Why, then, does the upshot of the Mueller investigation feel like a victory for Trump? Because of a structural weakness in the media. Reporters are often quite good at handling revelations, or of making a big deal of hidden conspiracies. When almost everything is out in the open, however, as it was here, it’s hard to work out what to say. Important but predictable, generally speaking, is not the U.S. media’s strong suit.
Elected Democrats share some of the blame, too. By using Mueller as a reason not to discuss action against the president—“Let’s wait for what he says” was their mantra—they reinforced the impression that Mueller would be the person to give the definitive verdict on the Trump presidency. As is now crystal clear, that was not Mueller’s view of his role or his investigation.
Mueller did his part: He secured convictions and submitted his report to the attorney general. Between what he uncovered and what was clear all along, there’s plenty of fodder for congressional investigation and public outrage.