..A very unpopular opinion
...The conclusions drawn from Mueller’s investigation. If you haven’t read Attorney General Barr’s summary, it’s worth reading; it’s only four pages. I have waited to provide an opinion because I am of the philosophy that opinions detached from emotions are more coherent. But here’s what I think…TRUMP DESERVES A VICTORY LAP…but it doesn’t mean he should take it, but he is entitled to it nonetheless. Now before you get too upset, or congratulatory, please read on.
This investigation was a Rorschach test for our current state of political discourse, however, its revelations were less about how we feel about criminal justice, the media, or partisan politics, but rather revealed the location of our judiciary goal posts. I understand that there is a deep desire to make transparency and the truth the ultimate goal, and it’s a desire that we should all welcome. But when that desire for truth puts revenge before justice, hypocrisy over harmony, or partisanship over partnership, there will always be another stone to look under.
It’s been speculated that the four page Barr memo summarized a two-hundred page Mueller report, which was put together using a couple million pages of notes. So the question that I can't help but ask is, "How much granularity do you need to form a conclusion?" Assuming a major data dump occurred, if released, would take time to consume, be digested and spit out by your chosen news sources or analyst. So short of going to law school and practicing criminal law as a prosecutor, and personally reading all of the raw data and interviewing all of the witnesses yourself, we are all at the mercy of an interpretation from somebody. We have to fight the urge to let our beliefs be guided by whether or not things turn out the way we want them to, and determine for ourselves if the hole we choose to go down is a search for rabbits or justice.
Personally, I am ecstatic that Trump was not implicated as a coconspirator in the Russian interference of our elections; I'd like to think it’s one of the few things everyone can agree to. The statement by Mueller that, “the evidence does not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference," should be a rallying cry for any Trump supporter. Taken at face value, this statement supports the President's ruminations of presumed innocence, while at the same time calling into question the bow wave of accusations from Trump's detractors.
But on the flip side, I am still not a believer that Trump is innocent of all crimes, be it Russia related or not. Any rational person should have a skeptical opinion about Trump's business dealings either before the election or after. I mean after all, Trump and his campaign did not expect to win, and as Trump’s longtime friend and former head of Fox News Roger Ailes used to say “if you want a career in television, first run for president.” Trump took this advice and seemingly applied one his scriptural philosophies from the 'Art of the Deal' that, “good publicity is preferable to bad, but from a bottom-line perspective, bad publicity is sometimes better than no publicity at all. Controversy, in short, sells.”
This, in short, should make it clear and hopefully easy to understand the reason for concern by many of Trump's critics. In a similar fashion, the AG Barr's conclusions seemingly don't coincide with the persona that Donald Trump has molded himself to be. Remember per the traditional aphorism, "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."
If you remember, Trump pushed a birther conspiracy for nearly a decade and just 53 days before the election said Obama was a citizen, furthermore he has publicly denied climate change but has used the issue to get permits at his seaside resorts. These are only two of virtually thousands of other moments that should put Trump's integrity into question. There are other examples, but in my opinion, Trump lies, and lies a lot and to be complicit and numb to the fact that all politicians lie, only further erodes our system of government; Americans deserve better.
There were 34 people in Trump’s campaign orbit who were indicted, and I have a hard time believing that Trump was the saint among the sinners. Listening to balanced commentary from respectable legal professionals they all seem to agree that Trump is not free and clear of obstruction charges. Judge Napolitano (Fox News), Andrew McCarthy (National Review) and Preet Bharara (former US attorney for SDNY) have all stated that AG Barr intentionally chose to include two very subtle Easter eggs (Gamer term). One of them was the inclusion of Mueller’s statement , “[T]he investigation DID NOT ESTABLISH that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” The three aforementioned legal scholars stated if there was NO EVIDENCE to prove the charges as stated, Mueller would have simply stated it, but he left the door open, and Barr chose to include it. They indicated that the statement would read something like this, "The investigation FOUND NO EVIDENCE that members of the Trump Campaign conspired..."
Additionally AG Barr decided to include his own personal assessment by saying, “The Special Counsel states that ‘while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” Not sure what this implies, but you would have to assume that if you were going to condense a 200 page report into four pages that you would be careful with what you included. There's an argument to be made that Barr wanted something short and concise to disseminate immediately, which means that real estate on paper had to come at a cost. Compare this to Dr. Harold Bornstein's letter talking about Trump's health, and stating that “If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency." There's a stark contrast between these two, one seems professional but ambiguous, the other seems forced and contrived. I'll let you determine which one is which.
With regards to the handling of the official report, it could have been handled differently for sure. I believe that the report should have been handed over to the judiciary committee in its entirety. This was certainly the "standard" in the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Kenneth Starr, independent counsel, handed over the report on September 9th, 1998 to a Republican controlled Senate and House (controlled by Newt Gingrich - R). The Starr report was made public on September 11th, 1998. Within the context of how the Mueller report was handled, can you imagine if Kenneth Starr delivered it directly to, then AG, Janet Reno?
In conclusion, I'll leave you with this, Mueller determined that there were attempts by a Russian organization, the Internet Research Agency (IRA), to conduct disinformation and social media operations in the United States designed to sow social discord. So the question that it begs is whether or not the Russians were successful? Would we know whether or not they succeeded? Or have we all become so calloused to all of the political machinations of our elected officials that, what once was considered taboo, is now a cultural norm. We can dislike without vilifying, and approve without deifying, but when the latter of the two becomes symbolic of our political emotions, our opponents can never be correct, and our personal beliefs can never be wrong.