Mueller report strengthens resolves on both sides of political spectrum

CLEARWATER, Florida/LAS VEGAS (Reuters) – After months as volunteer activists demanding that U.S. President Donald Trump be impeached, Eileen and Michael O’Brien sat on their couch on Thursday, cracked open a laptop and began to read the 448-page special counsel report that liberals have dreamed would make impeachment a reality.

Eileen O’Brien, 65, and Michael O’Brien, 62, read the redacted report by U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, at their home in Clearwater, Florida, U.S., April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Letitia Stein

“Hmm, seems like there’s a lot of grey area here,” said Eileen O’Brien, 65, of Clearwater, Florida, reading aloud a line about the findings falling short of a criminal case. “Legally wrong and morally wrong are two different things.”

The release of the long-anticipated report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller on his inquiry into Russia’s role in the 2016 election landed in a stridently divided America: one side convinced Trump acted improperly, the other adamant that the investigation was a politically driven farce.

Mueller built an extensive case that Trump committed obstruction of justice but stopped short of concluding he had committed a crime, though he did not exonerate the president.

For those like the O’Briens who have been pining for impeachment, the report renewed resolve to oust the president. For those who want to see the president reelected, there was a sense of vindication.

“The White House is going to put out their own version of things, which is basically fish wrapper,” said Michael O’Brien, formerly a service technician who now works on houses. His wife, who a day earlier delivered a can of “impeaches” peaches to a lawmaker, looked up with a quizzical expression.

“It’s worthless,” he explained. “You can use it to wrap fish.”

“ONE BATTLE IN A WAR”

Lee Mueller and his wife, Michele Mueller, no relation to Robert Mueller, also paused their Thursday to read through the special counsel’s report. They printed out the table of contents for both volumes along with the executive summaries.

“I view the Mueller report as being one battle in a war against the United States of America’s founding principles and against Donald Trump,” Michele Mueller, 61, said in a suburb of Las Vegas.

After Attorney General William Barr released his four-page summary of the Mueller report late last month, Americans were dug in on their views.

So far, the full report does not appear to have convinced many to change their opinions about the president’s conduct.

A Reuters/Ipsos public opinion poll conducted Thursday afternoon to Friday morning found among those respondents of who said they were familiar with the Mueller report, 70 percent said the report had not changed their view of Trump or Russia’s involvement in the U.S. presidential race.

Only 15 percent said they had learned something that changed their view of Trump or the Russia investigation, and a majority of those respondents said they were now more likely to believe that “Trump or someone close to him broke the law.” Trump’s approval ratings, however, dipped 3 percentage points after the release of the report, the poll found.

Ahead of Thursday’s release of the Mueller report, Trump ramped up his insistence that he was the victim, not the perpetrator, of crimes.

James Stratton, 65, of Clearwater, Florida, caught snippets of the news about the report from conservative commentators Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. He looked up Barr’s news conference, held Thursday morning before the report was released online, on YouTube.

“Nobody on our side is going to change,” the Republican president of the local Tampa Bay Trump Club said in a phone interview, adding that liberals will grow tired of hearing predictions about Trump’s downfall that never materialize. “We stay focused on the issues. How do we stop socialism? How do we protect our borders?”

“IT WILL ONLY AFFIRM”

For the most invested, though, Mueller’s report offered hope for further investigation, but by Democrats in Congress this time.

Tom Steyer, a billionaire activist who has spent millions of his own dollars directing pressure at Congress to impeach Trump, said while he thinks the contents of the report implicate the president, he acknowledges the findings alone are unlikely to convince Americans to change their minds.

“I think the only way to get voters to notice is to directly publicize, televised hearings,” Steyer said. “We’re all for public hearings so the American people can see and can react themselves.”

Slideshow (5 Images)

In Florida, Margo Hammond, 69, who considers herself an independent voter, gleaned highlights by toggling through the coverage of MSNBC, CNN and Fox News. She was unimpressed with Barr.

“It’s kind of an insult to the American people that we can’t decide for ourselves,” she said while in an art class. She planned to read as much as she could of the report.

“I think it will only affirm what I originally thought,” she said. Then she repeated something she had heard earlier from a news commentator: “There was a whole lot of cheating going on.”

Reporting by Letitia Stein in Clearwater, Florida and Tim Reid in Las Vegas; Writing by Ginger Gibson; Editing by Leslie Adler and Marguerita Choy

Source

more recommended stories

  • China hopes U.S. will come back to the table at Chile climate talks

    By Natalia A. Ramos Miranda and.

  • Syrian army poised to take key town after rebel withdrawals

    BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian government forces.

  • U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo says ISIS strong in some areas -CBS

    FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State.

  • Tensions build on migrant ship off Italy; 10 jump overboard

    MADRID/LAMPEDUSA (Reuters) – Tensions rose on.

  • Space telescope offers rare glimpse of Earth-sized rocky exoplanet

    (Reuters) – Direct observations from a.

  • U.S. envoy offers farm visas to boost asylum deal with Guatemala

    GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) – In a.

  • In retrial, El Salvador acquits woman accused of killing her stillborn child

    CIUDAD DELGADO, El Salvador (Reuters) –.

  • Washington cannot influence China’s decisions on Hong Kong – Global Times tabloid

    FILE PHOTO: Anti-extradition bill protesters march.

  • Polish opposition unites in bid to wrest Senate from ruling nationalists

    WARSAW (Reuters) – Polish opposition parties.

  • Afghanistan blasts wound dozens on Independence Day

    KABUL (Reuters) – A series of.

  • Trump affirms that Mike Pence will be 2020 running mate

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald.

  • Chinese embassy tells Canada to stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs

    OTTAWA (Reuters) – China’s embassy in.

  • Hong Kong protesters throng streets peacefully in pouring rain

    HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hundreds of.

  • Canary Islands authorities evacuate 4,000 as wildfire spreads

    Flames and smoke from a forest.

  • Islamic State claims Afghan wedding suicide blast that killed 63

    KABUL (Reuters) – The Islamic State.

  • Afghan wedding suicide blast kills 63, amid hopes for talks

    KABUL (Reuters) – A suicide bomber.

  • Israeli military fires on militants at Gaza border, Palestinians say three killed

    Relatives of Palestinian gunmen who were.

  • Police make arrests as right-wing, anti-fascist groups rally in Portland

    (Reuters) – Police in Portland, Oregon.

  • Eastern Libyan forces damaged civilian airport in western Libya – U.N.

    TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Eastern Libyan forces.

  • Sudanese army and civilians seal interim power-sharing deal

    KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Sudan’s main opposition.

  • Italy’s Salvini dismisses fears for health of stranded migrants

    LAMPEDUSA, Italy (Reuters) – A charity.

  • Yemeni Houthis claim attack on Saudi oilfield; no Saudi confirmation

    DUBAI (Reuters) – Yemen’s Houthi movement.

  • Exclusive: Muslim insurgent group says it met with Thai government

    (Reuters) – The main group fighting.

  • Building set on fire in protest against China’s CNPC in Peru

    LIMA (Reuters) – A building in.

  • Official autopsy concludes Epstein death’s was suicide by hanging

    NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York.

  • Schools, telephone lines to be opened in Kashmir after lockdown

    SRINAGAR, India (Reuters) – Authorities will.

  • Greenland tells Trump it is open for business but not for sale

    COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – Greenland on Friday.

  • Germany’s Merkel and PM Johnson to meet soon – spokesman

    FILE PHOTO: German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

  • Zimbabwe on edge as opposition challenges protest ban

    HARARE (Reuters) – Zimbabwe’s main opposition.

  • Gibraltar decides to free seized Iranian tanker; U.S. seeks to hold it

    LONDON/GIBRALTAR (Reuters) – Britain’s Mediterranean territory.

  • Trump blames mass shootings on mentally ill, calls for more mental institutions

    U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to.

  • Gibraltar decides to free seized Iranian tanker; U.S. seeks to hold it

    LONDON/GIBRALTAR (Reuters) – Britain’s Mediterranean territory.