President Donald Trump has repeatedly professed his innocence regarding his presidential campaign’s possible ties to Russia. Loud and clear.
That’s his take, a reasonable position he can certainly hold. But his continued, bluster-filled tweets of “NO COLLUSION” are meaningless until Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation – which is moving slowly but appears very thorough – is wrapped up.
Clouds continue to build around the White House, particularly in light of criminal charges filed against former Trump campaign staffers and a guilty plea entered by a former adviser, because of the ongoing probe into allegations of collusion. But nothing can clear them than the completion of Mueller’s investigation.
If Trump is innocent and wants to be fully vindicated, he must allow the inquiry to continue unabated – despite persistent rumors he’d like to shut it down.
Clearly, the investigation is turning up more than just the “fake news” he so frequently invokes as a dismissal of unfavorable press coverage.
The dozen federal charges filed against former campaign manager Paul Manafort and his colleague Rick Gates and former adviser George Papadopoulos pleading guilty to lying during the investigation aren’t things to be taken lightly. Sam Clovis, a nominee for a top post at the Agriculture Department, withdrew his name from consideration Thursday after being identified as a campaign adviser who may have advocated for communicating with Russian officials.
Something somewhere is amiss. It’s unclear how far up the flagpole that goes, however. Americans deserve to know exactly what that entails, particularly when it relates to presidential elections – the defining hallmark of the democracy we cherish.
Besides, Russia’s attempts to influence last November’s election through digital channels – whether through attempted hacks of state election systems and misinformation spread through social media – are well-documented. These actions merit the closer look they’re getting from Congress now, regardless of accusations of collusion being leveled against the president’s campaign.
What’s often overlooked is that there is no criminal statute or even legal definition of “collusion.”
As national security attorneys Mark S. Zaid and Bradley P. Moss told Politico: “There is no federal law that criminalizes collusion. That does not mean that there are no possible crimes.” As such, Mueller must meet a significant burden of proof that Trump committed illegal acts before he needs to be worried about his office.
To set the record straight, Trump must stop grandstanding behind claims of innocence and promise he'll allow the investigation to stay on the tracks to validate his repeated, loud insistence that he committed no wrongdoing if his statements are indeed accurate.