“The Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.” Excerpt from Attorney General William Barr’s letter to Congress about the results of the Mueller investigation.
Read that line. Now open your windows and listen for a moment. Turn on the television. Log onto the internet. Wait for the apologies, the mea culpas and the sounds of relief that we finally have an answer to the question that has been hanging over our heads for two years. Is Donald Trump an agent of the Kremlin?
Out there are legions of commentators, among them such august figures as Mr. Brennan, former head of the Central Intelligence Agency, who have pounded into our heads over and over and over again the serious nature of the accusations against the President, the threat to our republic, the necessity to ferret out the injustice at the heart of the 2016 electoral defeat of the “anointed-one,” Hillary Clinton. Surely now, after an unprecedented investigation that has consumed almost unimaginable levels of resources, these wise men and women must have something of importance to say. Surely, having told us to place our trust in Mr. Mueller and the investigation over which he presided they must all feel compelled to come forward, stand behind that process and express their relief that the sitting President is not a creature of the Kremlin.
And yet, there is nothing. You will listen in vain.
Many Americans, of course, long ago decided that the accusations against President Trump were mad and have derided the investigation into them almost from the beginning. Others, blinded by intense, irrational hatred for the President, have believed every word uttered against him and still will no matter what the Mueller report says. A great many people, however, have been genuinely curious about what the investigation would produce and have wondered what truth if any there was to the swirling, multi-faceted and often contradictory claims of “collusion.” They believed in the process and expected its results to mean something.
They were, in short, hopelessly deluded.
In her epic book on prosecutorial misconduct, Sidney Powell, lays out perfectly the moment when she understood the depths of the abuse of power at the heart of efforts to bring down a sitting U.S. Senator, Ted Stevens of Alaska. “The prosecution was content to besmirch the senator with the stench of an offense the government couldn’t prove and obtain a conviction from a jury who would believe it smelled bad, and therefore, he must be guilty as charged.”
None of the key players who have driven the Russian-collusion story for the past two years have ever truly believed that somehow Donald Trump and the Russian government figured out a way to manipulate electoral results across fifty states and thousands of voting centers. None of them have ever really failed to understand that Hillary Clinton lost the election through incompetence, arrogance and a stunning lack of political ability. None of them have ever really thought that a fair, impartial investigation would produce evidence that would stand up in a court of law to implicate the President in criminal undertakings.
Many Americans may regard the Mueller findings as news. They are not news to the President’s harshest critics. They have known the truth from the outset. They have understood the falsehoods being peddled. They have peddled them anyway.
Legend has it that during one of his congressional campaigns, Lyndon Johnson decided to spread a rumor that his opponent had sex with pigs. When Johnson’s campaign manager responded by saying that the accusation was absurd Johnson allegedly responded “I know. I just want to make him deny it.”
The story may or may not be true. The principle is rock solid and precisely what has been at play since the outset of the Mueller campaign. The President’s foes have known all along that the accusations against him were false. They have made them anyway, over and over and over, until the incessant drumbeat has pounded its way into the consciousness of the American people.
The investigation is over. The President has been vindicated. It does not matter. The damage has been done. To paraphrase Sydney Powell, the President has been besmirched with the stench of an offense the government knew it could never prove. A great many Americans will, for all time, continue to believe that there was something to the accusations against the President, will consider him tainted and will forever hold him in less regard accordingly.
Meanwhile the “great” men and women who have graced our television screens for years have nothing to say. The guardians of the republic who told us incessantly to trust the process and allow the investigation to run its course have vanished. Spring has come, the flowers are in bloom and the birds singing, but all across the landscape we hear only the sounds of silence.
“And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
No one dared
Disturb the sound of silence.”
Sounds of Silence, Simon and Garfunkel