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New lease of life for Donald Trump

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US President Donald Trump (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP)

The United States President Donald Trump is off the hook of the possibility of impeachment that was to flow from a proven case of collusion with Russia to help his victory at the presidential poll in 2016.The charges of collusion were not proven, according to the report of investigations into the widespread belief of Russian interference in that year’s elections. The long and eagerly-awaited report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller was released at the weekend and summary of it on Sunday. The cloud of suspected collusion had dogged Trump’s presidency for the past two years.

There was widespread belief that the Russians had a hand in the emergence of Mr. Trump as President. In anticipation of the submission of the report, James Comey, former FBI director, speaking tongue in cheek, said, “Many people know what they want in it (the report) to say—namely, that Donald Trump is a criminal who should be removed from office. Or that he is completely innocent of all wrongdoing. But not everyone knows what it ‘must’ say. Even though I believe Mr. Trump is morally unfit to be President of the United States, I’m not rooting for Mr. Mueller to demonstrate that he is a criminal. I’m also not rooting for Mr. Mueller to ‘clear’ the President.” Comey’s interest was in seeing Mueller being permitted to finish his work, “charge whatever cases warrant charging and report on his work.”

In the report, Mr. Trump is cleared; he is absolved of working with the Russians to influence the election in his favour. Also, there is no word on fears of obstruction of justice by him. Mr. Mueller believes if there is no proof of an underlying crime, then the notion of obstruction collapses. Therefore, it was not an issue determined by him and his team.

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Naturally, Mr. Trump has grabbed the triumph with both hands. For him the enemies have done their worst, as we are wont to say in local parlance, and he has emerged unscathed. He is basking in the euphoria of unexpected victory. Unexpected because some of his principal aides had gone down with the probe, among them national security adviser Michael Flynn; campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy, Richard Gates; foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos; and political strategist Roger Stone. The latest sacrificial lamb was Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen. Altogether 34 persons, and three companies were indicted, although said to be for some other crimes and unedifying conduct by Mr. Trump and associates, not a few believed they were not unconnected with the alleged Russia saga. The contention was that Mr. Trump did not say the truth as proceedings of the investigation revealed when he said no member of his team ever met with agents of Moscow secret service. Mr. Trump himself had no faith in the investigations and consistently denounced the probe as “a witch-hunt.”

The waves of the incandescence of the triumph are sweeping from the First Family to envelop Mr. Trump’s allies. In the euphoria, characteristically, Mr. Trump is unable to control himself and see how much good the probe he condemned, according to the American media, 261 times, has done to him. The pall of the suspicion of a collusion undoubtedly sowed doubts on his legitimacy. He is edged on by erstwhile governor Giuliani of New York not to remove the blinkers in his eyes to be able to see the immense good the investigation has in the end done to him. Right now, he is firing at the Democrats to exact political revenge and targeting the mainstream media to vent his anger, his arch enemy No.1, The New York Times, then Washington Post and the CNN. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was unsparing in her attacks, accusing the Democratic Party and the media of perpetuating “that lie day in day out and breathlessly covered every second of negative attention that they thought would be the one moment that would bring the president down. They were wrong in 2016 when he beat them and they have been wrong every day since then about this president.” Donald Trump Jnr., the president’s first son, singled out congressional House Intelligence Committee chair, Adam Schiff for blasting as the arrow head of the campaign that Moscow interfered in the American presidential election. He accused him of flagrantly lying to the American people and slandering the president for years on airtime. “Should he not face any repercussions for the lies?” he asked in his tweet.

In view of the widespread belief in the Russian interference and the likely consequences of such dabbling by Moscow, was it not the next logical the thing to make, efforts to ascertain the veracity of the claims, in the interest of the US, the presidential candidates in the election, and the implications for the free world if the speculations were to be established?

Could such a weighty speculation have been ignored and dismissed as inconsequential? How would the truth have been established?

The Democrats are an interested party. They had their flagbearer in the person of Hillary Clinton that they believed had all the glittering credentials to win the election. It was indeed believed that the presidency was theirs already for graps. And come to think of it, didn’t Mrs. Clinton win the popular vote with about three million votes? She lost at the Electoral College which the American Establishment says is provided for “to protect Americans from the tyranny of the majority in which small groups of citizens could have their rights abused by the majority.” What lent credence to suspicion of possible collusion were meetings Trump team led by George Papadopoulos had in negotiations to build a luxury hotel in Moscow, and the then Trump Tower meeting arranged by Trump Jnr. Papadopoulos later became foreign policy adviser. The focus of Mr. Trump on Mr. Mueller for attack and his offensive on the Justice Department that saw attorney General Jeff Sessions and James Comey go also gave rise to speculation that Mr. Trump had something to hide.

It ought to be clear that such charges could not have arisen without, if not directly from the security, but with their nodding. Even now that the report is out, erstwhile FIB director James Comey is saying, “The Russians really did massively interfere with the 2016 election with the goal of damaging one candidate and helping the other. That was not a hoax. That was a real thing.” He should know.

The Democrats are not yet convinced that Mr. Trump has no questions to answer and are pressing for the full report to see how Mr. Mueller arrived at his conclusions to absolve President Trump of charges of collusion.

If in the face of all the speculations and fouled up environment Mr. Trump is given a clean bill of health and doubts about the credibility and wholesomeness of his presidency are no longer in contention, the least he can do is to demonstrate humility over the awesomeness of his responsibility as President and show gratitude to those who instigated the investigations in the first place and reaffirm his faith in America as a country governed by law no matter whose ox is gored. Without them, rumours and innuendoes would still have been whirling round his presidency. It is his credibility that has been restored by the law and the American system that does not permit of stain on their prized institutions of state. Mr. Trump is thus the greatest beneficiary of the Mueller probe. The quality of the person of Mueller should not be lost on him. He delivered justice despite Trump’s unrelenting intimidation and hostilities towards him and his team. Mueller did not pander to popular sentiment to twist his own convictions of Trump’s innocence. He remained firm on what he believes to be right.

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