For some odd reason, the liberal Resistance against President Donald Trump was turning cartwheels over the indictments handed down by Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Friday. There seemed to be this belief, both spoken and unspoken, that this was some major victory against the president. We’re still not sure what they’re talking about.
What the indictments actually say has little or nothing to do with what liberals appear to THINK they say. We’ll give them this: The Russians did attempt to meddle in the 2016 elections. Okay? Was anyone still harboring any doubts about that? That was never really the central question.
The central questions – Did Russia hack the DNC? Did they want Trump to win the election? Did the Trump campaign work with the Russians in some way? – are no more answered by these indictments than the question of life on Mars. If anything, these indictments actually cast some degree of extra doubt on them – especially the last two.
For one thing, the indictments say specifically that the Russians worked with Americans who were “unwitting” as to what it was they were getting into. Unwitting means…they didn’t know they were Russian government officials. Unwitting means…they did not commit a crime. Unwitting means…there was no collusion.
Now the indictments do NOT say, as some conservative commentators have missed, that the collusion question is now off the table. We’re sure Mueller and the Democrats will continue to pursue this ragged, barren patch of land for collusion for as long as they can wring political juice out of it. But while they may not represent the final exoneration of the Trump campaign, they do go a ways toward indicating that Mueller has found nothing of interest. They say it will be darkest before the light, but we may be soon approaching the point where we can put that question to bed and move on. Let’s hope.
Furthermore, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said specifically that there was nothing in the indictments that should cause anyone to think that the Russians changed the outcome of the election.
“There is no allegation in this indictment that any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity,” he said. “There is no allegation in the indictment that the charged conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election.”
This, again, is not an excuse to say, “See, even if the Russians interfered, it didn’t change anything.” Rosenstein isn’t saying that. That would be, indeed, impossible to really know. What metric would prove whether or not Russian ads and Facebook posts caused people to support Trump or turn against Hillary? But it does show that the very worst of the accusations – that Putin somehow STOLE the election away from Clinton – are not supported by facts. They are, as ever, just excuses.
What is really notable about these indictments is not what’s in them, but what isn’t. We’re nearly two years down the road from the initiation of this investigation and there’s still NO proof that the Trump campaign worked with the Russians to steal the election. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, but when you have the entire U.S. intelligence community working on these questions, the lack of proof certainly says something about that proof’s existence.