Good God, free at last, free at last.
Donald Trump is now free to be president without the cloud that hovered over him since his election. No president ever faced, let alone survived, a probe as fierce and determined as this one.
Cleared of false charges that threatened to end his presidency, Trump can be forgiven for gloating and rubbing a little salt into the wounds of his tormentors with a jab about serving another “10 to 14 years.”
Naturally, the hysterics are hysterical over that one. They can’t even take a joke.
Yet Trump’s great victory is not his alone. The release of the special counsel report marks a day of freedom for all of America and sends shock waves around the world.
As Attorney General William Barr said, the finding by special counsel Robert Mueller that nobody in the United States knowingly helped Russia interfere in the 2016 presidential campaign “is something that all Americans can and should be grateful to have confirmed.”
Take that, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. Deal with it, Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler. You should be celebrating the outcome, not denouncing it.
The reality was that, while Russia dangled the bait, no one from the Trump campaign or anyone else took it. Those findings stand as a refreshing testament to the character of our people and the sanctity of the election.
So hide your head in shame, Hillary Clinton. You started the false charge of collusion because you couldn’t accept defeat, and now your name will be synonymous with the most destructive hoax in American history.
But reaching this uplifting conclusion took 23 months and held the entire nation hostage for half a presidential term over the possibility that the president had conspired with a foreign power to steal the election, then illegally sought to hide the evidence.
The unprecedented accusations carried the horrifying possibility that the president was a traitor, a finding that would have been catastrophic for our country and its standing in the world.
Had any of the charges been true, the president would have been impeached, convicted and removed from office. He likely then would have faced criminal charges as a private citizen. There would be no pardon to a man of historic venality.
Such a traumatic experience could have driven a stake through the heart of American exceptionalism and killed the image of a shining city on a hill. The beacon to the world would have been seen as just another corrupt country, a laughingstock worthy of contempt.
On many days, fears of that outcome dominated the headlines, as when the media reported this or that development suggesting Trump’s goose was cooked. We now know those reports, nearly all based on anonymous sources, were wrong either in their facts or import.
Take that, The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN and MSNBC.
By abandoning their standards, Big Media got the biggest story wrong and misled their readers and viewers — yet refuse to admit it. They are the true dead-enders, still searching for a thread to justify their jihad against Trump.
There were other ramifications, too. Members of Congress of both parties surely calculated the odds of Trump’s survival in deciding how to vote on tax cuts, the border and other matters.
Perhaps last year’s midterm election would have turned out differently if voters knew then what they know now.
Think how much of the stark polarization we see every day is owing to the lingering possibility that Trump might be an illegitimate president. Think how families and friendships have been torn asunder, how many heated arguments took place in offices and factory floors and classrooms over the prospect that a puppet of Vladimir Putin sits behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office.
To this day, many people who despise Trump can’t articulate why, other than that they believe the election was somehow tainted. They were 100 percent wrong.
The decent, fair-minded people among them will now concede their error.
And what of international affairs? There can be little doubt that both friends and adversaries gave consideration to the investigation when determining their relationship with the United States. They would be fools not to.
Did the probe affect China’s position on trade, or North Korea’s on nukes? You can be sure that Iran is not happy that Trump has been cleared. That tells us something.
We can’t know all the possible ramifications, but we don’t need to know them. The bottom line is settled.
The Mueller report, like the investigation itself, is exhaustive in chasing down every possibility that somebody, anybody, linked to the Trump campaign sold out America.
The probers put the screws, often unfairly, to tangential players on the chance that they would give up the president in exchange for leniency.
None did because they had nothing to give up.
Certainly Michael Cohen tried. Trump’s former lawyer and fixer made it his mission to bring down the man he had sworn to take a bullet for. Cohen, in a bid to save himself, switched sides and fired all his bullets at Trump, to no great effect.
Even Thursday he was still trying to sell his soul, but there were no takers. He begins his prison sentence next month.
In fairness, Trump does not escape the Mueller report unscathed. He apparently did lie to the press about whether he helped draft a statement on behalf of Donald Trump Jr., and media reports were correct that he wanted to fire Mueller and searched for ways to make it happen.
Yet the president who is notorious for churning through staff was lucky that some aides were brave enough to ignore disastrous orders. Former White House counsel Don McGahn refused to fire Mueller, and Trump was unsuccessful in getting others to do it, too.
Lucky for him. Had he gotten his way, Trump might be facing an obstruction charge.
Yet it must also be noted that not only was Trump innocent of collusion, and so had no corrupt reason to obstruct justice, but also fully cooperated with Mueller.
Not once did he assert executive privilege or try to stop anyone from testifying. Indeed, McGahn spent a remarkable 30 hours with Mueller’s team, with Trump’s approval. Clearly, the president believed he had done nothing wrong and had nothing to hide.
This is not the end of Russia, Russia, Russia. Democrats in Congress can’t let go because they have put all their eggs in the rotten basket. They will do all they can to delay the inevitable, but eventually must get back to governing instead of fetishizing impeachment — or they will find themselves in the political wilderness.
More important is the hope that the other side of the story will be investigated with the same intense scrutiny. America needs to know whether law enforcement and intelligence agencies under Barack Obama tried to tip the election to Clinton, then undermine Trump’s presidency.
Get a good lawyer, Jim Comey. You, too, John Brennan and James Clapper.
Much evidence already gathered says they are guilty, but we are far from a certain conclusion. Thankfully, Barr has pledged himself to the painstaking task of investigating the investigators.
So it matters not whether we are at the end of the beginning, or the beginning of the end. All that matters is that, sooner or later, somehow or another, America gets the full, unbiased truth of what happened in 2016.
In this season of holidays, pray for that.