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Mueller: The end game?


Everybody is now saying the Mueller Report will be inconclusive when it comes out, possibly any day now.

Pro-Trump forces will claim it exonerates him, and that the “fake news” “deep state” has suffered an embarrassing defeat.

Anti-Trump forces will see in it massive evidence that Trump, his family and associates did indeed collaborate with the Russians to steal the election, even if they didn’t break any specific laws.

The political fallout for Trump will be severe, in the short run; but given our country’s short attention span (and Trump’s predilection for distracting behavior), the long-term fallout for him is unclear, especially as the 2020 election cycle gathers steam. The debate will turn to the individual candidates and the issues, and away from two years of Trump’s obstruction, while Trump stokes anti-socialist resentment among white people.

I wonder where this insider information on the investigation is coming from. The Mueller team has been famously leak-proof. Why should they now be letting us know they’re in the final stages? Are they preparing the country for a Rorschach Test of a report, in which what you see is what you want to see? Why is it being said that there will be no more indictments? How does anyone know that Trump won’t be implicated, even if he’s not indicted?

It’s hard for me to understand why Mueller would suddenly have decided to let these things dribble out. Besides, we don’t even know yet what Manafort has said, or what he may say. Ditto for Michael Cohen. And then there’s Roger Stone, who seems likely to be caught shortly between a rock and a very hard place: with 20 years behind bars staring him in the face, his famous vow never to turn against Trump may be sorely tested. How can Mueller wrap up an investigation when the defendants haven’t been thoroughly investigated?

All the same, I’m prepared for there to not be conclusive evidence of crimes Trump committed. It pains me to say that. We Democrats have invested two years or longer of our emotional lives into wanting to find proof that Trump committed the equivalent of treason. We’ve waited for the day Jared and Donald Junior would be indicted. Remember the rumors, not that long ago, that Mueller would strike a deal with Trump whereby Trump would resign in exchange for Mueller not indicting the boys? If the reports now are true, Democrats are going to be highly demoralized.

But wait! There’s more. There’s still the Southern District of New York and all that hush money and breaking of campaign finance laws. There are still the House of Representatives hearings that Democrats will be holding. (Although that leads to another question: If the Mueller Report really is lukewarm and tending towards exoneration, do Democrats still have any justification for those hearings? Republicans will charge Dems are just angry losers, hell-bent on vengeance; and they’ll have a case. Certainly, Trump’s base will believe it.)

But perhaps the most interesting development occurred late yesterday, when various media outlets reported that, even if and when Mueller does wrap things up, he might “refer numerous active cases to other prosecutors.” Those active cases would include prosecuting “ancillary criminality”—ancillary, that is, to the original issue of Russia’s interference in the election. So if there’s no “there there” in the Mueller Report, Democrats (and defenders of freedom and the rule of law) need not be discouraged. Mueller might go away, but the investigations will continue. So this thing is far from over. Trump is far from cleared. And Jared and Donald Junior still need to be looking over their shoulders.

  1. It does seem like this investigation is taking forever, but it needs to continue until everything is investigated. I want it to end soon, but I also want it to be thorough. It will be interesting to see how everything turns out. Let’s hope the American public gets to see the report!

  2. Let’s not “hope” we see the report, let’s DEMAND it. Thanks for your comment.

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