This is not over.
The closing of the special counsel’s shop, its report to Attorney General William Barr and Barr’s instant analysis of that report for Congress allow the president to trumpet the fact that a two-year probe by one of the nation’s most experienced and respected prosecutors concluded that there was no discoverable collusion between the president’s campaign and the Russian internet trolls who set out to turn the 2016 election toward the eventual winner.
But the president may soon find that he misses having Robert Mueller to kick around, as committee chairs in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives — and other federal prosecutors — pick up the job of pulling on the many other threads that may yet unravel this administration.
Members of Congress — including Utah Democrat Rep. Ben McAdams and Republican Reps. John Curtis and Chris Stewart and GOP Sens. Mitt Romney and Mike Lee — have rightly called for the entire Mueller report to be made available to Congress, and thence made public, as soon as possible. A resolution to that effect passed a unanimous House recently, also winning the vote of Utah Rep. Rob Bishop.
All of us deserve to know what Mueller found out, why he concluded what he concluded, why he basically punted on the question of whether the president attempted to obstruct justice before and during the special counsel’s probe and why his office felt justified in bringing criminal charges against so many in the president’s personal and campaign circle but not the president himself.
But statements from Romney, Bishop and Stewart that it is now time “to move on,” will, and should, have little effect. And their expression of satisfaction that their president has been more or less cleared of conspiring with a foreign power to undermine our democracy sets a seriously low bar for what constitutes “A great day for America.”
Looking back, it does not seem all that surprising that the administration has been cleared of participating in a deep and complex international conspiracy. This is, after all, a White House that, from the top down, seems incapable of organizing any legislation, programs, policy or moral progression.
Though it is adept at efforts to undermine the Constitution, the dignity of the presidency, the rule of law, the freedom of the press, our national unity and our global alliances. Those are where the real dangers of the current regime lie, and they were all outside Mueller’s portfolio. As were questions about the president’s family business, its phony charities and its fishy dealings with Saudi Arabia.
What does deserve praise is the conduct of the special counsel and his office. Mueller and his team leave as they began, with reputations for diligence and professionalism. They stuck to their assigned task, didn’t leak a word and, when the job was done, they stopped, rather than drag the matter out for years to come.
There is still much to digest and to discuss. The House will do its job of oversight. And, come 2020, the people will have their chance to speak.