- - Monday, March 25, 2019

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The Russian collusion powder keg burned through its extra-long fuse, and exploded with the sound and fury of a pop gun. President Trump’s political and media enemies who have anticipated a republic-shaking blast, with fingers in their ears, are left blinking in disbelief.

Most Americans want to slam the door now on the claim that Donald Trump owes his presidency to the Kremlin. A new USA Today-Suffolk University poll says that 54 percent of the public agree with Mr. Trump’s disdain that the Mueller investigation was a “witch hunt.” The task remaining is to hold accountable the people in high places who aided, abetted and sold the hoax that failed. It must never happen again.

Special counsel Robert Mueller delivered his report on Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election on Friday and Attorney General William Barr summarized the principal finding of the Mueller probe in a letter to Congress on Sunday: “The Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”

Mr. Trump’s “actions and intent” in response to being targeted for surveillance, Mr. Barr wrote, “the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.”

Mr. Trump characterized the probe as “a witch hunt” from the first day, and he’s entitled now to the satisfaction of vindication of the wrongly accused. Despite his frequent Twitter tweets about the injustice of it all, he confined himself to exercising his First Amendment right to speak his mind, and did not make the mistake of obstructing justice. He reacted to the Barr letter with a simple tweet: “No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION. KEEP AMERICA GREAT! (All the unnecessary capital letters his.)



Former Trump associates caught up in Mr. Mueller’s expansive dragnet were not so fortunate. Some, including Paul Manafort, the president’s onetime campaign manager, and Michael Cohen, once his personal lawyer, face a long time in prison and stiff fines for bank and tax fraud charges and lying to Congress. These convictions had nothing to do with Russia or collusion, but were consolation prizes for Mr. Mueller and his 19 lawyers who failed to produce what was expected of them.

The Democrats, who dressed Mr. Mueller in their dreams as Santa Claus, with sugar plums dancing merrily before their eyes, are sorely disappointed, and when you are sorely disappointed you’re just flat in a royal snit, as we see demonstrated before us. Talk of impeachment, which was never taken seriously in the saner precincts of the nation’s capital, will die now, except in the parlors where Trump Derangement Syndrome still thrives. They’re still counting on finding nuggets of consolation in the full Mueller report. But that well-flogged horse in the parlor looks dead to everyone else.

The hysteria — the fuel of all mobs — will not subside easily. Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, vows to subpoena records from more than 80 Trump associates and organizations in search of something — anything — relating to business dealings or communications with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, claims to have — but has never produced — damning evidence of Russian collusion. He wants an investigation of what Mr. Trump might have said to Mr. Putin in private meetings and Trump telephone calls. If the Mueller investigation was a fishing expedition, Mr. Schiff is casting his tiny net for minnows.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, which arranged Mr. Cohen’s accommodations behind bars, is investigating whether his payouts to several women amounted to violations of campaign finance law in the hope that this might ensnare Mr. Trump.

It’s essential now to complete the other Russian collusion investigations that Democrats hope Americans have forgotten. In one, the Justice Department is examining whether Obama officials who favored Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign supplied the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court with a dossier containing lurid and false Russian intelligence, all to obtain warrants to spy on the Trump campaign. Another inquiry asks whether Hillary and her associates played fast and loose with the nation’s national security secrets. Americans deserve to know whether there’s a broomstick in Hillary’s closet.

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