After 48-plus hours of commentary about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report to the Attorney General, I am wondering just how much more one can take. Throughout the epic coverage, I came to feel like I was witnessing an individual, speaking strictly metaphorically, who suffers from serious heart disease that wants us to celebrate the news that he’s been declared cancer-free. I would never wish to deny a moment of celebration, but it is hard to see how the future turns out well.
Indeed, I suspect that from a political standpoint, this may be the best week President Trump has with regard to the Russia investigations. And, I doubt the news swirling around the Mueller Report will change anyone’s mind, just yet. Supporters feel vindicated. Opponents look to New York’s Southern District of the Justice Department and to the investigative committees in Congress. Both are ambitious investigative bodies who can deliver withering blows.
I, for one, never really believed there was a great case for actual collusion with Russia. There is a strong case for serial naivete. I believe Trump’s world view propelled him to think about and speak of changing the relationship between the US and Russia while he was a candidate. That is something his first national security advisor advocated. Where they were so naive was in believing that President Putin seeks anything other than opportunities to diminish America to the benefit of Russia. They were also painfully naive in ignoring the intelligence community’s judgements about Putin’s actions when there was no interagency debate. What Russia did during our 2016 election was not new. It was much bolder. Their motivations needed to be factored into the new Administration’s ambitions, not derided.
While many seasoned and serious people would have taken exception to an effort to quickly find a better place for the President of the Russian Federation and the President of the United States to stand, if this was what the President-Elect had in mind, he should have just said so. Instead, whatever team Trump was up to, they seemed inexplicably committed to hiding their intentions, which is why people are now so determined to figure them out.
Many of the naive or devious have paid a high price in this process, and the investigations are going to continue at a fast and furious pace. And, here’s the thing that people in high places seem to have to relearn the hard way: the actual actions taken or decisions made may well be within the law, but failure to tell the truth to Federal investigators and the Congress is a felony and triggers prosecution.
Can’t say as any of this is something to look forward to. People who chose not to tell the truth set us on this path a couple years ago and will ultimately keep us on this path. We can only hope that our economy continues to expand, opening new opportunities for employment. We should also hope that in the Presidential primaries that begin about 10 months from now there will be more focus on the substantive issues we need to concern ourselves with than the literal trials and tribulations of a few.
Craig Fuller served four years in the White House as assistant to President Reagan for Cabinet Affairs, followed by four years as chief of staff to Vice President George H.W. Bush. Having been engaged in five presidential campaigns and run public affairs firms and associations in Washington, D.C., he now resides on the Eastern Shore with his wife Karen.