Leighton Smith: Mueller probe lands a dead fish. Who's the liar now?

Author
Leighton Smith,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Saturday, 30 March 2019, 8:50AM
So, there was no collusion. None. End of story. Photo / AP
So, there was no collusion. None. End of story. Photo / AP

COMMENT:

Nineteen prosecutors, 40 FBI agents, 2800 subpoenas, 22 months, US$30 million and no indictments relating to the supposed principal reason for the enquiry. But the special prosecutor did land a few undersized catches worthy of throwing back, and a handful of related convictions for process crimes.

That's without mentioning that the Mueller probe was arguably unconstitutionally established in the first place. That detail would fill a column on its own.

Mueller filed his report with Attorney General William Barr on Friday, March 22. That weekend, Barr consulted with others, especially Assistant AG Rod Rosenstein. He then crafted a summary letter to Congress. Essentially it dealt with two matters. One was concerning collusion with Russia; the second regarding claims of obstruction.

Page 2: "The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or co-ordinated with the Russian Government in its election interference activities."

So, there was no collusion. None. End of story.

Page 4: "The evidence does not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference."

Here it gets interesting, if not confusing. Barr, prior to being recently appointed Attorney General in the Trump administration, had been AG for George Bush Snr 1991-1993. In 2018 he had submitted an advisory to Rod Rosenstein with regard to obstruction; that when a person is innocent of an underlying crime, it's pretty hard to make a case that his objections amount to obstruction.

Add that Trump, in firing Attorney General James Comey, was acting within his constitutional rights. Fact. Then, for good measure, that Assistant AG Rosenstein had written a memorandum to Trump recommending Comey's dismissal. Mueller passed the decision-making responsibility on to Barr, knowing what that would be. Barr and Rosenstein concluded that Trump was in the clear. And correctly so.

Victor Davis Hanson, writing in National Review, asked a very interesting question regarding obstruction. Mueller, after making a "thorough factual investigation" into alleged obstruction "ultimately determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgement". Since that was his job, that means he defaulted. What did we need him for?

Let's add some numbers to those at the top. In attempting to somehow find a way to destroy the president, Mueller and his team ruined or damaged as many as 500 lives. Five hundred search warrants, 230 orders for communication records, 50 pen records, 500 witness interviews. Some of those lives totally trashed for no good reason.

One would hope that apart from a couple of exceptions (for example, Michael Cohen) that presidential pardons should soon be flying out and consideration given to restoring financial independence to General Michael Flynn. Actually, throw in $1m or $5m as compensation for being victimised by a corruption that should never have happened.

The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN and all the rest have had their fair go, don't you think?

It's been one thing after another - as the walls closed in, this is a turning point, beginning of the end, leaving the White House in handcuff moments.

But as each of those moments disappeared there were three things that would finish Trump off. Russia, Russia, Russia! For two and a half years, collusion, collusion, collusion.

Sorry, no collusion, no obstruction. Game over. Does anyone really think that if there were any chance, however slim, that Bob Mueller could have nailed Trump, he wouldn't have?

How did so many people become hypnotised into believing that Donald J Trump was guilty of high treason? How did a large majority of the media completely screw up on the Russia story? Maybe because both groups wanted to believe it.

It is easy to believe what you want - we've all done it. And the illusory truth effect encourages it. Repetition works, but awareness of it is the best defence against it. Then there is scepticism, a journalist's best defence against groupthink.

As has been written, roughly 90 per cent of Trump coverage has been negative, although there are some with credibility.

Matt Taibbi, a Rolling Stone magazine feature writer, has produced 21 pages as part of a serial book, Hate Inc. "Nobody wants to hear this, but news that Robert Mueller is heading home without issuing new charges is a death-blow for the reputation of the American news media". He doesn't let up from there on.

Glenn Greenwald says it is "the saddest media spectacle he has ever seen".

Conrad Black, who can dice and slice better than anyone: "Others who inflict upon themselves, more often than I do, cruel punishment of looking at the more egregiously bigoted news outlets are already presenting delicious idiocy among the apostles of the Russian Collusion fraud".

Among all the lies and fake news, maybe, just maybe, the one person telling the truth all along was Donald Trump. "There was no collusion", because he knew there wasn't. Trump has never told a lie as big as Russian collusion. How ironic.

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