Well, I am going to miss the full-bore SWAT-team raids at dawn against aging political factota like Roger Stone and Paul Manafort. It was really very courteous of CNN to have been parked outside the homes of those hapless victims so that television audiences all across the country could all be edified by these exhibitions of the coercive arm of state power in action. Mr Mueller could just have had one of his 17 Obama-and-Hillary supporting prosecutors ring up the latest mark and ask him to pop down to headquarters. But that would not have been as dramatic, as expensive, or as cruel.
All good things come to an end, however, and yesterday, after 674 days, the investigation of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, G-Man extraordinaire, finally came to an end when he filed his long-awaited report with the Attorney General, William Barr.
As for what’s in the report, I know exactly as much as you, Rachel Maddow, Jim Acosta, Anderson Cooper, and their brethren in the Fourth Estate, that is, nothing at all.
Nor is it at all certain that we will ever know all that much that’s in the report. Since the law prohibits the dissemination of potentially damaging information about people who were investigated but not charged with a crime, there are bound to be large sections of the report that will remain forever under lock and key, especially now that James Comey and Andrew McCabe are not in the FBI to leak them.
All we really know at this point pertains not the the contents of the report per se but rather to the future action of the Special Counsel. There will be no more indictments.
How that announcement must have stung the NeverTrump fraternity. Here they were, huddled around Bill Kristol’s Twitter feed for the last two-plus years, praying, predicting, posturing that very soon now, any day in fact, Robert Mueller would descend into their midst, the deus ex machina through whose instrumentality they were to be delivered at long last from the nightmare of Donald Trump and his unacceptable record of robust economic growth, hundreds of constitutionally-minded judicial appointments, rising wages, historically low unemployment, a more rational and business-friendly regulatory environment, deeper ties with Israel, a revitalized military, and serious attention to our immigration crisis and the growing threat of an increasing militant China. Yes, it’s been a bad couple of years for the NeverTrumpers.
And even though Robert Mueller has hung up his spurs, their travails are not yet at an end. Mr Mueller indicted a slew of individuals and three Russian companies. He extracted seven guilty pleas from various people close, or formerly close, to President Trump, from the shyster Michael Cohen, at one time Trump’s personal lawyer, to Michael Flynn, briefly the president’s National Security Adviser before he was set up by the FBI and ruined financially by the-process-is-the-punishment legal fees.
The really splendid thing about Mueller’s indictments, though, is that not one of them pertains to the ostensible subject of his investigation, to wit: possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians to steal the 2016 election.
The question is, however, what comes next? Last May in these virtual pages, writing about the efforts of Devin Nunes, then Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, to get to the bottom of the skullduggery that instigated the Mueller investigation, I wrote that
‘What is being exposed is the biggest political scandal in the history of the United States: the effort by highly placed — exactly how highly placed we still do not know — members of one administration to mobilize the intelligence services and police power of the state to spy upon and destroy first the candidacy and then, when that didn’t work, the administration of a political rival.’
John Brennan, James Clapper, James Comey, Sally Yates, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, John McCain, Christopher Steele, Glenn Simpson, and others did their best to undo the results of the 2016 election. The Mueller investigation was their not-so-secret weapon upon which vast hopes rested.
It has, unfortunately for them, been increasingly clear for some time that Robert Mueller was coming up empty-handed, at least on the main task, which was to unseat the President. Hence the newly energized efforts by Rep. Jerrold Nadler and others to construct an ‘insurance policy’ in the form of impeachable offenses that might be brought against the president should, horrible dictu, Robert Mueller’s efforts at decapitation fail. As I wrote here a few weeks ago, ‘no one not named Bill Kristol now thinks that Mueller’s expensive, long-running entertainment will issue in any actionable charges against the president.’ Nevertheless, Nadler and his colleagues have opened a sweeping corruption probe in a desperate search for compromising tidbits from Donald Trump’s past business dealings that could plausibly form the basis for articles of impeachment.
It’s a fool’s errand. That chapter is closed. There may be a few backwards glances as the story moves forward, but moving forward it is, and not in a direction that the NeverTrump fraternity and the anti-Trump coven in the media and the government will like. Here we are just a day after Mueller pushed his report over the transom at Main Justice and we’re getting headlines like this: ‘As Russia collusion fades, Ukrainian plot to help Clinton emerges.” That story begins:
‘We now have strong evidence that retired British spy Christopher Steele began his quest in what ultimately became the infamous Russia collusion dossier with a series of conversations with top Justice Department official Bruce Ohr between December 2015 and February 2016 about securing evidence against Manafort.
‘We know the FBI set up shop in the U.S. embassy in Kiev to assist its Ukraine–Manafort inquiry . . . while using Steele as an informant at the start of its Russia probe. And we know Clinton’s campaign was using a law firm to pay an opposition research firm for Steele’s work in an effort to stop Trump from winning the presidency, at the same time Steele was aiding the FBI.’
Uh oh. And there is a lot more where this came from.
Schadenfreude is an unlovely emotion, one it behooves us to renounce, especially in the midst of Lent. But I suspect we’ll be seeing a lot of it abroad in the coming weeks and months as the beady eyes of the FBI swivel away from Donald Trump onto those who have spent the last two and a half years trying to destroy him.