Seeking the middle

It’s been a little more than a week since we first had a chance to look at the report Robert Mueller prepared at the end of his investigation into Russia’s attempts to interfere with the 2016 election.

It’s an extensive document and worth the read, the numerous redactions aside. You would have expected that, given that the former FBI director started his work almost immediately after being appointed by Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on May 17, 2017.

By now we’ve all started to take our sides on what the report means and what the next steps are. Sadly, those responses have seemed to do nothing more than to allow those on opposing sides to dig their heels in even harder and in the process further polarize our already divided country.

Consider how we view Attorney General William Barr’s synopsis that Mueller’s report did not establish that members of then-candidate Donald Trump’s campaign conspired with Russia. The attorney general then said Mueller left it to him on the other matter, and, after studying the evidence, he decided there was not enough there to allow him to establish that the president committed obstruction of justice.

The reactions to Barr’s comments, which were made about a month ago, and to the actual report have varied along party and ideological lines.

Those on the right said it completely exonerated the president and was nothing more than nearly two years of wasted time and wasted millions of dollars. The left, meanwhile, said the report was just the beginning and its findings offer a starting point for further investigation.

Not surprisingly, Ohio’s senators responded along party lines after the April 18 release:

“The report confirms several key facts consistent with the summary of the findings by Barr,” read the statement from Rob Portman, the state’s Republican in the Senate. “One, the report confirms there was no conspiracy or collusion to violate the U.S. law between Russia and the Trump campaign. Second, while the report documents a number of actions by the president or his associates that were inappropriate, the special counsel reached no conclusion on obstruction of justice. Barr and Rosenstein have concluded that the special counsel’s investigation did not include sufficient evidence to warrant any obstruction of justice charge.”

Not so fast, responded Democrat Sherrod Brown.

” … We know the president has a history of not telling the truth. Already five people in the president’s circle have been convicted of crimes, and there are as many as 14 ongoing criminal investigations that have yet to be resolved. So, the American people deserve to hear the truth from Mueller in public testimony before Congress,” Brown’s statement read.

Some of the information revealed in the report is not new, but there are some parts which should raise concerns, and those are the pieces that probably deserve further investigation. But, again, how does that happen?

While some of those on the left say that additional work is nothing more than a quest for the truth, some of those on the right say it’s simply the next step in a continuing effort to throw out the results of the 2016 election.

That should leave all of us wondering just how — or if –we can find the center. There’s a way there, and Portman and Brown, both of whom are close to being moderates, also point in that direction.

“Finally, and very importantly, the report makes clear that the Russians undertook significant efforts to meddle in the 2016 election,” Portman said. “There are new details about the extent to which the Russians worked to undermine our democracy, and I hope that the House and Senate review these findings carefully and continue to work together to ensure this type of election interference never, ever happens again.”

“We cannot afford to lose focus on the fact that a foreign government attacked our elections,” Brown said. “Our security is bigger than any one political party, and the Republicans and Democrats need to come together and do what it takes to protect our institutions. President Trump should get off of Twitter and lead that effort.”

There is a middle ground there. That’s the place where the best decisions come from, where we’re able to take in views from all angles and then reach a consensus. The door remains open — let’s make sure we find a way to enter it.

(Gallabrese, a resident of Steubenville, is executive editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.)

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