For many of his critics, President Trump’s unfitness for his office was never solely rooted in possible collusion with Russia to win the 2016 election. The president’s worldview and agenda for the United States are what led most Americans to vote against him and continue to be reasons many do not support his presidency.
Congressional and law enforcement investigations will continue, even as the efforts to defeat him in the 2020 election heat up.
As New York Times columnist Charles Blow wrote: “The best case against Donald Trump and the age of Trumpism has always been, and remains, the moral case. Criminality is only one facet of that, although it is the one that the courts and Congress can use to punish him.”
Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III did not conclude that members of the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election. In his four-page letter describing the report’s major findings, Attorney General William P. Barr did not conclude that Trump committed obstruction of justice. But Mueller did not exonerate Trump either.
That may leave some on the left hopeful about Trump’s long-term fate.
Dan Pfeiffer, a former senior adviser to President Barack Obama, tweeted Monday: “Reading the coverage today one would assume that the release of the Mueller report ended the criminal investigations into Trump his inauguration, his business, and his foundation. It didn’t. He still has more criminal exposure than all the other Presidents combined.”
While Trump and his supporters view the end of Mueller’s investigation as vindication that his victory was legitimate, critics of the president remind the public that the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia interfered in the election was validated by the special counsel’s probe. The absence of evidence that the interference was supported by the Trump campaign has not kept those on the left from highlighting the role it may have played in Hillary Clinton’s defeat.
The Washington Post’s Max Boot wrote: “Trump may not have ‘conspired’ or ‘coordinated’ with the Russian government, but he definitely welcomed its interference in the U.S. election (‘I love WikiLeaks’), lied to cover up the attack (‘It could be Russia. … It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds’), and did his utmost to stymie investigations of Russia’s actions. Trump infamously preferred the false denials of Russian President Vladimir Putin over the accurate assessment of the U.S. intelligence community.”
Headed into the 2018 midterm elections, Trump was one of many concerns for voters, but not the top issue.
When asked before the 2018 midterms which issues they cared about most, voters prioritized quite a few over Trump, including taxes, immigration, the economy, civil rights and health care. Trump himself was not even the top issue of concern for Democrats. But the president’s positions on these issues were problematic for many voters.
This is a reminder that it is often the policy ideas that come with Trump’s vision of “making America great” that have led so many Americans to give the president such relatively low approval levels.
Those most opposed to the Trump presidency point to a host of factors to explain why he did not get their vote and why they will not be backing his reelection. Large percentages of the American public — and majorities on the left — believe that Trump is racist, sexist and has done more to divide than to unite the country.
Anyone viewing Mueller’s report as the end of concerns about Trump’s fitness for office are showing a lack of understanding about his critics’ actual concerns about Trump’s presidency.