Not With a Bang But a Whimper

CNN joins the chorus of news outlets predicting that Bob Mueller will wind up his investigation imminently:

Attorney General Bill Barr is preparing to announce as early as next week the completion of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, with plans for Barr to submit to Congress soon after a summary of Mueller’s confidential report, according to people familiar with the plans.

The preparations are the clearest indication yet that Mueller is nearly done with his almost two-year investigation.

I assume these reports are more or less accurate. CNN tries to save face by going on at length about the various investigations that will be continued by other federal prosecutors, but there is no disguising the real point: Mueller’s investigation has fizzled out.

Mueller’s central conclusion–the only one that most people care about–must be that there is no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with Russians to influence the 2016 presidential race, and much evidence to the contrary. Mueller may try to blur the obvious with harsh words about some of President Trump’s associates, but he can’t change the fact that he looked high and low for evidence of collusion, and couldn’t find any.

I think most observers underestimate the impact that the disappointing–to Democrats–end of Mueller’s investigation will have. Polls indicate that a shocking number of Democrats, and a considerable number of independents, actually believe that Trump-Russia collusion occurred. When that implausible theory is dispelled once and for all, there will be a reaction. Trump will be triumphant (likely too much so). There will be a counter-attack, which will focus on the real scandal: meddling in the 2016 election by the FBI and the CIA, and their attempt after the fact to disable the Trump presidency. The amazingly corrupt and incompetent Andrew McCabe–was this guy really the Deputy Director of the FBI?–is helping in that regard.

I think the collapse of Mueller’s investigation and the lifting of the collusion cloud over Donald Trump’s presidency will change the political landscape. The Democrats will be put on the defensive, but that isn’t all. Trump hasn’t gotten anywhere near enough credit for his administration’s successes. There are several reasons for that: press hostility and his own unforced errors obviously contribute. But I think the collusion cloud is also part of the story, and the ignominious end of Fusion GPS’s hoax will lead some voters, at least, to give Trump and his team the credit they deserve.