The Mueller fallout is only beginning

This isn't over yet

President Trump.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Alex Wong/Getty Images)

News that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had slipped his Godot-like report under Attorney General William Barr's door late Friday afternoon brought American politics to an immediate, turntable-screeching standstill. The weekend was filled mostly with empty speculation, premature right-wing gloating, and leftists yelling at liberals about how the whole thing had been a waste of time, based on reports that Mueller would not be issuing any further indictments. In other words, it was as if the country had received a maddeningly vague voicemail from the doctor about lab results right before the office closed for the weekend. We all spent two days rabbit-holing down the political equivalent of WebMD.

And then on Sunday, the first shoe dropped, and it seemed like perhaps conservatives' football-spiking might not have been entirely unwarranted. In the mid afternoon, Barr released a short, four-page appraisal of the long-awaited probe's findings. It claimed, regarding Russian meddling, that "the Special Counsel did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in these efforts." That unambiguous judgment is difficult to spin for those who were hoping that Mueller would find clear, legally actionable links between the Trump campaign and the Russian sabotage operation. Because the letter also notes that there are no sealed indictments in this matter, the question of whether Trump and his associates engaged in a prosecutable conspiracy with Russia to alter the outcome of the 2016 election has likely been settled in the president's favor.

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David Faris

David Faris is an associate professor of political science at Roosevelt University and the author of It's Time to Fight Dirty: How Democrats Can Build a Lasting Majority in American Politics. He is a frequent contributor to Informed Comment, and his work has appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, The Christian Science Monitor, and Indy Week.