The Mueller investigation is over. According to a summary of Mueller’s report from Attorney General William Barr, we now know that Donald Trump’s presidential campaign did not conspire with Russia to influence the 2016 election.
The findings come as no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to the indictments issued and the plea agreements already entered.
The Mueller team indicted 13 Russians for attempting to tamper with our election.
Not one of these Russians was alleged to have conspired with anyone connected with the Trump campaign.
The Mueller team also indicted various Trump associates for personal crimes unrelated to election tampering. Michael Flynn, for example, was indicted for failure to register as a foreign agent; Paul Manafort for bank fraud; Roger Stone for lying to Congress. None of these men were charged in connection with Russian hacking. None were charged with taking part in a conspiracy to violate our election laws for the benefit of the Trump campaign.
Had there existed a criminal conspiracy to steal the election, surely these indictments would have included such charges. But they did not. So it should come as no surprise that Mueller now says he did not find evidence of Trump-Russia collusion.
The truth is, “collusion” was always a myth, spun by the sore losers of the 2016 presidential election in an attempt to explain away results that seemed unfathomable to the coastal elite.
Yes, Russia tried to influence the 2016 election (on President Obama’s watch, mind you) — just as Russia has tried to influence American elections since the Cold War began. In 1968, for example, the Soviets offered to help fund Democratic Senator Hubert Humphrey’s campaign against the anti-Communist Richard Nixon. And in 1976, the KGB attempted to discredit Democratic Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson” by sending forged FBI letters claiming that Jackson was gay.
Although Russia may, at times, prefer one US candidate over another, the primary goal of Russian interference in 2016 was to sow the seeds of discord and distrust among the American people. Conspiracy theories, spun by people suffering from Trump derangement syndrome, only aided and abetted our enemies.
Of course, none of this means that the president and his family are out of legal jeopardy. Investigations into allegations of personal corruption in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere may yet bear fruit. But we must now put to rest the spurious notion that Trump was some sort of Manchurian candidate or that he is an illegitimate president.
Indeed, Americans of all political stripes should welcome the news that nobody in the Trump campaign coordinated with the Russian government in their efforts to influence the election. This is good news for democracy.
And yet, sadly, Democratic politicians seem disappointed by Barr’s report on the investigation’s conclusions and unwilling to accept the truth. Instead they continue to spin conspiratorial yarns, suggesting that the attorney general is hiding something, when he has made it crystal clear that he intends to release as much of the report as permitted by law.
Thus, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweets that the “American people deserve the truth.” And Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts demands that the attorney general “make the full report public. Immediately.” Surely Warren knows that it is a criminal offense for the government to release grand jury material and that it will take time to make the necessary redactions. But that won’t stop Warren from political grandstanding.
As for the obstruction issue: We all know about the Comey firing and the president’s unnecessarily obnoxious tweets. But remember that Democrats and Republicans alike recommended that Comey be fired. And tweets criticizing an investigation (particularly one that ultimately finds no merit to the underlying claims) hardly demonstrate corrupt intent, the legal standard for obstruction of justice. More likely, they suggest a man firmly convinced of his innocence.
So although Mueller did not take a position on whether the president committed obstruction of justice, the public is unlikely to conclude that he did. And, absent an indictment, that is really all that matters. With respect to collusion, we are now beyond the reach of law enforcement. From this point forward, any talk of a sinister plot between Trump and the Russians to alter what otherwise would have been a Hillary Clinton victory is just political paranoia.
There is much about Trump for the Democrats to criticize. But by fomenting conspiracy theories about collusion and cover-ups, Democrats have ceded the moral high ground and lost all credibility in the process.
Jennifer C. Braceras is a senior fellow with the Independent Women’s Forum.