Flashback to 2017: What if the Mueller report is a bust?

When news of the Mueller report being delivered broke yesterday, Allahpundit ran down most of the likely scenarios as to where we go from here. The only real change since then is we’ve learned that Attorney General William Barr has a call scheduled with congressional leaders at three o’clock this afternoon. We don’t know if he’s going to be ready to empty the whole bag at that point, turn over selected highlights, or perhaps just give them nothing but an expected timeline for his review.

We obviously don’t know what’s in the report yet, nor do we know that we’ll ever get all of it. What we do have for the time being is a fairly solid list of things that are not in the report. Byron York lists those missing elements at the Washington Examiner. They include a lack of indictments for Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and other members of Trump’s inner circle who were frequently predicted to be “taken down” any day now. Nobody from the Trump campaign or the President’s close associates has been charged with any sort of Russian conspiracy to interfere with the 2016 election. The President was never subpoenaed, he never fired Robert Mueller, nor did he obstruct the investigation. All in all, it’s looking like a large, fluffy bag of not much at all.

All of this has gotten me thinking back to the early days of the Special Counsel investigation. Those were the heady times when Democrats and liberals across the nation and in the media (but I repeat myself) were bubbling over with confidence and enthusiasm. This was The Big Tamale. This was what was going to bring Trump down, drive him from office and prove that the nation erred when it rejected Hillary Clinton.

But what if it wasn’t? Back in June of 2017, I suggested that this might end up being a dry hole and asked what would happen if that were the case.

The media has spent months effectively accusing the President and his team of treason. So I ask again… what if there’s nothing to the story? Do we all shake our heads and move on to The Next Big Thing? We demand transparency and accountability of our elected leaders, but is there any sort of accountability for the media? Would there ever be, as unimaginable as it seems… an apology? Don’t hold your breath.

In July of the same year, I posed the following assumption and follow-up question of how this would play out. At the time, I wrote:

What counts is building a narrative and projecting an image. Enough of those stories being fed into breakfast table discussions on a daily basis is all that’s required. Perhaps Robert Mueller will come up with something eventually. Perhaps he won’t. None of us has any way of knowing [what would happen] at that point beyond noting that if there really was any dirt to be had, either the Washington Post or the New York Times would already have it through their network of leakers and we’d be reading about it already. If something illegal is proven, then fine. We need to know about it. But if nothing comes of it, the media will have already done their “job” of leaving the less-tuned-in mass of voters with the impression that something wrong was going on all along.

Now, nearly two years later, we’re on the verge of finding out what Mueller determined. There’s a very real chance that no collusion was found and the only fish winding up in Mueller’s net were a collection of associates who cheated on their taxes, were associated with some decidedly non-Russian strippers and porn stars, or inexplicably lied under oath about things they thought would be politically unpleasant. Will that change anything? As I predicted two years ago, that’s highly unlikely. Just take a peek at this tweet from Politico last night.

Finding anything on Trump was never the main issue. Creating the perception that Trump must have rigged the election and stolen it from Hillary Clinton (with the convenient help of our real-life Boris Badenov, Vladimir Putin), was all that was required. And the vast majority of the press has been hammering that message home for two years now. Nothing in the Mueller report is going to suddenly turn that train around now, and the Democrats will continue to spin any scrap they can glean from those pages to continue the narrative. While I hate to wind up being right in having predicted it, this was always how it was going to end. Either Mueller would find something useful to stick a charge on Donald Trump and his campaign or the public would be left with the perception that they were all a bunch of election-stealing crooks anyway.