Checkpoint: For Democrat's Sake, Mueller Should End The Russia Investigation
The argument I am about to make may seem counterintuitive at first glance. Before I go into this, I’d like to offer a brief yet powerful prerequisite disclaimer of sorts. I absolutely, full heartedly, believe that, in the months leading up to the infamous 2016 election, Donald Trump and his campaign broke several serious laws that deserve to be punished to the full extent of the law, potentially resulting in President Trump’s impeachment. The evidence of some extent of corruption and ties to Russia throughout President Trump’s campaign is nothing short of damming. Now, with the table set, the air cleared, and my heart on my sleeve, I will state that it could be advantageous for Democrats if Robert Mueller shut down his investigation as soon as possible.
In May of 2017, Robert Mueller was selected to lead an investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. And, as easily predicted, ties Mueller did find. By June of 2018, Mueller had indicted upwards of 20 individuals in relation to the case, most notably, Washington’s very own villains, Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos and Paul Manafort. Despite the legal success (as some may call it), the investigation still lies in the hands of the court of public opinion. As John Oliver alluded to in his segment on his recent show about the investigation, the public support for Robert Mueller and his investigation is dropping rapidly amongst Republicans. Predictably, the longer that this investigation goes on, regardless of the success of the investigation, the Republican establishment and Trump supporters lose favorability.
In most circumstances, this decline in favorability is not a problem. It is extremely common for the general public to grow to be fed up with processes and the bureaucracy of both legal justice and the federal government. However, this is no normal situation. In a normal situation, we would not have a president who openly declares that he can end and begin a federal investigation with the snap of his fingers. In a normal situation, ideally, we would not have a president who is under federal investigation in the first place. So, as John Oliver so eloquently pointed out, as soon as the approval rating drops low enough for President Trump’s liking, he will close the initiative and the “Russia Investigation” will be a small chapter in the back of your kid’s history book.
If this logic holds up, and I do believe it does, the best thing Robert Mueller can do is stop dead in his tracks, go to his filing cabinet, and publicize every piece of information pertaining to the investigation while indicting every criminal that he can with that information. Stalling any longer could be lethal to the progress of the investigation and the future of our Justice Department.
Doing this will force a few things to happen. Primarily, this could be Mueller’s chance at proving the legitimacy of the investigation beyond a doubt. No one truly knows what information he is sitting on, but if it is evidence of a direct incriminating conversation between Trump and the Russians, then this year-and-a-half-long wait will have been vindicated and justified.
If the long and complicated history of presidential investigations teaches us anything, it’s that popularity matters. Some might argue that Bill Clinton would have been forced to resign from the presidency if Ken Starr could have rallied more support into his investigation of obstruction of justice. Instead, popularity for the investigation tanked, making it impossible for enough senators to vote to impeach Clinton.
The second, and far less noble, far more calculated, reason that Robert Mueller should begin to put the brakes on his investigation, is that the support of the investigation is a really bad look for a Democratic party that is looking to attract voters from the right. As the midterm elections approach, Democrats need to be increasingly message and image conscious. Continuing to aggressively pursue an investigation perceived as a “witch-hunt” by 50 percent of Americans is not a good way to attract new voters that Democrats desperately need.
Although at its inception the investigation fed off the glory of bi-partisan support, Mueller’s project has turned into a partisan effort. The Democratic Party stands in full support of holding President Trump accountable for his actions, and the Republican Party is increasingly losing faith in the legitimacy of the probe. So, as the issue has become partisan, it will undoubtedly play a role in the upcoming midterm elections. Every time a Democratic official stands in support of the investigation, he or she is, by proxy, taking a step to the left of the spectrum in a race that will be decided by the middle. In debates across the country, where Democratic nominees look to flip red states and congressional districts, they will also likely have to support an extremely unpopular issue with their potential voters.
While this is a paradoxical, morally complicated and unfortunate situation to be in, so is politics. Thankfully, however, this is not a black and white, all or nothing situation. There are routes to justice and liberal success around all of these issues that do not include shutting down this extremely important investigation. For example, if “anti-Trump” Republicans began to speak up about the importance of the investigation, we might see a change in opinion with the Republican base. This change of opinion would prevent Donald Trump from declaring the case closed and allow the due process of the law to carry out. But until then, we wait.