- - Sunday, March 24, 2019

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Let the quibbling begin, but 675 days after Robert Mueller’s 19 lawyers began issuing 2,800 subpoenas and posing questions to 500 witnesses, Mr. Mueller has concluded that there was no Trump collusion with the Russians to cook the 2016 presidential election.

This was in the report that the special counsel gave to William Barr, the U.S. attorney general, on Friday and that he summarized for Congress and the public in his own report issued on Sunday afternoon.

President Trump calls the summary the proof of “a witch hunt,” and proof of what he had been saying since Mr. Mueller opened the inquiry, that there was no collusion. He defeated Hillary Clinton fair and square. The Democrats built their high hopes on Mr. Mueller, sure that he would find the evidence needed to impeach the president, driving him out of office now, or making the 2020 election a slam dunk for whoever the Democrats nominate for president next year. Now they’re back to square one.

Square One is where they were on election night 2016, facing the prospect of trying to defeat an incumbent president the way disappointed partisans have always worked through their pain and disappointment. They looked past the fact that there’s another Election Day coming. Coups, assassinations (whether of body and soul or just of reputations) has never been the way we conduct politics in the United States.

The findings of Robert Mueller, as set out yesterday in the summary prepared by the attorney general, will not be the last words. Democrats seized on the attorney general’s remark Sunday that the Mueller report “does not conclude that the president committed a crime,” but “it also does not exonerate him.” For all practical purposes this is that famous distinction without a difference. Mr. Trump will fill out his term of office after all, and perhaps win another one, and the Democrats have wasted a lot time that could have been put to use finding a legitimate candidate for next year and preparing for the campaign.

“It’s a shame our country had to go through this,” the president said of the investigation just concluded. “It began illegally this was an illegal takedown that failed. Hopefully somebody is going to be looking at the other side. It’s a complete exoneration, no collusion, no obstruction, thank you very much.”

There will be much arguing over who, beyond the president, the winners and losers in this exercise may be. The press will take some lumps, as it should. The press is guilty, at minimum, of keeping Democratic false hopes alive, that the president was on his way for a fitting of prison stripes.

“My impression is after all of this is said and done that some people end up in jail,” Wolf Blitzer of CNN said months ago. “My impression is that people will probably be charged and probably go to jail.” Mr. Blitzer, like so many of his colleagues, was just too easily impressed.

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