A Note on the Mueller Report: March 30, 2019

Hi. This isn’t an issue of the Mindful Resistance Newsletter. As I explained last week, the hardworking MRN staff is taking this week off. But since the completion of the Mueller report is such a big punctuation mark in this long ordeal of a presidency, I figured I should say at least something about it. (I mentioned the report in last weeks’ MRN, but news of the report’s completion broke too late for me to say very much, and in any event the Barr letter hadn’t come out when the newsletter went to press.)

So here are a few thoughts:

1. In one sense I share the widespread disappointment that Mueller didn’t find compelling evidence of a conspiracy between Trump and Russia. The prospect of Mueller delivering a silver bullet—something that might drive Trump from office via impeachment or, failing that, make re-election highly unlikely—was appealing.

On the other hand:

2. A silver bullet would have its downside. A sudden, miraculous deliverance from the Trump nightmare might mislead us into thinking we had solved a big problem when in fact we hadn’t. As (suddenly much talked-about!) presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg said of Trump a few days ago, “I fear that if we’re not paying attention to the causes that he’s a symptom of, then not only is it possible for him to succeed in 2020, but we could also find ourselves with another figure like him or even worse in the future.” Amen.

3. As a political matter, the most dramatic form of deliverance—Trump’s leaving office through impeachment—was unlikely in any event, since that would require that a majority-Republican Senate find him guilty by a two thirds vote. And a long, unsuccessful impeachment fight (which even now can’t be entirely ruled out, since we still don’t know what all is in the Mueller report itself) would probably not have been a good thing either for the country as a whole or for opponents of Trump in particular. (In Politico Bill Scher argues that Mueller has done the Democrats “an enormous favor” by letting them shift the subject to whether Trump has actually made Americans’ lives better and how a Democratic president would go about doing that.)

And, anyway, it’s not as if the taint of Trump’s various wrongdoings will now disappear forever. As more of the Mueller report comes to light, we will almost certainly see previously unseen and newsworthy dirt about Trump—not to mention what comes out of various investigations that were spawned by the Mueller investigation and will play out at varying paces in various places. One way or another, fresh reminders of Trump’s corruptness will probably keep dribbling out at least until the first Tuesday of November, 2020.

Weekend entertainment: In the Nov. 6, 2017 issue of MRN, I wrote:

One thing a mindful view can do is keep you from getting obsessed with the Trump-Russia story. Not that obsession is necessarily a bad thing! Sometimes obsession is productive, and sometimes it’s fun and harmless. But it takes time, especially when, as with this story, there are many rabbit holes to go down—long and winding chains of fragmentary evidence and speculative hypothesis…

With all due humility, I must say that this looks like good advice in retrospect. But I also must admit that I have something in common with that seminal explorer of rabbit holes, Alice in Wonderland, who said, “I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it.” I’ve definitely done my share of exploring Russiagate rabbit holes over the past couple of years.

In fact, just this week—a couple of days after the Barr letter was released—I had a long conversation with Mueller investigation expert Marcy Wheeler, and we explored a number of unanswered Russiagate questions. So if you aren’t ready to give up on the rabbit holes, feel free to check it out.

A few hours before talking with Marcy, I had a long conversation with longstanding Russiagate skeptic Aaron Maté. So, if you have had your fill of Russiagate rabbit holes, you can listen to Aaron opine as to why the Resistance shouldn’t have spent so much time going down them. (Both conversations are available as audio podcasts via The Wright Show feed.)

And finally, MRN staffer Aryeh Cohen-Wade and I had a conversation on the MRN Patreon page about the Mueller report and a few other things (e.g. Quillette, the IDW, and the $129-dollar wireless earbuds I got for free).

OK, I’ve gotten in the weekly Patreon plug; my work here is done. See you next Saturday, when you’ll find an actual issue of MRN in your inbox.

–Robert Wright

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