The thing to remember about medieval witch hunts is they found no witches. Witches do not exist.
The Mueller investigation into Donald Trump has produced 200 charges against 34 people and 3 Russian firms, 7 guilty pleas, and 4 jail terms. Criminals surround the 45th president of the United States of America in the same way flies do a festering corpse.
"Complete and total EXONERATION," Trump tweeted of a report which expressly said it exonerated no-one. Which is a bit like Vito Corleone claiming to be Dutch, in an Italian accent.
As with everything to do with Trump, he kicks up so much mud that there's no clear water left in which to spot the truth. But there have been several landmarks along the past 2 years of his presidency which might help us find it again.
1. He asked Russia to hack Hillary
The Mueller report found proof that Russia attempted to influence the 2016 election by hacking Democratic emails and publishing them via Wikileaks.
At the time, Donald Trump told a rally: "Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing."
And it's since been reported that his son and son-in-law were both in contact with those behind the hacking.
A presidential candidate invited a hostile foreign power to disable his opponent. An enemy his family were talking to. And who, his lawyer has since revealed, he was also negotiating with to build a billion-dollar golden tower in Moscow (showers included).
2. He fired the FBI boss investigating him
We know that Trump asked FBI director James Comey to "see your way clear" to letting his national security adviser Michael Flynn off the hook for lying about meetings with the Russian ambassador.
We also know, because Trump told us, he fired Comey because he was investigating the Russia allegations. He said in an NBC interview: "And, in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said: ‘You know, this Russia thing… is a made-up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won'."
We also know he lied about it – that he at first said he waited for an official recommendation Comey should be fired, and then that he had decided to fire him anyway.
3. His mate has put him in the clear
It was not Mueller's job to decide whether to charge Trump with a crime. US legal precedent says that's up to Congress.
Mueller handed his report to his boss, the Attorney General William Barr, who despite it not being up to him said there was no obstruction of justice.
We don't know what's in the report, just the 4 sentences Barr plucked out of it to justify a decision that it wasn't his to make.
But we DO know that the previous A-G, Jeff Sessions, refused to interfere and was fired. We also know Barr got the job after claiming, publicly and in advance of any knowledge of the evidence, that Trump was innocent of all wrong-doing, could not be prosecuted, and constitutionally could not even do anything illegal.
4. It boils down to his intent
US law says for conspiracy to be proven it needs an agreement between two people "with corrupt intent" to commit a crime. Obstruction of justice requires evidence of criminal intent.
We know from his former lawyer Michael Cohen's testimony to Congress that "Mr Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress. That's not how he operates". His business empire has long been run on oral instructions, which could never be discovered by outsiders.
There'll be no emails from firstname.lastname@example.org to email@example.com agreeing their next steps. There have been no interrogations of Trump by the FBI, which is just as well because his own advisers despaired of him being able to talk without lying. The question is whether Trump intended to commit a crime to cover his yuge ass, or whether he just does stupid things, one after another.
5. It's not over
There are a dozen investigations ongoing into Trump, his business and his family. They include illegal political donations, hush money to a porn star, inflated insurance claims, alleged mortgage fraud, real estate deals, violation of tax laws and misuse of the Trump family's charitable foundation.
Long-time cheerleader Roger Stone has been charged with lying to Congress, witness tampering, and obstructing justice over obtaining those Wikileaks emails.
Ivanka Trump has reportedly used her private email for official business, and deleted messages in contravention of the law; her husband Jared Kushner has been accused by those speaking under oath of directing contact with Russians; and we also know Trump asked if someone "loyal" could be put in charge of some of these ongoing inquiries.
Logically these landmarks all lead to the conclusion that a web of criminality surrounds the president, who sits in the middle of it like a spider insisting he is in fact a sweet, fluffy kitten.
He may not have colluded with Russia, but he didn't tell Russia to get lost. He may not have obstructed justice, but he tried repeatedly to get in its way.
It is to be expected in any large organisation you'll get a wrong'un or two. But Trump's network has produced criminal convictions for his campaign manager, national security adviser, personal lawyer, two campaign advisers, and several of their associates. Their crimes are mainly about lying – to Congress, to the FBI, to tax officials, to banks.
The question which has yet to be answered is why Trump needed the services of so many liars, and so many criminals, for so many years, remunerated them so well, and was so angry with the investigators who uncovered them.
Either Trump is a criminal mastermind who orchestrated and facilitated a multi-billion dollar criminal network run on loyalty and greed, or he's a gullible fool who didn't know what was happening in his own office. Neither possibility produces someone you'd trust in charge of a spoon, never mind a country.
An innocent man would let the investigation run its course without firing the man in charge, firing the boss, recruiting replacements who declared him to be innocent before seeing the evidence, and claiming the investigation resulted in exoneration when it doesn't.
A guilty man would do exactly what Trump has, and so would a stupid one. We still don't know which he is, but he is innocent in the same way as a burpy, crumb-covered child discovered next to an empty biscuit barrel.
There may be no prosecutable evidence of wrongdoing, but that's only because he's repackaged it into a big pile of s*** and smeared it all over the walls.
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