The Mueller Report: A Full House

It’s here; the Mueller Report— the epic conclusion of nearly 2 years of investigation, all laid out in 448 pages— has finally been released to the public in all its redacted glory. The report is separated into two volumes: Russian Interference and Obstruction Inquiry, and oddly enough, the volume that stands out the most is the latter.

In the second volume, the report tastefully presents an account of President Trump’s reaction to the appointment of Robert S. Mueller III as special counsel for the investigation. He reportedly slouched back into the solace of his chair and said, “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m f*cked.”

The report failed to accumulate enough evidence of collusion between the Trump administration and Russian agencies. It’s a rather lackluster in comparison to the expectations and excitement that have been ignited over the week. However, the litany of interactions between the two shouldn’t be ignored, nor should the fact that Russia has been interfering with America’s democracy since about 2014 – during Obama’s era. Intentional or not, the report shifts the attention from Trump’s incompetence to the encompassing dysfunction of the White House as a whole.

Lies in the White House are infectious. Trump would tell one person to lie, and once they refused, they were essentially cut off like an infected lame arm. The former director of the FBI, James Comey, was allegedly fired after mishandling the Clinton e-mail fiasco. Instead, the report shows that Comey’s termination was due to the fact that Comey refused to deny accusations of Trump being under investigation.

Following Comey came another wave of attempted cover-ups. Former White House Counsel Don McGahn found himself on the same chopping block. Trump demanded that McGahn request the removal of Mueller to Rod Rosenstein, the U.S. Deputy Attorney General. In a flurry of panic McGahn signed his own resignation papers and summarized his reasoning to the Chief of Staff as a refusal to “do crazy shit” that Trump ordered of him.

The White House has begun to closely resemble an episode of Veep rather than an actual respectable establishment. It is a high-strung push and pull among Donald J. Trump’s attempts to fabricate a functioning presidency against his staff, unwilling to comply.

The Mueller Report is disappointing in that we didn’t get a damning denouement to Trump’s presidency. What we can take away is the absolute ineffectiveness of our own government. The investigation lasted two years and will continue while Flint is pushing five years into their drinking water crisis. Representative Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey warns that, “…if we spend the next six months obsessed with this alone, instead of job training, health care and infrastructure, that would be a big mistake.”

Trump has become a personified punching bag— though with good reason— but the Mueller Report hardly brings much surprise. He lied. He’s a liar. What’s new? The public should shift their focus from Trump to the entire system that got him the position in the first place. We sit and attempt to grapple at the legal jargon thrown back and forth and squint to translate Trump’s tweets. The whole case is so out of reach to the general public that most don’t or can’t even make sense of all 448 pages. The most the internet can do is use what arsenal they have to make redacted memes. I wish for Congress to take swift justice against Trump so we can finally move on to issues that have plagued this country for years.

Jin Hee Park is a second year English and Criminology, Law, & Society double major. She can be reached at jinhp7@uci.edu.