They think we’re a nation of idiots, don’t they?
I mean the Trump people, who think we’ll read the most breathtaking paragraph in the Mueller report and miss the significance as President Donald Trump learns he’s going to be investigated, and he slumps in his chair and says:
“Oh, my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m [bleeped].”
They think we’re too dumb to understand why he’s so upset.
They stagger away now from the newly released 448-page report which damns the president of the United States but stops short of criminally indicting him – mainly because Department of Justice policy is not to indict a sitting president — and they wish, somehow, to call this a great victory.
President Trump himself, with his usual flair for distraction, sends out a tweet blaming everybody but himself for the 23-month investigation that started with Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election — a meddling about which the Mueller report makes no bones, and about which Trump and his minions wish to make absolutely no mention.
Attorney General William Barr holds a press conference before anybody in the entire country has even glanced at the lengthy report, and gives us his version of it, which doesn’t even vaguely reflect its damning implications.
The president, says Barr, “voluntarily cooperated” with the Mueller investigation. Oh, really? Then why did he try to fire special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and why did he fire the FBI’s James Comey? Why did he refuse to directly answer questions from Mueller? And why, in his lawyered-up written answers to Mueller’s questions, did Trump say, over and over, dozens of times, that he couldn’t “remember,” couldn’t “recall”?
They think we’re dumb enough to call this “cooperation.”
Then Kellyanne Conway, the presidential aide famous for giving us the immortal phrase “alternative facts” for some previously exposed Trump lie, characterizes the Mueller report as the “best day” of the Trump presidency.
With a sneer on her face passing for a smile, she says, “We’re accepting apologies today … from anybody who feels the grace in offering them” — and then adds her own grace note, calling the Mueller investigation “a political proctology exam.”
Meanwhile, over on the president’s home field, the Fox News folks do their own parsing of the report, offering us a little analysis from Bret Baier and anchor Neil Cavuto.
Baier makes mention of Trump telling his White House counsel, Don McGahn, to fire Mueller months ago, and McGahn, recognizing this would be a criminal act, refusing to do it. Then, Baier mentions the president’s famous letter that lied about the meeting at Trump Tower between Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and a Russian operative.
But the various lies that covered these acts were made “to the press but not to prosecutors,” the two agree. Therefore, “Bottom line,” says Cavuto, there’s no problem.
The Mueller findings were so widespread that they spawned 14 other investigations, still ongoing.
The Mueller report lays out how Trump was elected with the help of the Russians, and how Trump tried repeatedly to kill the investigation into the election. It says the Trump campaign expected to benefit from stolen information released by the Russians. It lists 10 different instances of potential obstruction of justice.
It says Mueller accepted Department of Justice policy that a sitting president can’t be indicted – and this is why, despite many questions about obstruction of justice, there were no indictments issued this week.
But the Trump people think we’re all too dumb to figure this out.
A former Baltimore Sun columnist and WJZ-TV commentator, Michael Olesker is the author of six books. His most recent, “Front Stoops in the Fifties: Baltimore Legends Come of Age,” published by the Johns Hopkins University Press, is now in paperback.