Mueller Just Schooled All of Us

Many are disappointed with the outcome of FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russia in the 2016 elections. Whether it is the scapegoating of the media for raising expectations, to praising the fact that the investigation was allowed to conclude – everyone seems to be trying to make peace with an anti-climactic end to a story that was perpetually at a climax.

No doubt more information is forthcoming, including some portions of Mueller’s final report, that will continue to shape our perceptions. But we’re too distracted by the politics of the issue to see that Mueller just schooled all of us.

It was inspiring and reassuring to see Mueller, the anti-Trump, do his work.

Throughout the investigation, he exercised integrity, discretion, and an adherence to rule of law based on the values of the American legal system. He avoided drawing attention to himself or his team and kept the investigation from becoming even more of a media circus than it already was. He corrected the public record when it included incorrect claims about his work. In the current political climate, we’re better off as a nation having observed Mueller’s conduct, which stands in such stark contrast to many current administration senior officials.

No matter how much you dislike President Trump, voting him out of office is better than seeing him impeached or go to jail.

Last summer, when a friend – not a Trump fan – said she would not be in favor of his impeachment – I asked her why not. She said something I’ll never forget – that she feared for what it would do to our country and our already fractured political discourse.

She’s right. After working on countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan for most of my foreign policy career, I can attest to the long-term dangers to a polity of imprisonments and early removals of national leaders from office. States become fractured and controlled by the political personalities that divided them, long after they are gone.

From political pariah to president, Donald Trump is a person whose impeachment or imprisonment would surely be viewed as a rallying cry among parts of his base to dig in even further on some of the most divisive aspects of his agenda, such as gun rights and border security.

But Wait. We Still Can’t Explain Trump’s Russia Connections.

On the flip side, Trump critics are likely to dig in just as much with Mueller not finding any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. We still can’t explain Trump’s unusual affinity for Russia or his out-of-left-field Russia policy which goes against the grain of both Republican and Democratic establishment views, and repeatedly contradicts the stated policies of his own executive agencies.

But an excuse to dig in further is the last thing the country needs right now. Instead, we need to convince each other we can work together. In an understated way, the special counsel’s investigation has provided that in its careful, quiet, and deliberative work in line with American values of rule of law. Mueller’s just given us all a very good civics lesson, if only we could put aside our partisanship for a moment to see that.

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