Georgetown University students and professors joined bipartisan calls for the full release of the findings of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference after Attorney General William Barr submitted a four-page report to Congress on March 24.
In a letter submitted to Congress, Barr summarized the report’s general conclusions, writing that the findings of Mueller’s investigation do not prove that President Donald Trump or members of his presidential campaign conspired with the Russian government in 2016. However, Mueller did not offer a conclusive stance on whether Trump obstructed justice.
Since the election, 34 people and three companies have been indicted by the committee on allegations encompassing election interference charges, false statements charges and various other crimes. That group includes five of six former advisers to Trump.
Members of Georgetown University College Democrats are unsatisfied with the summary and are hoping Barr will release the special counsel’s full report, said Rebecca Hollister (COL ’21), chair of GUCD.
“We’re surprised, we’re a little shocked; people were arrested during this process,” Hollister said. “So, we’re confused and we want more information is the bottom line.”
Members of GUCD are calling for the release of the full report in order to get a fuller understanding of what the investigation found, according to Hollister.
“We stand in support of House Democrats and Republicans who want the full report to be released because the truth is, if it does completely exonerate Trump, then there should be no issues releasing at least a large majority of the report,” Hollister said. “An attorney’s letter is not the equivalent of a report.”
Mueller was appointed special counsel by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in May 2017 to investigate Russian interference in U.S. elections, as well as possible obstruction of justice by Trump in his interactions with then-director of the FBI, James Comey.
Barr and Rosenstein ultimately decided that the evidence was insufficient to prosecute on charges of obstruction, according to Barr’s summary.
Georgetown adjunct assistant professor and former Democratic National Committee Chief Donna Brazile said on Twitter that it was critical for the full report to be released, in order to prevent similar attacks in the upcoming November 2020 election. Many of the Democratic presidential candidates for 2020 have also said the report should go public in its entirety, according to Fox News.
Republican senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) joined Democrats and called on Barr to release the full details of the investigation, according to the Des Moines Register.
Not all members of the Georgetown community reacted with skepticism to Mueller’s judgment that Trump did not collude with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election.
Georgetown University College Republicans welcomed Barr’s letter and elected to dedicate a portion of their March 26 scheduled general body meeting to host a “No Collusion Celebration Party,” GUCR President Hayley Grande (COL ’21) wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Along with students, Georgetown professors have also said Barr’s letter is not sufficient to judge Trump’s conduct accurately and clear his name in the eyes of the public.
In an opinion piece published in The New York Times, Georgetown Law professor Neal Katyal discussed several questions that arose after Barr submitted his letter to Congress.
Katyal argued that Mueller refraining from completely exonerating Trump of obstruction of justice forces the attorney general to either reveal his justification for not pursuing any charges or release the report publicly in its entirety.
“No one wants a president to be guilty of obstruction of justice,” Katyal wrote. “The only thing worse than that is a guilty president who goes without punishment. The Barr letter raises the specter that we are living in such times.”
Though the Mueller investigation did not find that the president clearly committed a crime by obstructing justice, Mueller did not go as far to exonerate the president, leaving the decision to Barr. Barr’s summary did not cite any specific incidents that could be considered obstruction of justice, but said many of them were the subject of public reporting, such as pressuring Comey to stop investigating former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, firing Comey and two attempts at firing Mueller.
The wording of the memo suggests the full report might present a challenge to Democrats intending to use the document as reason for impeachment, Victoria Nourse, also a Georgetown Law professor, said in an interview with Vox, a left-leaning news outlet.
“Obstruction would be difficult legally and factually to prove,” Nourse wrote. “This report is likely to make efforts by those who seek to impeach the president more difficult.”
The reports of the investigation’s initial findings should not come as a surprise to Georgetown students, Grande said.
“It’s nice to see that a story that was created by the leftist media has now been completely disproved in a sense with the no means of impeachment and no means of collusion made by Attorney General Barr,” Grande said. “We should be happy that our president wasn’t found colluding with the Russians, something that’s a net positive and I think people forget that, so that’s the best outcome in this situation.”