Mueller gives the president a big win

  • 25 March 2019
  • NormanL

Special Counsel Robert Mueller released his report to the Justice Department Friday, and Attorney General William Barr issued a four-page summary on Sunday. The upshot: the Trump campaign was not in cahoots with Russia during the 2016 presidential race

The president, quite understandably and with ample reason, is dunking on the press, Democrats, never-Trumpers -- just about everyone who said (some more openly than others) that he would rot in prison for selling out his country to Vladimir Putin.

That's not hyperbole, either. For a devastating takedown of the press and various others in its orbit, check out this long piece from Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi. Taibbi is a man of the left, so fair warning on some of his points (we won't give the Kremlin a pass on its desire to sow discord and distrust in the West).

But has the Mueller report's release changed anything, or are we in for more, and worse, partisan warfare

There are no sealed or pending indictments. There are no new bombshells demonstrating collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian agents. There probably are no new revelations about the ways in which the president hampered the investigation into Russian interference into the 2016 election. We know most of what there is to know, and the appropriate political judgments have already been made. it seems unlikely that the release of the Mueller report will move the political needle very much in a way that damages the president's standing, and the close of the investigation probably has the effect of removing a shadow from the administration and thus improving his immediate political situation.

It is notable that the special counsel did not reach any legal conclusions about whether obstruction of justice charges would be appropriate, though the attorney general has concluded that such charges will not be forthcoming. Neither the special counsel nor the attorney general are hanging their hat on the constitutional concern that a sitting president cannot be indicted or the constitutional concern that the president's use of his Article II constitutional powers cannot be the basis of a criminal prosecution for obstruction of justice. Instead, they both seem to lean heavily on the view that if there is no underlying crime to be hidden then the president's actions to hamper the investigation could not have been made with corrupt intent. Others no doubt will come to a different conclusion on the issue of corrupt intent, but Mueller does not appear to be adding much new fuel to the fire for an impeachment inquiry.

Politically, the president comes out of this stronger. The "resistance," as it likes to think of itself, has taken a major blow. But don't expect the sniping, or the anger, to subside.