Let’s see if you still remember this sentence repeated over and over since May of 2018, during the Trump presidency, when the issue of the Obama Justice Department spying on the 2016 Trump campaign was still a burning issue: “The special counsel is expected to submit a final report in the coming months.”
Well, believe it or not, that was the exact subtitle in the latest “exclusive” from the Wall Street Journal this week claiming – for the umpteenth time – that the much-vaunted Special Counsel John Durham is getting close to wrapping up his supposedly hard-hitting probe into the origins of the FBI’s 2016 Trump-Russia investigation. Apparently, Durham is preparing to present evidence to a grand jury – here’s that phrase again – “in the coming months,” though even that is unclear in a story that feels like a reprint from one, two, or three years ago.
Just how many times have we been treated to this false promise before? Since no one, most especially the elite media, will likely pay much attention to the once long-awaited but now largely irrelevant final report – the best guess is that it will finger a bunch of lower-tier FBI operatives – its timing comes almost as an insult to those who voted for Donald Trump in 2016. Not that it was intended to be, of course.
Here’s a guy who came with a sterling reputation – remember all the gushing about how tough and competent John Durham is, how he was uniquely qualified to get to the truth? Well, he was given ample resources and a lengthy leash to investigate an issue with an obvious direct bearing on the then-upcoming 2020 election, and all he has to show for it – more than three years, one election, and one administration later – is a single skinny prosecution of an unknown low-level operative – the kind who typically take the fall for the actions of the power players above them.
To put an exclamation point on how long Durham has dragged this out, his investigation has now taken more than one year longer than the two years spent by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, which produced nothing of consequence other than defaming a president who they apparently intended to defame all along.
The seemingly deliberate stall of this investigation into an investigation, in the unique house of mirrors that is Washington, DC, brings to mind the lyrics from the dreamy song, Windmills of Your Mind:
“Round like a circle in a spiral,
like a wheel within a wheel,
never ending or beginning
on an ever-spinning reel.”
It might also be characterized as what, in old-time college basketball, used to be called the four corners offense. Before the advent of the shot clock, teams with inferior personnel could simply pass the ball around the four corners of the frontcourt for as long as they wanted to and shoot whenever they felt like it. It’s called running out the clock. In a political context, it amounts to a theater of the absurd: the results of the investigation won’t come until long after it matters – and will then be brushed aside as no longer relevant. Never ending or beginning on an ever-spinning reel.
The Swamp Protecting Itself
This entire saga, from Barack Obama’s DOJ surveilling the Trump campaign to the long-stalled probe into the roots of such activity, is as revelatory about the deep state as any single story from the Trump years. It speaks directly to the futility of attempting to penetrate the iron curtain of official Washington.
After all, if there was one man who could get to the bottom of naked attempts to deep-six the Trump campaign by his enemies in the Obama administration, it seemed that man would be William Barr, named by Trump to replace the failed Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General. Barr was a highly competent conservative stalwart far along enough in years to supposedly not care about what others in the swamp thought of him. If he could not – or more precisely, would not – uncover the truth, no one would. But even though Barr was attacked by the left and predictably labeled as a lackey for Trump, in the end, he and Durham would accomplish nothing of value, failing to inform the public about why the whole ugly affair happened in the first place, and who was responsible.
The non-actions of Barr and Durham essentially confirm that lip service aside, D.C. political elites will ultimately do whatever is necessary to protect themselves and their fellow swamp dwellers from those who would dare invade their inside-the-beltway personal space. Even Bill Barr.
Following the report “in the coming months,” the ultimate act in this sad, revealing soap opera will likely be Biden’s Attorney General Merrick Garland determining – after a thorough review, of course – that the investigation no longer merits continued funding.
And so, poof, up in smoke will go any after-the-fact revelations about a rancid affair that defined the attitude and approach of the embedded political order from the moment Donald Trump was identified as a threat. And with it will go the faint hopes of millions of Americans that the encrusted, self-perpetuating political establishment they abhor can ever truly be broken.
Read more from Tim Donner.