Quinta Jurecic: Mueller counted on institutions to grapple with his report. They didn’t.
A few minutes later, as he finished up, Mueller returned to the theme. He said it even after thanking members of his team (and, in what truly did sound like a rebuke to the president, noting, “These individuals who spent nearly two years with the special counsel’s office were of the highest integrity”). For his final public words in a decades-long life in government, he chose to say this:
I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interference in our election. And that allegation deserves the attention of every American. Thank you. Thank you for being here today.
In Muellerese, this closing was something akin to screaming at the nation, Are you people paying any attention to the work that my team did? The answer, for the most apart, appears to be no.
Trump says “the case is closed,” yet on interference—unlike collusion—this is emphatically not the case. Mueller delivered massive, detailed indictments on election interference, but the defendants—located in Russia—are unlikely to ever appear in American courts. Roughly three years after the first reports of hacking into computer systems at the Democratic National Committee, a few months after additional Russian interference in the 2018 elections, and with a year and a half left until the 2020 elections, there’s still no real movement by the federal government to respond.
Ken White: Robert Mueller wishes you’d read his report
A few bills have been introduced. House Democrats’ major statement piece at the start of the session, H.R. 1, included some provisions for election security, though no one expected the bill to make it into law. Another House bill would criminalize cooperation with foreign powers to interfere in elections; it has a few dozen Democratic co-sponsors, but no Republicans.
Realistically, it doesn’t matter what the House passes, because any such bills will die in the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has decided to bottle them up. During a Senate hearing earlier this month, the Democrat Dick Durbin asked whether the Rules Committee would move any election-security bills. Committee Chair Roy Blunt suggested that this would be pointless, given McConnell’s blockade.
“At this point I don’t see any likelihood that those bills would get to the floor if we mark them up,” Blunt said. “I think the majority leader is of the view that this debate reaches no conclusion.”
It’s a peculiar position. There’s not really any debate to speak of. Every investigation has come to the same conclusion: Yes, the Russians interfered, and yes, they and other foreign powers will try to do so again. Moreover, election security seems like it ought to be obvious ground for bipartisan cooperation. There will be no agreement between Democrats and Republicans on whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. So far, there’s no sign of agreement between Democrats and Republicans not named Justin Amash on obstruction of justice.