearly not true either. As Attorney General William Barr pointed out, it does not exonerate Trump of obstruction of justice charges, the area most likely to provide an indictment. And the report found wrongdoing among Trump campaign officials, confidants and associates.

It was also a bad idea for Trump to spend months, even the day before the report was released, calling it false, fake, and a witch hunt, and then to loudly proclaim vindication. Those actions made Trump look guiltier than anything. Had he urged calm, promised cooperation and fairness in the investigation, he would have done as well as Clinton getting out of being removed from office after being impeached. But that’s Trump for you.

The biggest finding is that it should be clear to all except the most willfully ignorant, that Russia did everything to control the election. And that’s another thing I’ve been saying all along. We know that efforts to protect our elections are being undermined by pulling personnel and resources, at a time when we clearly need more protection. And our intel has indicated that Russia is shifting strategy in their promotion of fake news to promote divisive topics, instead of made up material, to get Americans arguing or think the country is at each other’s throats, and is likely to up their hacking skills.

As General John Jumper told my students, Russia lost the Cold War and is trying to win the Cyber War, while China has employed a large military unit solely devoted to hacking the U.S.

We need to let the Mueller Report indictments play out in courts, instead of the court of public opinion. Even more importantly, we need to protect our elections, our republic, from foreigners trying to control it. We can no longer “take Putin’s word for it,” but listen to our intelligence agencies instead, and take appropriate steps to protect our ballots and discourse, and retaliate harshly against those authoritarian countries.

John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Georgia. He can be reached at jtures@lagrange.edu. His Twitter account is @JohnTures2.

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