MARC A. THIESSEN: Were you relieved or disappointed with the Mueller findings?
WASHINGTON -- Ask yourself this simple question: When you heard the news that special counsel Robert Mueller concluded that President Trump had not engaged in a criminal conspiracy with Russia, were you relieved or disappointed?
If the answer is the latter, then it’s time for a little introspection. Every American should be thankful that, as Attorney General William Barr explained in his letter to Congress, “the Special Counsel did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government ... despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.”
It would have been devastating for our country if the president of the United States had engaged in a criminal conspiracy with a foreign power to undermine our democracy. Mueller’s finding that he didn’t should be cause for celebration by Trump supporters and opponents alike. You do not have to believe Trump is a good president to know that it is good that the president did not betray the country.
But the sad truth is that many Democratic presidential wannabes were hoping Mueller would find evidence the president had conspired with Russia. Some were almost salivating in anticipation of the Mueller report. In February, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., crowed that “by the time we get to 2020, Donald Trump may not even be president. In fact, he may not even be a free person.” Last month, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., tweeted, “A campaign for President of the United States should never be in the business of scheming with foreign adversaries to tamper with our elections.” And one day after Mueller delivered his report exonerating Trump, Beto O’Rourke assured us that “you have a president who, in my opinion, beyond a shadow of a doubt, sought to, however ham-handedly, collude with the Russian government, a foreign power, to undermine and influence our elections.”
No, he didn’t. As Barr notes, the special counsel “issued more than 2,800 subpoenas, executed nearly 500 search warrants, obtained more than 230 orders for communication records, issued almost 50 orders authorizing use of pen registers, made 13 requests to foreign governments for evidence, and interviewed approximately 500 witnesses.” Mueller found no evidence of conspiracy or even coordination with Russia. Thank God.
It is understandable that Trump believes the Mueller investigation should never have happened. But the probe may end up being the best thing that ever happened to him. If even career prosecutors in his own Justice Department had cleared Trump of conspiracy charges, Democrats would never have accepted their conclusions. But after embracing Mueller -- even launching a campaign to pass legislation “protecting” him from being fired by Trump -- Democrats now will look ridiculous if they refuse to accept his determination that there was no Trump-Russia conspiracy.
Moreover, keep in mind that Mueller was not simply investigating Trump; he was also investigation the Russian government. He exonerated Trump but not Vladimir Putin. Mueller indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies on charges of conspiracy and identity theft. There was a conspiracy to influence the 2016 elections. Trump just wasn’t a part of it.
With the collusion fallacy behind us, Republicans and Democrats should be working together to address that ongoing threat. As the U.S. intelligence community declared in a January 2017 report, “We assess Moscow will apply lessons learned from its campaign aimed at the US presidential election to future influence efforts in the United States.” But instead of focusing on countering those efforts, Democrats seem to want to continue spending their time on Trump. Last Sunday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., stood by his claim that there is “significant evidence of collusion” and said he plans more hearings.
Those who continue to push the false collusion narrative are the ones inadvertently assisting Russia. The intelligence community report noted that Russia’s objectives in 2016 included undermining “public faith in the US democratic process ... faith in the US Government and fuel[ing] political protest.” In this sense, it worked like a charm. Instead of helping Russia further divide us, we should be uniting to push back against Moscow’s continued efforts to interfere in our democratic process as the 2020 elections approach.
For the past two years, the Mueller probe has hung like a cloud over Trump’s presidency. Instead of the presumption of innocence, Democrats and many in the media have presumed his guilt. Trump said over 200 times that there was “no collusion.” He was mocked. But it turns out he was right the whole time.
And if you don’t think that’s good news, you are part of the problem.