THE ATTORNEY GENERAL’S PRESS CONFERENCE this morning played out, more or less, like a press release for the Trump Administration. In view of Barr’s legal and political history, this is unfortunate, but unsurprising. It seems unequivocally true at this point that no member of the Trump administration engaged in conspiracy with the Russians. I think we can all agree that that is very good news for the country, but in the final analysis, it isn’t terribly important. Why? Two reasons.
First, if they had, it is almost certain that the Mueller would not have indicted the President, because of long-standing FBI department policy (not legal precedent), regardless of his culpability. I suspect that this is true even if the behavior had risen to the level of treason. Second, and more important, it is unlikely that the House of Representatives would not have impeached him (based on Pelosi’s statements to date) and even if they had, there is no way on Earth he’d have been convicted by the Senate, because Senate Republicans have long since and repeatedly demonstrated that the rule of law is optional and entirely subordinate to their own political interests. In this sense, then, the Mueller report is, and has always been, unimportant as a matter of law.
The more interesting and pertinent fact that no one seems to be raising, however, is not that the Trump administration did nothing to assist the Russians, but that they did, and have done, nothing to impeded them. To the contrary, Trump actually encouraged them repeatedly during the campaign, and has since gone so far as to collaborate with Vladimir Putin on any number of issues behind closed doors with no transcripts of the meetings. Since then, the number of laws passed, let alone even debated, to thwart or discourage similar behavior in the next election is exactly zero. ZERO. No competent citizen with a civic conscience, let alone a legislator or a President, would ever allow this to happen. It is simply appalling.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out during the next several days. Trump won’t be indicted, and he probably won’t be impeached, but contrary to his stupid, childish, and utterly mendacious statements to the contrary, he is very, very far from exoneration, and this saga isn’t remotely over.