Although Mueller left open questions about a possible obstruction of justice, his report that the investigation "did not establish" coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia's interference in The election of 2016 virtually ensures that voters by 2020 – not any legal procedure before that date – will make the decisive verdict on Trump's tumultuous presidency.
And it is perhaps the rare development that both parties can accommodate.
"The best thing to do – for the country, for the GOP, for the Democratic Party – is that voters solve all these issues," said Pete Wehner, senior researcher at conservative center Ethics and Public Policy Center Trump criticizes right. "That is the way things should be decided in a republic, in the absence of the most extraordinary circumstances, and taking such things out of the hands of voters usually has serious consequences."
While many grassroots activists were hoping that Mueller's investigation could force Trump to step down, either by resignation or dismissal and conviction from the Senate, few Democratic political professionals shared this anticipation. And many believe that the party will be more comfortable against Trump in 2020 than vice president Mike Pence or another Republican, who could claim that Trump was unfairly forced to step down.
Having Trump on the ballot "is better at the electoral level and having a decisive election that creates a mandate, gives you a chance to (win back) the Senate and forces the Republican Party to rethink its direction," says experienced Democratic pollster Stanley B. Greenberg.
Trump will likely face more legal issues as additional information from the Mueller report is released in the coming days and weeks. Democrats in the House will take a close look at Barr's determination that Mueller's findings did not warrant a charge of obstructing justice against the President, particularly in light of the allusion in Barr's letter. that the council has revealed evidence on this subject that the public has not yet seen. (Barr noted that Mueller's report looked at the president's actions "most of which were the subject of public reports.")
Democrats will also be looking closely at the evidence behind the Mueller report's rare sentence that Barr quoted directly: Mueller's finding that the investigation "failed to establish that members of the Trump campaign had conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its activities of electoral interference ".
And Trump still faces other legal challenges, as the indictment alleges against his former fixer, Michael Cohen, in the Southern District of New York, who essentially qualified the president of co-conspirator not charged in a ploy to circumvent the laws on the financing of campaigns in pouring of claimed extramarital affairs with him. Trump denied having relationships with women.
But with the Democratic House leaders already skeptical about Trump's indictment, this prospect has become even more distant after the conclusion of Mueller's investigation without charges alleging links between campaigners and Russian interference. And that means that Trump's opponents will almost certainly have to defeat him at the polls, rather than rely on legal intervention to bypass his presidency.
Campaign Impacts on 2020, Democrats
While the end of the Mueller investigation unequivocally reinforces the primacy of the 2020 elections, the impact of the report on the results could be more complex.
Although Trump has been eligible for short-term public support since the end of the investigation, most observers on both sides expect its approval rate to fall back to the range of 40% to 45% in which he generally resided throughout his presidency.
"I think the Mueller report will be fascinating in its substance, but in terms of public opinion, it will only reinforce existing views from both sides," said GOP pollster Whit Ayres.
The end of the investigation without further indictment will certainly incite Trump to step up his attacks on the media and to the "deep state" that he has described as conspiring against him. This could have cross-cutting impacts.
On the one hand, Mueller's decisions are likely to further energize the Trump Foundation. The main supporters of the president were already likely to go out to support him a lot next year. Now, this participation could further increase, while Trump describes the investigation as an attempt by a contemptuous elite to not only undermine it but also to silence his coalition.
But Trump's renewed confidence also seems to lead him to a more bellicose and volatile behavior that has alienated so many voters, especially in the white-collar suburbs, who are otherwise satisfied with the direction given by the economy.
"I think it can go both ways," said Democratic pollster Andrew Baumann. "I think it could lead some of these suburban voters to give him a bit more leeway, although I do not think it will be a lot, and knowing that Trump may override and reinforce existing concerns. about his temperament, so it could end up upsetting and hurting him with those college-educated junior voters. "
Among the Democrats, the Mueller report weakens the hand of the vanguard liberals who are pushing the party to act quickly to dismiss Trump. This will reassure party leaders and strategists who have long considered the impeachment deadlock because there has never been a realistic prospect of having enough Republican senators vote to remove him from office.
"If you go through the impeachment process without Republican support, then the (Senate) trial would have been his re-election campaign," Greenberg said.
But Mueller's conclusion – without the eventual publication of much more damaging information in the underlying report – could also reduce the Democrats' ability to hurt Trump with the investigations they've launched in the House. The President will now have a precedent that he can designate by rejecting all future inquiries as another type of "witch hunt".
"The biggest danger is perhaps what it entails for the perceptions of democratic oversight," said Baumann. "There is plenty of room to continue proper monitoring, but I think it probably means that Democrats have to be more careful about finding the right balance."
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The conclusion of Mueller's investigation also highlights the challenge facing the narrow group of GOP scholars and political strategists "Never Trump" who view his redefinition of the party around his racialized nationalism as racism. , both a betrayal of conservative ideals and an unsustainable electoral course. an inexorably diverse nation.
Mitigating Trump's potential legal vulnerability removes from these internal critics a leverage that they hoped could lighten the president's power over the party by 2020. But most of them have long believed that They are more likely to convince the party that Trump's approach is deadlocked if it is repudiated by voters in 2020, rather than forced to leave office before that date.
"The only way to loosen Trump's grip on the GOP is that Republicans eventually believe that it is toxic to their party and undermines their electoral success," Wehner said. "It's much better that voters decide this rather than prosecutors."
Ayres, the GOP pollster, is largely in agreement. He fears that Trump's strategy of gaining more and more benefits from increasingly restricted groups within the electorate – whites who do not have a university degree, live apart from the big ones. metropolitan areas or identify as evangelical Christians – is not "a viable long-term electoral coalition". "While these groups are gradually declining, but he says that Republicans are much more likely to question Trump's leadership if he loses in 2020 rather than being eliminated by other means – or even if he wins a second term.
"The end of the Trump era will have a dramatic effect on what the Republican party looks like," Ayres said.
All of these roads converge towards the 2020 elections. In terms of substance and substance, Trump proved to be a particularly polarizing president, the first in the Gallup poll's history to never reach 50% approval at any point in time. moment of his presidency.
Trump broke the boundaries of presidential behavior by his language, his temper and his contemptuous attitude towards any institution that defies him, the courts and federal agencies charged with the application of the law. Congress and the business world. During this process, he enthused a group of passionate supporters, horrified the Democratic Party's central constituencies and sent voters moving to the suburbs to move away from the GOP in the 2018 elections.
The thought that all these confrontations and collisions could be resolved by a legal judgment of the turbulent man at their center was always unlikely. Now, it is more certain than ever that the Americans themselves must decide the fate of Trump.