After a tumultuous 22 months of divisive speculation about the facts of the 2016 election, ungrounded theorizing is no longer needed. Because of the intense anticipation that has accrued, many in the country are discussing it, while some are even demanding that it be released in full, despite protocols of vetting sensitive information. Like with any significant event that we are a part of, we must all take a deep breath. This is a momentous political event that will take more time than our instant-gratification culture would like in order to fully process.
Robert Mueller’s probe is over, as the report was handed off to the DOJ last Friday. Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein quickly sifted through the facts over the weekend and compiled a concise initial summary of the report’s principal conclusions. This ‘Barr Letter’ divided the investigation into two components: a) Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election and b) Obstruction of Justice.
The first section described the investigation’s findings with respect to the core allegation. This allegation, espoused by many partisan politicians, media members and individuals over the past two years, put forth the charge of collusion/conspiracy. It was prophesized that Trump was a ‘puppet’, per se, of the Russian government. This assertion, which was the backbone of claiming illegitimacy towards the presidency, was invalidated by Barr in referencing the report directly: “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” This irrefutably vindicates Trump of guilt regarding conspiracy or collusion with the Russians.
Arguably, the most thorough investigation in U.S. history, which was intensely comprehensive by any metric, did not find sufficient evidence supporting the charges. This is a sobering day for a large fraction of our country which has continuously been conspiracy-theorizing about this political fiasco. This ‘political hangover’ ensues amongst much of the media and politicians who have made lots of money and/or standing on attempting to sell this narrative to us, although many are attempting to keep the party going. This conspiracy has been destroyed, despite attempts to not let it go. Unfortunately, cognitive dissonance runs rampant.
However, this investigation demonstrates that the Russians were (and are) purposefully attempting to meddle with our democracy. This interference manifested in their multiple offers to work with the Trump campaign (which they refused), hacking and public release through WikiLeaks of DNC information, and social media influence intended to sow seeds of division amongst ourselves which seems to be working. The Russian government is an oppressive totalitarian authority which would relish over our demise. They want us to be torn apart domestically so that we pass a blind eye towards their dangerous geopolitical strategies. They are by no means friendly towards our aspirations of freedom and liberalism. Their interference must be looked at rigorously and taken seriously.
All of that being said, the Trump administration is not a foreign agent, thankfully. This should come as good news to Americans of sound character, regardless of political difference. Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly, there are many who are either outright refusing the reality on the ground, or are at least distressed by the results. If you find yourself holding this attitude, reflect on what you’re exactly wishing for. You should find this information to be a relief.
There are still questions that lay unanswered. The other half of the summary related to obstruction of justice. Given what we currently know, the Mueller investigation took the liberty to withhold judgement on the evidence found into this matter, as investigators aren’t in the business of prosecutorial determination. Specifically, it stated: “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” This point has been the new focal point of political pundits, as their original claim has been shattered. It seems odd to latch onto obstruction charges involving a non-existent crime. These commentators are undeniably shifting their rhetoric in order to avoid shame for their actions. Instead of apologizing for their mistakes, they are scrambling to find a new push. That being said, I support healthy skepticism and going forward we must uphold our principal of innocent until proven guilty on this matter.
As a reserved spectator who observed all of this pandemonium unfold over the past couple of years, this political landslide coherently presents to me some of the problems in our society. There are many amongst us who find themselves distraught about these findings, leaving aside the ones who will never accept reality. While this poses a problem, as its sentiment comes from a yearning for defeat rather than success, it is only an expression of the psychosis that has taken center-stage in our discourse.
Despite humble lessons to be learned here, many carry on attempting with all of their might to confirm their narrative. This is evident, as the narrative backpedaling ensues. Many are ‘glossing over’ the key finding which vindicates collusion, and are instead trying to find something of substance in obstruction. It truly does seem bizarre that the crosshairs shift away from the core accusation in an attempt to run away from past rhetoric. ‘Journalists’ and politicians have promoted a conspiracy theory as truth in pursuit of their political agenda to resist and destroy, instead of compromise and create.
The media has held a markedly low position of trust by the general public in recent years for their countless examples of political agenda over reality, and manipulation over objectivity. I’m afraid this event will mark a significant inflection point towards an even farther downward realm of distrust. If these media outlets actually want to regain support, then now is the time where they must look into the mirror humbly. They must cease hiring emotionally crazed activists who pretend to be objective journalists, and turn back to their ethical principles which make the concept of the free press an insightful advent of modernity. I’m afraid though that their egos appear to be getting in the way of apologies and regrets.
We, as average citizens, don’t have to sit by idly and hope that this will all change for the better. We have the power to vote for, engage with and support those who act principally. If it is apparent that someone would rather put party over country, or fiction over fact, then simply don’t support this behavior. When enough of us attempt to drive our country back to a state of rationality, decency and normalcy, this will certainly be the result. It starts with each and every one of us.