Truth about Mueller probe lies in report itself

0
276
COURTESY PHOTO // THE FLAT HAT

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has raised a lot of tensions in the American political arena since President Donald Trump entered the White House. Many Americans are preparing for the possibility of evidence that Trump’s presidential campaign colluded with Russia, and the Mueller probe has already brought nearly 200 criminal counts against defendants and has destroyed many officials’ careers so far. Meanwhile, some of Trump’s aides and advisers have been making the claim for more than a year that the president and his campaign did not coordinate with the Russian interference in the 2016 presidential electionHowever, as more people get indicted because of Mueller’s work, these signs also make the public wonder when the investigation will be over and when the full Mueller report will be released. 

We have heard so many major and minor characters a billion times over the last year that it makes us wonder how these names have made the Mueller probe into such a complex issue. The answer to this question brings us back to when James Madison drafted Federalist Paper No. 47, in which he argues for the necessity of separation of power. Given the Anti-Federalists at the time who were very concerned about the national government’s abuse of power, the system of government is set up to include a number of different checks on each branch’s authority. Fortunately, Madison’s view provides the groundwork for making sure the Mueller probe is an independent investigation 

The Mueller probe is essentially situated in this separation of power scenariohow power in the executive branch has been again separated over timeWithin the executive branch, there are 13 additional departments. The Department of Justice which Mueller worked for is one of these executive agencies. It is led by the Attorney General William Barr after Jeff Sessions resigned due to conflict of interest. Under the attorney general is Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein; unlike other agencies, the Justice Department has traditionally been more independent of the executive branch since it is the law enforcement agency of the federal government. Hence, if the White House is suspected of any illegal activity, the Justice Department is supposed to investigate it. In this case, their investigation takes the form of the Mueller probe 

After writing a report which includes information about investigating Russians’ attempt to interfere in the election, Mueller reported his work to Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein, who then reported to Attorney General Barr, who is expected to announce the conclusion of the special counsel’s investigation. Since the attorney general is a cabinet member to the president and has the authority on which information can be released, many individuals argue that there is not a real check between Mueller and the president since the attorney general, who is the middle man, can decide how much of that material to make public. President Trump has been meddling with the probe since it was initiated, with different kinds of maneuvers both big and small, such as appointing former Attorney General Jeff Sessions staff who is unconfirmed by the Senate to the acting attorney general’s position. Therefore, the Department of Justice is not truly independent from the executive branch but is still responsive to it. 

Nevertheless, justice can still be protected by checks and balances between federal branches. All executive agencies are not only responsible to the executive, but they also depend on Congress for appropriation of funds. Congress is a bicameral body controlled separately by two major political parties. Even though the Republicans who control the Senate are more beholden to the executive, the Democratic House of Representatives can weigh in and use other legislation as leverage to force the Senate to cooperate.  

As the Mueller probe appears to be in the home stretch, what we should do before any impeachment process starts is turn this probe into a politicized topic. Instead of putting more effort into making enemies, politicians and the public should pay attention to the report itself and let the evidence speak the truth.

Email Yuchen Tang at

ytang06@email.wm.edu.