Thoughts on Mueller and What's Next

On Friday, Special Counsel Bob Mueller delivered his report to the Justice Department. Attorney General Bob Barr then issued a letter summarizing the findings in the report. (The New York Times has a complete copy of the text.) Mueller was investigating two things: Whether Donald Trump or any members of his campaign colluded with Russian officials; and whether Trump committed obstruction of justice.

On the first item, Mueller found no evidence of collusion. On the second item, Mueller offered a mixed assessment of obstruction. Barr writes: "The Special Counsel states that 'while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him." Barr then adds he finds insufficient evidence in the report to establish that Trump committed obstruction of justice.

Note that these are Barr's assessments of the report. Mueller's report has not been made public, and there is still no guarantee that it will be, so we have to take it on faith at this point that Barr's characterization of what's in the report is fair.

There's no reason to afford Barr good faith on this subject, and every reason not to, but we don't have any other option at the moment.

Over the weekend, I shared a few thoughts on Twitter:
Let me just say again, for the umpteenth time: The collusion has been right out in the open.

We all saw it. From the moment Trump stood at a podium inviting Russia to hack the U.S. State Department.

Trump has been so brazen that the people charged with holding him accountable, including the press, keep looking *past* what he says and does in public, searching for "evidence" of what is already evident. They've convinced themselves that a president can't be a brazen traitor.

He is. But here we are. Another farcical waste of time finally reveals itself thus, and I take no consolation in having been right to caution that this was the probable outcome.

I'm not interested in "wait for SDNY!" pushback. My biggest worry, which I repeatedly expressed for nearly two years, was that the Mueller investigation was intentionally or effectively just buying time for Trump to consolidate power, so "wait until X!" is no consolation to me.

NB: Trump has been calling this a "witch hunt" etc. in anticipation of this very outcome. Never mind that the report does not exonerate him; it does as far as he and his cultists are concerned. Now if the Democrats pursue investigations, he will double down on "witch hunt."

And that wouldn't work except for the fact that the political press will overwhelmingly accommodate his narrative.

Btw, that was also why, in spite of the abuse I got for saying it, I continually warned against putting all of our eggs into the Mueller basket. Elevating Mueller with a savior narrative only counterbalanced Trump's martyr narrative in the most dangerous way.

I'm pointing that out now not to do a victory lap, but because I really hope some lessons have been learned from that mistake, but, given the amount of directly transferring the savior narrative from Mueller to SDNY that I'm seeing, it seems like lots of folks ain't learned shit.
I've made no secret of the fact that I was dubious about the Mueller investigation virtually from its start. In June of 2017, I was already urging folks to maintain measured expectations. And as early as September of 2017, I was expressing my concern that it would never get any closer to Trump than Paul Manafort:
Someone (WHO COULD IT BE?) wants to make Manafort the fall guy for Russian collusion. No doubt he was at the center and in the thick of it, but he was, ultimately, only the go-between for two much more powerful players. The buck shouldn't stop with him. It's pretty clear who benefits from making sure it does stop with him, though.

That such a brazen effort is being made to frame him in the press is a hint that, behind the scenes, the key players may be trying to shape what evidence (documents and testimony) are provided to Mueller to direct his investigation toward Manafort and steer scrutiny away from Trump, Pence, and Kushner.
And here we are, precisely as I feared. Except Manafort didn't even go down for anything he did in his role as Trump's campaign chair, leaving his crimes totally disconnected from Trump — a twist even I didn't see coming.

Right up until recent weeks, I continually expressed my concerns: "Have I mentioned once or twice or three dozen times that I am very dubious about Special Counsel Bob Mueller's investigation? That I am concerned it lacks urgency? That I fear it will effectively, if not intentionally, create all the space Republicans need to consolidate power while keeping the public complacent and patiently waiting for accountability that will never actually come? That maybe lifetime Republican Mueller isn't actually as interested as we are in seeing an entire Republican administration brought to its knees and then frog-marched out of the White House?"

In that same piece, I noted that Trump's collusion with Russia was not a theory: "We have known that the Trump campaign pressed for a change to the Republican platform's plank on Ukraine since before the 2016 election. The lead story in my We Resist thread from March 3, 2017 — nearly two years ago — was about J.D. Gordon, the Trump campaign's national security policy representative for the Republican National Convention, openly admitting 'that he pushed to alter an amendment to the GOP's draft policy on Ukraine at the Republican National Convention last year to further align it with [Trump's] views,' which just happen to align with Vladimir Putin's."

And I have written countless times that the collusion has always been right out in the open:
The collusion between Donald Trump's campaign (and, later, administration) and Russia has always been right out in the open — from his campaign forcing the Republican Party to change its plank on Ukraine, to Trump standing at a podium along the campaign trail publicly inviting Russia to hack Hillary Clinton's emails, to Trump's meetings with Russian diplomats in the Oval Office where he was photographed as he spilled intelligence secrets, to Trump publicly saying he would not meet with Vladimir Putin at the G20 only to meet with him privately anyway.

The incidents of collusion between Russia and Trump, his family, and/or his staff are many. And a huge number of them have never been concealed. They have been visible live, or known and quickly reported to the public.

And yet, many of us who have been hammering away for years at the fact that the then-Republican candidate and now president is colluding with a foreign adversary have been widely dismissed as kooks and conspiracy theorists for nearly the entire time — despite the fact that much of the information in Special Counsel Bob Mueller's filings has long been known.

It's merely confirming what those of us paying attention have seen with our own eyes.

...Over and over, people have argued with me that what I was saying about collusion couldn't possibly be true, because no one would be so stupid as to be that brazen.

But the brazenness wasn't stupidity. It was calculated. Trump and his co-conspirators knew damn well that there would be people lining up to argue that what they were seeing with their own eyes couldn't actually be what they were seeing with their own eyes, because no one would be stupid enough to be that brazen.
That Mueller has reportedly found no evidence of collusion is utterly absurd. Any suggestion to the contrary is straight-up gaslighting. It's fundamentally ridiculous to come to the conclusion that there's no evidence of Trump and members of his circle colluding with Russia.

And it's only slightly less ludicrous to find there isn't actionable evidence that Trump committed obstruction. But here we are.

My biggest worry about the Mueller investigation was always that it would effectively, even if not intentionally, create loads of time and space for Trump and the Republican Party to consolidate power. And that is exactly what has happened. There was precious little reason for Senate Republicans to hold Trump accountable for anything before, and there is no reason at all for them to do it now — unless and until they decide he's become no more use to them, and replace him with Mike Pence instead.

Pence, who definitely knew, who was right in the thick of it during the presidential transition, and whose name has never been associated with the Mueller investigation for a moment.

That was always a significant clue about the seriousness and efficacy of this investigation.

Anyway. As I said above, I'm not pulling these receipts to do a victory lap. I couldn't be less fucking thrilled to have been right.

I am recounting my words from the past two years with the hope that people will not immediately fall into the same trap of putting all their hopes in someone else to save us, and shouting down the women who have been right over and over and fucking over again.

The Mueller report being a dud was always going to be a watershed moment. And let me be perfectly blunt: If you're terrified about what this signals for our future, for how empowered Trump will be after the delivery of nothing, you are right to be.

This is only going to get worse. And I don't know what to do. I don't know what to advise. All I know is that we have to resist in every conceivable fashion at every possible moment if there is any hope to be had. We can't trust it to SDNY or House Democrats or anyone else — especially anyone working within an increasingly corrupt and compromised government — to save us. We need to start making some meaningful, organized efforts to save ourselves and each other.

Let me say once again: I can't tell any other person what their resistance should look like. Each person has a different set of capabilities; a different level of safety; a different set of talents; a different number of spoons. How one protests in a small, rural town might look very different from how one protests in a big city that's a major media center.

I only know what my resistance can and will look like. Each person needs to look inside themselves to define what theirs will. (Though certainly there are plenty of people who will offer good advice!)

And, to be honest, you don't want me to define your resistance for you, because then you'd be limited by the boundaries of my imagination. Would I have conjured a national park resisting by tweeting facts? Nope! But that is a brilliant and important act of resistance.

All I will say is this: In an environment of official neglect, demoralization, and division, survival itself is an act of resistance. Staying engaged is an act of resistance. Building community is an act of resistance.

If there is nothing else you are able to do to resist, just hang the fuck on, as hard as you can.

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