It’s not a recipe for a resolution, especially not a tidy one. In fact, it’s a recipe for the kind of destabilization that Russia and Vladimir Putin sought in the first place.
Republicans said Mueller’s probe was a “witch hunt” by a margin of 81 percent to 12 percent. Another poll showed that Republicans think Mueller is setting Trump up, by a 61-17 margin. A May CBS news poll even showed that more Americans thought the probe was “politically motivated” (53 percent) than “justified” (44 percent).
We now have an investigation, for all intents and purposes, that around half of the most reliable voters regard as suspect. And a very strong majority of Republicans regard it not just as questionable, but as conspiratorial. The Nunes memo, the Strzok testimony and the Page warrant application all provide them something to latch on to, regardless of how accurately those things are being interpreted and portrayed. The messy and imperfect nature of investigations is being laid bare thanks to the fact that Republicans are in charge and thanks to the fact that we have a president who is willing to push the bounds of acceptable discourse and lodge any conspiracy theory he feels at any given point.
.. If Mueller finds anything but a smoking gun,
- Republicans will be hard-pressed to convince their base that Trump did anything wrong, much less that his offenses are worthy of impeachment or removal from office.
- If he tries to charge Trump, Republicans will justifiably point out that this isn’t how things are usually done, and it will feed their sense of persecution. And
- if Mueller exonerates or clears Trump, we’ll have a whole other side of the political debate that had been counting on him to carry out its own predetermined version of justice — a side convinced that collusion and obstruction of justice are already completely apparent, based upon publicly available evidence.