Granted, Bob Barr’s performance yesterday was PR, not a dispassionate description of the contents of the Mueller Report, but there are actually a number of reasons why I don’t believe Donald Trump colluded with Russia.
Although Russia obviously wanted Trump to win, and just as obviously interfered with the election in order to help him (as even Barr conceded), it is also abundantly clear that Trump is too stupid (and even more importantly, from Russia’s perspective, too unpredictable and unstable) to effectively collude with anyone.
My favorite recent evaluation of Trump’s intellectual deficit came from CNN’s Ana Navarro, in a tweet praising Mayor Pete:
Today, I saw a video clip of @PeteButtigieg playing classical piano. Another where he speaks in Spanish. And this one, where he tells Parisians he shares their pain -in French. Just imagine having a President whose intellect exceeds that of a root vegetable…for a change.
Not even Barr disputes that Trump was the intended beneficiary of Russia’s interference, in all likelihood because he is deeply indebted to the Russian oligarchs close to Putin who–according to both Donald Junior and Eric–stepped in to finance his projects after American banks no longer would do so. (Fleece me once, shame on you…) That indebtedness makes him oh so malleable, as we’ve seen.
There is another reason I never thought Trump actually colluded in Russia’s efforts: he neither wanted nor expected to win.
There is ample evidence that he undertook the campaign because he thought it would elevate his “brand,” and was shocked when the Electoral College handed him the victory. Since assuming office, he has clearly relished the Presidency’s ceremonial aspects and the added power to hurt people he dislikes, but that enjoyment came after the fact. (I have a sneaking suspicion that his campaign for a second term is an effort to run out the clock on statutes of limitations for the various criminal matters being vigorously pursued by the Southern District of New York.)
What about obstruction of justice? There, I think Congress and the public need to understand exactly what Mueller had to say, and why.
As many observers have commented, Trump certainly acted like a man who was guilty and trying to derail the investigation that would prove it. How much of his improper behavior was simply the outgrowth of his raging insecurity, how much because he didn’t know what “collusion” entailed and was afraid he’d engaged in it, and how much because he was worried that the investigation would uncover his numerous other illegal activities, especially with Russia? We may never know.
The evidence for obstruction may fall short of the legal standard necessary for criminal prosecution, but Trump’s hysteria over the investigation played out publicly, allowing the whole country to see his behavior and draw conclusions from that behavior.
Bottom line, even if the unredacted Mueller report really exonerated him of a crime, even if the report’s documentation of “high crimes and misdemeanors” for Constitutional purposes won’t cause the GOP sycophants in the Senate to impeach him, every day brings ample evidence that Trump’s entire Presidency has been an unmitigated disaster.
A majority of Americans reacted to that disaster in the midterm elections, and voters need to send an even more emphatic message in 2020.
It is depressing that a significant percentage of America’s citizens will continue to support a root vegetable so long as he hates the same people they do. In 2020, we need to demonstrate convincingly that those people do not represent America.