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Prolonged Mueller investigation plays directly into Putin’s hands

When Vladimir Putin and his associates interfered in the 2016 presidential election, they had one goal in mind: to cause chaos throughout the United States. Mission accomplished.

The investigation into Russian interference and the potential collusion between the Trump campaign team and the Kremlin has turned into a political sideshow. Anxious to impeach President Trump, the progressive wing of the Democratic Party has been calling on Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III to expand the existing Russia probe into Trump’s finances, hoping for evidence of money laundering and illegal business dealings on the part of the President to surface. A growing number of Republicans in the far-right House Freedom Caucus, on the other hand, are calling for the probe to be shut down altogether, arguing that it is a direct attack on the legitimacy of the President.

It seems both parties misunderstand the main purpose of this investigation: to find out what the Russians did in 2016 and how to prevent it from happening again in future election cycles.

Nearly one year into the Russia probe, there have been no direct updates from the Special Counsel himself. By keeping quiet, Mueller is allowing the media to speculate on the prospects of collusion and obstruction of justice on the part of the President, which is only furthering the divide throughout the country, to the delight of the Kremlin.

Mueller, meanwhile, has expanded the scope of the probe, investigating financial ties between members of the Trump campaign and Russia. The Special Counsel has issued several indictments, most notably charging former Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort with money laundering while working as an advisor for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine. Mueller has also looked into the President’s finances, issuing a subpoena to Deutsche Bank, which provided millions of dollars worth of business loans to Trump’s family, including his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
In addition, the FBI and the Special Counsel’s office are investigating the 2008 sale of Trump’s Palm Beach mansion to a Russian oligarch, and the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow, which Donald Trump helped organize. The investigations drag on, allowing tensions in America to continue to rise, with a deluge of uninformed, passionate opinions on all sides regarding the validity and extent of Trump-Russia collusion.

While the investigations into Manafort and Trump’s business dealings may seem intriguing to some, the reality is that the dealings took place before Trump launched his presidential campaign in June 2015, raising questions as to whether or not Mueller is overstepping his authority as Special Counsel.

According to John Dowd, one of Trump’s attorneys, information regarding the President’s finances and previous transactions are “well beyond the mandate of the Special Counsel; are unrelated to the election of 2016 or any alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, and most importantly, are well beyond any Statute of Limitation imposed by the United States code.”

To be fair, the Special Counsel has highlighted relevant information that took place during the campaign as well, such as the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and Russian lawyers, where Trump Jr. was looking for damaging information on his father’s opponent, Hillary Clinton.

But the cloud that continues to hang over this entire investigation is Donald Trump himself. The country wonders whether he encouraged or was aware of any meddling. All indications from members of the Congressional Intelligence Committees, the FBI and members of the Special Counsel’s office reveal no proof of collusion between Trump and Russia during the campaign. If that continues to be the case, then the Special Counsel ought to directly address the nation as soon as possible and exonerate the President. Once that occurs, Congress will be able to focus on implementing sound cybersecurity measures and enacting additional sanctions to punish Putin and the Russians for meddling in the election.

If Special Counsel Mueller continues to drag out the Russia probe for the rest of the year, it could impact our government’s cybersecurity and therefore our election results. The midterm elections this November are a prime target for Russian hackers, and if members of Congress remain consumed with the investigation, they will have little time to pass much-needed legislation to fix the holes in our cybersecurity system. By dragging out the investigation, Mueller is making our democracy vulnerable to interference.

The prolonged Russia Investigation has caused gridlock and inflamed tensions throughout the U.S. Government, which was all part of Putin’s plan.

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