Last weekend — when the Mueller Report concluded without indictments regarding the Trump campaign collaborating with the Russians in crime, and when Barr released his 4-page letter — hit me pretty hard.
The painful disappointment of that apparent conclusion wasn’t as heart-crushingly profound as when Trump won the election in 2016. But the feeling went deep enough that it reminded me of that previous unforgettable despairing time.
The way the week unfolded after at first did little to dissipate the gloom: it seemed from how things were going that the Republican cover-up — Barr’s stonewalling combined with the Trumpites’ high-fiving — was going to prevail.
Now, some developments at the end of the week, have revived my hopes.
First, there was the powerful statement made by Adam Schiff in response to the despicable call from the Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee for him to resign (for having the temerity to pursue the truth they spent two years trying to cover-up).
Schiff’s statement was a catalogue of what is publicly known about the collusion of the Trump gang with the Russians, from the Trump Tower meeting, to the Stone-Wikileaks connection, to all the lies to the FBI, to the handing over of multi-page poll-data to a Russian intelligence operative.
(It is that catalogue that has me still mystified as to why Mueller found no crime of conspiracy of which he could persuade a jury of Americans beyond a reasonable doubt.)
The counter-attack from Schiff took the form, “You may think it’s OK… I don’t think it’s OK.” And Schiff culminated his denunciation by saying what he does think it is: “immoral, unethical, unpatriotic, and yes, corrupt.”
Such a powerful statement reassured me: when a doggedly reasonable Democrat like Adam Schiff is primed to strike at disgraceful Republicans as hard as he did in that scene, I feel more confident that the Democrats will not be withdrawing from the field of battle because of what has seemed like a set-back.
Schiff knew what the Republicans were up to, and he clearly was determined to strike back hard enough to make them pay.
And a second development is connected with the Schiff statement: the way it was received by other Democrats, most notably and visibly by Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell.
Both treated Schiff as the hero he was. Maddow put emphasis on how the Republicans were left sputtering. O’Donnell said that Schiff’s statement will live forever in the history of this Trump era, that it will be shown repeatedly over the years, marking an important moment like Joseph Welch’s famous “Have you no decency” speech at the Army-McCarthy hearings in 1954.
Those reactions suggested to me that perhaps there is now a great readiness in Liberal America for the fight, a readiness to elevate those leaders who will trumpet the call to battle. Perhaps the reactions of Maddow and O’Donnell are not representative of something so widespread as that. But I felt that their celebration of Schiff — O’Donnell said that he’d already watched the Schiff video three times and was looking forward to seeing it again as he showed it to his audience — augered well.
The third development that reassured me was the letter from Attorney General Barr that he sent out at the end of the week. Unlike the first two communications from Barr, this one was not mandated by the Special Counsel law. He apparently felt impelled to write it.
And what seemed to impel him was his discomfort with all the criticism he’d been subjected to. He made out that it was unfair, but his defense was weak. (He claimed that he never claimed to summarize the Mueller Report, but in fact he had made that claim.)
What struck me as significant about Barr’s third, Friday letter was that he was on the defensive. From that I take heart. That doesn’t mean that the battle to get Barr out of the way and allow the Mueller Report to inform Congress and the American people has been won. But I think it means that Barr is feeling that the ground he’s standing on has gotten shaky.
Compared to my fear that he was prevailing with his intruding into the process to cover up for the President, Barr’s being on the defensive said to me the battle is going better than I feared.
So as this week ends, I have greater hope that the overall battle against Trump and those who enable his misdeeds will yet go the way it should– and must.