Democrats are bitterly disappointed that special counsel Robert Mueller did not find direct evidence of Trump administration collusion with Russia, but that does not mean they will close up shop and call it a day. Attorney General William Barr, in his letter to House and Senate Judiciary leaders, included a quote from Mueller that reads like a lifeline to flailing Dems after their political Titanic struck the iceberg of reality.
“The Special Counsel states that ‘while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it does not exonerate him,’” Barr wrote. Democrats are seizing on this morsel to direct their post-Mueller spin against Barr himself, who was confirmed in February as the full-time replacement for original Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
New Plan of Attack
The word “handpicked” attached to the attorney general’s name has already become so ubiquitous from Dems that it is openly mocked on social media (see first tweet below on Sen. Kamala Harris’s (D-CA) targeting of Barr):
The Mueller report needs to be made public, the underlying investigative materials should be handed over to Congress, and Barr must testify. That is what transparency looks like. A short letter from Trump's hand-picked Attorney General is not sufficient.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) March 24, 2019
The dominant media outlets that had whipped up the Trump-Russia hysteria for so long also quickly picked up on the strategy. An ostensibly straight news article on the “Maddow Blog” has MSNBC “reporting” that:
“Mueller instead presented Barr with his findings.
“Two days later, it was Barr who decided that the evidence is ‘not sufficient to establish’ that the president crossed the legal line. In other words, Trump’s handpicked attorney general, after having already denounced this specific line of inquiry, cleared the president who appointed him of having obstructed justice.”
MSNBC host Rachel Maddow was among the most rabid of media personalities focusing on the Mueller probe from its inception, devoting hundreds of hours to fanning the flames on the conspiracy theory that leftists and so many in the media desperately wanted to believe.
Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) also has revealed that Democrats will be honing in on the obstruction angle and Barr’s conclusions:
In light of the very concerning discrepancies and final decision making at the Justice Department following the Special Counsel report, where Mueller did not exonerate the President, we will be calling Attorney General Barr in to testify before @HouseJudiciary in the near future.
— (((Rep. Nadler))) (@RepJerryNadler) March 24, 2019
By all indications, Dems will not let go of their Russia obsession anytime soon. That should suit Republicans just fine. Surely many Trump supporters afflicted by Mueller Fatigue would like the country to move on from what has been one long distraction to the president and the implementation of his change agenda. However, there is also the feeling that Democrats and their media allies must not be allowed to keep getting away with fomenting one exaggerated crisis after another every time things do not go their way politically.
The Supreme Court nomination hearings for Justice Brett Kavanaugh are a clear example of this. Stirring up cloudy, decades-old accusations of sexual misconduct against a judge nominated by a Republican president angered a large swath of Americans put off by the clear lack of fair play on Democrats’ part. What then would those Americans say about a years-long taxpayer-funded investigation suggesting a president elected by the citizens of this nation was a Russian espionage asset, only to see that stunning accusation fizzle out completely in the end?
“I don’t think Republicans or any American should be celebrating anything to do with Mueller,” Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) told Fox News on March 23. “Okay? It’s fine. He’s not going to indict any more people. There are a whole bunch of indictments that are awful. What happened to these people is terrible. We need to see the origins of this investigation. We don’t even know what Robert Mueller was supposed to be looking at.”
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) has gone further, saying before Mueller filed his report that congressional documents will reveal that “sitting ambassadors” worked with the FBI and President Barack Obama’s Justice Department in a “coordinated effort to take this president down.”
“As we look at this, it’s time that we show the American people what’s out there, declassify some of those documents,” Meadows said. “I think when the American people see what I’ve seen, they will judge for themselves and know that this has all been a hoax.”
The talking points are taking shape. Democrats will key in on the idea that Trump may very well still be guilty of obstruction, even though there was no crime. Meanwhile, Republicans will be able to use this entire affair to buttress their argument that Dems will say and do anything in the pursuit of partisan advantage.
With an already overwhelming perception that the Mueller investigation has proven to be a giant flop, Democrats risk looking more heavy-handed and machine-like the further they pursue their fixation. And Republicans will be there to remind them of that every step of the way to the 2020 elections.