Mueller Report, I

I am reading the Mueller Report, so you don’t have to. Not that it’s boring or difficult, but it is nearly 400 pages, not including introductions and appendices. I will be taking this in chunks — consider this my introductory post.

My first thought is that there is no way in hell that Barr read the whole report in a weekend. Even if he assigned the material to assistants, reading the report and reviewing the underlying evidence would take longer than that. Given the length of time between his press conference claiming that the report exonerated Trump and when the report was released to the public, I believe that he had not actually read the report, especially as he made a great deal of Mueller not recommending indicting the President when Mueller clearly indicates why he did not.

I am working on three assumptions:

  1. Robert Mueller is an honorable man who investigated with an open mind and as responsibly as was possible.
  2. Robert Mueller and his team are much better lawyers than I am — certainly very much more experienced.
  3. Just because I detest someone and their behavior does not mean that they have committed a crime.

From what I have read so far, one thought keeps recurring: it is a blessing that Trump is an egomaniacal idiot who refuses advice. Yes, it has been a disaster in a great many ways, and the damage done will last for a generation. It could have been worse.

I have heard it said that we have become a Russian puppet state. I don’t believe it, even though Putin and friends have certainly disrupted not only our elections but the fabric of our social discourse. But had we had a candidate, or God forbid, a President, willing to do whatever it took and make whatever promises they needed to win, and who was more intelligent, more politically sophisticated, and more accepting of advice, we might actually be on our way to becoming a Russian puppet state.

A more politically savvy “statesman” would have welcomed — nay, insisted upon — Jeff Sessions’s recusal. A more nuanced politician would have not fired James Comey, but would have done everything to hamstring him as much as possible behind the scenes. (They certainly would have not gone on national television and given incriminating statements after the fact.) Because the White House acted guilty as all hell, seventy per cent of the general public (minus Congressional Republicans and their “base”) wanted an investigation.

A more careful politician would have exercised restraint in their dealings with the Russians. They would have not met alone in the Oval Office with the Russian ambassador. They would not have praised Vladimir Putin so effusively, or met with him or called him secretly.

All the nefarious activities would be undertaken at a remove, by middlemen who could be fired if they were found to be engaging in activities damaging to U.S. national interests. (With suitable sadness and regret, naturally.) The President would be above reproach. Let the intelligence agencies investigate; there would be nothing to tie the President to the Russians, until we were entwined arm in arm.

Any information the public got would be thrown above the transom of newspapers and other media outlets. A thoroughly scurrilous operation would blunt the effect of the leaks, by creating “leaks” of their own, seeded with just enough information while enveloping them in a cloud of falsity so as to discredit the mainstream media. (As an aside, it still impresses me how leak-free the Mueller investigation was.)

I think I need to stop for now; I’m scaring myself. There’s clearly a novel there waiting to be written (if Tom Clancy or James Patterson have not already written one).

At any rate, as Rachel Maddow is fond of saying, “Watch this space.” Although be warned, it may take a little while. As I said, it is a nearly 400 page report.

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