Hyper-partisan Reactions to Mueller Reveals New Challenges With An Old Problem By Luke Perry
The long awaited Mueller Report will be mostly interpreted through a partisan lens. Republicans and Democrats differ substantially on their attitudes toward the investigation, Robert Mueller, and the now exhaustive account of Russian interference in the 2016 election. This is unsurprising in an era of hyper-partisanship, but no less tragic or problematic.
The Special Counsel’s report articulated in detail a vast social media propaganda campaign and cyber attacks against the United States to aid in the election of the Donald Trump. The report also chronicled how the Trump campaign was aware of Russian efforts, welcomed them, knowingly communicated with Russians (17 campaign officials did so over 100 times) and some criminally lied about it.
Though obstructing justice has generated much attention following the release of the report, the extraordinary response by a presidential campaign to foreign election meddling should not be overlooked.
Nearly every candidate, Republican or Democrat, for any office, confronted with the knowledge that a foreign adversary was trying to interfere in an election on their behalf, would notify national law enforcement and stay as far away as possible.
Making matters worse, members of Congress from both parties are prioritizing electoral calculation in issuing their immediate responses (with a few exceptions), and what is better for them politically, both individually and in terms of party politics, over evaluating the merits of the case out of concern for national well being.
Democrats cannot remove the president through the impeachment process, because of Republican control of the Senate, and appear primed to pursue a slow bleed of scrutiny till 2020. Republicans will overstate vindication and blame Democrats for everything from “an attempted coup” to political grandstanding. (actual investigation timeline here) Meanwhile, the president’s response speaks for itself:
Rebuilding the integrity of our electoral system depends on people at large demanding members of Congress from both parties prioritize the interest of American democracy above all else. Until this happens, the U.S. presidential election system remains vulnerable to future attacks.
Luke Perry (@PolSciLukePerry) is Chair and Professor of Government at Utica College