We’ve All Just Made Fools of Ourselves — Again

The awful corruption of scandal politics.

Comments: 220

  1. Whoa there. Nobody has seen the evidence yet except the Special Prosecutor, and the juries that returned convictions. Let the folks who paid for it see the work product of Mr. Mueller and then we can draw some evidence-based conclusions.

  2. @Russell You "pay for work" of the CIA and the NSA. Are you entitled to see their reports ? Don't get me wrong. I think the public should get to see most of the report. Just as I think the public should see Trump's tax returns. Because we have the right to see the full picture of the man we may vote for. Certainly NOT because of what we paid for.

  3. @Russell That is pretty specious to assume that Barr just went nuts and completely distorted the Mueller report in Trump's favour and Mueller would just sit there and let it slide. It is a safe bet that Barr's statement correctly summarizes the report and its conclusions. Mueller himself knows what's in the report and he seems to be quite happy with Barr's summary. So no use in fooling yourself or anyone else - there was no collusion. End of story. Live with it.

  4. @David NO sir, you do not know whether or not Mueller is happy. Talk about conjecture. There has been no evidence shown to the lawmakers and to the white house, so why are we addressing evidence. Mueller did not draw any conclusions, plus he cannot bring an indictment. Mueller was not in the room when Barr and Rosenstein went through the report. The president was not exonerated. Barr did exactly what Trump wanted him to do and now the challenge will come from the Dems in the House and so it begins. Trump will unleash a torrent of DOJ acts against his enemies, as he has started tody with the arrest of Avenati and then the matter with a district court ruling regarding the Affordable Care Act, whicj will effectively take away health care from millions and increase drug bills for those on Medicare. How well will that sit with his support groups and wit seniors? The Brooks article was the usual finger pointing and moral highjinks in a time of cholera in America. He should know better than to draw these odd morality plays.

  5. Given all of the Russia connections and Trump's obvious affinity for Putin, any reasonable person would have been justified in questioning whether there was collusion. The fact that there was no collusion, according to Barr's summary of Mueller's report, is a victory for American, not for Trump.

  6. @RDR2009 maybe so, but Trump will welcome once again Russia's assistance and meddling in the 2020 election. it helped him get elected once and he has done nothing to prevent it from future elections. I wonder if that's how Trump won the Republican primary too. i wonder why Trump is not asking Wikileaks and "Russia" to find the Mueller report and put that on the internet for us all to see.

  7. Humility from Hannity? Come on. Fox news is going to milk this for years. They haven't even wound down from the Hilary emails, despite being wrong. Yes, the Democrats should feel chastised but the right, led by Trump, are going to extract their pound of flesh, which will no doubt result in further division, divisiveness and national unrest.

  8. @gmansc Chastised? for what? 34 Indictments? The investigation was never about Trump, that was made clear to everyone from the start.

  9. @gmansc Democrats should feel very happy that the Mueller report found out what it could. No chastisement necessary, thank you very much. It is disappointing that someone, David Brooks, would be so shallow as to call for apologies when so much corruption has been uncovered and brought to light by the Mueller investigation. I guess he would rather that corruption have been kept a secret. Please have courage and I promise you do not have to apologize or feel chastened by bullies like David Brooks or liars like Trump and gop Co. Enough with the humiliation of the sad by the mean. There is no winning or losing, we are in this together, truth matters. Enough with the jumping to conclusions. This thing is going to go on for a long time.

  10. @gmansc We will never get the answer on the emails since they were deleted. Anybody with any objectivity knows that she and her compadres all got a pass.

  11. Gutsy, well written article. Especially the call for an apology. This is a moment for introspection, and no one is off the hook.

  12. @Gabe The "moment for introspection" and the calls for apologies need to wait until after the Mueller report (and underlying documentation) is released. Hopefully that will be soon.

  13. @Gabe, Introspection and accountability could help bring the country together. Otherwise, people who had believed DOJ's allegation of collusion don't believe DOJ's conclusion of _no_ collusion. It is the same DOJ. Without accountability, trust is gone, partisan hacks get their way, and people are further divided.

  14. @Gabe - Actually, for me this is a moment for wondering why so many of the questions that I have about events of the last three years have been swept away by a simple statement that there was no "collusion". Then, just what the heck has been going on? "The special counsel defined 'coordination' as an 'agreement — tacit or express — between the Trump Campaign and the Russian government on election interference.'" The report does state that there was Russian interference. Is it possible that Trump and/or campaign officials knew something about such activities but did nothing to either prevent them or to bring them to the knowledge of the appropriate authorities? No "agreement" necessary, is there? I find there are just too many unanswered questions for so much that has happened. But Trump--who, when it comes to manipulation of perception, is as dumb as a fox--managed to make it appear that the investigation was all about him, and so, when he is shown not have made any sort of "agreement," when are supposed to believe there is no there there. Very skillfully done.

  15. "The only decent thing to do is apologize." True. But name one time Trump has ever done the decent thing. He will continue to tweet-gloat and not lead; he will certainly not turn away from conspiracy theories and scandal mongering to focus on issues. Who really will take the lead here? Not the president, that's for sure.

  16. Indeed. Isn't it fascinating that everyone else is expected to behave according to the norms of polite society, except Trump. Trump is always the exception when it comes to calls for decency.

  17. @Sean What would you rather have, a world where everyone behaves exactly like Trump? Democrats should have been spending the past 2 years differentiating themselves in terms of their behaviors and policies. By and large, they haven't. And that is a tragedy for everyone.

  18. Dear @MM, I submit to you that the 2018 elections demonstrate that the Democrats have indeed been differentiating themselves in terms of their behaviors and policies. I don’t want a world where everyone behaves like Trump, but what’s wrong with being unhappy about a world where people like Trump can play right to the line knowing he can take safe harbor in the good faith of those who believe in higher ideals and due process?

  19. Personally, I find it hard to be willing to apologize to someone who continues to drag our country down further and further. I do agree with your observation, "The Democrats won the 2018 midterms by focusing on the issues, not collusion. For most voters, politics is about their lives, not a self-righteous TV show." I truly, truly hope that the Dems take the high road and focus on the issues. Of course that would assume that voters are able to focus on issues as well. Unfortunately, our iPhone generation may not be able to make that leap.

  20. When the smoke clears and the facts come out we can see if for our selves. We know that laws were broken. It is important to know if the candidate that would benefit was involved. Fair question! So as you can see, this was NOT a witch hunt.

  21. I'm awaiting a more thorough analysis of what might have actually been found by this investigation Mr. Brooks. As to why TV news tends to focus on scandal, it brings viewers which allows the sales of more advertising, which means more money for the network owners. After all, this is what commercial TV is for: selling stuff, not particularly the news.

  22. @Bailey Exactly. It's that good old capitalism and all that good old competition. And so are the social media platforms Russia used to spread disinformation. Let's talk about the malign influence of capitalism on our democracy.

  23. @abigail49 Disagree. The media and the social media platforms are barely competitive, if at all. Live in a Communist country and you have much the same thing, except in one the media and social networks are run by a centralized government, and in the other they are run by centralized big business. Capitalism demands competitive markets, and to the extent markets are not competitive, they must be regulated in the public interest.

  24. @abigail49 first let's discuss the corruption fueled by government granted monopolies before we start bashing capitalism and free markets. let's reign in the "freedom of the press" and hold them accountable for slander.

  25. Some people say we are in the post-truth epoch, are we in the post decency epoch too? When Mr. Brooks writes that it is time for O'Rourke and others to apologize is he talking about Trump apologizing for the things he said too? As long as we can't see the full Mueller report there is no way we can say any apologies are necessary.

  26. @Terrakron Absolutely, evidence exists for obstruction of justice but not enough to rise to beyond a reasonable doubt in a criminal prosecution. This president was NOT exonerated from obstruction even with 2 years of intense investigation. That is scary. And that's according to biased AG Barr.

  27. @Terrakron You will say the same even after you see full report. There is no possible way it is substantially different from the summary. Apologies are necessary and due.

  28. @David I think you are right. People will be contrite after viewing the full report and it aligns with what the Justice Department released. But if not, it will continue to corrode our Democracy...so I am hoping it will be released so we can all move forward. So tired of the hype over everything [except policy].

  29. In a way, the report was the best thing that could happen to Democrats. Instead of continuing to pursue the fantasy that there is anything that could induce the Senate to remove Trump from office, Democrats now have to run a national campaign of ideas - ideas about how much better they can run the country than the Trump administration has run it. Fortunately, the Democratic presidential candidates have mostly already figured that out. Now we can devote our attention to things like increasing wages, enhancing health care and making it more accessible, fixing our rotting infrastructure, restoring our educational system to its former world-leading stature, and mitigating the coming disaster of climate change.

  30. @Ecce Homo - Yes! It's kind of interesting--and discouraging--that we're seeing the candidates indeed focusing on the issues at the very same time that we read in columns and in the comments to the columns that Democrats need to focus on the issues as if they are not doing so. Sort of a continuation of the criticism leveled at Hillary during the last campaign.

  31. @Ecce Homo Sorry Ecce Homo but these investigations are not at this point about impeachment but finding the whole truth about this man who was elected in 2016. Only then can we make an informed decision in 2020.

  32. Quit acting as if Donald Trump is off the hook. The Mueller Investigation resulted in 215 criminal charges, 38 indictments or pleas, 5 prison sentences, and the revelation of a web of criminality not related to the Russia Investigation: The Atlantic, March 22, 2019 After Mueller: The Ongoing Investigations Surrounding Trump We have just witnessed the beginning of Trump and his businesses being brought to task.

  33. @merc Trump is off the hook for collusion, 25million later of our tax dollars. On what basis was this investigation commenced? Does that matter?

  34. @merc The Mueller investigation itself did not find a single crime related to the Russia investigation. Instead Mueller's idea of how to investigate was to target anyone who may possess information that would be helpful to him and dig through everything they ever did to find any statutes he could charge them with violating. And he then pointed those charges at them as one points a gun at somebody's head. Either cooperate with me and give me what I want or you will spend decades in prison. Had any of those people not possessed information useful to the investigation the DOJ would have seen their "crimes" as so run of the mill that they were not deserving of prosecution or the DOJ's time.

  35. @Michael Stavsen Interesting stance, that "run of the mill" crimes should not be prosecuted. I guess prosecution, like paying taxes, is for the little people.

  36. Congress still has to see the Mueller report, not only Barrr's interpretation in 4 pages, so there is still a lot to be learned. And whatever the outcome, it does not alter the fact that we have the worst president that we could ever have been cursed with. Nevertheless, your point is well taken. It is time to fight the 2020 election on the most pressing issues: exposing corporate corruption and greed, and focusing on the needs of the middle and working class, health care, a clean environment, and climate change. Whoever fights for these issues will win the voters.

  37. @fearing for - Please stop. The candidates are doing exactly what you are implying they are not doing. This constant harping on what they need to do as if they are not already doing it is exactly what creates a perception that Democrats don't care about the issues and allows a scamster like Trump to convince many gullible people that he, on the other hand, does.

  38. still, this is one man's opinion of the report. None the less, all of the convictions that Mueller recommended point to an association to the president. He may be teflon, but his associates seem to be supporting guilt by association. And DT, in my opinion an embarrassing person to be leading our country.

  39. "It’s clear that many Democrats made grievous accusations against the president that are not supported by the evidence. It’s clear that people like Beto O’Rourke and John Brennan owe Donald Trump a public apology" Let's wait for Mueller's actual report to be released, rather than Barr's clearly predetermined & partisan summary, before coming to any rash conclusions.

  40. @William James the evidence isn't the problem. The strength of it is. We aren't wrong about who he is and the corrupt activity that surrounds him.

  41. @William James Just stop. It’s inconceivable the report deviates significantly from Barr’s letter. The report is going to be leaked eventually and Barr knows it.

  42. @William James Too many coincidences not to cry, “Treason “. Russia given a pass on interfering with our 2016 Election.Russia given a pass on Crimea; Russia given a pass on the continuing war in Ukraine; Russia given a pass on opening a military base in Venezuelan waters; Russia given a pass on Sanctions enacted by Congress; Russia given a pass on Syria. Do we need more? How about Donald’s craven ‘cave’ at Helsinki? How about his efforts to destroy NATO? Remember that old GOP refrain, “If it looks like a duck, etc..........” Let me know if you need more! ;

  43. It is evident that laws were broken and that is the reason why several of the President's associates have been indicted. Given that it is not far-fetched to ask if the President colluded. In fact, that is a valid question to ask. Once the Mueller report is made public, we will most probably learn that there is not enough evidence to prove collusion. But, then we have to move on. What the exercise has shown is that foreign powers are working to undermine our democratic society and system, and that is important to emphasize and know.

  44. @John A Yes, it was a valid question to have asked. But many Democrats have been taking the results of this investigation as a foregone conclusion. It never was. In fact, it was always unlikely that enough evidence would be found to indict Trump.

  45. @John A - And what has also been shown is that Trump made a determined and largely successful attempt to get as many people has possible to believe that this was all about him and him alone and NOT about determining the level of foreign influence and who in our own country might--or might not--have been supporting those efforts. That is, IMO, obstruction of justice--but admittedly I'm not a lawyer and must admit that it perhaps does not meet the standard of the law.

  46. @John A And those foreign powers are colluding with democrats.

  47. The Mueller investigation did not find actionable evidence of a conspiracy. The bar for a conspiracy conviction is very high. If this were an actual indictment, any good prosecutor would have thrown in half a dozen related charges to make sure some of them would stick in court. Plus did David Brooks read the report? Perhaps he has a secret channel. Otherwise, he's like us, he's speculating on the Barr memo.

  48. The letter of the reports finding may not reflect the spirit of Trump. Trump and his supporters betray the American idea in word and deed. Making an equivalence between John Brennan and Sean Hannity tells you just how thoughtful David Brooks is. He sometimes writes good book reports, but he is no deep thinker, and he is, most definitely, a Republican.

  49. I don't know what campaign trail David Brooks is walking on but everyone I know in the US—and I know people all across the US—is talking about one thing and one thing alone: the sorry state of our democracy thanks to Trump and the Republican malfeasance that, over the past 40 years, paved the way for Trump and that ensures we cannot be rid of him today.

  50. @617to416 Unfortunately, everyone you know does not include about 40% of the population and what apparently constitutes an Electoral majority. As for the other 60%, here's hoping more them make it priority to vote in 2020, and not for a third-party spoiler candidate. "Meh, I'l skip it" could be what brings down the United States.

  51. @Stuart If democrats put us the same list of candidates that they have in the recent past ... and continue to campaign as "trump colluded", then they will lose again because of "Meh, I'l skip it".

  52. @617to416 I've been reading a lot of comment boards in a variety of publications for the last two years. A significant percentage of this country sees Donald Trump as a persecuted hero and the Democrats/liberals as enemies of the state. I have rmany relatives who feel the same way. He is where he is because so many people love him. I can't figure out for the life of me why they love him more than the rule of law and more than the Christian principles many of them claim to hold, especially given the vileness of his character, but he's got them in some kind of hypnotic trance. He's gets a free pass on everything that would lead to death threats if a Democrat had done the same. But I'm a biased liberal who just doesn't appreciate truth and reality.

  53. How is it possible that David Brooks is so sure that Donald Trump is exonerated by the Mueller report? Has he seen it? Because as far as I'm aware, all we know about that report at present comes to us via an attorney general who was hand-selected to shield Trump from Mueller. It was always a given that Trump and his minions were going to claim vindication and then do everything in their power to prevent us from reading the report ourselves. Forgive if I'm not willing to take their word for it that Trump is completely innocent. We know Trump refused to testify. We know others, including his attorney, lied on his behalf. We know he took numerous steps to impede and discredit the investigation. Those do not seem to me like the actions of an innocent man. In fact, it seems that, like the election, the report surprised no one more than Donald Trump himself, who for all the world behaved like a man who believed he was about to be indicted. The simple fact is we don't yet know what is in the report, let alone the extent of the corruption and criminality in the Trump administration. David Brooks should at least wait until someone outside of Trump's inner circle has a look at the report before he starts his habitual finger-wagging.

  54. @Joe M. I despise this president, too. But it's time to stop dreaming about Mueller conclusions that will never come. No collusion. Not enough evidence to support obstruction charges. I wish that wasn't true, too. But it is. Give it up.

  55. @SalinasPhil John Gotti got off many times before Muller took him down. Trump fits the pattern. A couple of more prosecutions and he is finished.

  56. @Joe M. Well, Mueller himself seems to be pretty happy with Barr's summary. Why shouldn't everyone else be too?

  57. I have to say I am surprisingly satisfied with the current outcome. Technically there was no collusion but clearly Trump and his minions had enough interactions with the Russians to indicate there was something inappropriate going on. Regardless, let's all move on. Trump's "vindication" is only important to his core. The rest of us must focus on finding and supporting the best option to defeat Trump as well as his enablers. Mueller report aside, we know what kind of man Trump is and isn't and we must not lose sight of our goal of removing him from office in 2020.

  58. @JohnFred Absolutely, I couldn't agree more. We have our work cut out for us now. Let's not bemoan what we can't change, our energy is better spent if we move on and acknowledge that Trump is indeed a "Teflon Don" but we will have to take him down by voting him out. We can't depend on Congress or any further reports to do it.

  59. @JohnFred The question is what is he going to use this “exoneration” as an excuse to do. He is a dangerous person, infused and enthralled with right wing fake toughness and leaders. Feeling vindicated, he could be a classic example of someone who may overact in his supposed power to get back at his supposed enemies.

  60. @JohnFred Well said!

  61. I think it’s too late for reconciliation. Some sort of national divorce is inevitable in my opinion. I just hope it’s amicable.

  62. Hangon, sure innocent until proven guilty. But without the accusations there would have been no inquiry. And what if he had been guilty.

  63. Night after night the talking heads, both media and politicians, talked about this collusion as if they were in the know, saw evidence, spoke with people who saw evidence, knew things we would soon also find out about. I certainly came to believe that must be the case. They were all so convincing. Then we learn otherwise, and now that is not enough either. There is a list going around that details all the stats of the investigation. Some 40 FBI agents worked on this. Some 500 witnesses called. 500 search warrants. 50 phone taps. 20 lawyers. Two years of looking. Zero evidence. Shameful. And yet there is no accountability. Life goes on.

  64. @MGAV; Trump himself said he fired Comey due to the "Russia thing." Trump encouraged russians to hack into Clinton's emails. That may not fit the legal definition of collusion, but it sure is tainted and is wholly bad for our country and future.

  65. @MGAV My understanding is that Mr. Mueller did not say there was "zero evidence" of collusion/conspiracy, only that there was not enough to go forward with an indictment. There may be enough evidence to proceed with impeachment, however. Let's see the evidence. The 100+ interactions between Trump people and the Russians during the campaign, Trump's otherwise unexplainable friendliness with Putin, Trump's lying about his financial interests in Russia, Trump's firing of Comey to get rid of "this Russian thing" were objectively sufficient justification for initiating and completing Mueller's investigation. I think they are sufficient justification for Congress to continue to investigate, using Mueller's full report as a foundation. And of course Trump obstructed justice, Mr. Barr's pre-determined opinion notwithstanding. Trump did it in plain sight and it is clear that he is trying to hide something/many things, not just collusion with the Russians. No apology is needed.

  66. @MGAV "Two years of looking." 34 people got indicted or got guilty pleas Six former Trump advisers, 26 Russian nationals, three Russian companies, one California man, and one London-based lawyer. 7 pleaded guilty.

  67. It seems to me David Brooks is jumping ahead of himself in asking for apologies. This report apparently has not completely exonerated Trump and we have not seen any of it yet. It is possible that even when charges cannot be legally proven there is still guilt. This happens all the time in court. Even if Trump's weird love affair with Putin is only in pursuit of his own business interests that is treasonous in itself. Putting monetary gain before country is what lures many into betraying their country. In addition, Trump with his family separation policy, has committed human rights abuses. He is completely beyond the pale and no one should ever have to apologize to him.

  68. If you don't mind, Mr. Brooks, I will reserve judgment until I see Robert Mueller's full report AND the conclusion of the many on-going investigations the special prosecutor handed off to other prosecutors before deciding who owes whom an apology. All we have seen is a 4-page summary from a partisan political appointee who got his job after writing a 19-page memo outlining why the president cannot be guilty of obstruction. Apparently, the evidence does not mean much to William Barr, either. What a surprise that this AG took it upon himself to rush out his summary without including even one full sentence from a report on a 22-month investigation that he read, analyzed, and summarized in a mere 48 hours. Pardon me for not buying what Mr. Barr is selling. What he published was a political document that gave President Trump and his allies talking points to proclaim Trump was completely exonerated. Which, of course, he wasn't. But facts never have mattered much to this president and the Republican Party. Good of you to make this determination without seeing the evidence. Many of us prefer to wait to see all the evidence before making a decision.

  69. I actually agree with most of those statements. Trump knew of Russia's interference in the election, and did nothing about it - no call to the FBI - nothing. Furthermore, he's still doing nothing about it. I think there's plenty of evidence of obstruction of justice, too - right in plain site. I mean they had about 100 contacts with the Russians and then lied about it. I make no apologies for myself and I plan on watching Rachel Maddow again tonight to see what she has to say.

  70. How wonderful, Mr. Brooks seized the moment of opportunity to mount a horse and gallop on the moral high ground again. Mr. Trump and his press secretary will be pleased!

  71. While we're at it, a heartfelt apology to Putin would seem appropriate. He always insisted Russia was not involved and the Barr memo clears the Russians of any wrongdoing.

  72. One of your most balanced analyses. As a Democrat, I commented several times over the period urging the Times to step back a few and let Mueller do his job without speculating on where he was going and who was flipping and reading between the lines of every indictment, keeping it in the news and discussion every day, being separate from the investigative reporting that gave us key information. So much other important news and public debate gets neglected when scandals are given so much oxygen. The national news media have enormous positive power to educate, focus attention, shape debate, and promote legislative and citizen action. A shout-out here to CNN for producing "town hall" meetings for each Democratic presidential candidate.

  73. Brooks is taking a victory lap just a little bit behind Trump. The difference is that when all the facts in the Mueller report are finally known Brooks just might admit he was wrong. His president never will.

  74. Nearly 48 years later, the lyrics of Don McLean seem more prescient than ever.

  75. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez makes the right call in re to Trump: "As horrific as this president is, he is a symptom of much deeper problems." "...removing Trump will not remove the infrastructure of an entire party that embraced him; the dark money that funded him; the online radicalization that drummed his army; nor the racism he amplified+reanimated." "...we ALL must pursue the hard work of addressing these root causes."

  76. Regardless of what the Mueller report tells us, I still maintain that Trump is a traitor - he's weakened us globally, has enabled the destruction of various aspects of our environment, undermined free education, tried to destroy the little bit of public health policy we have, etc., etc. I certainly wouldn't apologize for finding him to be the corrupt autocrat he patently is. And, until we see what the report actually says, I'm not inclined to believe his regime is morally or ethically pure.

  77. Yes, it’s beside the point.

  78. Writing about a rush to judgment may just boomerang on you, Mr. Brooks, once the full Mueller report sees the light of day. And as far as suggesting an apology from those who saw the possibility of collusion, perhaps such will be in order on the day that Donald Trump apologizes for his slander against a true hero, John McCain.

  79. Let's wait for the full report with all of the evidence that was gathered. It is hard to credit Barr since we already know that his conclusion misrepresented what Mueller actually said.

  80. So attempting to undo the results of an election just requires an apology? That should end the skullduggery. Nice piece. the kind of advice adults try on first graders who can't get along. Is Brooks so concerned about his paycheck that he can't admit that he works for an organization that pressed a clearly false narrative?

  81. Brennan and O'Rourke do not owe Trump an apology. Trump instigated this investigation by his own actions. His inability to stand up to Putin, his hosting Russians in the Oval Office the day after firing Comey, and several other actions, necessitated this investigation. Trump owes this country an apology for acting as if nefarious forces are looking to smear him and that he was just an innocent all along. That is buy no means the case here.

  82. I find it astonishing how many conservative pundits suddenly have taken a big fat "gulp" and have turned this entire mess on the Dems. It was Rosenstein who appointed the Special Counsel. It was Comey who claimed the President sought allegiance and prosecutorial abstention. It was David Brooks who appeared on the News Hour night after night, shrugged his shoulders, and bad mouthed the President at every turn. Plenty in the news industry will lose their jobs in the weeks and months ahead. Perhaps the sanctimonious should be the first to go.

  83. First of all, this isn't really the time for anything concrete - apologies, snap decisions, and certainly not to worry about our ideologies. They're what got us here - with a mob boss as the "leader of the free world." HA. We do not have the full Mueller report. We have this constant barrage of 24/7 yammering at the American public - both on the right and the left, and what we really have is this: many more years of no resolutions as to what this sham of a presidency has done. Now, we have more investigations - and more delay - and in the mean time no REAL legislation or anything of substance being done to progress the condition of the American people. We have a through the roof deficit - a recession (or depression) looming in the horizon - and a political system mired in Trumpism (either for or against). Medical bills through the roof for many Americans - a problem with racial divides, and yet, we can turn our "lonely eyes" to nothing but THIS unbelievable idiocy. Quite frankly, when you pick up a flag on the Fourth of July - you might as well be picking up any flag in the world. We aren't the best country in the world - we're just one in a thousand others. And we're all in trouble.

  84. Whoa there. We have seen nothing from the report. We are asked to swallow a summary, which can obviously be parsed many ways. This smacks of paternalism as does your column. There are scandals, the facts of which the public, who paid for this investigation has a right to view. The fact that is obvious to any regular person is that politics, laws, advantage is all pay to play. Very few people are controlling the game. This accounts for the shrill tone. Normal people are left out. Do you think for a minute that Trump would have gotten this result if he was not rich and being helped by others of his ilk who are pleased with his behaviour and the delegitimizing of any form of governmental control that helps average people? Your attempt to obfuscate this is insulting and misguided, although very revealing as to who you answer to.

  85. Mr. Brooks, are you serious? No one overstepped here but Trump. First, there were a large number of contacts between his campaign and the Russians who interfered in the election; second, Trump himself repeatedly told brazen lies about all aspects of this, including his own contacts with Russians, and people in his campaign told similar lies. These things made reasonable people conclude that Trump must be guilty. On the other hand, had Trump acted like he was innocent (beginning with not firing the FBI director and then saying he did so to stop the investigation, not denying the Russians interfered, not ... ah, it's a long list), then perhaps people would not have assumed he was guilty. No one owes him any apology.

  86. Thanks for a clear-eyed sober trip down memory lane It’s good to reminded what the ex-secretary of defense said “ there are known knows, unknown knows, and unknown unknowns “

  87. I’m still waiting to see the report, free from cherry picking. Trump’s tax returns still haven’t appeared. Where’s the apologies for that?

  88. @Paulie apology for what? Since when is a President’s tax return anyone but the IRS’s business.

  89. One point that doesn't seem to get enough mention is that the question of Trump's possible complicity with Russia was not created out of the blue but after many months of revelations about his lying about the Trump Tower meeting, and his inner political circle having been shown to be liars about their contacts with Russians. So, they most emphatically do not owe Trump and apology. Trump, who routinely, including today, calls political opponents "treasonous?" Get real.

  90. I cannot understand why corporate media is so quick to accept Barr's letter, that took a weekend, instead of fighting to see the Mueller report, which took two years. It's shameful and I will forever be suspicious of any institution that uphold's Barr's analysis of the Mueller memo. If it's a total exoneration, why is it hidden from view? Be smarter. Now.

  91. @Brad Mueller and about twenty very clever people worked very long hours for two years. To summarize their work,as well as form a judgement, after just one weekend's reading of the lengthy report by just one person seems odd. If it was a court case the judge would have reserved their decision,maybe for weeks to do the report justice. Mr Barr has acted as judge and jury in two days. Too speedy for my taste. did he prejudge it???

  92. David Brooks, a long time coddler of the American right that produced Donald Trump is, for this and other reasons, an obvious moral hypocrite. How can he credibly argue for political diffusion, especially when he is here trying to do so by attacking his political enemies, and in an intellectually dishonest way no less? The Mueller report seems to indicate (we haven’t seen it) that the special council was not prepared to indict the POTUS for treason. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a sum of evidence of such inappropriate contact between trump’s side and the Russians that it would raise the specter of impeachment in any normal political climate (which is to say almost any political climate before this current one).

  93. I think you need to take a breath and wait before slamming this commentator. This investigation has led to many indictments and several convictions. Brooks has supported all of those.

  94. David, You seem to overlook: 1) the report as per Barr's letter did not exonerate Trump; it said it didn't have sufficient evidence to get a conviction; we don't know what the evidence is, just that it wasn't sufficient. 2) the charges and convictions of many of Trump's associates, including Cohen, his "fixer"; the level of integrity of this administration is still in question in my view; 3) the investigations that were referred by Mueller to the states; there are still issues that are legal, moral and ethical about how Trump conducts his business. Nor have we seen the full report. Nor has the House concluded any of its own investigations. All of that is distinct from the "scandal mongering" which you discuss. Yes, we need to focus on issues that impact our lives and seek candidates that can actually formulate policies for the good of the nation. However, that doesn't lead to public apologies to a man of questionable integrity. It calls for candidates to be leaders, to be detailing their positions and policies they would work to implement if elected -- and it calls for voters to be evaluating candidates on that basis, not listening to every dog whistle of the so-called scandal mongers.

  95. Since collusion is not a legal term, it is subject to interpretation. Given the couple of dozen instances of the Trump campaign interacting with Russian agents, and the innumerable documented instances of Trump associates lying to the FBI, Congress, and we the people, I still find it absurd to infer that there's no there there. And why obstruct the investigation, which was publicly acknowledged by the President, if nothing happened. Sorry David, this is not over, and what the Republicans did during the Obama years will not be forgotten by the Dems. This is far from over.

  96. Mr. Brooks forgot something in his analysis: the GOP has never gotten over Watergate. That was most evident in the way they went after Hillary Clinton for Benghazi. I still think that the biggest unaddressed problem is campaign finance and the way big donors can abuse candidates to get what they want in terms of legislation, deregulation, etc. As long as our elected officials have to spend so much time fund raising this well deserved cynicism will continue. The 8 year temper tantrum the GOP indulged in during the Obama years was outrageous and uncalled for. Even the Democrats, who were not happy when Reagan was elected got over it and went back to the business of governing. Whatever respect I might have had for the GOP prior to Obama's election vanished when they declared, after he was elected, that they would make him a one term president.

  97. Mueller's investigation resulted in about three dozen indictments, all of them in Trump's orbit. Every minute and penny spent on this investigation was worth it, and none of the time that the rest of us spent watching it was a waste of our time; that is what democracy is: we pay attention, our elected officials are accountable to us.

  98. David, whom is running the country and dealing with the seemingly insolvable or at least very difficult issues in economics, environment, business, trade, geopolitics, terrorism, poverty, intellectual property, taxation, infrastructure, and education of our workforce? Seems like those problems are too hard, so all our leaders focus on superficial blame politics while making it legal to be bribed by lobbyists, rich individuals and corporations. Wow, the steady and incremental fall of the Roman Empire indeed.

  99. Let’s see-Jared and Don Junior attend a meeting with a representative of the Russian government to discuss dirt on Hillary. Neither of them is questioned, much less indicted. Trump writes a letter for his son that that this meeting is about adoptions. Manafort, the campaign chairman, provides secret Republican polling data to the Russians But the campaign is not guilty of collusion with the Russians. Sadly I have concluded that Mueller is just another loyal Republican.

  100. David, I'll say this as succinctly as possible: We haven't seen the report. Regards.

  101. Let's get a look at the full report and wait for the ruling from the SDNY first; there are still questions to be answered. Thus far all we have is a four-page letter from a Trump appointee who is on the public record calling the Mueller investigation "fatally misconceived." If no collusion, no obstruction of justice, and no financial crimes are revealed then an apology might be in order. It is only prudent to reserve judgment, one way or another, until all the facts are known.

  102. Additionally, let's not forget that Trump railed against this investigation as a "witch-hunt," either unable or unwilling to recognize the significance of the crimes of the men that ran his campaign. Apologize for the specific accusations of collusion? Maybe. Apologize for the investigation on the whole? Of course not.

  103. For most voters, politics is about their lives, not a self-righteous TV show. Yes, Mr. Brooks, a TV show in which the US President stands next to the leader of Russia defending him, in front of the world. The same President who admits in an interview that the head of the FBI must be removed to prevent an investigation of possible Russian connections with his campaign. Yes, his posture is verifiably self-righteous . And yes, it is a scandal that a US President is comfortable lying to the people he has sworn to lead and protect. My question is, WHY would our country apologize for recognizing this behavior as questionable?

  104. @Roberta Perhaps you would prefer a United States Senator, or President, or prosecutor, who accuses people of communist sympathies, destroys their lives, and blacklists them from their careers? Oh, wait... been there, done that. Guess it's okay, though, to do that when the victim isn't on your side of the aisle.

  105. "The nation’s underlying divides are still ideological, but we rarely fight them honestly as philosophical differences. We just accuse the other side of corruption. Politics is no longer a debate; it’s an attempt to destroy lives through accusation." With all due respect, as a political scientist I am going to disagree with Mr. Brooks on this point. Studies show that, in fact, in countries where there are no great ideological divisions on political issues, scandals come to dominate politics, in large part because there is basic agreement on the issues. To put it another way, in countries where the people are not terribly divided ideologically, political parties have to find other ways to distinguish themselves in the eyes of voters, and one way that they do this is to magnify and exaggerate suggestions of corruption. If you can't convince the voters that your party is all that different from others ideologically, emphasize the perception that other parties are corrupt. This is a common theme in Japan, for example. The fact is, the United States is a lot like Japan. It lacks parties on the political extremes. As is also true for much of Western Europe, the main political parties in the U.S. compete for voters in the middle. Lacking ideological differences, what is left is to accuse the other side of being corrupt.

  106. Brooks writes,"Richard Nixon’s downfall was just and important, but it opened up the mouthwatering possibility that you don’t need to do the hard work of persuading people to join your side. Instead, you can destroy your foes all at once through scandal." Then Brooks makes the argument that reason should prevail over "mouthwatering scandals" and govern our interactions with each other identifying, in his preternaturally hopeful way, "a vein of voters who would rather focus on the substance of our historical moment," mentioning, as examples, concerns for the possible Chinese threat and affordable health care. David, methinks we are in a new era where social media, 24/7 cable news, loudmouths on the extremes of both sides who get plenty of clicks, etc, etc are going to make a civilized appeal and return to reason impossible. Methinks it will take a revolution in how we think about ourselves to do that, a revolution, given its ... well, revolutionary nature, is almost certain not to occur. Especially when our most influential voices are trapped in the past and too afraid to be revolutionaries.

  107. This opinion by Brooks will be embarrassing in a few weeks or months. First, he and others haven't paid enough attention to Barr's letter. Second, the report will be released because Republicans attack people who may have, or can get access to it. Mueller, according to Barr, stated "this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime". This is the key sentence, on which all media attention and punditry sways. The sentence does not state "there's no evidence that the president committed a crime." It only states the report cannot conclude there was a crime. Mueller's conclusions are under a department view that a president cannot be tried for a crime. Barr said that view didn't influence his letter. It influenced the rest of the justice department, including Mueller. His job was to assemble evidence about the president, not bring criminal charges. Brooks, you, and me do not yet know what evidence Mueller found. What are the odds he found nothing? We'll find out. Mueller's 16+ team were silent in the investigation. Now they're out, pursued by media. All have opinions, egos, and one, some, or many may be outraged by the representation of the report. The FBI has been dragged through the mud by Trump and his cronies. Now those same people will use Barr's representation to further impinge the FBI. The report is an FBI document. The report will get seen.

  108. This isn’t over. We haven’t seen the report yet and maybe for good reason at this time but I do believe something will surface. When it does the gop officials will protect themselves before taking a bullet for individual 1. Just wait.

  109. I agree that scandal politics has made a mess of our democracy. However, President Trump has consistency increased the volume, both in terms of quantity and loudness, of speculation about the outcome of the Mueller investigation. Trump could have chosen to allow the investigation to proceed knowing that it would exonerate him and address the issue of Russian influence and meddling in our elections. However, instead he and those close to him repeatedly chose actions that implied their own guilt and culpability, rather than stand in defense of our nation. He continues to do so, in declaring that those who sought the Mueller investigation must themselves be investigated. Mueller did his job; his investigation proved without a doubt that Russia interfered with our electoral process. At the end of the day, regardless of the report's full content, our president has publicly, repeatedly, chosen to serve his own self interests over our country and constitution.

  110. The true scandal: Far too many American politicians recognize but one guiding principle: The end—promoting the interests of themselves, their party, its base and its donors—justifies the means. This polarized post-truth Trump era amply demonstrates that far too many U.S. citizens are already pawns within a competitive authoritarian system: ~a system wherein the trappings of democracy remain in place, but in which democratic norms are undermined and democratic institutions are severely weakened, primarily through the sharply increased influence of money in politics; ~a polarized system in which the major political parties compete for donor dollars and base support; when elected, empowered politicians make little effort to achieve democratic compromises; they instead attempt to impose the policies favored by donors and base on the citizenry as a whole; ~a system wherein government officials, in unprecedented ways, abuse state power in order to aid their allies and disadvantage their adversaries; ~a system in which the considered preferences of the majority of citizens are ignored and abuses of power go well beyond those associated with traditional patronage. The true scandal? Representative democracy is giving way to a soulless competitive authoritarian system of misgovernance.

  111. Nonetheless, Trump has spent much of the campaign and his presidency uttering supportive remarks about Russia and Putin He's had meetings with Russian officials where he was the only American in the room. He's had several meetings with Putin and implored the translator not to discuss what was said, took away the hand-written notes and didn't brief anyone in government about what was said. And, all the while he's been like a kid who just jumped down from the kitchen counter when he heard the back door open and blurted "hi, mom, I wasn't getting any cookies!".

  112. Robert Mueller is now able to openly join his fellow Republicans in supporting President Trump.

  113. David Brooks is right on. Every administration has some sort of scandal and it creates a dysfunctional and partisan relationship between those who have been elected to govern and those who are not in power. Frankly, I’m sick of listening to non-stop criticism of Trump even though I can’t stand him and didn’t vote for him. Let’s just get over it and move on with tackling the many problems we have in this country. Substance please.

  114. @Ellen no, ma'am. Not every administration has some sort of scandal. Trump's insults, directed at gold Star families, the media, John McCain insults, and our intelligence agencies, to name but a few, Trump has gone well beyond a ho-hum political scandal. Trump is an obscenity and a smear on the American political process. The day we get tired of it ,the day we e get tired of fighting it, then God have mercy on our souls.

  115. Why not release the report if it exonerates Trump? You would think the Republicans would support releasing it if it in fact clears Trump.

  116. Mr. Brooks, Judging by these comments many of your readers refuse to consider what you have to say. One lesson I learned as a reporter was that it was easy to treat people fairly who I liked and respected. The challenge was to do the same when reporting on people I loathed. I do hope many in the news media will get back to reporting the news and stop haranguing their readers. Their credibility is at stake.

  117. There was every reason to undertake an investigation, and nobody owes Trump any apologies. Mueller's investigation (apparently) was unable to uncover evidence sufficient to establish that there was a knowing, intentional conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia. So be it. But in light of over 100 undisclosed contacts between campaign officials and Russians, and the fact that Russia had, in fact, attempted to interfere with the election in order to elect Trump, an investigation was 100% warranted.

  118. Where there is smoke, there is fire. The standard for an indictment is, as it should be, very high. It was extremely unlikely that a tape would appear of Trump saying: "Vlad, do what you can to help me win." Trump has been slivering through these situations his whole life. There is documented evidence of collusion, fraud, tax fraud, lying under oath, witness tampering, and the list goes on. It's akin to getting pulled over for going 120 in a 55 and declaring victory because you only got ticketed for going 70. Trump will have his day, most likely after 2022. In the meantime, let the drip, drip, drip of revelations and legal issues play out for the next 2 years and focus on electing an alternative.

  119. Mr. Brooks seems very eager to "close the book" on this subject. Has he seen the full report that almost none of us has seen except for the few at the highest level of the DOJ and the Mueller team? The investigation and the report are fatally flawed by the fact that they could not get anyone from the other party, i.e. Russians, of a potential collusion to be questioned or to cooperate with the investigation. Whether true, legally provable, collusion existed or not, multiple people in Trump's orbit including Trump himself had lied repeatedly about their interactions with the Russians and their surrogates. What about that? To be elected to the highest office in the Nation with knowing and unknowing massive assistance from a nation considered the #1 enemy, by their actions, is something to be very proud of. What an accomplishment!

  120. The end of the Mueller probe leaves behind many unanswered questions. The first question is, what is actually in the Mueller report? We have seen the administration spin, but not the report itself. If it is as big a victory for the President as it seems, then there should be no reason not to release the whole thing, The second question, is how did the Trump campaign hire so many shady Russia linked individuals? How did Trump or Kushner hire guys like Manafort, Carter Page and Mike Flynn? Who suggested the names? Another question, is why has Trump been so friendly to Putin, even when it did not serve his interests? The Helsinki summit was a disaster for Trump, making him look like a Russian stooge. Why go ahead with it? A possible answer to some of these questions is that Trump is a guy with a lot of Russian friends and business associates. Over time, he has come to understand and sympathize with the Russian view of the world. Having pro-Putin views is not a crime. However, it is a legitimate concern if the commander in chief has personal and business ties to one of America's rivals. I think the attention paid by the news media to Trump's Russian connections is entirely defensible. Trump did not do himself any favors when he asked Russia to hack Hillary's emails, when he hired Paul Manafort or when he had a summit with Putin. The President's own behavior fueled the conspiracy theories.

  121. I agree with the comments that remember we haven't yet seen the full report. I don't trust AG Barr, or anyone else in this administration to be completely honest with regards to this report. That said, when you accuse the President, (or anyone else) of treason, you better have your facts straight. The time to apologize isn't now, it was in the split second after accusing someone of something for which facts weren't in evidence. We, as Americans, need to act a lot more like Bob Mueller and a lot less like Donald Trump.

  122. @Chuck I agree with your first two sentences. And how do you feel about a sitting president accuses a special prosecutor and former FBI director of treason? Presumably, the president owes Mueller, the FBI, and the American people an apology...?

  123. Mr. Brooks, as others have noted, we haven’t seen the report. Hence, calls for an apology are vastly premature. We DO know Russia sought to undermine our democracy. We also know Trump relentlessly tried to discredit any investigation. Something that should be celebrated. Only through vigilance can we retain our rights and freedoms. Anyone who tries to impede that process — especially holders of high elected office — should be held to account. And yes, rigorous scrutiny. For now, as ever, your view is unabashedly biased. I note no call for apology from the birthers or the “lock her up” crowd.

  124. Has David read the report, or is this just media bashing? David is ready to draw conclusions based on a Trump partisan's comments on a report no one else has seen? The mountain of evidence already revealed before the Mueller report clearly shows a Russian attempt to manipulate our election. The investigation was to determine if the Trump team organized this or facilitated it, and apparently there is no solid evidence of this. If true, I'm willing to accept this based on Mueller's impeccable integrity, but to act like it was a crazy question in the first place is astonishing. Is David not concerned about the numerous attempts to lie about the numerous connections to Russia and/or obstruct the investigation? Does David not remember early 2015 when Russia was not among the top 100 issues on the national agenda, yet the Trump campaign ends up with dozens of inexplicable connections to Russia? Mueller apparently made no determination either way on obstruction - is this because he cannot prove intent, is it because he is following precedent that a President cannot be indicted, or is it because there simply is not enough evidence? We don't know, but for David to take a partisan's analysis that there is nothing here to see, and simply believe it uncritically is baffling. All of this being said, I do agree with David on one thing - the issues are the critical avenue to defeating Trump in the end.

  125. I also hope we focus on issues and policy. Like all those in England who voted for Brexit because they yearn for their lost empire and their belief in their superior racial and ethnic identity, we Americans are in the middle of a vast temper tantrum because we can no longer fling our trash in the sea, dig coal and pump gas to go, go wherever wish and buy buy endlessly. The amount of violence in the USA is astounding--people locked up, gun deaths at insane levels. When someone suggests a solution, they are told they are naive and foolish because we cannot possibly solve them. We can. Known farming technologies can remove carbon from the air. Many countries can serve as models for universal health care. In many places there at not in the 10,000 00. I have been to these places. Their people are happy, they dance and sing, work hard, and love their families. Let's do talk about policy. Let's build on other people's ideas. It is time to make the next leap.

  126. I think Mr. Brooks is spot on in his observations of where we are in terms of our political discourse and how the public receives and processes information delivered by the media from both sides of the political aisle. The endless speculative hype coming from both sides of news organizations over the past two years in the end served no purpose other then to inflame our divisions. And as Mr. Brooks pointed out, the party that comes out the least scathed assumes a new and false sense of moral superiority over the other, refueling the whole cycle. Yes, we need to see the actual report from Mueller to assure that Barr has not watered down the details of Mueller's conclusions. But it needs to be done with professionalism and without the aforementioned speculative hype. As for the idea that apologies would ever be rendered from both sides and that both the great washed and unwashed masses will suddenly take a pensive moment to intellectually reflect on what we've become as a nation...well, me thinks not.

  127. I wish we could get back to our elected reps actually managing the country. I think both parties should just take a giant step back and focus on the issues. Plenty to fight about there.

  128. It's a game, except several people's lives were ruined and nothing positive accomplished. It's not a game that democracies should be playing

  129. @Mike Livingston Nothing positive was accomplished? A couple of white collar criminals were found out and were either convicted or pled guilty for their crimes. A couple of other people are awaiting sentences for perjury and those people cooperated with the government to spill their knowledge of what was done or not done with regard to contacts with foreign nationals. We don't know everything yet, but something positive certainly was accomplished.

  130. David, sorry but we just can't let this go. The fact is that Robert Mueller indicted a significant number of Russian operatives who had been engaged in a campaign to sow discord within America, and elect the far lesser candidate as President. The further fact is that Donald Trump won an extraordinarily close election in 2016 with the help of misinformation sowed by these same Russian operatives - and that he very specifically, and publicly, appealed to Russia to release Hillary Clinton's emails only days after his son and campaign manager met with a Russian operative promising dirt on his opponent. While Mueller might not have uncovered evidence implicating the President that would meet the "beyond a reasonable doubt" threshold, the fact remains that the President explicitly invited Russian interference - and we all saw it - and that is something that can never be forgiven. The rough justice that Donald Trump has coming to him may have to wait until he is politically evicted from the White House, and becomes vulnerable to prosecution on both the federal and state level. But justice is coming - sooner or later. I encourage House investigators to be meticulous in documenting Donald Trump countless financial and political indiscretions - because sooner or later, you will have the opportunity to see him pay for his crimes.

  131. @Matthew Carnicelli the appeal to Russia was not a big deal. It made me laugh when he said it. I think he has a bit of a sense of humor, and likes to throw a monkey wrench into conversations, as funny people often do. i hope they stop looking at his life before the presidency -- they have oversight over legislative issues, not the call to expose some thing his accountants did when he was forty that maybe was open to interpretation. Let him govern. Let's get stuff done as a country.

  132. @tbs Did I read this correctly? Let him govern? Trump sees the U.S. as a giant slot machine with all the winnings going to him and his family. As for what his accountants did before Trump became president is important because he never divested himself of his businesses except for the ones that went bankrupt.

  133. @Matthew Carnicelli I am not confident that justice will come to Trump ever. The world is not a fair place, and people get away with awful stuff all the time. @tbs: I also thought at the time that Trump was joking. He is not a funny person, though. He's mean-spirited and loves to throw in a monkey wrench because he loves to sow chaos. As to letting him govern: He is methodically pulling apart all of our valuable agencies and turning them on their heads or trying to shut them down altogether. Nothing funny about that, and nothing good about it, either. We need a strong EPA. The NEH and NEA do tremendous good with the small amount of money they dole out to historical and arts projects all over the country. We need strong, secular public schools that can decently educate all citizens. We have people in cages at the southern border. Children separated from their families. Young infants taken from their families. Think about that. Does that make you safer? Does that make you proud? Trump supports none of these things, and I'll be danged if I'll sit back and let him do whatever he wants.

  134. Pseudo-scandal? Do you remember the time the Russian Government hacked the DNC and then fed the material to Wikileaks, which used it to damage the campaign of Hillary Clinton and elect Donald Trump President? And do you remember the time Trump publicly encouraged such hacking? And do you remember the time that Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan refused to take a joint bi-partisan stand against Russian interference before the election even though US intelligence agencies were already aware of this? Apparently profiting from and encouraging the weaponizing of hacked materials is not "collusion," but all this is a matter of public record. It's obvious that many groups have an interest in downplaying this reality. The Republicans who profited most from it, those (not all) on the left who allowed themselves to get played and either did not vote or voted for third party candidates, and finally, the media that provided a platform for the Russian campaign. We're going to need a much bigger mirror.

  135. @Ben Lieberman I'm a lifelong Democrat with a list of grievances a mile long against Trump but it was clear (to anyone that has ever served in the military or worked in the government and held a security clearance) the only reason why Trump called out to Russia (jokingly) was because our own institutions had failed to properly investigate and prosecute Clinton over the her use of a person e-mail server while she was Secretary of State. Look at it this way: the FBI/Comey took the EXACT same agents/lawyers that did everything they could to clear Clinton and then tasked them to investigate Trump where they did everything they could to implicate him in fabricated wrongdoing -- that's prima facie corruption (or worse according to the White House today). The only good thing about this fiasco is that it has rooted out corrupt officials in the FBI. As for Brooks's article, it's excellent and superior to much of the other commentary on the release of the Mueller report and the biased and reckless coverage and statements made about the now disproven collusion with Russia. I would just submit however, looking at the Covington Catholic story for instance, that there is something far more toxic at work than just each side reflexively engaging in scandal mongering. It is highly depressing and I hope things turn the corner now that Russia gate is behind us but I doubt it -- especially if occasion arises to fill one or two seats on the Supreme Court this year

  136. As always, I'd like to thank David Brooks for his insight, it is sober, intelligent, and, I believe, accurate. I'm not sure when we began to retreat so deeply into our ideological corners. But I think the 24-hour news cycle certainly has a lot to do with it. Remember when "Breaking News" was actually "breaking news?" When JFK was assassinated (yes, I know, this is ancient history) all three major networks "broke in" to their regular programming and covered the unfolding events. The same happened for landing on the moon. Now, with the need to fill twenty-four hours with "news", everything and anything has to be called breaking news, in order to attract customers. And what's better then a "scandal" for breaking news? So, once again, I thank David Brooks. He's on to something; our 24 hour news industry needs scandal to survive. I don't know exactly why we have retreated into our ideological corners, but I do know one thing; we need to figure out how to dig ourselves out. Our democracy depends on it. All democracies in history can fail, and ours is no different. There is no guarantee that we will survive if we continue to to yell at each other. While we're yelling, we're not listening, and we're not solving any problems.

  137. I am very sorry to say that there a lot of misguided people in this country, as evidenced by the quotes at the top of your opinion column. Honestly, you have to say they are not intelligent, and that they give in to a common disease today known as media manifestation of hysterical scandal of nothing. Congress should get back to meeting Trump at the table to fix our poor immigration laws, no more chain migration, skills bases entry, build up and mend our infrastructure. Basically, knock off the stubbornness you see in Sen Schumer and Speaker Pelosi. Let’s get back to making America great again.

  138. @Not The Now Trump had a full two years of full Republican control and could enact nearly nothing. Nothing except eliminating taxes for the wealthiest Americans. He destroys governance no matter what side of the political island we live; firing lifelong Republican public servants, who will never be rich. He could care less about you or me or our nation. He has found that ignorant, Presidential power can destroy much more easily than build. Compromise and reading daily briefings is hard work. He cannot comprehend his position, never mind the position of others. He tweets, and bullies and runs to his favorite media when soured by others. If the Coast Guard is not paid for a month or a year, while he shuts the government down, no problem. If his trade war ruins the lives of soybean farmers in the mid-west, he has no interest in hearing about their misery. We are on our own, and the corruption uncovered by the investigation, collusion or not, is alarming and only the beginning. The Russians never needed to collude with Trump. He joined Putin's team in Helsinki, and has never looked back. His desire to be unkind, every day, on Twitter, is not who we are and overwhelms any other objective to make anything great.

  139. @Not The Now "Let’s get back to making America great again. Great idea! Vote Trump out of office come 2020.

  140. @Not The Now No more chain migration? Does that mean that Melania's parents get sent home? There is no working with Trump. Everything is his way or no way at all. He doesn't have a problem with his in laws getting into this country using chain migration, but let a Mexican or a Muslim do it and it suddenly becomes evil. The House of Representatives needs to stand up to Trump every step of the way. They need to do everything that they can to block his silly wall, keep him from wasting billions more in defense spending and keep him from destroying our social safety net as best they can without the cooperation of the Senate. Most important is the Democratic Party deciding on a ticket that can beat him in November 2020 so we can hopefully get the back on track and away from the influence of the ignorant racist white nationalists.

  141. The approach of saying that there are people to blame on both sides is age old and nothing new. It dismisses the weight of this moment, suggests that everyone should just make up, and that this episode should be relegated to a footnote in history. I don't really see what the point of this piece is, except to suggest that there is blame in all directions, which simply isn't true. The corruption that has been exposed as a result of the investigation is epic, and who is to say that Mueller's findings and Barr's interpretations are without flaw? We may never know. What we do know is that Trump aptly proves on a daily basis that the only person he cares about is himself. If the country benefits from one of his polices, it is in spite of efforts to better himself, not because he purposefully set out to do anything meaningful for this country.

  142. It really helps not to have a television. There's enough shouting and accusation in the print media as it is.

  143. It did seem not unreasonable to suspect that some form of collusion had taken place, what with all the contacts between Trump people and Russians and the fairly obvious actions of the Russians to interfere in our election. But setting aside collusion, we still have a President who appears to be significantly unqualified for the job. Is it controversial to say that he lacks a grasp of history, that his disinterest in reading the many documents containing important information regarding critical issues, his crude style, and his apparent focus on personal loyalty make him unfit for the job - regardless of any collusion? Which of these disqualifying characteristics is demonstrably false?

  144. Excellent job, Mr. Brooks! I don't have anything to add other than copping to my personal satisfaction of knowing that when the people I respected the most went towards wrong, I tried to hold them towards proper, democratic, just values. The evidence wasn't there, and objective people knew it. I have to congratulate myself as a human, because it took a toll at the time on my psyche! It always does take a toll to counter people you like! The small gratification at the end is indeed small, because we wish the press could have gone a different direction, that we could have used this period to talk about things that we all know to be proper. The best way to deal with Trump is to vote him out.

  145. @DudeNumber42 Why would you want to vote someone out who has done more in two years to help middle American and the American people as a whole. The space doesn't allow room for all the accomplishments for the people. The country is doing better in all areas that ever before...why get rid of that?

  146. @DudeNumber42 Objective people don't know whether the evidence was sufficient to support a collusion claim because they haven't seen all of the evidence. To claim that the Meuller report exonerates trump based on Barr's letter -- which specifically notes that the report does not exonerate trump -- also demonstrates a lack of objectivity. The public will be able to assess whether or not trump and/or his campaign colluded with Russia or whether he attempted to obstruct justice only if the full report is released.

  147. @Chris M Not true. All of the true evidence was known due to NSA wire taps. This was all known to Obama and he could have blown the whistle to true collusion if he wanted to and had the evidence. It just isn't there. Obama did the right thing, by the way, in my view.

  148. Given what was public regarding the Trump/Russia issue, there was every reason to believe that our government had been attacked by Russia and the 2016 election was affected. That part turned out to be correct—the Russian interference. Did Trump play a part? AG Barr says no. But how is the electorate to know? If Trump and his administration are sincere about making America great again, they should all resign and apologize to the country. Allow Pence to form a new administration for the last two years. Then maybe we can have a fair American election in 2020 that once again reflects American values of equity, honesty, courage, fair play and a sense that all citizens and non-citizen residents are a part of the American enterprise. There are no guarantees. There is hope, maybe.

  149. From the comments below it seems Hillary's supporters still don't understand how she lost the election. It wasn't because of any interference from Russia. It was from not running a campaign to win at the electoral college. If she shows up at the chess tournament, plays checkers, and gets sent home without the prize, who's fault is that?

  150. @SSS We know there was Russian interference in the election. If the Russians fix the chess match, it is the fault of the American dupes who refused to see it.

  151. @SSS Barr's letter explicitly confirms what we already knew: Russians absolutely did interfere in the election to help Trump. Not only does the letter disprove that, it confirms it. Your talking point here makes absolutely no sense.

  152. @SSS Is this what you really believe? That Russia made no effort to elect Trump? Even believing that Trump had no knowledge of what was happening is bizarre.

  153. WOW - with the utmost respect Mr. Brooks, I am most alarmed and angered by this column than all of the others put together. I am completely shocked. First off, Benghazi was so much more than a "scandal" or even a "pseudo-scandal". Four Americans, including J. Christopher Stevens, U.S. Ambassador to Libya, were killed during the 2012 attack on September 11th. Many, many pleas for help and assistance from various U.S.facets went unanswered. So please Mr. Brooks, don't even try and equate that military disaster with the Mueller report. Second, if an apology is to be given, it should be given to the American people by the Attorney General for not allowing the entire Mueller report to be made available for all to review and read. Somehow, when facts deliberately withheld and the Attorney General merely submits a cursary summary which exonerates the president, it's a little difficult to swallow that line without choking on it. Watergate was a breath of fresh air in comparison to this current charade. At least the likes of John Dean and his pals were forthcoming and truthful in their implications of what they did and Nixon's involvement. The Democrats aren't the bad guys here. Perhaps some individuals over stepped with accusations, but in the end, the Russian focus was never on them. Democrats never had multiple secret meetings with Putin. If anyone is casting accusations, it's the president. Trump is a lot of things, but an innocent choir boy ain't one of them.

  154. @Marge Keller. I agree with you as far as Benghazi.

  155. @Marge Keller goodness, another Benghazi defense. No one lied about this. There were numerous investigations of this and nothing came of them. Stop with the 'Benghazis, Benghazis, Benghazis' mantra. Don't forget the 230 Marines killed under Reagan who a couple of months later withdrew our troops. Did you protest this? I doubt it.

  156. I told all my family when the investigation began that they would spend years on it and come up with nothing. Even though I am not a Trump supporter I think it’s time for all of us to move on and get back to being good Americans and work together towards a better country and world. Let the next election settle his fate.

  157. Time to concentrate on the issues and maybe we will be blessed with multiple Trump family indictments. Let’s move forward and leave the past behind.

  158. It can be nearly impossible to "prove" a conspiracy to the legal standard of proof. Conspiracies are conducted through spoken words in person (or on burner phones). Mobsters engage in conspiracies all day, every day, and only get caught when they make a mistake, in combination with extreme surveillance. Many people believe that a conspiracy existed, regardless of whether or not proof, to the legal standard required in a court of law, was found. Why would anyone engaging in a conspiracy take actions that leave a hard trail of evidence?

  159. @Tim, two years of intense investigation, and zero evidence of conspiring with Russia. So many were so "sure", so confident, so hopeful for ...something. the delusions and groupthink were astounding to behold. meanwhile the entire fantasy was concocted by the Clinton machine and handed to their swamp friends, and spread to the media. That is the real scandal. So awful. the fake news, the spin, the Dem senators pretending they had seen evidence. The original dossier, made up and spread around. terrible.

  160. Yes, David, let's all apologize to each other even before we know anything. When all is said and done, I hope the Democrats are able to speak to issues, grow a collective spine, and change the way they have approach leadership since the (Bill) Clinton era: "Neoliberalism for all my friends..." The scandal is that none of this stuff is a scandal: unabashed lying, pursuing lucrative deals when running for president, sewing doubt in our public institutions / public servants, and the list goes on and on. Yes, Republicans have lost their collective minds, but Democrats need an infusion of new ideas in order to bring the country back from this morass.

  161. In Scotland, there are three possible verdicts: Not guilty, Guilty, or Not Proven.

  162. @David Andrew Henry Here it's innocent until proven guilty. And, certainly, if there's no indictment or even a trial, one remains innocent. This is the second time within the last few months that democrats will throw out a core American value because it doesn't suit their needs.

  163. Okay, honest self examination completed. Investigations themselves are not the problem! Maybe it is my background in science. But investigation is the necessary first step in finding answers to questions. Sure, pronouncing conclusions before the evidence is gathered and analyzed is dangerous. Lying about facts, manipulating data, deliberately misleading use of statistics, introducing bias, coloring the results with political shades, all of these are undesirable. And of course the Republican Party, especially Trump, frequently fail on all these criteria. But please make a clear distinction between scandalmongering and scientific investigations. One is not productive, but the latter is essential to modern life.

  164. Contrary to what Mr. Brooks focuses on, corruption due to money in politics is an issue. If the American system is so configured that what politicians do on a daily basis might be described as "fund-raising du jour" or "money-grubbing du jour", then this investigation still has merit. To borrow Mr. Brooks's phrase, "the substance of our historical moment" involves how money buys victories in American politics. We have somehow convinced ourselves that uber-wealthy candidates are somehow smarter than people who either have less money or who raise less money. Even on the Democratic side, a great deal of time & energy has already been devoted to who "outrose" whom: First, Bernie Sanders was touted for his record; next Beto O'Rourke was celebrated for his fund-raising. There is, Mr. Brooks, a "corrosive cynicism" in America about how money (a billionaire president) buys public influence through a variety of means: friends, influence, and intimidation. Some of his money-backers appear to have been Russians. Why? Voters are paying attention to a key issue: Why must all our presidents come from unusual wealth or be backed by unusual wealth? Mueller's investigation got very close to asking whether our president was enriching himself through his holding of public office. That's a real issue, sir. Emoluments are a real issue.

  165. While we are discussing who owes an apology, how about Trump owing Mueller an apology? After two years of sycophantic tweeting about Mueller and the investigation, he now misrepresents its findings by claiming full exoneration. So he claims proof of innocence based on his lies about an investigation he previously called illegal.

  166. Wait a minute, Mr.Brooks! Most of us saw in real time that Mr.Trump stood at a podium next to Mr.Putin and said, “ I believe Mr.Putin, he said the Russians did not meddle in our elections”.This was in Helsinki just this summer.he said this in front of the American press corps and in front of American Intelligence Officers who knew better.Until this is explained there can be no apologies.

  167. @JANET MICHAEl I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for Brennan to apologize for calling Trump's behavior treasonous. The Trump family didn't report the Russian offers to the FBI, indeed they welcomed them. They may have shared polling data. Brennan's correct: it's aiding and abetting the enemy.

  168. @JANET MICHAEl standing with your counterparty, i think saying something like "i take him at his word," makes perfect sense. you need to try to strike a deal with this guy - so you accept him as is, because you need to. It is the same thing when a boss "takes at his word," an employee who is highly valued, and says he didn't do something bad that someone else claims. nothing odd about it. absent evidence, he has to try to work WITH this guy to make deals on behalf of the US.

  169. And, in addition to chasing a Moscow development deal, as POTUS Trump had closed door, off the record meetings with Putin. What was discussed and agreed upon should be a matter of public record.

  170. “I, President Trump, have heard from the FBI that not only have the Russians hacked my opponent’s campaign, but they might have hacked mine, as well. I expect a thorough investigation into these matters and am anticipating a detailed report from AG Comey. Nothing is more important than our democracy, and anyone who tries to corrupt it will be spared no mercy on my watch.” Not hard to pen that, and it would have made all the difference at the time. This one’s on Trump.

  171. @JS Good point, except that Comey wasn't the AG.

  172. When the public gets to see the report, maybe all you say, David, is at least partially true. But honestly all we've gotten is a Trump appointee who wrote a four-page memo to Congress and that's it. Somehow I'm guessing this isn't quite over.

  173. @Dana I just read that the GOP wants to block the release of the Mueller report. So...if trump has been ‘exonerated’, what are they afraid of and what are they hiding?

  174. @Dana It is not over and never will be. Even if we get full disclosure of all evidence weighed by Mueller, we are too divided to reach a general agreement as to whether Trump obstructed justice. If the man hired to investigate this can't decide, then partisans have no reason to reconsider their position. For those of us like myself that believe Trump is unfit for his office, a constructive approach would be to look at events that we know occurred that are wrong but apparently not clearly criminal, and make them criminal. I would start by saying that if an agent of a foreign government approaches you (I mean you Don Jr) and tries to sell you dirt on your opponent, you are guilty of conspiracy to defraud the United States unless you report that contact with the FBI. If you are President and making statements to de-legitimize the FBI, the DOJ or the press, you are guilty of abuse of power and subject to impeachment and removal. In calmer times, everyone would agree. Unfortunately in the current times, there is too much political tribalism for the Republicans to agree on this.

  175. "It’s clear that many Democrats made grievous accusations against the president that are not supported by the evidence. It’s clear that people like Beto O’Rourke and John Brennan owe Donald Trump a public apology." I don't see why they wouldn't apologize for thinking that the gentleman who took the stage in Helsinki and failed to confront the foreign leader of the country that turned the election in his favor had committed treason. Sorry, I misspoke: I don't see why they would apologize.

  176. @Albert Ross Think of it as the innocuously encoded ad about a missing doggy that an embedded foreign spy takes out in the classifieds section of his local newspaper. Just because it is in the public domain, does not mean the communications cannot be treasonous. Apply that to Helsinki and the open call for Wikileaks and Russia to publish Hillary's emails. It is basically the same thing. Those for whom the message is intended, understand.

  177. Americans love scandals and sensationalism. They are far more interesting to follow than bland issues like the war in Yemen, our crumbling national infrastructure, water contamination in Flint, failing public schools, the price of prescription drugs, a broken healthcare system and debt-ridden college students. It takes effort to follow news stories like these and analyze them with real facts. The collusion scandal was much easier to follow with its cast of colorful characters from Cohen to Corsi to Stone. Donald Trump dragged us into the culture of a reality show in which he starred every single night since January 2017. As the scandal grew larger and larger and the cable news pundits speculated more and more we willingly became part of the show. It became a nightly guessing game with the elusive prize of the secretive Mueller report which should have been left completely in the purview of the capable special prosecutor. Why are we not concerned with the most serious issue of this entire story--what has Trump done and what is he doing to thwart Russian meddling in 2020? Surely he has plenty of time now that he doesn't have to defend himself obsessively against the witch hunt. It is time for him to act like a real commander-in-chief charged with defending the American people from future cyber attacks of warfare. This threat of monumental national security is far more important to follow than any future scandals which will inevitably arise in the Trump world.

  178. @HMP He can start by releasing the transcripts of his meetings with Putin. Let's just start with that if I am to believe there's nothing here, move along...

  179. What's clear is that in all this "apparent" good news for Trump, there seems to be a perplexing reluctance to release Mueller's report. Why? Why not allow all of us to rejoice in Trump's "non-vindication"? Of course Trump and his ilk don't care about what mere commoners think, but to withhold a single page of the report is to shout from the rafters that there's much more in addition to Trump's tax returns that will be keep from the eye's of the taxpayers paying his salary.

  180. @David he doesn’t take a salary FYI . Nothing will suffice hard partisans like yourself. You people would tear down our entire system because of your hate for Trump. He isn’t worth that nothing is.

  181. Life goals: Be as level headed as David Brooks. Humility is a strength. I know I am taking a step back. I am a fool who was fooled. Next time, I hope I walk with my eyes and mind open and let the band wagon rush by and not clamor to jump on. Apologies where Brooks suggests would go a long way to start repairs.

  182. Sorry, it's a fix, just like many of us expected it would be. Republicans are experiencing the euphoria of premature speculation, but this may prove to be quite temporary. At this point, we know little about what is in Mueller's report, but have been provided only with Barr's spin on it. The actual report may present an entirely different perspective to any objective person. It is my feeling that we are only one click (the House of Representatives) away from living in a sort of dictatorship. Although Trump is amazingly inept, his followers in the Senate and on the Supreme Court are not, so I think there are some tough times ahead. Barr's love letter will help ensure that, especially if the actual report is not released to those of it who paid for it.

  183. @Lloyd Kiff ... Ok, so what was it; i.e. the Mueller investigation was a " witchhunt " of a " fix "?

  184. @Lloyd Kiff - “premature speculation” :-D You’re good!

  185. The evidence of criminal activity is pervasive. Enough with the gaslighting.

  186. David, there is a high probability you will regret writing today's column a few weeks from now. You already know there is a ton more to discover. I absolutely agree we need to move on. We should have from the beginning. There is important work to be done. It is your industry that incessantly focused on the Mueller Report, so rather than appeal to your readers to move forward, how about your colleagues? Let the wheels of justice turn without 24/7 speculation. There is much to accomplish- but I doubt there are the leadership skills in The White House to do anything but bloviate. Let's see if he can actually do anything. That said, what we know today is in no way conclusive, despite what Trump says. So, now discounting what his critics say is, at best, premature. But let the professionals do their job. Tell us what they find out without speculation leading up to it. We all know this is not the end, so your "fools" conclusion is not yet warranted.

  187. The question now is why did all those Trump associates who went to jail lie? If there was obstruction then why?

  188. I applaud your appeal to reason, Mr. Brooks. But it's karma that the biggest conspiracy theory-monger of the early 21st century has fueled the perfect conspiracy theory about himself - millions will never believe Trump wasn't involved in Russian collusion simply because he talked about it all the time.

  189. No collusion, just confusion. We have just been handed this generation's Warren Commission Report.

  190. So Mueller's job was to see if there were enough evidence to indict the President. The DOJ's policy is that a sitting President can not be indicted. Therefore Mueller could never find enough evidence to indict. Conclusion? Impossible to reach without going through the evidence yourself. Who is charged with going through the evidence? The Attorney General who was appointed by the President. The AG could send the evidence over to Congress, but that's not really why he was hired.

  191. You are spot on, Mr. Brooks, and many so called "progressives" are following the President's playbook to never admit defeat or the simple fact that they could be wrong. Those still grasping have let their contempt for Trump (which is fully warranted) cloud their objectivity. Thank you for being a voice of reason!

  192. @Tom Considering Trump still gets his audience shrieking, "Lock her up!" at rallies, I think you're barking up the wrong tree. My guess is that you're actually a concern troll, but I could wrong...

  193. Mr Brooks is right in part. While we are waiting to see the result of the probable battle over releasing the full or redacted report submitted by the Mueller Investigation it would be good for us all to stop a second and take stock of what we have learned and not learned over the last two years. It would not be good for us to just pretend that nothing unusual happened during the course of the 2016 campaign or in the months after the election and in the early months of the Trump Administration. It would not be good for us to ignore the indictments and guilty pleas of people around and in the Trump campaign. It would not be good for us to turn a blind eye to the interference in American elections by foreign entities and personnel.

  194. Has Mr. Brooks completely forgotten the unhealthy approach the Trump campaign and Trump himself in particular has had toward Russia since the very start? During the campaign Paul Manafort persuades the RNC to remove language from the Republican Party platform which had previously supported providing arms to the Ukrainian government. That was the first major red flag. There are many more. 1) Trump repeatedly bashes NATO and toys with the idea of leaving it. 2) Trump fawns over Putin and has never criticized him for any of his policies. 3) Trump orders (temporarily fortunately) withdrawing troops from Syria to the cheer of Russia. 4) Trump's performance at Helsinki - Where do we even begin? True, Trump may not be a Russian puppet but he certainly behaves as though he is. Imagine for a moment Mr. Brooks if a Democratic President had done the above? Do you not think the GOP might be concerned there was an unhealthy tie to Russia? Would those same GOP members apologize for an accusation of treason?

  195. @Michael Lueke These are great points! I think Mueller might have missed them, please make sure to write to him and share your insights before it's too late!

  196. @anna The point wasn't that Mueller should have found Russian collusion with the Trump campaign. The point was there was plenty of publicly available evidence to give people reasonable concern so nobody should have to apologize for suspecting it.

  197. Recheck your notes Hillary Clinton hit the reset button with Russia and they were are buddies again. Oh yeah it’s ok it was Obama and Hillary not Trump.

  198. David Brooks writes as if "scandal politics" came from politics. No, it came from corruption, which creates scandal. It's a good thing we can still be scandalized––faux scandals like Benghazi are meant to numb us to it. Usually Brooks likes to remind us that corruption is terribly corrosive of the bonds of trust necessary for a functioning society. Reacting with *bipartisan* concern for outbreaks of serious corruption like Watergate kept the US from going to way of so many other countries where bribery and malfeasance takes root and can't be uprooted. That this investigation, which uncovered a great deal of corruption, even managed to be completed was a feat, but a very important one. I'm pretty astonished Brooks has the impulse to classify it as a regrettable instance of "scandal politics."

  199. Mr. Brooks, The Special Counsel is an investigative and prosecutorial office. It is not a truth commission. Barr's "cliff notes" summary release did one thing, it only muddied the waters. Barr never should have been inserted as the AG. As his 2018 "cover letter" for the AG job indicated, he was against the Special Counsel appointment from the start. Barr should have recused himself from any ruling on the SC findings.

  200. @Futbolistaviva "Barr never should have been inserted as the AG." And, by the same logic, Trump never should have been born. For example. And other such things, equally logical and realistic.

  201. Mr. Brooks, it is indisputable that Donald Trump’s penchant for flagrantly violating the ethics and principles of good governance is what led to the appointment of Mueller as Special Counsel. Let’s note that it was DAG Rosenstein who appointed Mr Mueller and not Beto O’Rourke or John Brennan or others from whom you ask an apology. The real tragedy of Mueller’s investigation is that even 35 million dollars doesn’t appear sufficient to uncover the truth in America. We can’t “just move on” like nothing has happened and allow Trump to believe that he can continue to engage in dubious conduct. He must continue to face scrutiny in the court of public opinion (read: voters) and by the free press of this nation.

  202. Brooks is sanctimonious as ever, insisting "people like Beto O’Rourke and John Brennan owe Donald Trump a public apology," while "Republicans and the Sean Hannity-style Trumpians might also approach this moment with an attitude of humility and honest self-examination." To Brooks, Democrats are the guilty party here despite Special Counsel Mueller's team indicting and receiving guilty pleas from 34 individuals and 3 companies directly working for or associated with Trump and his Administration, while Republicans should consider taking up yoga. Do former prosecutors like myself also owe Trump and William Barr an apology if we say Barr is biased and wrong in his letter as obstruction can definitely be prosecuted without an underlying crime, and has been prosecuted numerous times? If you doubt it, ask Martha Stewart. Obstruction of justice is "interference with the orderly administration of law and justice," including "proceedings before departments, agencies, and committees," It exists if there's a pending federal judicial proceeding; a defendant knows of it, intentionally interferes, or attempts to interfere, with the proceeding. As famed law professor Eric Posner stated: "If Trump knew that no crime had been committed but believed that the investigation would uncover politically or personally embarrassing information, or if he believed that the investigation would embarrass or implicate an ally, aide, or family member. Then interfering with the investigation is a crime."

  203. Thank god your where there’s smoke their must be fire analogy apparently is not enough to impeach or indict a sitting President. Just because you feel there was a crime or you were told to believe there was a crime right under the surface so blatant and easy to find a special investigation is warranted. The millions of dollars thousands of subpoenas 2 years and 40 lawyers cannot prove collusion so your master of the universe brain tells those who will listen to you “they just didn’t look hard enough.” Outrageous and laughable.

  204. I don’t believe it. The contacts, the coverups, the lies, the in your face denial! Just because Mueller didn’t find enough evidence for Conspiracy, doesn’t mean it didn’t occur. Was I in another universe watching Trump’s behavior? Did he not write a made up cover for Don Jr regarding the Trump Tower meeting. No apologies needed, just more courage!

  205. I worry that “release the report” will become the new “but her emails.” But, in all seriousness, this is not a win for Trump. It is a loss for America.

  206. What’s is the loss for America?? that Democrats could not ram through speculative charges about a sitting president as a real crime.

  207. @Bryty12345 Trump didn't destroy evidence with BleachBit. If he had, I'm certain Mueller would have gone after him for it. As is usual.

  208. Sorry, but this is way too sanctimonious and dismissive. The special counsel's investigation was launched for good reason with, initially, bipartisan support and largely overseen by Republicans/Trump appointees. The fact that it apparently—and the full report has not been made public—didn't result in clear-cut condemnation of the president doesn't mean that it wasn't hugely important and consequential and justified by the multiple indictments it produced. The American public needs to know if Mueller's team found non-criminal explanations for the demonstrated pattern of lying and deception among people close to the president (and the president himself) regarding contacts with Russians or if they simply were unable to prove any crimes. The time for apologies has not arrived just yet. Ditto the time for gloating by the president and his supporters.

  209. @S.W. "Sanctimonious" Yes, David does quite often come off like that, huh?

  210. The quotes at the top of this piece came from WH talking points. We haven't seen the Mueller report. We've seen a summary of it by an Attorney General who auditioned for the job by saying that a President couldn't be guilty of obstruction and now concludes that a President isn't guilty of obstruction. Quelle suprise! We need to see the report before everyone starts writing their post mortems on this thing.

  211. @mizdeirdre We haven't seen the Mueller report. ****** One wonders what people expect to find in there? A recommendation that has heretofore been kept secret perhaps? A secret indictment, maybe? Something so great that it couldn't be spoken of before? How desperate people are to be prove themselves right.

  212. Oh give it a rest. Mueller wouldn’t sit by if Barr misrepresented. Trump was exonerated of collusion by a top tier special prosecutorial team working with nearly unlimited discretion for two years. Trump is a scoundrel. But Mueller has concluded he didn’t collude with the Russians. Move on.

  213. "The sad fact is that Watergate introduced a poison into the American body politic." You are correct. But no President in the history of our country has injected as much poison into our system as DJT has, and he does it daily. No President has surrounded himself with so many grifters, con men, and criminals as is evidenced by the indictments and guilty pleas of those in DJT's orbit. And given that our own intelligence agencies all agree that Russia DID interfere in our elections, and considering the coziness of the Trump coterie to Russian intelligence operatives, what possible argument could be made to NOT investigate? Regardless of party affiliation every American should want to find out the extent of Russian influence with our elections, our politicians, and most definitely, our President. If there is poison in our system it must be removed.

  214. @Michael Gilbert He 's wrong about Watergate too. Watergate did not "introduce a poison." Nixon did.

  215. No president or political dynasty has been as debauched or degraded the White House as much as the Kennedy clan yet you guys keep naming stuff after them. Let’s also Talk about corruption and proven debauchery in the White House a young girl had presidential seminal fluid staining her dress yet you creeps continue to pay hundreds of dollars for a seat at a dinner party with the guy The hypocrisy is laughable.

  216. @Michael Gilbert Enough with the Russia obsession already. Move on to real issues, out of the fantasy land.

  217. Finding that, according to William Barr, Mueller found that Trump did not collude with the Russians during the campaign in no way calls into question what John Brennan said about our president. It is clear that the Russians helped Trump win whether or not that was coordinated with his campaign. For all we know, they may well have other information on Trump we don't know about. And Trump has taken actions that clearly benefit the Russians. Pay back for the election help, hoping for it next time? To keep the other information secret? No apologies needed.

  218. @Michael Hill What you are suggesting is that Russians know more about running a presidential campaign in the US than Hillary's campaign. After all, she won the popular vote, just not the electoral vote (the one that counts).

  219. Yes it was all a game, won by Trump mainly for the reasons cited in this article. The Mueller investigation was tasked to convict those who were involved in the Russian meddling with the election. This it has actually accomplished to great success. Nevertheless, the Mueller investigation is now deemed a failure since the corruption could not be proved to extend all the way to Trump. It is only because pundits have been jumping to conclusions that Trump can claim vindication. One might conclude that this result was cleverly engineered. In the beginning, rather than support such a vital investigation, as any decent president would have done, Trump chose to claim it was a witch hunt so he did not have to admit that his election was helped by foreign assistance. And then perhaps knowing that nothing could be traced to him anyway, it was easy for his schemers to see the result we have today: Trump victorious, rather than shamed. We fell for it.

  220. Mr. Brooks analysis is fairly straightforward. The televised media depends on ratings and those depend on scandal and discord. If we got along and were more polite, what would happen to the ratings? I hate being this cynical. The Democrats will be in real trouble if they do not extend what caused them to win in the midterms: a focus on issues that affect most families. What are the odds they can do that? Maybe close to zero. The demands of television and various social media will never allow the scandals and the discord and the speculation to disappear.