US & Canada

'Watergate with computers': Reaction from both sides on Mueller report

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Media captionThe Mueller report - in 60 seconds

The release of the a report on a 22-month investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 and possible collusion with the Trump campaign has left some voters alarmed while others found it vindicated the president.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report, which was revealed with redacted portions on Thursday, did not find that President Donald Trump colluded with Russia. But investigators also say they could not conclude whether or not the president improperly tried to interfere with the special counsel's investigation.

Here are some reactions from voters on the left and right, revealing very different readings of the same report.

"Not out of legal jeopardy"

Elaine Bartley, an attorney in New York, wanted to read the actual report herself rather than media coverage. She is pleased to find that it is very straight forward and non-partisan.

Image copyright Vicky Baker
Image caption Elaine Bartley, an attorney in New York, said she thinks the report is straight forward and non-partisan

"Thank god that the finding is that no person in the president's close circle did engage in a conspiracy. I don't think anyone wants to see that," she says.

But she notes several examples showing obstruction of justice, and the 14 cases of potential criminal activity, which are still to be investigated. "I don't think Trump is out of legal jeopardy in any way," she adds.

For her, the most interesting parts were about the "extensive efforts Russians made to impact the elections and that the Trump camp was aware of those efforts".

She says it feels like "Watergate but with computers".

As for the president's legal team calling the report a total victory, she says that is just branding magic.

"It is sad," she says. "I always want every president - whether I voted for them or not - to rise to the occasion."

"Everyone lies all the time"

Mike Cullinan, a New York City fintech worker, says the report shows that "there are a lot of questionable characters doing shady things - and not everything unethical is illegal".

He was struck by how everyone involved "just lies all the time".

Image copyright Vicky Baker
Image caption Mike Cullinan says he is frustrated that the Republican party is lining up behind Mr Trump in the wake of the report

But he was not surprised that the president tried to fire Mr Mueller. "The man is famous for yelling 'You're fired!' at people on TV," he says. "But if you try multiple times to shut an investigation down, how is that not obstruction?"

For Democrats, he thinks he is now more of a political question than an impeachment question: how to take the findings and turn them into a campaign message.

He is also frustrated at how the entire Republican Party is lining up behind Mr Trump.

But the election feels like a long way away, he says. What feels explosive today might be forgotten by then.

"I just hope I get to see behind those black lines sometime," he says of the report's redacted portions.

Image copyright Getty/Drew Angerer
Image caption Many supporters of Mr Trump see the report as a vindication of the president

Exposing the Deep State

In the red state of Arkansas, people voted for Trump by a significant majority in the 2016 presidential election, and they continue to support him today.

"I'm hoping that people will get in trouble and get indicted over this whole thing," says Walter Smith, who is retired and lives near Russellville.

He says he believes the "the deep state", officials who work for the US justice department and other agencies and try to sabotage the president, are behind the Mueller report.

Image copyright Tara McKelvey
Image caption Walter Smith says the investigation has been led by "Trump haters"

Mr Smith says that these "Trump haters", a group that apparently includes former FBI director James Comey and others in the justice department, should be punished for their actions. Mr Smith says that the release of the report is a step in the right direction.

He does not cite specific lines in the report that describe offences that Mr Comey and his colleagues may have committed. But Mr Smith firmly believes that the report shows they were undermining the president, and now Mr Smith says: "They're going to have to own up to it."

"A waste of time and money"

Billy Kurck, who lives near Searcy, works as a steel fabricator, putting together stairs and handrails, "the bones of the building", he says.

In his spare time, he volunteers for the White County Republican Committee because he says he wants to build a better world for his grandchildren.

The Mueller report has been a nuisance, he says, and has gotten in the way of important work that the president is doing.

Image copyright Getty/Scott Olson
Image caption Some Republican voters see the entire investigation as the work of "Trump haters"

"It's a witch hunt," Mr Kurck says, explaining that Democrats and liberals supported the Mueller report and the Russia investigation because they wanted to cause problems for the president.

"They just draw straws, trying to do anything to start an impeachment process because they can't stand Donald Trump," Mr Kurck says.

He says he thinks it's good that the report is finally out because now people can move on to other issues. "It's starting to get boring, actually," he says. "I'm glad it's behind us."

Reporting by Vicky Baker and Tara McKelvey

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