The Mueller report on alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government is with the US Justice Department. The Attorney-General (with every degree of plausibility) says that there is no case to answer on the main charge.
Do we know who has won and whether it matters?
In an environment where the middle ground has narrowed to vanishing point, it looks like a big victory for Trump. His opponents had charged him with quasi-treason. The charges could not be sustained. Their over-reach raises questions about their judgment and sustains Trump’s narrative that political and media elites are out to get him.
The half of the country that is sympathetic to Trump has been given a reminder of why they might want to support him for re-election in 2020.
But Trump’s opponents, while disappointed, will not feel defeated. As the prosecutions to date have shown, this affair has provided plenty of examples of unsavory and unedifying behaviour in the Trump campaign and administration. These will not make for pretty viewing when the detail of the Mueller report becomes more widely available and will help sustain anti-Trump fervour.
For those interested in at least attempting a wider perspective, your correspondent recommends the article ‘The Barr Letter Interlude’ by Yuval Levin in the National Review. , It has the following summary:
“And yet, much indignation—by Trump and by others—is justified by the nature of the investigation and especially by how it began.
“The FBI found itself in an impossible situation in 2016, faced with two major-party nominees who both seemed like unprecedented national-security risks—the one having broken the laws that govern the management of classified information and the other enveloped in a semi-criminal network of corrupt fixers with bizarre foreign links.
“There were no real precedents to follow, and no way to proceed that could be fair to the candidates and so also to the next president. The agency then made matters worse by assigning to the investigation some people who clearly detested and looked down on Trump, and otherwise behaving unprofessionally.”
If you reject this framing, you have probably chosen one side or the other.
If you accept it, then ask yourself, with the full benefit of hindsight: what was the ‘right‘ way to proceed in this situation?
And think: what would have been required to secure tacit consent from both factions that such rules of the game were fair?
This is one of the hardest and most necessary tasks in a society governed by consent. In the absence of that common ground, the Russia collusion affair will most likely end up a symbol for what each faction dislikes most about the other.