The two-year-in-the-making Mueller report has finally concluded. The main takeaways: no further indictments, no allegations of interference with the investigation and no finding of collusion with Russia. So, let’s go to the videotape.
Before Robert Mueller’s report:
“The bombshell revelation that U.S. officials have information that suggests Trump associates may have colluded with the Russians means we must pause the entire Trump agenda. We may have an illegitimate President of the United States.” — Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., March 23, 2017.
“Here you have a President who, I can tell you and guarantee you, is in collusion with the Russians to undermine our democracy.” — Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., Sept. 21, 2017.
“I think there’s plenty of evidence of collusion or conspiracy in plain sight.” — Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Aug. 5, 2018
On television, Schiff, who early on claimed evidence of collusion, became quite the workhorse. According to the Washington Free Beacon, during the first six months of Donald Trump’s presidency, Schiff had “done 123 national television interviews totaling more than 14 hours of air time since January, according to a tracking report provided to the White House. … The vast majority of them have been on cable networks CNN and MSNBC, although Schiff has also done interviews on Fox News, ABC, CBS, NBC, Comedy Central, and HBO.”
After the Mueller report:
“There was a big difference between whether there was evidence of collusion — and I think that evidence is in plain sight — and whether you can establish proof beyond a reasonable doubt of a criminal conspiracy.” — Schiff, March 25, 2019.
“Given the lengthy redactions in many of the pleadings of the special counsel eluding to other investigations, I think it’s entirely possible if not likely that there will be other indictments.” — Schiff, March 22, 2019.
“We don’t know much. I’m just going to go by what we do know, and I must say, I don’t think it looks good. No further indictments. … Did the Democrats put too much trust in the Mueller report? Because I don’t need the Mueller report to know he’s a traitor. I have a TV.” — HBO host Bill Maher, March 22, 2019.
“You have a President who, in my opinion, beyond a shadow of a doubt, sought to, however ham-handedly, collude with the Russian government or foreign power to undermine and influence our elections.” Presidential candidate Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, March 23, 2019.
The Democrats now demand that the Mueller report be made public. Trump said he wants it made public, too. As to whether it will be made public, and how much, former special prosecutor Ken Starr outlined what happens next:
“Under the regulations that governed his appointment and now guide his final acts, Mueller is to provide a confidential report to one person only: the attorney general. The regulations, which were promulgated during the final months of the Clinton administration, do not contemplate any sort of report sent directly from the special counsel to Congress or the general public. To the contrary, the regulations call upon the attorney general, William Barr, to receive the confidential report and then do two things: First, to notify Congress of the investigation’s completion and, second, to provide an explanation for certain specifically enumerated actions. There is no requirement for a Barr-edited version of the Mueller report. …
“The attorney general also has the raw power to jettison the regulations entirely. Unlike a statute, the regulations may be dispatched by the stroke of a pen, and new ones put in place. He may determine that the public interest requires maximum transparency, as long as grand-jury secrecy is scrupulously maintained. But unless and until the attorney general takes that bold action, the current regulations stand and have the force of law.”
In sum, for anti-Trumpers, hope appears to have run out on the Mueller team, which, at one time, was perhaps the only mostly all-white, mostly all-male group that today’s Democrats could love and embrace. Now, in fairness, not all liberal Trump critics got it wrong about the Mueller report. CNN host Van Jones, in June 2017, was approached in the street by a man working with Project Veritas, who secretly taped their conversation. The man, after claiming the two met a few years earlier, asked Jones what he thought of the Russian collusion investigation. Jones, unaware he was being taped, replied: “The Russia thing is just a big nothing burger. There’s nothing there you can do.”
Will Trump haters and semi-haters see the Mueller report as the President’s vindication? Not likely. An Economist/YouGov poll from last November found 67 percent of Democrats believe that Russia, despite a complete and total lack of evidence, “definitely” or “probably” not only interfered with the election but changed vote tallies.
Now that the report found no collusion, we can expect the Democrats and much of the media to get back to basics: calling the President racist, fascist, sexist, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, homophobic, anti-Hispanic, etc. It’s going to be a long two years, and likely, thanks to the Mueller report, a long six years.