Mueller Did the Right Thing

 

It seems that “13 hardened Democrats” or “angry Democrats” did not deliver a politically-motivated, illegitimate hit job after all. Based on what we know so far, the special counsel’s office reported that it did not find evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. This is a fabulous vindication of the integrity of the system.

No one is noticing that. Instead, the Trump team is gorging on schadenfreude, and the anti-Trump team is choking on bile.

It’s fair to say that those who spent hour upon cable TV hour lovingly anticipating that President Trump would be frog-marched from the White House in handcuffs after the delivery of this report have egg on their faces. It isn’t clear which hurts more, the disappointment about being wrong or the worry about drooping ratings.

But there’s plenty of egg to go around. Team Trump spent nearly two years denouncing the Mueller investigation as a “rigged witch hunt.” By one count, the president used the term “witch hunt” more than 1,100 times. He mercilessly eviscerated his own attorney general, Jeff Sessions, for the sin of following Justice Department guidelines instead of corruptly abusing his office to shield Mr. Trump from scrutiny. At various times, the president has also suggested that the inquiry was a sinister plot of the “deep state;” a ploy by supporters of “crooked” Hillary Clinton to extract revenge (while also suggesting that the real collusion was between Democrats and the Russians); and an “illegal hoax” perpetrated by the “fake news” media. President Trump claimed that the Mueller probe was staffed by “very bad and conflicted people,” and that the investigation was a “disgrace to our nation.”

The battlespace was thus prepared for a Mueller report that would be devastating to the president. His supporters would disbelieve anything that reflected badly on Trump because the investigation itself, along with the law enforcement bodies tasked with carrying out their responsibilities in an impartial fashion, had been discredited.

Yet, when it turned out that the investigators did not invent or plant evidence, did not default to process crimes like lying to investigators, did not spring a perjury trap, and, above all, did not permit their own feelings or political preferences to taint the administration of justice, there has been no embarrassment from team Trump. On a dime, they have reversed themselves completely. A totally corrupt witch hunt has become a total vindication. (It wasn’t that. Even Attorney General William Barr’s letter acknowledged that the report did not “exonerate” the president on the charge of obstruction of justice.) But even if it had been a clean bill of health, how can they trust the Mueller people? Weren’t they thoroughly corrupt? A disgrace?

President Trump has a long history of impugning anyone or anything he perceives as a threat to his own interests and flattering anyone he thinks can help him. When he feared he would lose an election, he denounced the voting as “rigged.” Judge Curiel became a “Mexican” judge when Trump feared he might rule against him in the Trump University case. Gold star parents, deceased heroic senators, Charles Krauthammer, S.E. Cupp, Jeff Bezos, and an endless list of others have joined the ranks of the slighted. On the other hand, if you repent and join the Trump fan club — as pretty much the entire invertebrate Republican party has done — then you are swiftly forgiven and elevated. Lindsey Graham went from “nasty” and “dumb mouthpiece” to favorite golfing buddy in a trice.

This transparently solipsistic approach to the world would be of little interest if it were just a quirk of a New York businessman. But when Trump employs the tactic to undermine confidence in institutions like the justice system, he does lasting damage.

The “witch hunt” was nothing of the kind. Honorable people did the right thing. Politics did not taint a criminal investigation. But that reality is buried under an avalanche of bad faith.

There are 55 comments.

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  1. WI Con Member

    Moderator Note:

    It's rude to imply a fellow Ricochetian needs to be crazy just for expressing an opinion.

    Speaking of embarrassing. Do you type these yourself or dictate with the straight jacket on?

    • #1
    • March 28, 2019, at 1:33 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  2. Instugator Thatcher

    Mona Charen: Yet, when it turned out that the investigators did not invent or plant evidence, did not default to process crimes like lying to investigators, did not spring a perjury trap,

    General Flynn would probably disagree with this statement.

    • #2
    • March 28, 2019, at 1:43 PM PDT
    • 20 likes
  3. Jager Member

     

    Mona Charen: The “witch hunt” was nothing of the kind. Honorable people did the right thing.

    Um, a former British spy created a document that was unverified and relied on Russian sources. This document became the basis of FISA warrants against US citizens. How is any of this “honorable” or the “right thing”

    Manafort was scum, but he was white collar scum. He did not require a pre-dawn swat team raid. 

    Roger Stone also got a pre-dawn swat raid, though I am not sure he was actually indited on anything. Someone also tipped of CNN so the cameras could be rolling on this raid. 

    I could go on, but there was nothing Honorable or Right about an awful lot of this. 

     

    • #3
    • March 28, 2019, at 1:46 PM PDT
    • 17 likes
  4. Henry Castaigne Member

    Mona Charen: At various times, the president has also suggested that the inquiry was a sinister plot of the “deep state;” a ploy by supporters of “crooked” Hillary Clinton to extract revenge (while also suggesting that the real collusion was between Democrats and the Russians); and an “illegal hoax” perpetrated by the “fake news” media.

    Trump is obviously a blowhard. But didn’t Hillary Clinton and her supporters in the media and government gin up a fake story in order to take down a President they didn’t vote for? I know you are annoyed when Trump tweets and carries on but has he really hurt democratic norms? Like say, for example, making up accusations against a Supreme Court Justice. 

    • #4
    • March 28, 2019, at 1:48 PM PDT
    • 11 likes
  5. Jager Member

    Instugator (View Comment):

    Mona Charen: Yet, when it turned out that the investigators did not invent or plant evidence, did not default to process crimes like lying to investigators, did not spring a perjury trap,

    General Flynn would probably disagree with this statement.

    Virtually every indictment was for a “process crime”. Manafort was for stuff from before the election. They also indicted a group of Russians that will never see the inside of an American court room.

    • #5
    • March 28, 2019, at 1:57 PM PDT
    • 14 likes
  6. Hoyacon Member

    I know when think of John McCain, Charles Krauthammer and Jeff Bezos, the next person who comes to mind is S.E. Cupp.

    • #6
    • March 28, 2019, at 2:00 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  7. James Gawron Thatcher

    Mona Charon,

    A 2 1/2 year massive investigation based on a fraudulent dossier that was knowingly submitted to the FISA Court. The fraudulent dossier was paid for by Democratic Party operatives. However, it’s Trump’s terrible tweeting temper tantrums that we should hold as terribly important. How convenient that the oh so competent Mueller waited until he had brutally extorted everything he could get out of the men whose lives he mutilated and the mid-terms were over before he wrapped this giant piece of garbage up.

    If every single comment on the internet generated by the Russian trolls had been against Hillary (which 50% were not) and every single comment had been brilliantly aimed at an American audience (which the vast majority were not) still then the entire effort was so small in comparison to the total internet traffic about the election that it could not have affected anything. On the other hand, it is clear that California vote harvesting is responsible for flipping at least 10 house seats and that even minor adjustments in Google & Facebook algorithms, always against conservative traffic, could have easily been responsible for major manipulations.

    Yeah, that Trump has some nerve.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #7
    • March 28, 2019, at 2:04 PM PDT
    • 16 likes
  8. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher

    Reading this post what comes to mind are Andy Dufrense’s words to Warden Norton:

    “How can you be so obtuse? Is it deliberate?”

    • #8
    • March 28, 2019, at 2:14 PM PDT
    • 12 likes
  9. Henry Racette Contributor

    Mona, I think your criticisms here of Trump are generally fair, but your post is, nonetheless, unbalanced in its treatment of the two sides. I think it’s also mistaken in its conclusion.

    Mona Charen:

    This is a fabulous vindication of the integrity of the system. / No one is noticing that.

    Picking a nit here, but it isn’t true that “no one” is noticing. Others have commented on this as well. A little more charity toward the diversity of opposing views might be warranted here.

    Mona Charen: His supporters would disbelieve anything that reflected badly on Trump because the investigation itself, along with the law enforcement bodies tasked with carrying out their responsibilities in an impartial fashion, had been discredited.

    Again, that’s too broad. I’m a Trump supporter, but I’ve said repeatedly that I would drop that support if compelling evidence of collusion were revealed. I’m sure I’m not alone in maintaining a shred of integrity in the face of Trump’s tacky verbal abuse of the Mueller investigation.

    And, in fairness, you might observe that a significant portion of the anti-Trump contingent will likely not accept this verdict: confirmation bias is real, and not purely the result of Trump’s tantrums. You should give credit to both sides when noting this defect.

    Mona Charen: But when Trump employs the tactic to undermine confidence in institutions like the justice system, he does lasting damage.

    This strikes me as particularly unreasonable. Trump’s rants might have persuaded some of his most loyal supporters, but they probably didn’t need much persuading. The justice system brought a great deal of shame down upon itself, beginning with the Steele Dossier / FISA warrant misbehavior and continuing through blatantly partisan maneuverings by various self-appointed resistance warriors more concerned with uncovering the crimes they knew must be there than in conducting the duties of their office in an honest and transparent fashion. High ranking ex-justice employees have publicly opined that the President is a traitor. I suspect more people have had their faith in the justice system shaken by that than by anything our notoriously loquacious President said.

    Mona Charen: The “witch hunt” was nothing of the kind.

    I’m perfectly willing to believe that the Mueller investigation was nothing of the kind, but neither you nor I know that. We don’t know to what lengths he went, how reasonable he was in his probes and investigations, whether or not he behaved in a desperate fashion in his hunt for evidence of collusion. He might have exhibited the greatest probity; he might have been excessive in his efforts. We don’t know. All we know is, however hard he looked, he seems to have found nothing compelling.

    But let’s assume that he simply did a thorough and competent job. The nation has been obsessed for two years with the Russia narrative: it has dominated the news, collusion has been assumed by much of the left and too much of the anti-Trump right, and entered into the public imagination as a near-certainty. This canard, this fiction, has dogged the President for his entire term in office, and been used to call into question his legitimacy at every turn.

    We now know that there was no evidence to support the allegations. That, if not the Mueller investigation itself, is about as close to a witch hunt as one can get.

    I believe a lot of damage has been done. I do not believe that Trump is principally responsible for it. I think most of the credit goes to the institutions that stoked the fires without evidence.

    • #9
    • March 28, 2019, at 2:14 PM PDT
    • 20 likes
  10. cdor Member

    ” At various times, the president has also suggested that the inquiry was a sinister plot of the “deep state;” a ploy by supporters of “crooked” Hillary Clinton to extract revenge (while also suggesting that the real collusion was between Democrats and the Russians); and an “illegal hoax” perpetrated by the “fake news” media. “

    Mona Charon, you probably never read, let alone reply to, any comments on your little essays posted here at Ricochet. But what the heck…

    So I quoted one of your sentences above. You are absolutely correct, at various times PDJT did suggest publicly all of the things you mentioned in that sentence–and where, in any of those things was he wrong? That 24/7 cable news to which you referred, including the NY Times and Jeff Bezos” WAPO were busy claiming in 90% of their coverage that all those things never happened. Instead it was President Trump or his family doing treacherous and treasonous conspiratorial collusion to bring down our country. That journalistic malfeasance never seemed to bother you. This time our side elected a man who will stand up for himself, and us. Sorry you are so disappointed.

    Edit:

    Well, not really. Actually I am not sorry at all.

    • #10
    • March 28, 2019, at 2:18 PM PDT
    • 11 likes
  11. Retail Lawyer Member

    I would love to know about the beginning of Mueller’s investigation. At some very early point, he must have thought, “Is this all there is?” Yet he persisted. At least we know Russia bought some face book ads, so there is that.

    • #11
    • March 28, 2019, at 2:53 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  12. Hoyacon Member

    What bothers me about this is the notion that Mueller deserves credit for doing his job and reaching a just final result, all the while discounting the manner in which that result was reached. Mueller staffed up with partisan Democrats, thereby insuring that merely investigating “collusion” (his mission) would not be good enough once it became clear early on that the narrative was going nowhere. So, with the staff no doubt pushing, we’re on to “obstruction of justice,” which occupied a significant amount of time and probably dragged the investigation past the midterm elections. The final verdict is only part of the picture.

    • #12
    • March 28, 2019, at 2:55 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  13. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    I know when I think of John McCain, Charles Krauthammer and Jeff Bezos, the next person who comes to mind is S.E. Cupp.

    Is this all that uncommon in those who, whatever the reason, keep a list of who’s definitely out of Club Trump in their head?

    Some people keep their list as an enemies list. Some people keep it as a friends list — or at least an “enemies-of-my-enemy” list. If who’s pro-Trump and who’s not is a big part of your life for any reason, then these people, who might not have much in common, have Something Of Great Importance in common.

    For example, both avid fans and avid anti-fans of The Bulwark are more likely to know who writes there than others would. Devoted fans would want to support those writers across publications, while devoted anti-fans would want to deny those writers support across publications. Either way, you’d have to know who those writers were. Meanwhile, the rest of us wouldn’t know if Eva Schmetterling (a writer I just made up) also publishes work at The Bulwark, and whether she has “credited/discredited” herself thereby.

    • #13
    • March 28, 2019, at 3:00 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  14. Bishop Wash Member

    Mona Charen: On the other hand, if you repent and join the Trump fan club — as pretty much the entire invertebrate Republican party has done — then you are swiftly forgiven and elevated. Lindsey Graham went from “nasty” and “dumb mouthpiece” to favorite golfing buddy in a trice.

    It’s interesting to see how different sides of a fight see things. For years people have railed against the GOP for being spineless. Some enjoyed Newt in 2012 when he’d refused to acknowledge a debate question’s premise and called out the questioner. For a lot of voters, Trump’s unwillingness to rollover to baseless claims from Left was a selling point. People love the post McCain funeral Lindsey Graham, saying that he’s grown a spine and was brilliant in his defense of Brett Kavanaugh, but Mona sees Graham 2.0 as an invertebrate. One man’s spine is another’s spineless.

    • #14
    • March 28, 2019, at 3:13 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  15. Gary Robbins Reagan

    Another great and timely post by Mona Charen!

    • #15
    • March 28, 2019, at 3:28 PM PDT
    • Like
  16. Basil Fawlty Member

    Mona Charen: Honorable people did the right thing.

    Name them.

    • #16
    • March 28, 2019, at 3:41 PM PDT
    • 11 likes
  17. Percival Thatcher

    Retail Lawyer (View Comment):

    I would love to know about the beginning of Mueller’s investigation. At some very early point, he must have thought, “Is this all there is?” Yet he persisted. At least we know Russia bought some face book ads, so there is that.

    He couldn’t wind it up before the election.

    It’s called “holding the con.”

    • #17
    • March 28, 2019, at 4:01 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  18. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher

    Percival (View Comment):

    Retail Lawyer (View Comment):

    I would love to know about the beginning of Mueller’s investigation. At some very early point, he must have thought, “Is this all there is?” Yet he persisted. At least we know Russia bought some face book ads, so there is that.

    He couldn’t wind it up before the election.

    It’s called “holding the con.”

    Yes, and it was clear by last summer that collusion was a dead issue. He kept the investigation alive as an issue for the mid terms.

    • #18
    • March 28, 2019, at 4:19 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  19. Percival Thatcher

    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Retail Lawyer (View Comment):

    I would love to know about the beginning of Mueller’s investigation. At some very early point, he must have thought, “Is this all there is?” Yet he persisted. At least we know Russia bought some face book ads, so there is that.

    He couldn’t wind it up before the election.

    It’s called “holding the con.”

    Yes, and it was clear by last summer that collusion was a dead issue. He kept the investigation alive as an issue for the mid terms.

    Which is honorable, because … because …

    Squirrel!

    • #19
    • March 28, 2019, at 4:28 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  20. Goldwaterwoman Thatcher

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    I believe a lot of damage has been done. I do not believe that Trump is principally responsible for it. I think most of the credit goes to the institutions that stoked the fires without evidence.

    Couldn’t have said it better. Thank you for your cogent reasoning.

    • #20
    • March 28, 2019, at 4:30 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  21. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge

    Wonder how enthusiastic Mona would be if somebody played this little trick on her. Half of Trumps Presidency has been wasted on this tripe. Two years of torture and name calling so they could return what? Nothing. Two years to produce nothing on an event that never happened but that is good governance for the NeverTrump. What a waste of web site

    • #21
    • March 28, 2019, at 5:03 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  22. Gary Robbins Reagan

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    Wonder how enthusiastic Mona would be if somebody played this little trick on her. Half of Trumps Presidency has been wasted on this tripe. Two years of torture and name calling so they could return what? Nothing. Two years to produce nothing on an event that never happened but that is good governance for the NeverTrump. What a waste of web site

    You might want to not read Mona anymore. There are some EverTrumpers who I avoid.

    • #22
    • March 28, 2019, at 5:07 PM PDT
    • Like
  23. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    Wonder how enthusiastic Mona would be if somebody played this little trick on her. Half of Trumps Presidency has been wasted on this tripe. Two years of torture and name calling so they could return what? Nothing. Two years to produce nothing on an event that never happened but that is good governance for the NeverTrump. What a waste of web site

    You might want to not read Mona anymore. There are some EverTrumpers who I avoid.

    No, I need to read all just to understand how stupid and dangerous they are. Sadly the NeverTrump such as Mona are a power in the world. For evil but still a power.

    • #23
    • March 28, 2019, at 5:22 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  24. jonb60173 Member

    Didn’t most of these “honorable people” know in advance that this was a witch hunt, and didn’t they further conceal the origin of the Steele Report in order to fool a judge for a FISA warrant. Is there a particular way of committing that act in an honorable fashion?

    • #24
    • March 28, 2019, at 5:27 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  25. Percival Thatcher

    jonb60173 (View Comment):

    Didn’t most of these “honorable people” know in advance that this was a witch hunt, and didn’t they further conceal the origin of the Steele Report in order to fool a judge for a FISA warrant. Is there a particular way of committing that act in an honorable fashion?

    • #25
    • March 28, 2019, at 5:34 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  26. Jager Member

    jonb60173 (View Comment):

    Didn’t most of these “honorable people” know in advance that this was a witch hunt, and didn’t they further conceal the origin of the Steele Report in order to fool a judge for a FISA warrant. Is there a particular way of committing that act in an honorable fashion?

    Yeah but they did that stuff with good manners and class, so you know that makes under handed stuff honorable. 

    By contrast trump is keeping more campaign promises than normal but he is crass, so it is dishonorable.

    • #26
    • March 28, 2019, at 5:40 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  27. Hoyacon Member

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Another great and timely post by Mona Charen!

    Other than cheerleading, what does this accomplish? No reason why it’s great, no reason why it’s timely. Plus, it fails to address the most significant factor of the investigation–why it took so long.

    • #27
    • March 28, 2019, at 5:43 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  28. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake (View Comment):

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    I know when I think of John McCain, Charles Krauthammer and Jeff Bezos, the next person who comes to mind is S.E. Cupp.

    Is this all that uncommon in those who, whatever the reason, keep a list of who’s definitely out of Club Trump in their head?

    Some people keep their list as an enemies list. Some people keep it as a friends list — or at least an “enemies-of-my-enemy” list. If who’s pro-Trump and who’s not is a big part of your life for any reason, then these people, who might not have much in common, have Something Of Great Importance in common.

    For example, both avid fans and avid anti-fans of The Bulwark are more likely to know who writes there than others would. Devoted fans would want to support those writers across publications, while devoted anti-fans would want to deny those writers support across publications. Either way, you’d have to know who those writers were. Meanwhile, the rest of us wouldn’t know if Eva Schmetterling (a writer I just made up) also publishes work at The Bulwark, and whether she has “credited/discredited” herself thereby.

    So you are writing at the bulwark?

    • #28
    • March 28, 2019, at 6:26 PM PDT
    • Like
  29. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake (View Comment):

    Meanwhile, the rest of us wouldn’t know if Eva Schmetterling (a writer I just made up) also publishes work at The Bulwark, and whether she has “credited/discredited” herself thereby.

    So you are writing at the bulwark?

    Hehe. No.

    • #29
    • March 28, 2019, at 6:28 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  30. Gossamer Cat Coolidge

    I appreciate that @monacharen cross-posts here and I understand her sentiment in this piece, although I do not agree with it. Yes, it is true that by the (apparent) thoroughness of the investigation and the conclusions reached, it seems like the system worked. But I agree with the others here who pointed out that the premise of the investigation was unjust from the beginning. There was an excellent piece by Rich Lowry who pointed out that Trump has been railing against this investigation so loudly because he was, in fact, innocent of the charge. Yet some expected him to stand by calmly and take it. But the charge would have been truly offensive to one who loves his country, as I have no doubt Trump does. Just like the charges against Kavanaugh were particularly offensive to to someone who tried to live his life honorably and had two young daughters.

    So, yes, Trump is strengthened by the conclusions of this report and by not interfering with it. And I am glad that the system is not so corrupt that Mueller could invent charges in the complete absence of evidence. But the investigation should never have been happened in the first place. Millions of dollars were spent; countless lives were ruined. And, as @henryracette so ably lays out in Comment #9, this investigation hurt his presidency which means we were hurt too.

    And then there is the matter of that little poison pill left by Mueller that said “We’re not going to exonerate him of obstruction of justice; we’ll let the AG do that”. A cynic might think he did that for spite.

    • #30
    • March 28, 2019, at 6:52 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
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