The Mueller report is in; we have not seen its substance, only its characterization by Trump’s appointed Attorney General and fixer William Barr. Barr had argued at length that the President is incapable of obstruction of justice; so by the magic of legal tautology, Trump apparently gets a plenary get-out-of-jail-free card. (Neal Katyal notes that Barr didn’t make reference to this opinion, but Mueller may have done.) In a mere 48 hours Barr decided what Mueller would not – to not press on with an obstruction case. Who could have seen that coming? Everyone. There were doubtless any number of pretty-conservative candidates for attorney-general, but only one wrote that memo. Barr was Trump’s man the whole way.
Yes, we were hoping for legal jeopardy for the President, given the amount of corruption that has been in plain sight, or revealed in the process:
- Trump blatantly lying about whether he had business in Russia
- The firing of Comey, explicitly for the Russia investigation
- The public haranguing of Jeff Sessions, explicitly for the Russia investigation
- Don Jr. taking a meeting with a Russian operative having been offered dirt on Clinton
- Roger Stone’s contacts with WikiLeaks, apparently with Trump’s approval
- on and on, add your own …
Mueller report Barr’s characterization of the Mueller report does not erase this litany of skullduggery — thirty-four indictments or guilty pleas (via Vox):
That group is composed of six former Trump advisers, 26 Russian nationals, three Russian companies, one California man, and one London-based lawyer. Seven of these people (including five of the six former Trump advisers) have pleaded guilty.
Flynn, Manafort, Stone, Gates, Papadopolous, Cohen …
Our news media has almost unanimously given Trump the headline he was looking for — “no collusion”. The New York Times headline egregiously claims that “A Cloud Over Trump’s Presidency is Lifted”, and Peter Baker submits to the pundit’s temptation to see into the future:
WASHINGTON — For President Trump, it may have been the best day of his tenure so far. The darkest, most ominous cloud hanging over his presidency was all but lifted on Sunday with the release of the special counsel’s conclusions, which undercut the threat of impeachment and provided him with a powerful boost for the final 22 months of his term. [my emphasis]
Let’s state the obvious: Peter Baker has absolutely no clue what’s going to happen to Trump over the last 22 months of his term. Given the swirl of corruption still encircling him, a clean bill of health seems a bit premature. But as usual, the New York Times shows how much it has internalized the conservative re-education campaign of the last 40 years, and bends backwards to accommodate even the most risible right-wing claims.
Step back and look at the big picture: How can you see vindication in any of this? Only by the Marianas-Trench low standards of Trump himself can this be seen as a “victory” for Trump and his sycophantic party of enablers.
And there’s much, much more to come. The process is political; always has been. As Alexandra Chandler wrote: Let’s not wait for saviors. Let’s not get caught up in the day-to-day; let’s not be distracted by Trump’s antics; or imagine that the legal system will bail us out — we’ve always known the rules are different for the rich and powerful. Let’s just make our own plans for tomorrow.