Trump declares retribution on ‘evil’ enemies

On the warpath: Trump as Count of Monte Cristo, one of the greatest avengers in literature.

President Trump has whipped up anger by saying opponents did “treasonous things” after he was absolved of colluding with Russia. And many now predict a backlash against the liberal press.

It took more than 675 days, 19 lawyers, 40 FBI agents, 2,800 subpoenas and 500 search warrants. But, finally, one of the biggest probes in American history has come to an end.

And now the US attorney general, William Barr, has announced the core finding: there has been no collusion between Russia and Donald Trump.

According to NewsWhip, a social media analytics company, 533,074 web articles have been published about Russia and Trump since May 2017. Those generated 245 million likes, comments and shares on Twitter and Facebook. Add to that, millions of words of press coverage and thousands of hours of television.

Nearly all of it assumed Trump would be found guilty and face possible impeachment.

Now the tables are turned. The BBC’s Jon Sopel said: “It is impossible to overemphasise the significance of what has been said. […] The cloud that has been over the president for 22 months has gone, the weight that has sat on his shoulders has been lifted. This is, without doubt, the best day that Donald Trump has had since his inauguration in January 2017.”

It is already clear that he will take revenge. As Dan Balz of the Washington Post wrote: “He will not only savour the moment; he will stuff it down the throats of all those who claimed otherwise.”

Seething with anger last night, Trump accused his enemies of trying to disrupt his presidency with false allegations.

“There are a lot of people out there that have done some very, very evil things, some bad things, I would say some treasonous things against our country,” he told reporters. “You know who they are.”

Within minutes of the announcement, the Trump campaign released a political attack video, “Collusion hoax!”, naming and shaming five leading Democrats who claimed there was evidence of Russian collusion.

But many point out that Trump has not been cleared of a second charge of obstructing justice. And the report raises many bigger questions. Why did Trump want to suppress any investigation into Russian hacking? Why did he have a top-secret two-hour meeting with Putin and confiscate the translator’s notes?

However, perhaps the harshest criticism was reserved for the American media.

Blame game

The Mueller report is a “death-blow for the reputation of the American news media,” wrote respected Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi. “Nothing Trump is accused of from now on by the press will be believed by huge chunks of the population.”

Rubbish writes Franklin Foer of The Atlantic. “The Mueller investigation has been an unmitigated success in exposing political corruption.” Just because Trump’s corruption was not criminal does not make it right. The real scandal is that it is legal in America for a president to act as Trump did.

You Decide

  1. Are we all too quick to rush to judgement these days?
  2. Is Donald Trump correct to say he has been exonerated?

Activities

  1. Use our story and some of its footnotes to list three of the unanswered questions from the Mueller report.
  2. Examine the roots of the world “exonerate”. Write down its dictionary definition and its origins.

Some People Say...

“Revenge is a dish that tastes best when it is cold.”

Don Corleone

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Mueller had to decide two points: whether there had been collusion with the Russians and whether there had been any obstruction. On the first point, Mueller says there was no collusion by the Trump or his team. On the second point, there is room for doubt. Mueller says there is not enough evidence to show that Trump obstructed justice; nor is there enough evidence to be sure that he didn’t.
What do we not know?
With credit to CNN, these are the best of the unanswered questions as we went to press: Will we ever see the full Mueller report? Why didn’t Mueller talk to Trump in person? Will we ever see Trump’s written answers? Why, if there was no collusion, were there so many contacts between the Russians and the Trump campaign? And why did so many of them lie about it?

Word Watch

No collusion
Donald Trump’s campaign team was accused of conspiring with Russian agents to influence the US election and help him become president. US intelligence agencies concluded in 2016 that Russia was behind an effort to tip the scales of the US election with a state-authorised campaign of cyber attacks and fake news stories planted on social media.
Impeachment
To paraphrase the BBC definition: The part of the US government that writes and brings in laws (Congress) can put certain senior American officials like the president on trial. The American Constitution, which is basically a rulebook for US citizens, states that the president can be impeached and removed from office for a number of offences. These include “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanours”.
Democrats
The US has two main political parties — the Republicans and the Democrats. Trump is a Republican. His political enemies are mainly Democrats. Republicans are more akin to Conservatives and believe in individuality and freedom. Democrats are more like Labour and believe in society and the collective good.