In this Oct. 28, 2013, file photo, former FBI Director Robert Mueller is seated at FBI Headquarters in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

Analysis: Mueller paints a damning portrait of the president

Special counsel’s 448-page report, with redactions, released

To Donald Trump, the start of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation looked alarmingly like the end of his presidency. So he tried to stop it.

His months-long effort pushed the boundaries of presidential powers and the law, revealing a commander in chief consumed by self-interest and intent on having his top lieutenants lie or obfuscate on his behalf. The fact that many refused to do so may have helped save Trump from being charged with obstructing justice.

Those advisers effectively served as the guardrails in a White House that often seems to have none. A White House counsel who told the president he would rather resign than oust Mueller. A senior West Wing aide who quietly ignored a request to pass messages to the attorney general, who had already recused himself from the investigation.

“The incidents were often carried out through one-on-one meetings in which the president sought to use his official power outside of usual channels,” Mueller wrote in his redacted 448-page report.

The episodes detailed by the special counsel paint a damning portrait of a president consumed by the investigation. Even after more than two years of revelations about Trump’s willingness to lie or press others to do so, Mueller’s report put into sharp focus the president’s disregard for governing norms and his willingness to challenge both legal and political limits.

Trump and his advisers can herald the fact that two years of investigation ended without criminal charges for the president, not only on obstruction but also on criminal conspiracy with Russia to help him win the 2016 election. Though numerous people with ties to Trump — including former national security adviser Michael Flynn and ex-campaign chairman Paul Manafort — did plead guilty to crimes, no Americans were indicted for colluding with Moscow.

“His greatest rebuttal will be he’s in office, he’s going to remain in office and he’ll get re-elected because the Democrats have nothing,” Kellyanne Conway, a senior White House adviser, said of the president.

Indeed, the Democrats’ next steps are unclear. Some lawmakers will likely continue to press for impeachment proceedings, though party leaders are skeptical of that approach. House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler has requested that Mueller testify before his committee within weeks and plans to subpoena for the full report and underlying evidence.

Yet the end of Mueller’s investigation did more than answer questions about whether Trump and his associates committed crimes. The probe underscored just how far Trump has gone in pushing the limits of the presidency and encouraging others to help him do so.

Rep. Adam Schiff, Democratic chair of the House intelligence committee, said that while Trump’s actions may not have been criminal, they were “dishonest, unethical, immoral and unpatriotic.”

Trump’s actions were in line with his behaviour as a businessman, when he employed a team of lawyers and fixers to protect him from legal trouble. One of those longtime confidants, lawyer Michael Cohen, was brought down in an investigation stemming from Mueller’s probe, centring on hush money payments he made to women who alleged sexual relationships with Trump during the 2016 campaign.

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Trees Cannabis director fined $1.5 million for selling marijuana

Fine follows provincial crackdown on popular dispensary

Victims tell of abuse at hands of Victoria substitute teacher

Harry Charles Sadd pleaded guilty to eight charges that took place between 1970 to 1982

2020 Budget: ICBC ‘dumpster fire’ to turn into $86M surplus, NDP say

ICBC operating with $91-million deficit for 2019-2020 fiscal year

Resident mistakes screaming teens’ late-night plunge for an emergency

Big week for Oak Bay Police who respond to rampant theft in Oak Bay, host Polar Plunge

Victoria budtenders become first private cannabis workers to unionize in Canada

Two of seven Clarity Cannabis storefronts vote to join UFCW 1518 union

VIDEO: 7 things you need to know about the 2020 B.C. budget

Surplus of $227 million with big spending on infrastructure and capital projects

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 18

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you support the proposed changes for ICBC?

Tuesday’s provincial budget predicted a shift from shortfall to surplus in wake… Continue reading

World Cup skier from Okanagan dies suddenly at 19

Kuroda, who made his World Cup debut earlier this year, passed away suddenly Monday night.

Coastal GasLink pipeline investor committed to closing deal despite protests

Developer TC Energy Corp. — formerly TransCanada Corp. — is to remain the operator of the $6.6-billion pipeline

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

What’s in a name? The story of Revelstoke’s Mt. Begbie

It’s likely the iconic peak had several Indigenous peoples’ names before settlers arrived

Budget 2020: B.C. Liberals blast ‘Netflix tax,’ lack of economic plan

ICBC rates still go up, except in election year, Shirley Bond says

Teen snowmobiler from Kelowna found after air force’s overnight search

The teen had been missing since just after 6 p.m. on Monday

Most Read