Robert Mueller’s long-awaited report has finally been released to the Department of Justice, and thus far, the item on which people are focusing the most is the apparent fact that Mueller has recommended no further indictments. This little bit of news has apparently caused “glee” in the White House, which believes that “this was a great day for America and we [Trumpkins—ed.] won.”
I recognize that in Trumpland, coherent thoughts are not exactly commonplace events, but this may represent a new low in Trumpian cogitation . . . at least for the next five minutes or so. I suppose that it should come as no surprise that the Trumpkin crowd is screaming “No Collusion!”, but they were going to do that no matter what the report said, and . . . well . . . we are not sure what the report said, because it has not been revealed to the public, so it is more than a little insane for anyone to be screaming any conclusions whatsoever right about now.
Instead, why not focus on what we already know? I recognize that a million things are happening each day, so that which happens yesterday feels like it happened a million years ago, and it is almost too exhausting to focus on that which happened yesterday—let alone that which happened last week, or last month, or over the past two years and change—but in the interests of accuracy and honesty, we actually do have to focus on a past and a history that has existed before the Mueller report.
So, let’s do that real quick. Let’s remember that which was reported in the first link in this story, for starters:
. . . referring to Trump’s oft-used slur against the Mueller probe as a “witch hunt,” NBC national security correspondent Ken Dilanian noted that Mueller “caught a lot of witches.”
In all, seven people pleaded guilty or were found guilty of crimes, while 27 individuals and three Russian firms were indicted as a result of the Mueller probe.
“It’s a remarkable record. It is much more than we could have anticipated at the beginning of this investigation,” Dilanian said. “Not only the vast expanse of charges against Russians and laying out in speaking indictments how the Russians attacked our electoral system, but indictments of people very close to the president. The campaign chairman, his personal lawyer. So in that respect, it has been a very significant investigation that will go down in history.
“At the same time, many people will be surprised that no one — no member of the Trump campaign, no one around Donald Trump has been charged with conspiring with that Russian election interference effort,” he allowed. “We have to wait to see what the report says about all of these suspicious contacts with the Russians, about whether Donald Trump was warned by the FBI, as we’ve reported, and what he did with those warnings, how he behaved and how Robert Mueller evaluates that behavior. That’s, I think, the missing piece here that we’re just going to have to wait to see what the report says.”
Perfectly reasonable comments, which causes one to wonder, of course, why it is that so many Trumpkins are rushing out to claim vindication.
While we are busy recalling history, let’s remember all of the items recorded on this very good Twitter thread, which makes clear that we are much closer to the end of the beginning, than we are to the beginning of the end. Speaking of sane takes, here is Ben Wittes:
There are other possibilities as well. It’s possible, for example, that Mueller is not proceeding against certain defendants other than the president because he has referred them to other prosecutorial offices; some of these referrals are already public, and it’s reasonable to expect there may be other referrals too. In this iteration, what is ending here is not the investigation, merely the portion of the investigation Mueller chose to retain for himself. It’s possible also that Mueller is finished because he has determined that while the evidence would support a prosecution of the president, he is bound by the Justice Department’s long-standing position that the president is not amenable to criminal process. On the obstruction front, he may well have concluded that, while the president acted to obstruct the investigation, he cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the president’s obstructive acts were not exercises of Trump’s Article II powers. It’s also possible that Mueller has strong prudential reasons for not proceeding with otherwise viable cases.
My gut instinct is that it is some combination of these factors that explains the end of the probe. Without knowing the reasons the investigation is finished, it is impossible to know how to assess its end—and nobody should try.
Related to Wittes’s points, can we try to recall and bear in mind the fact that there are such things as the Southern District of New York and state attorneys-general, like the one in New York, who have proven themselves to be more than willing to investigate Trump scandals? And it’s not like there aren’t a whole bunch of Trump scandals to investigate. Robert Mueller’s office is not—and never was—the only game in town, when it comes to bringing Donald Trump and TrumpWorld to justice.
Bottom line: We don’t know what is in the report. We are waiting to find out. But we do know that a lot of bad things have been revealed about Donald Trump and TrumpWorld. How Trumpkins can spin any of this as any kind of vindication is beyond me . . . possibly because they can’t.
At least, not with a straight face.