True to form, Donald Trump has been jubilant on twitter about the initial reports on the findings of the Mueller investigation as well as about US economy stats. But things aren’t quite that clear cut.
Donald Trump has been celebrating. He sees the initial reports about the findings of the Mueller investigation, which started entering the headlines yesterday as his exoneration. The Mueller investigation was started after it was suspected that Trump’s campaign had colluded with Russia in order to subvert the campaign and get ahead in the polls. Today however, the results of the investigation conclude that there is no evidence of this.
This has added to his general glee, as he tweeted last week about the growth of the US economy, which he claims in Q1 to Q3 of 2018 was the fastest recorded since 2005, making his administration the first on record to exceed its economic growth targets for both of its first two years. However, whilst the president might celebrate, other indicators point to the fact that this is not quite so clear cut.
Heading for Recession?
Despite Trump’s boasts there are other signs that the economy might not be quite as healthy as the president asserts, and may indeed be heading for recession. US market data aggregation firm Markit has interpreted the most recent data it has received as the US manufacturing sector sinking into its weakest position in years. Why? Another of Trump’s policies coming to play; his trade war with China.
Markit recently published its purchasing managers index which shows that composite indexes measuring performance in various US economic sectors puts in its key findings that manufacturing output is at a 33-month low.
Whilst it is not definitive that there will be a recession, this is a key indicator – if less is being produced, it means there are fewer buyers and that means less money coming in. Furthermore, US unemployment reached a ten-month high earlier this month, another indicator the economy may be slowing down.
Mueller Report: No Pronouncement of Innocence
On the political side of things, whilst Trump and Russian officials have welcomed the news that the Mueller enquiry has not found evidence of collusion, it is not the total exoneration for the president – despite his interpretation:
Whilst the report in its entirety has not yet been published, a summary released by Attorney General William Barr does contain a direct quotation regarding the accusation of obstruction of justice against the president:
“While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,”
It is an interesting wording and perhaps telling of Mueller’s personal views. Russian politicians on the other side have also commented however the tone has been more reserved. Konstantin Kosachev, chair of the Federation Council’s committee on foreign affairs, expressed a lack of surprise over the findings and still expects there to be negative repercussions in the form of strengthening of sanctions against Russia in the wake of this publication.
“The long-awaited Mueller report has proved what we in Russia knew long ago: there was no conspiracy between Trump or any member of his team and the Kremlin. We in Russia have nothing to celebrate, the [meddling] accusations against us remain.”
Whilst many who were expecting a damning indictment of the president once the report was published will be shocked by the ultimate conclusion of this lengthy investigation, the result in public perception is unlikely to change: those who had the president pegged as guilty will remain unmoved, as will his supporters.
Russian officials and observers seem to agree, believing that the US narrative casting Russia as the villain is too embedded to change now. Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center gave his assessment of the situation to the Guardian newspaper, saying that he merely expects the focus of Russian wrongdoing to shift from elections to Venezuela and Ukraine.
“My view is that the report is very good news for Trump, but Russia will remain toxic for most in the US establishment and the media … sanctions will follow in spades from US Congress,”
Alex has been putting words on paper since he was old enough to hold a pen; when he bought his first bitcoin in January 2017, those words discovered their place within crypto as well. He holds a master’s degree in international relations from Leiden University in the Netherlands, and his special expertise lies in European cryptocurrency regulation.