Thank You, Robert Mueller
By now, you know that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian meddling in the 2016 election has been delivered to Attorney General Bill Barr.
Reports that there will be no further indictments suggest the president’s often repeated claim of “no collusion” will be validated. And presumably that there will be no case made for obstruction of justice, or at least not now.
No wonder the president was said to be celebrating quietly last night at Mar-a-Lago.
Meanwhile, Democrats are now channeling their energy toward demanding release of the full report and its supporting evidence.
Here’s something about which we should be in agreement.
Robert Mueller is deserving of our gratitude.
The former director of the FBI has dedicated most of his professional life to government service.
He wore the nation’s uniform in Vietnam, where he earned a Bronze Star and Purple Heart, he and did it again - figuratively - over the last two years, keeping his head down and mouth shut while doing his job, and taking never-ending fire from those who didn’t want him to finish his task.
That no one knew the outcome up until the time he delivered the report is a tribute to Mueller and his staff.
There is no evidence that Mueller leaked. None.
Mueller himself has been so silent that Robert DeNiro wasn’t sure how to imitate his voice on SNL.
That he presumably didn’t construct a case for conspiracy or collusion - or obstruction - doesn’t mean his efforts were in vain or that they weren’t fruitful.
First, by investigating the president and reaching conclusions, he did us all a favor. He has been the sunshine that will be a source of disinfectant for years to come.
Of course, that Mueller recommends no indictments doesn’t mean he didn’t find the president committed crimes. Remember that he is operating on the (disputed) premise that the president can’t be indicted.
But more importantly, we would have no idea as to the mechanics and depth of the Russian hacking and meddling in our election without his investigation.
Thirty-seven people were charged as a result of the Mueller probe. Seven guilty pleas. One conviction at trial.
About two-thirds of them are Russians charged with hacking and meddling in the 2016 election.
The rest are individuals from the Trump orbit largely charged with lying and other non-conspiracy offenses.
That’s stunning. And would have been earth shattering if announced at once.
Last month, Phillip Bump from the Washington Post made this brilliant observation.
He wrote that:
President Trump has benefited enormously from the frog-in-hot-water nature of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into his campaign and possible overlap with Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election.
Imagine if, instead of Mueller releasing new public indictments as he went along, leveraging criminal charges to obtain more information from the targets of his probe, he instead had kept his information private. Imagine if he and his lawyers had been working in quiet for 20 months, submitting expenses to the Department of Justice and suffering the president’s tweeted ferocity.
And then, after all of that, they suddenly produced a dozen indictments and plea deals running into hundreds of pages, detailing former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s illegal and questionable financial dealings, those of his deputy Rick Gates, full details of Russia’s alleged efforts to influence social media, and to steal electronic information from Democratic targets and detailed a half-dozen people who admitted to lying to federal investigators.
Imagine if that had landed with a thud on the attorney general’s desk.
He’s right, of course.
That in the end, there was no case constructed against Donald Trump for conspiracy or obstruction is good news for the President of the United States.
But let it not mask that our nation was the victim of a hostile effort by a world power to disrupt that which we hold most sacred - free and fair elections.
That happened, regardless of whether the Russians were aided and abetted by members of the Trump campaign or the president himself.
And that is something about which we should all be in mindful.
So thank you, Robert Mueller.