The release of the Mueller report has left Democrats in a dilemma. Consider what Robert Mueller concluded after two years of investigation.
Candidate Donald Trump did not conspire or collude with the Russians to hack the emails of the DNC or John Podesta. Trump did not distribute the fruits of those crimes nor did anyone on his campaign. On collusion and conspiracy, said Mueller, Trump is innocent.
Mueller did not say that Trump did not consider interfering with his investigation. But that investigation nonetheless went on unimpeded. Mueller’s document demands were all met. And Mueller did not conclude that Trump obstructed justice.
On obstruction, then, not guilty, by reason of no indictment.
We are told that Trump ranted to subordinates about firing Mueller. Yet as Attorney General Bill Barr pointed out, Trump had excellent reasons to be enraged. He was pilloried for two and a half years over a crime he not only did not commit but that never took place.
From the fall of 2016 to the spring of 2019, Trump was subjected to scurrilous attacks. It was alleged that his victory had been stolen for him by the Russians, that he was an illegitimate president guilty of treason and an agent of the Kremlin, that he was being blackmailed, and that he rewrote the Republican platform on Vladimir Putin’s instructions.
All bull hockey, and Mueller all but said so.
Yet the false charges did serious damage to his presidency and the nation.
Answering them has consumed much of Trump’s tenure and ruined his plans to repair our dangerously damaged relations with the world’s other great nuclear power.
Yet it is the Trump haters who are now in something of a box.
Their goal had been to use “Russiagate” to bring down their detested antagonist, overturn his election, and put him in the history books as a stooge of Putin who, had the truth be known, would never have won the White House.
Mueller failed to sustain their indictment. Indeed, he all but threw it out.
Yet Trump’s enemies will not quit now. To do so would be to concede that Trump’s defenders had been right all along, and that they had not only done a grave injustice to Trump but damaged their country with their manic pursuit.
And admitting they were wrong would instantly raise follow-up questions.
If two years of investigation by Mueller, his lawyers, and his FBI agents could not unearth hard evidence to prove that Trump and his campaign conspired with the Russians, what was the original evidence that justified launching this historic and massive assault on a presidential campaign and the presidency of the United States?
If there was no collusion, when did Mueller learn this? Did it take two and a half years to discover there was no conspiracy?
The names tossed out as justifying the original investigation are George Papadopoulos and Carter Page. The latter was subjected to four consecutive secret FISA court surveillance warrants.
Yet neither man was ever charged with conspiring with Russia.
Was “Russiagate” a nothingburger to begin with, a concocted excuse for “deep state” agencies to rampage through Trump’s campaign and personal history to destroy him and his presidency?
Senator Elizabeth Warren, a presidential candidate, has called for impeachment hearings in the House Judiciary Committee. But her call seems less tied to evidence of high crimes in the Mueller report than to her own anemic poll ratings and fundraising performance in the first quarter.
It is difficult to see how those Democrats and their media allies, who have invested so much prestige and so many hopes in the Mueller report, can now pack it in and concede that they were wrong. Their interests will not permit it; their reputations could not sustain it.
So where are we headed?
The anti-Trump media and second-tier candidates for the Democratic nomination will press the frontrunners to join their call for impeachment. Some will capitulate to the clamor.
But can Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Beto O’Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, or Kamala Harris, each of whom has an agenda to advance, accept becoming just another voice crying out for Trump’s impeachment?
The credibility of the Democratic Party is now at issue.
If Mueller could not find collusion, what reason is there to believe that Congressman Jerry Nadler’s Judiciary Committee will find it? And then convince the country they have discovered what ex-FBI director Mueller could not?
With conspiracy and collusion off the table, and Mueller saying the case for obstruction is unproven, the renewed attack on Trump takes on the aspect of a naked and desperate “deep state”-media coup against a president they fear they cannot defeat at the ballot box.
Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever. To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at www.creators.com.