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The Mueller report will hardly impact the political dynamics in Washington

The real goal in all this courtyard drama is to tilt the political landscape for the 2020 US presidential elections in favour of one party or another. Mueller did not give the Democrats quite the big gun they had hoped for

editorials Updated: Mar 26, 2019 08:20 IST
Hindustan Times
Mueller,report,washington
The truth is that Mueller’s conclusions are not that great a surprise. Clearing the US president of the collusion charge will change little of the present political dynamics in Washington(AFP)

United States President Donald Trump is cock-a-hoop following Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s conclusion that there is no evidence that the White House resident colluded with the Russian government at the time of his election. Mr Mueller said he had no opinion regarding the lesser charge of obstruction of justice. But the truth is that Mr Mueller’s conclusions are not that great a surprise. And clearing the US president of the collusion charge will change little of the present political dynamics in Washington. Mr Trump may be in the clear, but the fact remains Mr Mueller indicted eight of his circle and has convicted four of them, with more of them facing trial. His administration is not guilty of treason but it is clearly riddled with corruption and sleaze. Those who dislike Mr Trump will have little reason to change their views. Those who support the president, and opinion polls show his approval rating remains at just over 40%, would not have changed their view irrespective of Mr Mueller’s conclusion.

It had been evident for some time that there would ever be a Watergate style denouement to the Mueller investigation. As Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi had signalled a few weeks ago, indictment was never on the cards so long as Mr Trump’s popularity remained so high. At 40%, his approval rating meant he still had a hammerlock on the Republican voter base and, therefore, Republican congressmen would decline to support an indictment. And it is the legislature, not the judiciary, that determines impeachment. The Democrats will continue to push their various investigations, however, if only to keep the administration off balance and continue to undermine Mr Trump’s image. The president still has reason for concern: the tax evasion investigation of the New York state attorney-general’s office continues and is something not covered by presidential powers of pardon.

The real goal in all this drama is to tilt the political landscape for the 2020 US presidential elections in favour of one party or another. The Democrats are eyeing the growing share of independent voters, now roughly over 45% of the electorate. Many of these are disaffected Republicans, conservative but turned off by Mr Trump’s character. They are likely to determine who will win the next US presidency. Mr Mueller did not give the Democrats quite the big gun they had hoped, but his indictments and convictions have already deeply sullied the Trump administration. If the Democrats don’t go too far to the left themselves, they are on path to making Mr Trump’s re-election bid an uphill task.

First Published: Mar 25, 2019 20:30 IST