Thank God for Robert Mueller.
I say that as one of those who believed — who was utterly convinced — that Donald Trump and members of his campaign team were playing footsie with the Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign.
I still think that. But thanks to Mueller and his meticulousness, I and others can be 100 percent confident that nothing criminal could be found. It seems that every stone was turned, and the hard evidence simply wasn’t there. The conclusions of no other investigator I can think of would have engendered such assuredness.
But till the day I die, it will remain obvious to me that Trump was in cahoots with Vladamir Putin in 2016, 2017 and at least parts of 2018. He wanted a close business relationship with the Russian dictator — that’s what Putin is — and he steered U.S. sanctions policy in a favorable way toward Putin and his oligarch cronies. Trump’s constant rhetorical flirtation with Putin was even plainer to the ear. You had to have been wearing headphones not to hear it.
But I thought it was worse than that. I thought campaign targeting data might have been shared between the Trump campaign and Russia’s Internet Research Agency, the entity that grossly interfered in our 2016 elections. I believed a direct link between Moscow and whomever rewrote the 2016 Republican National Committee platform to favor Russia over a free and independent Ukraine might be discoverable. I thought Trump might be compromised because of shady business dealings or worse.
Mueller put those suspicions to rest, and suffice it to say, I’m glad. I’m glad my president isn’t a Russian agent — just a jerk — and can thereby happily attest that crow does, indeed, taste a bit like chicken. I mightn't have learned that otherwise.
For those now crowing, rather than eating the black bird, the moment has arrived. They’re not underperforming: “Starting Monday we will hold every deep state official who abused power accountable. We will hold every fake news media liar member accountable. We will hold every liar in Congress accountable,” Fox’s Sean Hannity tweeted Sunday. Matt Drudge led his eponymous news site Monday with a banner headline reading, “Shame of a Nation” for all the media coverage that has run on the Mueller investigation. My old friend Kellyanne Conway is calling for Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California to resign simply for having chaired the House Intelligence Committee looking into Trump-Russia connections. Recall that Republicans were looking into it, too, before Democrats flipped the House in November 2018.
They would like us to think there was no smoke — that the Trump-Russia thing was an utter fabrication of the political left and anti-Trump conservative hold outs like me — and that never will be true, no matter now many times the president repeats the words “no collusion.” Smoke was billowing from the Trump world like from the Russian battleship Oslyabya before it sunk in 1905. That’s not a matter of opinion: There were myriad and genuine suspicious behaviors that had to be looked into. Those suggesting that an investigation never should have occurred are either disingenuous or unpatriotic.
No mention is being made, either, of the categorical carpet-bombing that was dropped on Mueller’s reputation over the past two years. The decorated Marine Corps officer, who was wounded in Vietnam, and former FBI director was categorically excoriated by Trump supporters for performing the task assigned him. Not a single leak came from the Mueller investigation. Not one. And in the end, he was the man who apparently helped clear Trump and his subordinates of any criminal charges steming from collusion with Russia.
If anyone deserves the nation’s highest civilian honor, The Presidential Medal of Freedom, it’s Mueller. But if we really want to thank him, it should be awarded by the next president, not one so afraid of what Mueller might have uncovered that he spent two years siccing attack dogs on him.
Why was there a need for that?
William F. B. O'Reilly is a consultant to Republicans.