The story is not over. It may never be over in our lifetimes. But an important chapter has come to an end, and it had a happy ending for the president.
Contrary to what we're already beginning to hear from some quarters of the left, the Mueller probe almost certainly puts to rest the extreme version of the
If there were compelling evidence that
Even if Barr were inclined to cover up such findings, he knows that the truth would come out, and that his career and reputation would be utterly destroyed.
But it does not -- and really cannot -- put to rest the softer versions of the collusion charge. Candidate Trump publicly called on the Russians to keep hacking away at
Moreover, the ironclad conclusion of the intelligence community as well as the Mueller investigation found that
And let's be clear: That is very good news. If you believed that Trump was a traitor, it's one thing to want that exposed, quite another to want it to be true, which is where a lot of people ended up.
Those people will not go away, nor will they lose their adamantine convictions about the president's fitness or legitimacy.
Which is one of the reasons why this will remain a never-ending story.
Similarly, just as there are people irretrievably locked into the idea that Trump is illegitimate, there are legions of people equally committed to the idea that the probe itself was an illegitimate witch hunt, or, in the president's words, an attempted "illegal takedown."
Never mind that the same people who insisted that Mueller was a dirty deep-state operative doing the Clintons' bidding are now celebrating Mueller's integrity and thoroughness. (Last July,
Both the collusion and deep-state narratives have always been subordinate to the larger and deeper motives driving and sustaining political polarization.
New facts -- Trump didn't collude, Mueller wasn't corrupt -- are like rocks in a river. They will divert the water here or there, and perhaps create some froth and churn, but the torrent won't stop, particularly when there are so many fresh avenues for the waters to follow.
The watchword on the right these days is "reckoning" -- as in, there needs to be one for anyone who believed Trump colluded or even supported an investigation. On the left, there is a clamor for
The idea that the Mueller report itself will remain secret is a childish fantasy. And although Barr's summary may be technically accurate, one can be sure it is not comprehensive.
It is too tempting a treasure trove of anti-Trump spoils for
A chapter has closed, but the story goes on. Because too many people need it to.
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