What the Mueller report does not say

Exultant Republican Trump worshippers are dancing in the streets and blowing their Trumpy-trumpets, gleefully rubbing in the faces of their Democrat betes-noire the Mueller report’s supposed exoneration of their Dear Leader.

As if he’s now certified for sainthood. If you thought he was drunk with power before, hold onto your chair.

For years Trump has been burbling “No collusion!” with such manic frequency it’s akin to a Tourette’s tic. As if that’s all the Mueller probe was about. It was not. It was to get to the bottom of Russia’s subversion of our 2016 election. And Mueller has proven, with abundant facts (yes, there’s still such a thing) that Russia did that, bigly. Republicans refuse to admit this fact, but given Trump’s razor-thin margins in three crucial states, and the hugeness of Russia’s effort on his behalf, without it he would almost surely have lost. The Kremlin not only plotted, but succeeded.

And did it with the proven connivance, if not “collusion,” of the Trump campaign.

And even if Trump did not himself personally “collude” with Russia during the campaign, there is the well-established legal concept of accessory after the fact. It means trying to help a crime’s perpetrators, afterward, get away with it. You go to jail for that. And Trump certainly did that. His blatant efforts to undermine U.S. intelligence and law enforcement, in going after the Russian election subversion, make him an accessory after the fact. (Or colluder after the fact.)

Even if that case appears murky, and even if he hasn’t been nailed for obstruction of justice (Barr’s summary letter says Mueller does NOT exonerate him of that), the fact remains that his relentless, vicious, totally dishonest and self-serving attacks on such key American institutions as the intelligence services, the FBI and other law enforcement, and the Justice Department, have been sickeningly disgraceful and destructive. Of this Mueller does not exonerate him either.

And as if Russia’s role is not enough to negate the idea that Trump won the election “fair and square,” he committed other proven crimes to win it. Including a fraud upon taxpayers by diverting contributions, from his tax-exempt charitable foundation, into his campaign. And paying hush money to paramours, in aid of his campaign, in clear violation of law. Checks with his signature are “smoking guns.” Mueller does not address these crimes. Does not exonerate Trump.

Citing all these facts is not being a “sore loser” over the 2016 election. It is to show the president is a criminal. Even after the election, shouldn’t we be concerned about that? And about Russia subverting our democracy and installing a stooge as president? Who, right in the White House, handed the Russian ambassador classified material? Who acted as Putin’s pet monkey in Helsinki?

And even if you somehow imagine Trump has evaded being proven a criminal, it is proven that he’s surrounded himself with criminals. Most notably his campaign chairman Paul Manafort who’s going to prison for a long time; his national security advisor Michael Flynn, awaiting sentencing; and his longtime personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen. Republicans who went to town bashing Cohen as the scum of the earth did not pause to consider what that reveals about Trump.

Republicans somehow convince themselves that everything I’ve written about just reflects a vicious partisan whipping up of smoke by Democrats to wrongfully bring down a political foe. I would remind them that the last Republican president, George W. Bush, was also intensely hated by Democrats. At the time, I felt the Bush-bashing was way over the top. Yet virtually never did Democrats impugn Bush’s personal integrity or go after him with “witch hunt” investigations. The reason was that Bush was a decent human being who did not commit the sorts of crimes, or abuse his office, as Trump does. Indeed — speaking as a close student of political history — Trump’s travesties are entirely unprecedented. Off the charts.

Of this Mueller does not exonerate him. Nor of being the biggest compulsive liar in our political history; divisive, crude, cruel, race-baiting, personally vile; I could go on and on, and wearying though it gets even for me, I consider it my civic duty to continue ringing the alarm over this, the greatest American crisis of my lifetime, shredding every principle this country used to embody.

Trump’s recent attacks upon John McCain — calling him “horrible!” — a true American hero, who literally endured torture for his country — a man whose shoes Trump was not fit to lick — plumb a new low, astounding even for him.

While reporters on PBS’s Washington Week roundtable soberly pretended to parse Trump’s strategic rationale for cursing out McCain, Times-Union Editor Rex Smith’s column was not so circumspect: “The man is clearly quite mad.”

Of this Mueller does not exonerate him.

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