The Mueller investigation has ended, not with a bang but with a whimper. Dispirited are those who looked forward to seeing the President removed from office first by impeachment and then in leg irons.
True, the investigation was, by many measures, a redoubtable success. It painstakingly documented Russia’s criminal meddling in our election and led to the conviction of several of the president’s closest advisers and enablers. And it hardly provided the “complete and total EXONERATION” that the president claimed in a characteristically inaccurate tweet, as the report left open whether Trump obstructed justice.
Still, for those who saw Mueller moving up the chain, closing in on the president and his family, the report – or at least what we know about it – must disappoint. Yes, Attorney General William Barr’s conclusion that Trump did not obstruct justice warrants closer scrutiny, and certainly we deserve a full release of the findings. But Barr’s conclusion – that it’s hard to prove the existence of obstruction when there was no underlying crime to obstruct – hardly seems scandalous.
How are we to make sense of the disappointment? I think the answer is that many of us were hoping that the law could deliver us from our contemporary politics, a toxic world shaped but not created by Trump himself. If in Trump’s universe, no facts are safe…