September 21, 2019

The Mueller Investigation

Note from CM: I know you’re not going to like this, but I will not be taking comments today. I’m not interested in opening up an echo chamber that agrees with me, nor do I wish to spend all day moderating the kinds of fights this type of post engenders.

In case any of you are wondering what this has to do with the purpose of the Internet Monk blog, let me say again that Christians have every duty to be involved in public life, especially in a nation of free speech and democratic principles. Following Jesus may involve calling Herod a fox as well as tending the sheep.

• • •

The Mueller Investigation

Well, the report has been handed in. And, as usual, all the partisans and pundits are screaming their loudest. One side is claiming total victory and vindication. The other side is insisting that we only know a little bit of the story and we should withhold judgment until the whole report is released.

These are the times in the news cycle that I abhor. The transparent gamesmanship of all sides is on full display, and the air is filled with white-hot noise.

What do I think?

I happen to agree with Franklin Foer at The Atlantic, who says that, given what we know, “The Mueller Probe Was an Unmitigated Success” for justice. It confirmed Russia’s nefarious interference, exposed a great deal of corruption, and sent many people to jail. Foer writes, “Even if the actual Mueller report is anything like the attorney general’s summation of its contents, Russiagate will go down as one of the biggest scandals in American political history.”

Both Trump supporters and Trump opponents, along with media of all stripes, have made the mistake all through this investigation of thinking that Robert Mueller’s investigation was about one person — Donald Trump. It never was. That wasn’t the point. Did Russia try to interfere in our presidential election, and did people associated with the Trump campaign (including, possibly, the president himself) conspire or collude with the Russians to do so? — that was the question. Russian interference was confirmed by the report. The evidence for collusion (and perhaps obstruction) was not as clear. Along the way, evidence of a huge pile of corruption and illegal activity was discovered, and a number of criminals are now paying the price.

That’s success. A lot of bad guys got caught.

But Mike, you say, given your opposition to President Trump, weren’t you rooting for proof that he stole the election and colluded with a foreign nation to do that?

Heavens, no. Why in the world would anyone want that to be the narrative? That would scare me even more than the existential dread I feel about this administration now. If the report actually fully confirms it, we should be happy and relieved that the leader of the free world did not conspire to cheat to win an election.

My opposition to President Trump has never been attached to any supposed collusion with election interference. I simply think the man is comprehensively unfit for office.

  • He has an public history of corruption and shady business and financial dealings.
  • He has a well documented (and often mocked) hunger for celebrity and being in the public spotlight.
  • He has exhibited no conception of commitment to public service.
  • He has an equally well publicized absence of moral character.
  • He has been an utter chameleon with regard to his political positions.
  • His so-called “leadership” style is abysmal.
  • His capacity for sustained attention and his work ethic have been reported to be virtually non-existent.
  • He has no experience with or respect for any of the established and proven norms of diplomacy.
  • He has shown that he simply does not understand, in many cases, how government or the world of international relations works.
  • If you listen to any of his speeches, you could be forgiven for thinking you are listening to the ravings of a madman who has no idea what he’s talking about.

And I haven’t even mentioned one of his so-called “policies.”

These are things I talked about with friends before the election of 2016 ever took place. I was slack-jawed and appalled that the Republican party would ever allow a person like this to become their candidate and to take over as he has. And how now, with a taste of what they call “winning,” they can’t muster even an ounce of moral courage to oppose him or any of his initiatives.

And don’t get me started about the evangelicals. Michael Spencer in his wildest dreams could not have imagined an evangelical collapse through capitulation to power like this.

Having said all that, I don’t think those who oppose President Trump should pursue impeachment. Impeachment is a political process, and both sides of the aisle must be in agreement to go that route. Unless and until something comes out that is overwhelmingly abhorrent to Republicans as well as Democrats, the impeachment option is not a good one. Better for all to look to 2020 and hope that someone, anyone — Democrat or Republican — can set forth a challenge to Mr. Trump that will open people’s eyes to the dangerous snake-oil salesman who has mesmerized his supporters.

Of course, there are already reports that President Trump plans to “weaponize” what he sees as his “total exoneration” by the Mueller report and use it against those who oppose him, with a special eye toward the next election. This is a part of the gamesmanship and white-noise warfare that we’ll be enduring for many days to come.

I don’t want anything to do with it.

I’ve made my position clear from the beginning. A nation that chooses a president and leadership like this is in deep shit. I’m half afraid we’ll never be able to shovel out of it.