Those of us who live in the DC area can listen to WCSP-FM, the radio station operated by C-SPAN. Yesterday, I had the Barr hearing playing in the background while I was working. It went pretty much as I expected with the Democrats on the committee grasping for straws that might be found in Mueller’s just-released letter complaining about the Attorney General’s initial summary of his report not having a desirable effect on press coverage.
Of all the pixels spilled commenting on the Democrats’ behavior, David French’s piece over at NRO may have the best analysis of their real dilemma.
Opinions about Donald Trump are remarkably consistent. While there are significant events that might move the needle between now and the election — a recession, a bungled foreign crisis, irrefutable evidence of major crimes — public opinion is largely set, and each new incremental revelation of dishonesty, impulsiveness, or incompetence simply doesn’t move the needle. If Bill Barr had released Mueller’s summaries instead of his own memo, we’d be having exactly the same debates, impeachment would be just as implausible (and imprudent), and Trump’s approval rating would be unchanged. Trump’s public standing is one piece of stability in our otherwise unstable times.
The real Russiagate scandal is the damage it has done to our democratic system and media.
For more than two years, leading US political and media voices promoted a narrative that Donald Trump conspired with or was compromised by the Kremlin, and that Special Counsel Robert Mueller would prove it. In the process, they overlooked countervailing evidence and diverted anti-Trump energies into fervent speculation and prolonged anticipation. So long as Mueller was on the case, it was possible to believe that “The Walls Are Closing In” on the traitor/puppet/asset in the White House.
In the end, Mueller’s report shows that the Trump-Russia collusion narrative embraced and evangelized by the US political and media establishments to be a work of fiction. The American public was presented with a far different picture from what was expected, because leading pundits, outlets, and politicians ignored the countervailing facts and promoted maximalist interpretations of others. Anonymous officials also leaked explosive yet uncorroborated claims, leaving behind many stories that were subsequently discredited, retracted, or remain unconfirmed to this day.
It is too early to assess the damage that influential Russiagate promoters have done to their own reputations; to public confidence in our democratic system and media; and to the prospects of defeating Trump, who always stood to benefit if the all-consuming conspiracy theory ultimately collapsed. The scale of the wreckage, confirmed by Mueller’s report, may prove to be the ultimate Russiagate scandal.
Note to the Democrats and the Media (but I repeat myself): When you’ve lost The Nation, it’s time to pack it in.
Victor Davis Hanson has a post up titled Mueller Investigation Was Driven by Pious Hypocrisy. Here are the money quotes.
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s two-year, $30 million, 448-page report did not find collusion between Donald Trump and Russia.
Despite compiling private allegations of loud and obnoxious Trump behavior, Mueller also concluded that there was not any actionable case of obstruction of justice by the president.
Yet Mueller’s team went down every blind alley relating to its investigation — except where Obama-era officials were likely culpable for relevant unethical or illegal behavior.
The problem with the Muller investigation, and with former intelligence officials such as Brennan, Clapper, Comey and McCabe, is pious hypocrisy. Those who have lectured America on Trump’s unproven crimes have written books and appeared on TV to publicize their own superior virtue. Yet they themselves have engaged in all sorts of unethical and illegal behavior.
Read the whole thing. It provides a useful top level summary of over two years’ wasted effort. Well, wasted if the point of the exercise was to get Trump and cover up certain Deep State indiscretions.
We’re beginning to see commentaries by people who appear to have actually read the Mueller Report, and the bulk of them fall into two categories which I’m labeling I Told You So and Bitter Clinging. Here are examples of each.
The Mueller Report, despite the best efforts of the chief author and his partisan investigative staff, is a bone-crushing defeat for the president’s enemies. There is not a whit of evidence that any American collaborated with any Russian to alter the results of the 2016 presidential election, and there is extensive evidence that the Trump campaign was the subject of enticements to collaborate and rebuffed all of them at all levels.
The Mueller report didn’t deliver the smoking gun of unrealistic liberal fantasies. (“The money is being wired to the Cayman Islands. Love, Vlad.”) But beyond making clear how close Mueller came to recommending the indictment of a sitting president for obstruction of justice, the report is brimming with tantalizing clues about the uncanny synchronization between the Trump campaign and the Russians—and may increasingly diminish the public’s confidence in giving the president another four years.
It’s not surprising that the two camps of interpretation are filled with mostly conservatives among the I Told You Sos and leftists among the Clingers. But I found it interesting that the more experienced leadership on The Left quickly realized that Mueller really had spent two years searching but had found no there there. Steny Hoyer, for example, remarked last week that impeaching the President was “not worthwhile.”
While Shapiro is correct in noting that the report contains things that aren’t helpful for Trump, and smart Democrats could use them as part of their 2020 campaigning, the report simply doesn’t contain a shred of evidence of any high crimes or misdemeanors. I suspect that Pelosi, Hoyer, and others with Bill-Clinton-era political experience will have their hands full trying to manage their colleagues who will want to spin the Mueller Report into articles of impeachment.
The phrase Obstruction of Justice as technical meaning in a legal sense as a type of crime. The statutes of the various jurisdictions specify the phrase’s exact legal meaning in those venues. However, when used in the broader context of the English language, the phrase could describe acts that, while not illegal, are immoral or unjust. Simply put, it’s not unreasonable for someone to describe an act that prevents or delays a just outcome in a situation as “obstructing justice.”
With that in mind, how might one describe a prosecutor who prolonged an investigation long after he knew no crime had actually been committed?
The Babylon Bee was in top form yesterday. First, it zinged the Collusion Truthers.Then it zapped a sizable crowd of Trump supporters.Donald Trump is a flawed individual. While the Mueller Report does find that Trump and the people around him did not engage in the “collusion” with a foreign power during 2016 election (or obstruct an investigation into something that didn’t happen), it also reveals some of the tawdry behavior that went on during the election campaign and its aftermath.
OTOH, imagine that Hillary Clinton had won the election. Would the Democrat’s interactions with Ukraine have been investigated? If so, would she have refrained from exercising executive privilege to conceal any special counsel’s report?
I’ll leave it to the Gentle Reader to puzzle through that exercise in alternate history.
Roger Kimball has a piece over at American Greatness about the criminal referrals being made by Congressman Nunes to the Department of Justice. There are eight referrals which may involve upwards of twenty persons. Five are for specific crimes such as lying to Congress or leaking classified information. Three are more open-ended: Conspiracy to lie to the FISA court, manipulation of intelligence for partisan political ends, and what Nunes calls “global leaks” of highly sensitive information (such as the contents of telephone calls between President Trump and foreign leaders). Who had access to such information?
Who used it illegally?
But who do you think makes the list? Were I a modern-day Koko, my little list would include former CIA Director John Brennan, an implacable enemy of the president and a good candidate for the title of fons et origo of the Trump-Russia investigation.
It would include the FBI’s Peter Strzok, Andrew McCabe, and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former acting attorney general Sally Yates, Bruce Ohr and his wife Nellie who (unbelievably) actually worked for Fusion GPS.
That other James, the oleaginous James Comey, former Director of the FBI, would certainly be on the list, as would several people in the Obama Administration: the aforementioned Susan Rice, for example, and former U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power, who, like Rice, did a lot of unmasking in her final months in office.
There are others—quite a few others, in fact, as anyone who has been keeping up with the reporting on this unfolding scandal knows well.
Read the whole thing.
Sticking with allusions to The Mikado, let’s hope that Attorney General Barr channels the title character.
My object all sublime
I shall achieve in time—
To let the punishment fit the crime,
The punishment fit the crime …