Elementary level political theater + two years of media obsession with ‘collusion’, ‘optics’, and ‘performance’ has “obstructed justice” in its own way — the American people deserve to understand just how dire the consequences of election interference really are. Robert Mueller, in midst of the political circus, exasperatedly tries to send us the memo.
When I picture the vast majority of Americans discussing Former Special Counsel Director Robert Mueller — from his 448-page report to his July 2019 testimony to his political affiliation— I cannot, for the life of me, imagine Russian election interference being the first thing that comes to people’s minds. Or, at all. It doesn’t come to mine.
I/we think of that infamous Trump Tower meeting, we think of shady Russian power brokers in bed with morally depraved cronies like Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, George Papadopoulos, and Michael Flynn, we think of “to recuse or not to recuse” Attorney Generals, we think of the Steele Dossier, we think of Don Jr.’s cringeworthy “if its what you say I love it” line, we think of Putin the Puppet Master getting the last laugh. (He doesn’t look the type to do that whole evil madman laugh though. Last smirk?) We also learned a cool new term we can now all show off to pretend like we know law speak! ‘Unindicted co-conspirator!’
Trump sycophants, on the other hand, think the whole thing is a witch hunt. The point is, when we think of Mueller, we immediately think of Trump. Not Russian election interference.
Comey v. Trump. Mueller v. Trump. The media circus would have you believe that these alone were the OJ Simpson-esque ‘Testimonies of the Century’. And look, its not to say that this never ending Trump x Russia news cycle isn’t important— the Special Counsel probe was opened, after all, not just to look into Russian meddling in isolation, but Russian meddling *within the context* of 2016 Trump campaign suspicious associations. It IS important because we have direct evidence from a thorough 2+ year investigation that the man who possesses the highest position in the most powerful country in the world is a criminal who will sell out democracy, the Constitution, and the American people in a heartbeat for his ascension to/grip of power. It IS important because we have, as they say, a concrete ‘blueprint’ for commencing impeachment hearings regarding the most lawless, amoral, bigoted President in modern U.S. history. It IS important that Congress take this punitive action to set a much higher precedent than some “memo from the Office of Legal Counsel” could: NO person, including the President, is above the law.
But Trump x Russia isn’t THE story. It shouldn’t be the story. Russian election interference— in isolation — IS the story. Point blank. The story that will most gravely impact the state of American democracy 10 years from now, 50 years from now…100. The story that will continue on long after this Grand Wizard is out of office, long after Biden/Buttigieg/Beto/Bernie/Squad are out of office, long after we ourselves are long gone. The *actual* OJ-level Story of the Century.
Yet, the story that no one seems to be giving a shit about.
And that’s partly due to pathetic journalistic “takes” and “analyses” such as these:
“Labored performance” “bombed his hearings” “frail, feeble”
I’m sorry — I didn’t realize this dude was at his first open mic trying to launch his stand-up career.
I’m thankfully seeing a lot of real, truth-to-power journalists like Mehdi Hasan and Soledad O’Brien call out the media and so-called fellow “journalists” on this as well. I don’t care whether or not Mueller is up late at night crying in fetal position that Nancy Pelosi isn’t pursuing impeachment (leave that to me). I don’t care if he appears “frail and feeble” or looks like Fabio. I DO care that this man spent the last 2 years delivering an independent, unbiased, thorough investigation not just of Trump & Co.’s criminal dealings, but of Russia’s far more terrifying, democracy-destructing behavior. I DO care that his main message to the American public is being widely ignored. And on top of all that, he showed up as requested, didn’t play to either sides’ political drama, and told Democrats and Republicans to do their homework and read the fairly-freaking-comprehensive report. Note to media + Congress: his job wasn’t to wax poetic to Jerry Nadler as a partisan puppet on how Trump is or isn’t the anti-Christ (*cough* he is). He was supposed to find and deliver the truth, and That’s. What. He. Did. And with ridiculous news takes like the above, not only are we as the American public SO far removed from getting at the heart of Russian interference + its dire implications + next steps, we’ve been relegated to reviewing a testimony about an wildly consequential issue like its the latest season of The Apprentice. Trump would be so proud.
And its not just recent articles like these. Its the past TWO+ years of fanatical coverage of postulations on “collusion” (which we’ve all nicely been reminded isn’t even a legal thing to formally investigate) and drooling over the thought of Trump’s indictment. FYI: we’ve covered “I Am Not A Crook” Nixon’s ill-doings in the same obsessive way, and the only lesson we’ve mainly gotten out of it is tacking on “ -gate” to any scandal sounds more cool. Okay, snarkiness aside, this whole time the media should have been obsessing over the intelligence community’s unequivocal findings that Russia interfered in an unprecedented and consequential way in our democratic elections, and continues to do so in increasingly sophisticated ways. As we speak.
Its incredibly telling that Mueller himself seems to curtly “stick to the script” on anything Trump/Russia, but metaphorically pounds the table as hard as his “frail, feeble” self possibly can on ongoing Russian interference. He realizes that his testimony, from Congress’ vantage point, was a mere political bullfight and couldn’t have cared less about his most damning findings. Hell, I honestly have half a mind to believe Mueller IS up late at night crying in fetal position that the media + DC isn’t fixating on this.
On his May 29th public statement on the closing of his investigation, he ends his remarks with the following daunting words —
“I will close by reiterating the essential allegation of our indictments that there were multiple systematic efforts to interfere in our election. That allegation deserves the attention of every American.” — Robert Mueller
He again, unabashedly evoked the same level of urgency at the end of his opening statement to Congress this week —
“Let me say one more thing. Over the course of my career, I have seen a number of challenges to our democracy. The Russian government’s effort to interfere in our election is among the most serious. As I said on May 29th, this deserves the attention of every American.”
In more honorable news pieces (which I have yet to see on the front page of any major news site) we get to uncover (only after weeding through more BS reporting) that intelligence continues to uncover more ominous details of how extensive and sophisticated Russian interference was on US election infrastructure. You can actually read the Senate Intelligence Committee’s recent report here. Its only going to get worse from here, and we have a little less than 2 years to:
- *Prioritize* this in subsequent Russian interference-related congressional testimonies in lieu of the Trump collusion/obstruction saga (*especially* if our spineless Democratic leadership won’t even pursue impeachment through it)
- Cover it extensively and objectively in the media
- Fix. It. It already appears that our buddy McConnell is aiming to do the opposite.
And in the meantime, we can keep reading our old Tom Clancy novel’s and imagining that the Cold War of yesteryear was the worst of times for us and Mother Russia. I say we ditch falling for the media narrative and fall for what Mueller is (faintly!) but firmly warning us instead. Soon enough — yet again — the fate of our democracy will literally depend on it.