For all of the effects on political actors, Mueller’s fans in the public might take the loss hardest. For this group, the special counsel has become a figure of messianic importance who will deliver the nation from Trump. Some view his promise in straightforward legal or political terms; some have taken it in stranger directions. In a rather more outré offering, Rachel Dodes wrote in Vanity Fair of having a crush on Mueller. “Beautiful Swan, I have to admit that back in the day, if a soothsayer foretold that I’d fall for the consummate G-man, I would have poured bong water on their head and vomited on their loafers,” she wrote. “Those were different times and, admittedly, I was a fool. In this moment of rampant debauchery and freeloading, your patrician uprightness, by contrast, seems almost radical.”

Despite the years of anticipation, experts predict that Mueller’s report is more likely to be a short summary than a long, devastating narrative à la Bill Clinton adversary Ken Starr. Nor is Mueller likely to stand before the nation and offer a resounding critique of Trump, as then–FBI Director Comey did in July 2016, when he recommended not prosecuting Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email server but criticized her email practices. The conclusion of Mueller’s work will mean a loss of purpose and a new realization of the difficulty of removing a president, no matter how square the lead investigator’s jaw.