And much of the political media has worked backward from a preconceived assumption of guilt, relying on a multitude of leaks as the foundations for breathless stories — often walked back or corrected later — which created the impression that a smoking gun proving collusion was imminent.

None ever came.

Certainly the idea that Trump conspired with Russians to win the 2016 election is so embedded in our discourse that even absolution by Mueller would be unlikely to change the perceptions of the chattering class.

If talking heads like Joe Scarborough and officials like former CIA chief John Brennan can contend that Vladimir Putin might have been blackmailing the president of the United States without a shred of evidence, what makes anyone believe Mueller’s investigation is going to temper their tone?