- - Sunday, February 18, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Robert Mueller’s indictments of 13 Russians for interfering in the 2016 presidential election is not the end of his investigation, nor was the announcement Friday an interim report on what he has found so far. President Trump’s victory lap on Friday might prove to be premature, but nobody can rightly blame him for what sounds like the last laugh at accusations that he colluded with the Russians to defeat Hillary Clinton.

The Justice Department went out of its way to undercut the idea of the fundamental “crime” he was commissioned to investigate, which for weeks has looked ever more imaginary. Curiously, Mr. Mueller did not appear at the announcement, made at the Justice Department by Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, perhaps because he did not feel like celebrating his first indictments of Russian meddlers.

There may be further indictments, but Mr. Rosenstein’s remarks, in both tone and substance, strongly suggest that the special counsel has found nothing to lodge against the president except Democratic wishes and liberal dreams.

“There’s no allegation in this indictment that any American had any knowledge,” Mr. Rosenstein said. “And the nature of the scheme was the defendants took extraordinary steps to make it appear that they were ordinary American political activists, even going so far as to base their activities on a virtual private network here in the United States, so if anybody traced it back to the first jump, they appeared to be Americans.”

Then came the answer to the $64,000 question: “There is no allegation in the indictment[s] of any effect on the outcome of the election.”

Hillary Clinton, it now appears conclusively, was defeated fair and square. The bitter pill for the lady and her supporters is that the American voters just didn’t like her. Donald Trump was at hand, and voters, capable as always, made up their own minds with no coaching from strangers in foreign lands.

The president’s early reaction to the indictments, contained in the statement of 37 pages filed with the U.S. District Court in Washington, was restrained and devoid of bombast and blather. He issued a call for national unity, noting that he had been fully briefed on Mr. Mueller’s findings, and was “glad to see the special counsel’s investigation further indicates that there was NO COLLUSION [capital letters his] between the Trump campaign and Russia, and that the outcome of the election was not changed or affected.”

There was more: “It is more important than ever before to come together as Americans. We cannot allow those seeking to sow confusion, discord and rancor to be successful. It’s time we stop the outlandish partisan attacks, wild and false allegations and far-fetched theories, which only serve to further the agendas of bad actors, like Russia, and do nothing to protect the principles of our institutions.”

The indictments, and the assurance from the Justice Department that Mr. Mueller had so far found no evidence of Russian conspiracy with any Americans, and no evidence of any effect on the results of the election, should calm some of the media hysteria that “the Russians are coming, the Russians are coming.”

But it probably won’t. Too many sore losers from 2016 have too much invested in the idea that Donald Trump stole the election from the worthy Democrat who was ordained by the fates to become the glass-shattering president of the United States. They won’t let go of their dream of upsetting the remarkable voice of the people, but after Mr. Mueller’s first indictments, and an all-clear after the first round, it’s clear that the sore losers have very little to hang a conspiracy on.


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