Photo: João Silas on Unsplash
It is well known that one of the largest and most impactful political events in American history is occurring right now: the investigation of possible Russian involvement in influencing the results of the 2016 US presidential election. The investigation first began in July 2016, when the FBI began to look into a mass hacking at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), over 20,000 private emails were leaked to the public via Wikileaks because of this. The purpose of the investigation involves proving that key Trump campaign officials (including Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, and Donald Trump Jr.) either met or collaborated with Russian operatives with ties to the Kremlin. The situation escalated when President Trump, who is accused of gaining from Russian interference in the 2016 election, fired FBI Director James Comey in May 2017. It is argued that this was a futile attempt to stop an investigation that could incriminate the president. However, Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation earlier this year due to his own ties to Kremlin officials. Because of this, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein followed up Comey’s dismissal by appointing past FBI Director Robert Mueller as an independent Special Counsel to continue the Russia investigation. This is where the investigation currently stands.
Recently, a slew of tantalizing details has led many to believe that Robert Mueller is closing in on Trump for possible impeachment charges, namely for obstruction of justice. Indicted at Mueller’s behest, Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, is currently jailed and on trial for multiple counts of fraud and tax evasion. Trump has called this trial an attempt to “embarrass” him; he has also repeatedly (and more famously) called the entire Russia investigation a “witch hunt.” Harsh rods like these (mainly from the President’s tweets) give credence to possible obstruction of justice charges because they show the president trying to stymie an ongoing legal investigation against him. Another relatively recent development that has landed the president in hot water is the news that Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer and right-hand man, is now actively talking to Mueller’s investigation about his private encounters with then-candidate Trump. Cohen has stated that Trump actually knew beforehand about a potentially illegal meeting that his son Donald Jr. had with Russian lawyer (and confessed Kremlin informant) Natalia Veselnitskaya. Since the meeting’s main purpose appears to gather harmful evidence against Trump’s election opponent Hillary Clinton, this knowledge, if verified, could greatly advance the Russia investigation. This is possible by essentially proving that the Trump campaign colluded with Russian government officials. There is little doubt that this is an impeachable offense, perhaps even crossing the line of treason.
It is important to know that as the investigation progresses, new updates deem this article more outdated by the day. However, for anyone looking to better understand the Russia investigation done by the FBI and independent special counsel Robert Mueller, knowing its origin, as well as its biggest developments, are key.
Tuhin Chakraborty is an 18 year old freshman at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor. He is considering studying History and Political Science there. His favorite book is Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert. Tuhin believes that success is gaining the respect of everyone who knows you. He steps up for Civic Engagement: getting young people involved in politics and community action.