Former FBI Director Robert Mueller was named special counsel in the Russia investigation in May 2017. We highlight a few of the milestones of the probe.
PHILADELPHIA — With the long-awaited special counsel’s investigation done but its contents still shrouded in mystery, Americans waited for details, yawned with boredom or stayed fixed to their long-cemented positions on President Donald Trump, the man at the probe’s center.
For all the expected splash of Robert Mueller’s report, it arrived with more of a thud, thanks to the secrecy surrounding it. Few saw any reason to think it would sway many opinions in a divided republic but, across ideology, many expressed relief the investigation was finally over.
Bubba Metts, 61, a conservative who is a financial adviser in Lexington, S.C., said whatever Mueller’s report says, opponents of Trump aren’t going to change their minds
“Now maybe we can move on to better things,” he said. “Twenty million dollars spent — for nothing.”
Dajah Harris, 21, a college senior at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., is a Democrat and no fan of Trump.
She saw the investigation as a distraction from more important things like the border wall, homelessness, college debt and welfare programs. The country should never have elected someone, she said, whose background raises such questions.
“I don’t feel that where the country is right now that this is something we should even be discussing,” she said.
Mueller worked in virtual silence as a stream of charges have flowed forth against 37 people and companies. From the start, with his appointment on May 17, 2017, some have framed his work as a battle of good and evil of biblical proportions.
And on the 675th day, Mueller finished his work, and he rested. But nothing changed for those who had watched and waited.
For Mark Itzen, 64, a social worker from Levittown, Pa., it was a frustrating reality.
“The most disturbing thing for me is that we don’t know the details,” the Democrat said. “I thought we have the right to know right off the bat after all this anticipation.”
For liberals who welcomed the investigation with gleeful shouts of “It’s Mueller Time!” and anxiously awaited justice that aligns with their view of Trump as a nefarious force, it seemed the endless billows of smoke would surely produce evidence of fire.
For conservatives who subscribed to the president’s view of the probe as a witch hunt and dismissed it as the misguided tomfoolery of a bitter opposition
whose search for retribution is as loopy as its policies, it seemed certain to bring exoneration to Trump and maybe even a road map for future victory by him and his party.
Jason Cox, 51, a farmer in Campbellsville, Ky., who voted for Trump in 2016 and plans to do so again next year, saw it the way Trump framed it — as a witch hunt.
“It didn’t turn out, it seems to
me, the way Democrats wanted,” he said.
Stan Pearson, 69, a retired math professor in Newport News, Va., was among Trump detractors who had high hopes for the report: The start of impeachment proceedings and charges of treason. He called Trump’s election the “worst experiment ever in our history,” and is not convinced Attorney General William Barr will release the full report.
“We may well have to settle for what we can salvage,” Pearson said.
Barr was on pace to release his first summary of Mueller’s findings Sunday, people familiar with the process said.
Tom Merrill, 35, a health policy research consultant in Salt Lake City and left-leaning independent voter, said people on either end of the ideological spectrum will likely find things in the report to support their point of view, but the results might sway some
moderates who held their noses and voted for Trump despite lingering questions about his character.
“People in the middle might say, I took a risk in voting for this person and this is more than I bargained for,” he said. “I think the middle will become decided one way or the other.”
Shaela and Cindy Buchanan were tackling chores Saturday at the Lost Sock Laundromat in Wichita, Kansas, when the topic of Mueller was raised.
“Which one is Mueller?” asked Cindy Buchanan, 51, a manager at a paint company.
She doesn’t follow politics closely but liked Trump at first. The questions about Russia, though, caused her to reconsider.
Her wife, Shaela Buchanan, 48, who considers herself a political independent, sees Trump as “bought and paid for” while regular people live paycheck to paycheck.
Supporters of Donald Trump are seen in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Saturday, just one day after it was announced that special counsel Robert Mueller has submitted his report.