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Lest we lose sight of the forest for the trees: It seems to me likely Mueller will find there was collusion between Trump associates and Putin operatives; that Trump knew about it; and that Trump sought to cover it up and obstruct its investigation. What then? Good question. — Bill Kristol, August 9, 2018
Good question, indeed. The complementary question, of course, is: what if Mueller doesn’t find that there was collusion between Trump associates and Putin operatives? What then?
We have an answer: you pivot.
What the Mueller report says, per Attorney General Barr, is this:
[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.
But pop over to The Bulwark and read Kim Wehle’s piece, Mueller Report: What We Can Learn From Barr’s Initial Letter to Congressional Leaders, and you’ll discover that the Barr letter, per Ms. Wehle,
contains no facts or substantive information—nothing about what Mueller did or did not find with respect to his investigative mandate from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
I’m confused. The letter seems to clearly state that Mueller did not find evidence to establish collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians, which actually was a principal objective of Mueller’s mandate. How does this clear finding become “nothing about what Mueller did or did not find?”
Read the rest of the piece and you won’t come across this seemingly important tidbit of information: that the investigation launched to find evidence of Trump campaign collusion with Russia did not find evidence of Trump campaign collusion with Russia.
Ms. Wehle does, however, instruct us to drop the “witch hunt” talk.
The piece by Charles Sykes, No Collusion. No Exoneration at least mentions that no collusion was found. It mentions it in the title, and in the first paragraph.
That’s it. The rest of the article is about obstruction. See how the pivot works?
Oh, and Mr. Sykes also lays down the law for us: “There was no witch hunt.”
(It almost seems like a Bulwark theme, that last bit.)
As If you read the articles at The Bulwark, you’ll notice two things. First, the pivot, the effortless shift from collusion to obstruction, as if the threat to our democracy was never the intrusion of Russian influence (it wasn’t, but that was the drum they were beating), but rather the danger of the President being critical of an investigation he knew, by virtue of being its object, to be pointless.
Secondly, you’ll see a lot of whataboutism, particularly from Sykes and Last. How exactly one’s attitude about past misdeeds by prominent Democrats factors into the revelation that there was no Trump collusion with the Russians escapes me; it seems to impose a moral standard on a legal question, as if to say that anyone who thinks Hillary Clinton should probably go to jail for her supposed crimes is a hypocrite for acknowledging that there was no Trump collusion with the Russians.
In short, after having beaten the collusion narrative into the ground with the rest of the mainstream media, Sykes and Co. are doing exactly what every left-leaning media organization is going to do: overlook the negative finding on collusion, and pivot instantly to speculation about obstruction in the investigation of collusion that, we now know, didn’t occur.
I will revisit The Bulwark when someone informs me that Charles Sykes has posted a piece acknowledging his mistaken credulity, and pondering, however briefly, how so many fell for what seemed, even two years ago, a preposterous narrative.