May 20, 2019

BYRON YORK: Mueller Changed Everything.

From now on, the Trump-Russia affair, the investigation that dominated the first years of Donald Trump’s presidency, will be divided into two parts: before and after the release of the Mueller report. Before the special counsel’s findings were made public last month, the president’s adversaries were on the offensive. Now, they are playing defense.

The change is due to one simple fact: Mueller could not establish that there was a conspiracy or coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign to fix the 2016 election. The special counsel’s office interviewed 500 witnesses, issued 2,800 subpoenas, executed nearly 500 search-and-seizure warrants, and obtained nearly 300 records of electronic communications, and still could not establish the one thing that mattered most in the investigation.

Without a judgment that a conspiracy — or collusion, in the popular phrase — took place, everything else in the Trump-Russia affair began to shrink in significance. . . .

Of course, TV talking heads are still arguing over obstruction. But with the report’s release, the investigation moved from the legal realm to the political realm. And in the political realm, the president has a simple and effective case to make to the 99.6% of Americans who are not lawyers: They say I obstructed an investigation into something that didn’t happen? And they want to impeach me for that?

The ground has shifted in the month since the report became public. Before the release, many Democrats adopted a “wait for Mueller” stance, basing their anti-Trump strategy on the hope that Mueller would find the much-anticipated conspiracy.

Then Mueller did not deliver. And not only that, Mueller’s report stretched to 448 pages, with long stretches of minutia and arcane legal argument that the public would never read. Democrats searched for a way to convince Americans that the president was still guilty of something serious.

They devised a plan to turn the Mueller report into a TV show, accessible to millions of viewers who have not read even a page of the report itself. They would call key witnesses to give dramatic testimony in televised hearings that would build support for possible impeachment.

At the same time, they would insist that Attorney General William Barr, who has allowed top lawmakers to see the full Mueller report with the exception of a small amount of grand jury material, was hiding something, and that the hidden material might reveal presidential wrongdoing.

So far, the strategy has not worked. The White House, which provided Mueller testimony and documents that might easily have been withheld as privileged, has not been so forthcoming with Congress. We gave the criminal investigator, Mueller, what he needed, the White House said, but we are not obligated to do the same for Congress.

Nope.

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