Sunday, March 31, 2019

A Small Observation on the Mueller Report

It seemed to my eyes that many conservatives were treating this as a great victory for Trump.  I don't think that's the correct framing.  His opponents were expecting a great defeat for him that turned into a mere neutral.  It was a bomb that was not dropped, or one that dropped but did not explode. This is not anything that shows what a great guy Donald Trump is or how well he ran his campaign.

Certainly, if a person is accused of a crime and they are shown to have not committed it, it feels like a sort of victory.  I would certainly feel that way myself.  Still, it's not the same thing.

What this is is an enormous defeat and embarrassment for the media and Trump's critics. They have been shamed and humiliated, not just because they expected something that didn't happen - we all have been guilty of that many times in our lives - but because they quite openly relied on speculation rather than hard facts, and refused to believe that anyone on their side had been in the least questionable about gathering information.  They believed liars, and believed them repeatedly. In front of God and everyone.

The distinction is important, because there will be a backlash, and Trump may not be the target of it.  The president is of course the preferred target, but emotions spill out when they do, not according to grand plan.


james said...

I wonder how many people who believed the lies actually care. Extrapolating from some people I know, I suspect the whole episode will go down the memory hole. "At this point, what difference does it make?"

Things like guilt or innocence are ephemeral things--the fundamental question is "Is he in our tribe?"

And since the answer is no, the Mueller Report isn't relevant. If it found evidence of guilt, that would prove him guilty. That it finds no guilt will simply prove that improper political pressure was applied, and therefore he is guilty.

Christopher B said...

National Review's Andrew McCarthy speculated that Mueller knew there was no collusion after about four to six months of investigation based on the non-renewal of the FISA warrant on Carter Page and the fact Page was never indicted for any offense, not even a process crime. It appears to me that the remainder of the time Mueller spent attacking Trump along three axis. He baited a perjury trap by alternately implying he would end his investigation if Trump sat down to explain his actions and threatening to question him under subpoena. Weismann, Mueller's main attack dog, tried to goad Trump into issuing a preemptive pardon to bootstrap his theory that Trump could be charged with obstruction based on his performance of official acts by establishing a supposed pattern of using them for obstruction. The third axis was squeezing anyone they could find to structure their testimony in support of the other two attacks, or alternately to imply that Trump attempted to influence their testimony to obstruct the investigation.

Trump's legal team was able to convince him not to voluntarily testify and developed a strategy of compliance on information requests and stonewalling on interview requests that undermined Mueller's argument that he had to confront him in an interview. Trump and his advisers were able to resist the desire to cut Mueller's access to Manafort via a preemptive pardon, and Barr becoming AG signaled that Mueller would not get DOJ support for Weismann's novel obstruction theory. Finally, I think Mueller really thought Michael Cohen was going to provide him with a path to get Trump but he didn't recognize, as I think Trump had, that Cohen was a braggart and fabulist with a sociopath's ability to imply he could tell you exactly what you wanted to hear. I haven't heard it mentioned but I find it interesting that both Mueller and the SDNY closed shop shortly after Cohen's public Congressional testimony blew up in their faces.

While some of these things were simply fortuitous circumstances and not all are the result of Trump's effort (some might even be cases where his advisers overrode his inclinations), they are clearly actions taken by Trump and his team that minimized the damage Mueller did to his administration. There is a marked contrast with Bill Clinton thinking he had the ability to talk his way out of the Lewinsky affair, even with strong support from the rest of his party and their media counterparts.

Sam L. said...

Chris B., I have NO FAITH nor TRUST in what the National Review prints. They're NeverTrumpers.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ Sam L - I don't think that's a good place to draw the line. Some of the people who did vote for Trump were recently Democrats, who could go back to voting for them at any time. Most at NRO don't like Trump, but some of them defend most of his actions and all of them defend at least some. Save your fire for enemies, not irritating allies.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Acch, left out the best point. McCarthy is a good example of this. Because he wasn't rooting for Trump or for the investigators, he had the most objective, and ultimately most accurate assessments of what was happening in the investigation.

HMS Defiant said...

Reasons to like Trump.

He's not a scheming lying crook named Hillary
He's not a scheming lying crook related to bill clinton
His wife and daughter are actually kind of attractive and one doesn't feel one's skin crawl if looking at them.
He's not a lying scheming national security disaster named Hillary.

When you get right down to it, only a complete moron who hates America would vote for Hillary and that's going a fair way down the road.
I could not bring myself to vote for McCain but I would not vote for the lying scheming hates America Obama either.

Trump was VINDICATED by the Mueller report and investigation.

I hope that he pardons General Flynn and perhaps, reimburses him his legal expenses. Hell, he could use his salary for that purpose since he gives it away anyway.