There are two important concepts that need to be understood about the special counsel’s report. One is obvious, the other less so.
One is the question of whether or not the 2016 election was free and fair?
The answer is clearly NO.
“As set forth in detail in this report, the Special Counsel’s investigation established that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election principally through two operations. First a Russian entity carried out a social media campaign that favored presidential candidate Donald J Trump and disparaged presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Second, a Russian intelligence service conducted computer-intrusion operations against entities, employees, and volunteers working on the Clinton Campaign and then released stolen documents.”
The second concept that needs to be understood is the scope and scale of the special counsel’s report.
The investigation occurred within the context of the Department of Justice, which has an administrative rule prohibiting the DOJ from indicting a sitting president. Thus, the question of whether or not to indict a sitting president was barred from the original mandate. The special prosecutor as an officer of the court and legal system refused to accuse a citizen who could not defend himself since he could not be indicted. This is fundamental to understanding every page of this document.
Thus, the special counsel’s only option was to find the president innocent or to say nothing. The report does not vindicate the president. In fact the report clearly states that so many administration witnesses lied to investigators that the investigation itself was hindered.
While we the voters digest this over the coming days, it seems critical to ask the following question: What must we do to make sure this never happens again?
How do we get foreign influences out of our democracy while strengthening our democracy?
How do we protect against trolls and bots, while expanding our freedom of speech?
How do we create democracy 2.0, because it is clear that democracy 1.0 needs an update?
Part of this discussion must involve ownership patterns of all of our media. Our founders created our form of government at a time when there was a vigorous media. Most citizens had access to multiple news sources. Plus, given the low population density, one of those sources of news was direct contact with elected officials.
Today our news sources are corporate-owned, mostly paid for by for-profit media. Our social media is driven by computer code that sells our data to the highest bidder. In our own county, each locally published paper is owned by the same corporation. Our electronic media is owned by massive media corporations including Sinclair and Fox, both of which put political consequences ahead of honest reporting.
Whatever democracy 2.0 looks like, it must include removing money from campaigns and must in some form re-establish the Fairness in Media legislation.