Rereading the Mueller report more than a year after its publication is an exercise in disappointment. One gets the feeling that Robert Mueller didn’t press his inquiry to its end. Instead of settling the questions that haunt the 2016 campaign, he left them dangling, publishing a stilted document riddled with insinuation and lacunae. He rushed his work, closing up shop before finishing his assignment.
While Mueller received all the hype, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence kept its head down. Yesterday, having avoided cable speculation almost entirely, the SSCI released the fifth and final volume of a report on Russia’s attempt to sway the last election in Donald Trump’s favor. It finally delivered what Mueller either could not or would not: a comprehensive presentation of the evidence in the matter of “collusion.” The report confirms that Russiagate is no hoax. Whether or not the Trump campaign illegally coordinated with the Kremlin, Trump has no grounds for proclaiming vindication, much less that he’s the victim of a witch hunt.
Credit largely goes to Mark Warner, the ranking Democrat on the SSCI, who shrewdly orchestrated the proceedings. Cultivating a close relationship with the SSCI’s Republican chair, Richard Burr, he worked to keep the investigation deliberately low-key. (The committee did the bulk of its work behind closed doors, without leaks.) As a result, the committee on the whole miraculously avoided the politicization that tainted the broader debate over Russian interference. Each of its findings won bipartisan approval prior to publication. Instead of rushing forward, the committee left the incendiary question of collusion for last.