There are a variety of interpretations of the redacted Mueller Report. I would like to offer mine.
I’m not going to get into individual winners and losers; everyone already has their ideas on those names, and they will be the subject of dozens, if not hundreds, of analyses. For the most part there will be a lot of excellent commentary and partisan spin.
Instead, I’m going to flash back to a book review.
When I read Fear, by Bob Woodward, I noticed one thing about the way interactions with President Trump were described. Key figures in the administration, hearing an instruction which seemed to be idiotic or inherently destructive, would agree to act and then fail to do so. They had learned by experience that Trump’s attention span was short, and orders could often be ignored with impunity, provided Trump was not reminded of them. By this mechanism, trade negotiations with various allies were kept from complete destruction and armed conflict with North Korea might have been avoided.
The argument against finding for obstruction leans heavily upon the fact that Trump’s illegal orders were ignored by his staff, preventing investigations from being terminated. Regardless of whether that alone negates an obstruction charge, it is proof that Trump’s subordinates knew better than to obey him.
These were the adults as described in Fear… and they are no longer employed in the Trump White House.
President Trump has been emboldened by the Mueller Report. Yes, it is damaging to him; yes, he may face charges when he leaves office; yes, many of his associates and even his family members may be charged on illegalities discovered during the investigation. But he knows two important things: the Democrat leadership is not going to be forced to bring impeachment charges due to findings of treasonous activity (for anything less, they’d prefer to simply do political damage and attempt a massive electoral win over forcing him out a month or two early) and the Republican leadership and punditry – especially the punditry – is going to continue to support him despite the exposure of incompetence, attempted (if not actual) criminality and intemperance. For at least another year and three quarters he’s golden… he’ll be harassed, but not kicked out of office or arrested.
He’ll be emboldened… and he no longer has the adults around him who kept his worst tendencies at bay. Looking back at the past two years, I see instances where he has talked about restricting gun rights, restricting freedom of the press, having whipsaw changes in foreign policy due to perceived insults, enacting exorbitant tariffs on allies as a bargaining maneuver amidst trade talks and military strikes. I see a person who offered his daughter leadership of the World Bank and who praised Vladimir Putin over his own law enforcement… despite, as the Report confirms once again, people in the White House being intimately familiar with Putin’s successful efforts to influence the election.
The Mueller Report states clearly, on page 23 and elsewhere, that the Russian government wanted only two candidates during the election cycle: President Trump and Bernie Sanders. We have witnessed, for two and a quarter years, a man whose foreign policy moves have been a gift to both the Russians and the Chinese even as he inflates our debt and inflames internal divisions (exactly as would Bernie). The adults are gone, but he remains, after consolidating power in the form of “acting” secretaries who follow his whims.
I expect the next two years to be worse, not better, now that the investigation has been completed.