How can ANYONE think Trump has been vindicated?

I didn’t play very close attention to the Mueller investigation, because I didn’t hold out hope that it would save the nation from Trumpism. I had my doubts that it would turn up anything that result in impeachment — and even if it did, and he was removed from office, his followers would never, ever believe he was removed legitimately. And the disaffection and division in the country — the factors that gave us Trump — would be more bitter than ever.

So while I saw Mueller as an honest and honorable man who would do his best, I wasn’t particularly invested in the outcome. And I worried that a lot of people were placing too much emphasis on it.

But now that it’s over, and the attorney general says Mueller concluded it cannot be proved that Trump criminally conspired with Russia — but took a pass on obstruction of justice — it is rather amazing to see the way Trump touts this as compete exoneration. And his fan base is gullible enough to cheer him at a rally at which he gloats about it.

And despite all the foolishness that has gone before, lowering our expectations, this is still rather amazing.

Let’s just take stock for a moment. In a comment on a previous thread, Mr. Smith provides a link to a column by Michael Gerson, a conservative Republican columnist. You should read the whole thing. It starts like this:

A thought experiment: Suppose that on March 24 — the day Attorney General William P. Barr publicly summarized the Mueller report — all of the results of the special counsel’s probe that have dribbled out over the past two years had been revealed at once.

Michael Gerson

Michael Gerson

Americans would have discovered that a hostile foreign power had engaged in major intelligence operations designed to elect Donald Trump — something consistently denied by the president himself.

In this hypothetical, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III would have simultaneously announced the indictment of 34 Russians and Americans — a network of espionage and corruption including hackers, Russian military officers and high-level operatives of the 2016 Trump campaign.

Suppose the report had revealed that 14 Trump associates had been in contact with Russian nationals, including the president’s son, who had met with Russian operatives in an attempt to gain information harmful to Hillary Clinton’s campaign….

I would go on, but I’m probably pushing the envelope on Fair Use. And you get the picture. The headline of the piece is “Trump may not be a Russian agent. He’s just a Russian stooge.” Which pretty much states the case, although it lets Trump off the hook in that it doesn’t mention everything else we’ve learned about him and the collection of rogues and clowns with which he surrounds himself. Such are the limitations of a headline.

There are other columns out there like this one; this is just the most recent I have read. And I’m thinking it would be interesting to get someone who was cheering Trump at that rally yesterday to read it, and then tell us: Which of the facts Mr. Gerson cites is a “hoax” or “fake news?”

The exercise would accomplish nothing, of course. The Trump base is immune to reason.

51 thoughts on “How can ANYONE think Trump has been vindicated?

  1. Bryan Caskey

    “But now that it’s over, and the attorney general says Mueller concluded it cannot be proved that Trump criminally conspired with Russia…”

    Since your summary above isn’t quite what the AG wrote, I thought you might not have actually read the AG’s letter. He wrote:

    “The Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. As the report states: ‘[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in it’s election interference activities.’

  2. Barry

    For nearly 30 years, I’ve assumed based on observing him and listening g to him that Trump was an unethical, immoral liar.

    Nothing has changed.

  3. bud

    Yep, plenty of rot in the White House. I think the whole business with Trump’s hotel in DC is plenty enough to start impeachment proceedings but the Senate will do zero about it. So the 2020 election is our only hope to rid the nation of this narcissistic disaster. And a generic Democrat likely beats Trump badly next year. Unfortunately “Mr/Ms Generic” has not announced a candidacy. We’re stuck with real people and real flaws. Here’s a good article from New York magazine that will likely haunt VP Biden if he decides to run:

  4. Doug Ross

    Bread.. Save us all a lot of time and name the one specific piece of evidence that confirms Trump was or is a Russian stooge. That should be obvious, right?

      1. Doug Ross

        Details please. What happened in the meeting? What benefit did Russia’s government get from it? Lay out the facts that Mueller couldn’t.

        1. bud

          Mueller was unable to confirm a crime. As he said in his summary that does NOT exonerate him. The events around the Trump Tower meeting did not rise to the level of a crime and neither Brad nor I are suggesting it does. However, it was clearly, unambiguously a gross act of inappropriate misconduct by Trump and his people. The issue at hand was collecting dirt on Hillary Clinton’s campaign. No one reported the Russian overtures to the FBI. The campaign lied about the meeting suggesting it was about adoption policy. Trump himself authored to cover story. He lied repeatedly about the purpose of the meeting. The whole sordid affair indicates Trump is a stooge for the Russians.

          1. Doug Ross

            So, not a crime and not a stooge. Because if it was a crime, Mueller would have said that. And if Trump was a Russian stooge, we’d have evidence of that by his actions as President over the past 2+ years. Which specific policies has Trump executed that have undoubtedly benefited Russia?

            Was McCain turning over a dossier with fake information ethical?

            1. bud

              To borrow a phrase from the President, that’s bulls___. (Hey our president can say it seems like Brad should allow it here)

              1. Doug Ross

                Still waiting on an explanation. I’m seriously open to being convinced that Trump is a Russian stooge and that he committed an act of treason by colluding with the Russians to win the election. I’m just assuming that Mueller and his team of hundreds of investigators missed the details over the past two years. That’s plausible.

                Or, possibly, just maybe, there are people in politics and the government who were so insulated in their bubbles that they couldn’t comprehend Trump winning an election by focusing on key Rust Belt states and had to come up with a complex way of rationalizing their ignorance.

                1. Doug Ross

                  Just make the case. I will accept factual evidence that Trump is a Russian stooge if you can provide it. Not opinion based on your hatred of Trump.

                  But if you do provide it, be prepared for an onslaught of television interview requests because you will have done something no one else has been able to do in two years.

                2. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Doug, are you talking to me or Bud? If to me, the case has been ably made a thousand times, including in the column this post was about.

                  Don’t blame me if you’re not satisfied.

                  For my part, my “we have standards” comment was in response to Bud…

  5. bud

    This is a great learning moment for our American system. We have a man in the White House who is clearly, unambiguously a Russian stooge. The Trump Tower meeting and the events surrounding that sordid event are sufficient evidence to prove that, regardless of blind, irrational statements to the contrary. He’s a confirmed sexual predator. He’s a man who has committed fraud, cheated contractors, banks, lawyers and a host of others on a scale unrivaled in American history. This is a man who is a confirmed racist. The lie count is well into the thousands making him the Pinocchio champion for the ages. His only interest is his narcissistic self. He’s presiding over an unprecedented period in history in which life expectancy has declined 3 straight years, budget deficits are soaring, drug overdose deaths rival the vodka driven collapse of the Soviet Union. White nationalism is on the rise. His administration locks children in cages and allows the American territory of Puerto Rico to suffer needlessly while he tosses paper towels. (Does he ever toss a baseball to his young son?)

    Yet we have millions who blindly defend this unsavory, dishonest, criminal human being. Where we go as a nation depends on how we respond to his many cruel indiscretions. Do we continue to turn a blind, partisan eye to this dangerous man or do we recognize him, as a united nation, for the truly reckless fanatic that he is? This is a major deflection point and the future of our nation is at stake. I’m afraid far too many people take the lazy path of merely branding Trump as something of a bore but ultimately a typical politician like so many others. That worldview is dangerously inaccurate and frankly disgusting. It is time to recognize the truth and move in a united front to change the course of history. Yes elections have consequences and next year we can reverse the greatest mistake in electoral college history. Otherwise we decline into the dustbin of history and future historians will mark the Trump years as the great turning point of the American experiment.

    1. Doug Ross

      “clearly, unambiguously a Russian stooge”

      Except for the part where he has done nothing that benefits Russia.

      Just give me ONE paragraph with the exact details of an action that confirms clearly and unambiguously that Trump is a stooge and what specifically Russia has gained in the past 26 months. I’ll wait.

    2. David T.

      All that writing and not one piece of evidence to back it up. bud are you on blood pressure medication? I guess I don’t quite understand people who get bent all out of shape over things that they have not the least bit of control over. All this ranting and raving and what does it get you, I mean besides a higher risk of having a stroke?

  6. Harry Harris

    How can ANYONE think Trump has been vindicated?
    Because they want to. Isn’t that the way we operate?

    1. Doug Ross

      There’s a long path between vindicated and indicted. You think if there was some smoking gun implicating Trump that it wouldn’t have been leaked by now? Seriously?

      Let’s not forget how many Trump haters have been forecasting his impeachment for every day for 26 months.. any day now… the beginning of the end… breaking news… bombshell… then… fizzle.

      Glenn Beck’s prodigal daughter Rachel Maddow and her cohorts have been unhinged for more than two years to the point of serious questions about their mental stability. Maddow will probably be selling survival meals and gold bullion any day now.

        1. bud

          Doug you are a riot. You are willing to give the most dishonest, racist, sexual predator, established Russian stooge, cheat, thug of a human being a complete pass yet you somehow see this nothing burger by Rachel Maddow rising to the level of actual importance. Really?

          Folks take a step back for a moment and take this in. This is such an important moment in our history. The Dougs of the world are enablers of this terrible man and we must continue to remain vigilant for their scrambled logic.

          1. David T.

            Well it doesn’t sound like those who do these things for a living and are anti-Trump are doing much either. The leading Democratic candidate at this point is a guy who likes to walk up behind women he doesn’t or barely knows, smells their hair and then plants an awkwardly long kiss on the top of their head. In second place is a less touchy-fealy old man who has forgotten how to comb his hair, accessorizes with a large bandage somewhere on his head and likes to sit and scream into microphones.

            1. Harry Harris

              Wow. The shallow, personal, ill-intentioned, and irrelevant discourse marches on.

              1. bud

                Yeh Harry, I got sucked in. I’d much rather talk about tax policy or health care issues. But we can’t lose sight of the fact that our president really is an awful human being.

              2. David T.

                Please explain to me where I’m wrong in my descriptions.

                Interesting that people here can negatively describe President Trump, but when someone says anything negative about a Democrat people lose their minds. Lighten up people, don’t take it personally. These candidates don’t know who you are, so why get your feelings hurt when someone correctly describes them.

            2. Barry

              Yep, Biden actually planted a kiss on the back of her head

              And Trump said he liked grabbing women between their legs and getting away with it.


              1. Doug Ross

                What does Trump have to do with Biden’s actions? It should all come down to whether you think Biden’s actions are proper or not. We have enough women coming forward now saying they didn’t like it. We have the video of him grabbing and trying to kiss a young girl who obviously was not comfortable.

                Creepy Unlcles are creepy uncles. He should keep his hands to himself. He’s Strom Thurmond’s protege,

        2. David T.

          They don’t call her Rachel Madcow for nothing. She’s nothing more than a skinny Rosie O’Donnell.

        3. David T.

          Still not as enjoyable to watch as her clip from election night. You could almost hear things snapping in that head of hers.

    2. Bob Amundson

      Yes. It is called confirmation bias. Thanks to Kahneman and Tversky for destroying the myth of human rationality.

  7. Doug Ross


    If you can’t answer my simple question, don’t deflect to my opinions on Rachel Maddow. I don’t like Trump or support him. And I will only vote for him if he runs against Warren. That’s been stated many times before.

    I simply don’t believe the unfounded hysteria that Trump is a Russian stooge or that the Russians hacked the election. There is no evidence of either.

    1. bud

      Want more. At the July 2018 summit with Putin Trump refused to acknowledge that the Russians interfered in the 2016 election. Putin was having a good time watching his puppet put on a show that day. The America intelligence community? Not so much as they watched horror as the American President threw them under the bus.

    2. Harry Harris

      I would suggest that public criticism of NATO allies and public support of Brexit are both allied with Russian (Putin) policy. Lifting of sanctions imposed by Obama in retaliation for the election interference and attempted hacking (without collusion) and then lifting another set Congress forced would qualify. Aggressive anti-China trade and public stances aide Russian interests as promoted by Putin. There have been some Ukrainian and Baltic moves that are questionable. An unprecedented private meeting with Putin without either the presence ot briefing of foreign policy staff and followed by pro-Putin statements raises questions. Propping-up Putin likely endangers the world, not just our interests.

      1. bud

        Trump’s soft stance against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, thereby strengthening Russia’s hand in that dysfunctional country is another.

      2. Doug Ross

        Nope, sorry on NATO. That’s a pro American position. Our allies should pay for our support..or at least contribute what they were supposed to.

        1. Mr. Smith

          For those knowledgeable of the issue, it’s laughable that this serves US interests.

          Undermining our own alliances only serves Russian interests. And the way this president has addressed this matter has served to do just that. He’s approached it the same way he approaches most serious issues: with a toxic mix of ignorance and demagoguery. We’re seeing it again right now with respect to aid to Central America.

          1. Doug Ross

            So when do you expect Russia to begin its attempt to overthrow our allies? When do the troops start crossing the border?

            NATO is the U.S. military industrial complex’ boondoggle. If there isn’t a war to fight, it’s profitable to invent one.

            Meanwhile, we have the necessary technology and weapons to wipe out any country on the planet in minutes. Wouldn’t even need many actual troops on the ground. But that would be efficient and cost effective.

            There’s a reason so many military contractor HQs are located around DC. Money. Big money. Money that could be spent on things that would actually improve the lives of Americans.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Doug, I know you think the things you say make sense, but they don’t.

              Let’s start with this: “Meanwhile, we have the necessary technology and weapons to wipe out any country on the planet in minutes.” Does it actually not occur to you that it’s difficult even to imagine a scenario in which the United States would have as its aim “wiping out” another country? Does it really not occur to you that most military objectives fall far short of that, and that that is a GOOD thing? Are you not aware that many times, simply having troops in place — in Kosovo, and in Korea for the past 60 years, are ways of preventing a war? And do these considerations really not matter to you?

              Try considering the world as it is, rather than engaging in magical thinking.

              Yes, I know. I could have spent the moment I spent typing all that in some more profitable pursuit, perhaps in some endeavor that would “improve the lives of Americans.”

              Because I know it’s not going to have any effect…

              1. Doug Ross

                If other countries want us to help them prevent war, they should invest the same percentage of their GDP that we do in helping to make that happen.

                Our military presence is foreign countries has done as much harm as good, especially since 9/11, Our presence in Iraq and Afghanistan has actually INCREASED the threat of war (possibly that was the reason we went in the first place in order to give the Halliburtons, Lockheed Martins, etc. an ongoing revenue stream). My lifetime has been filled with more unnecessary U.S. military actions that have killed hundreds of thousands of people (innocent or otherwise) than the theoretical wars you think we have prevented.

                I prefer peace. Our global military strategy does not support peace.

            2. Bob Amundson

              Russia is not trying to overthrow the U.S. and our allies, but they are actively trying to regain their sphere of influence lost with the fall of the Soviet Union. We are in the age of cyber warfare, and Russia’s cyber operations were extremely active during the 2016 election. The United States were not prepared to defend ourselves from this attack, and the damage assessment process will take years because of that lack of preparation.

              As was Eisenhower, I am concerned about the military industrial complex. It is EXTREMELY difficult to stop the production of outdated and ineffective weapon systems. However, it takes time for an aircraft carrier to change course, as it will take time for the United States to adapt, especially with our system of checks and balances.

              I have met many caring, competent younger people who will soon be leaders. I believe in the ability of mankind to adapt, to continue the process of making our world safer and equal. The mega data confirm both are happening.

              1. David T.

                “but they are actively trying to regain their sphere of influence lost with the fall of the Soviet Union”

                Can you really blame Russia for trying to get their power that they lost back? Wouldn’t we do the exact same thing if we suddenly lost global power? This is how every civilization back to the stone-age worked. If you lose power, the last thing you do is roll over and die.

                1. Bob Amundson

                  Doing it overtly because they have a better system would be fine. That is not the case; Nazi Germany wanted to regain their sphere of influence, and that did not work out well for our World. I believe Russia is a dictatorship, a threat similar to Nazi Germany (if Putin gets his way).

                2. Brad Warthen Post author

                  “Can you really blame Russia for trying to get their power that they lost back?”

                  Yes, I can. And no, I do not accept a proposition that seeks to draw a moral equivalence between the United States and the USSR. Reagan’s “evil empire” may have been a tad hyperbolic, but there is no way I want an old KGB man trying to grab that kind of power…

                3. David T.

                  Well I guess history is just incorrect then, countries have been wrongly battling each other land and power for centuries. How many centuries did European countries battle over tracts of land only to claim them for their kingdom? Were they any different than what Russia is doing? Spoils go to the victor, rather than sword and axes we’re using modern weapons.

                4. David T.

                  What’s with the moderated tags now? Just because you disagree with me, I’m now not allowed to post anything until you clear it?

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    If you look around you, you’ll see that most of the people here disagree with me frequently, and Doug and Bud practically ALL the time.

                    Assuming that you’re new, I’ll tell you that some of your recent comments violated my civility rules. You don’t make personal attacks on the other people here.

                    An example: The comment, which I did not allow, in which you said “Is this bud’s attempt at an April Fools joke?”

                    Disagree all you want. But treat the other folks on the blog with respect.

                5. bud

                  We agreed on what to do with DC. And by the way if we did what I said the Democrats would lose a couple of electoral votes.

                6. David T.

                  Okay but I don’t exactly see bud’s comments as respectful. Some toward you or Doug Ross could be considered personal.

                7. David T.

                  Nevermind, if you’re going to continue to censor me until you have time to review them I can’t be involved in a live discussion. So just forget it, there are plenty of other live discussions out there.

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