(Read the Arabic version of this article here.)
For millions of Americans despondent that Donald Trump is still the president of the United States (more than 50 percent of the US population), Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Trump campaign’s alleged illegal and corrupt practices had been impatiently anticipated for months. Many Americans simply assumed that the report would reveal damning evidence of the Trump campaign’s collusion with Russia, back-channel assistance from WikiLeaks, and serious violations of campaign finance laws. So many of us looked to Mueller for deliverance from the toxic and embarrassing Trump administration, and hoped that his report would lay out the foundations for Trump’s inevitable impeachment. For the last month, as President Trump seemed to spin further out of control in his ranting tweets and erratic public pronouncements, many concluded that the president was freaking out about the imminent release of Mueller’s report. After all, Mueller’s investigation had already resulted in 199 criminal counts, five people sentenced to prison, seven guilty pleas, legal charges against nearly 40 individuals or entities, and one person convicted at trial (Paul Manafort). And just a month ago, the US public was transfixed by the testimony under oath of Trump’s former lawyer and “fixer,” Michael Cohen, who accused Trump of being a racist, liar, and a cheat before a congressional subcommittee.
On Friday afternoon, urgent news bulletins announced the completion of Mueller’s investigation and the delivery of his report to the Department of Justice. Other than Mueller and his team, Attorney General (AG) William Barr, and a few top officials in the Department of Justice, though, no one has actually read the report. Despite the report’s 300-page length, all that anyone knows of its contents derives from a four-page summary from AG Barr, who announced that the report found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Americans are still awaiting the full report, and the House is demanding it. Meanwhile, the president and his entourage are feeling triumphant and celebratory, but are also out for revenge. We may soon see the Trump administration investigating the FBI, the media, and congress members for their “treasonous” inquiry into Trump’s election. Despite celebrating Trump’s innocence and vindication, however, the administration and key republicans in the Senate are unwilling to share the full report with the US public.
Millions of hearts dropped and spirits sank across the United States last Friday, particularly in the center-left media, which hoped to find in the Mueller Report indisputable evidence of nefarious back-room dealings between the Trump family and Russian President Vladimir Putin, and thus, an answer to their burning question “How could Hilary Clinton possibly have lost the election to Donald Trump!?” Farther to the left, commentators were relieved the investigation was finally over, making room for the pursuit of more substantive efforts to constrain Trump, and offering a reprieve from the mainstream media’s single-minded focus on Mueller’s investigation for the last 22 months. Many pressing issues, domestic and foreign, received little to no coverage or debate while journalists and pundits breathlessly speculated on all of the damaging dirt Mueller would inevitably reveal about Donald Trump and his associates’ illegitimate capture of the executive branch.
One week after Mueller submitted his report, we still do not know for certain what it says or doesn’t say. The president and his supporters in the House and Senate, as well as the right-wing media, most notably Fox News, are feeling vindicated that Mueller found no evidence of collusion (an impeachable offense), and are now framing all of the coverage and work of the Mueller investigation over the last two years as “fake news,” a “witch hunt,” and an unjustified attack on the president. But the celebratory spin that the White House and the GOP are putting on the Mueller report cannot erase some troubling facts: Russian agents did indeed try to influence the elections through social media manipulation. Top officials in the Trump administration did have unusual and suspicious contacts with the Russian ambassador in December 2016, and some of them are going to jail for lying about those meetings. Serious questions remain to be answered about the president’s efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, even after he became the GOP nominee, and the president did behave bizarrely in his joint press conference with Putin last summer following a meeting that his staff was forbidden to attend.
With the Mueller investigation behind him, Trump is unconstrained by laws, facts, or precedents. His latest outrageous action was to unilaterally recognize the occupied Golan Heights as Israeli territory, in violation of international law. This week, Trump has clearly enjoyed depicting himself as the victim of malevolent Democrats who tried–but failed–to bring him down. This has definitely endeared him to the thousands of lobbyists, activists, and government officials at the annual AIPAC meeting here in Washington, DC, and further consolidates the alliance between the Israeli far right, the American far right, and Evangelical Christians, all of whom thrive on delusions of victimhood and self-righteous indignation. On the domestic front, Trump is now intent on dismantling the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as “Obama-care,” and this week the Democratic-dominated House could not drum up enough votes to undo Trump’s emergency declaration paving the way for the construction of the wall on the US southern border.
Despite boasting repeatedly that he has been exonerated “100%,” President Trump is not in the clear yet, legally speaking. As millions of Americans traumatized by the Mueller investigation’s failure to dislodge the most dangerous and dishonest president in the country’s history try to come to grips with profound disappointment, all eyes are turning to the legal proceedings against Trump, his family, and the Trump Foundation in the Southern District of New York, the results of which won’t be delivered to AG Barr to hide from public view. But the majority of American citizens disgusted by Trump should take care not to look to prosecutors in New York’s Southern District as saviors who will deliver us from the evil of the 45th president’s chaotic reign. Americans will have to do a lot more, and a lot more assiduously, to ensure that Trump is not reelected next year. That means focusing on issues most Americans are anxious about—health care, opioid addiction, rising housing costs, climate change, and crumbling infrastructure—rather than devoting all of our time, attention, journalistic coverage, and emotions to the fantasy that legal proceedings will rid us of Trump. We, the People, not a handful of prosecutors, have to save ourselves and the country. The harsh and depressing truth is that no cavalry is coming to rescue us.