What a difference a month makes.
When acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker surprised the media at a press conference on Jan. 28 by stating that the Mueller special counsel investigation was almost completed and he looked forward to receiving Robert Mueller’s final report, the consensus that immediately formed was that Whitaker had no idea what he was talking about.
What he was calmly saying was so counter to the narratives both the Democrats and the mainstream media had been pushing for over two years, that the reaction of many to his words was denial followed by outright hostility.
There had been signs surfacing for weeks that the special counsel probe was drawing to a close, such as when the anonymous sources both inside and surrounding the special counsel’s office—who had been feeding various DNC Media outlets juicy leaks about supposedly soon-to-be-revealed key evidence that would lead directly to indictments for people such as Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner, and perhaps even President Donald Trump himself—abruptly changed their tune. All of a sudden, these very same sources began telling their media contacts that perhaps it would be best to begin managing expectations about Mueller’s results, and the word ‘anti-climactic’ was even used.
So Whitaker’s announcement shouldn’t have caught everyone by complete surprise, but that’s what happens when people invest heavily in narratives that feed their biases: new information has to be rejected or explained away so that they may continue to be comfortable in their beliefs.
As I stated in an earlier column:
“You’re being asked to believe that while all the leaks from inside the Mueller investigation that claimed to prove Trump–Russia collusion blew apart upon examination, somehow the very same leakers inside the special counsel’s office have been sitting on the real evidence and have not leaked any of it, waiting for some sort of grand revelation in the future.
“Can it actually be possible that supposed crack investigative journalists are this gullible?”Now, just over a month since Whitaker’s statements, it’s becoming increasingly clear that he did, in fact, know what he was talking about, and is owed an apology by many on the Left and the Right who attacked him as being either confused or untruthful.
For the Democrats and the media outlets that spent more than two years relentlessly pushing a false narrative, the impending disaster of a Mueller final report that doesn’t find any Trump-Russia collusion has to be spun somehow into not being a total defeat.
The person currently tasked with being the public face of this embarrassing salvage effort is Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the current chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI).
Over the past two weeks, Schiff has repeatedly raised his public profile by giving countless media interviews, in which he gushes about just how much evidence of Trump-Russia collusion he’s supposedly seen.
While pontificating confidently for the cameras about how vast the evidence is that he’s personally seen, Schiff has simultaneously floated a second talking point, and a most absurd one: he’s claiming Mueller’s exhaustive, two-year investigation was very limited in its scope, a claim that people who followed the Mueller special counsel probe since it’s inception will find howlingly funny.
This new talking point first surfaced Feb. 10, when Schiff complained that the Mueller Special Counsel’s office didn’t go far enough in its investigation into Trump’s ties to Deutsche Bank. Since then, Schiff has claimed several times that Mueller’s team simply didn’t go far enough in its Trump-related investigations.
In fact, Mueller’s special counsel’s office was given such a wide latitude that his team was allowed to go digging through the estate records of the president’s long-deceased father, Fred Trump, desperately looking for anything they could find. Despite months of lurid claims from media outlets such as The New York Times, it appears no tax fraud charges are forthcoming for any of the Trump family members.
Former White House counsel Ty Cobb, who left the administration in May 2018 when he announced his retirement, surfaced March 5 in an interview in USA Today in which he was loudly singing Mueller’s praises.
Cobb noted that Mueller is expected to submit a final report to new Attorney General William Barr that will confirm he found no evidence of any collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, or any other Trump-related crimes. Meanwhile, Democrats in the House and elsewhere, in places such as the Southern District of New York, are preparing to launch extensive fishing expeditions, in hopes of uncovering a crime that they can then use to remove Trump from office, or at the very least greatly hamper his re-election efforts.
“Schiff has tacked to basically saying Mueller didn’t look into enough things, and we need to be fishing around to find other possible avenues through which to get to the president,” Cobb told the USA Today.Cobb also said that Schiff, along with House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., are “hell-bent on issuing a lot of subpoenas to get to the administration and perpetuate this investigation,” according to USA Today.
Watching Schiff desperately babble about the huge amount of evidence ‘proving’ Trump-Russia collusion that he’s supposedly seen but Mueller just couldn’t find reminds me of the end of the classic 1929 film “The Phantom of the Opera. In the final scenes, the Phantom, masterfully portrayed by actor Lon Chaney, is being pursued by a mob. Cornered and surrounded, he looks around wildly and then, with a flourish, he dramatically reaches inside his jacket and then holds up his clenched fist with a triumphal look on his face. Confused and fearful of what he might have in his hand, the mob falls back.
For just a few more moments, the dread Phantom is able to manipulate their fears to his advantage and then, with maniacal laughter, he slowly opens his fist to reveal ... nothing!
Schiff and others are going to try to desperately point at their empty clenched fists in front of the entire country for the next two years.
I wish them lots of luck.Brian Cates is a political pundit and writer based in southern Texas and the author of “Nobody Asked For My Opinion … But Here It Is Anyway!” He can be reached on Twitter at @drawandstrike