Thursday, April 4, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He started backpedalling even faster on the Mueller report.

Two weeks ago, Trump was declaring that Robert Mueller had "acted honorably" by producing a report that was a "Complete and Total EXONERATION" of him. That was based on a four-page memo written by an attorney general, William Barr, who had declared before being nominated that Trump could not possibly be guilty of obstructing the Russia investigation—and who then promptly declared that he would not try to prosecute Trump for obstruction.

Trump—who may actually have believed that he had been exonerated, in spite of the memo quoting a passage from the report saying he had not been—even went so far as to suggest that he welcomed the public release of the report.

But evidence is mounting that the actual report is much more damning than Barr's memo makes it sound. According to articles sourced to the investigators themselves,Trump and his associates may have escaped prosecution because they were manipulated by Russian intelligence operatives rather than actively conspiring. (Generally speaking, criminal conspiracies require participants to know that they are helping to commit crimes.)

In other words, Trump and his senior aides, many of whom had no experience in politics or government, may not be guilty of conspiracy because they were more like what Vladimir Lenin called "useful idiots."

Accordingly, Trump is rapidly changing his tune. He has begun reviving his attacks on Mueller, and walking back his support for letting anyone—in Congress or in the public—see the report that supposedly "exonerates" him. 

In today's "executive time" Twitter session, Trump insisted that "[a]ccording to polling, few people seem to care about the Russian Collusion Hoax." In reality, seeing the report has broad bipartisan support. The House of Representatives voted 420-0 to recommend its release, and according to actual polls, an overwhelming 75% of Americans want to see the report released (including a majority of Republicans). 

Why does this matter?

  • Innocent people who have been falsely accused generally don't try to keep anyone from ever seeing the evidence that "totally exonerates" them.
  • It's a matter of opinion whether a president being corrupted by a hostile foreign power or merely bamboozled by one is worse, but both are very bad.