Understand there are three narratives here. First there’s the Barr narrative, or the “summary” of the Mueller Report that William Barr tried to pass off as, well, as a “summary” of the Mueller Report. That’s the narrative that the quasi-literate “president” of the United States and his drooling minions use, and it’s their source for mindlessly parroting the idiotic refrain of “no collusion” and “no obstruction.”
Second, there’s the Mueller Report narrative, a 448 page report submitted by Robert Mueller himself and, though lousy with redactions, still a horror show of criminal conspiracy, fraud and obstruction by Trump and company. Finally there’s the Mueller Investigation narrative, the bibliography of the Mueller Report, if you will, comprising what may turn out to be hundreds of thousands of pages of in-depth supporting investigative materials from which the Mueller Report has been distilled. That is wherein the full truth resides, and that narrative of truth will be sifted one day by prosecutors who will send Trump and many of his criminal co-conspirators to prison for very long stretches.
It’s the first narrative, of course, that has remained and will continue to remain the official one from Donald Trump. Do not underestimate the power of this narrative. Mere contradicting quotations from the Mueller Report will not change the minds of people in the magnetic thrall of words like “no collusion.” It’s the “president’s” incessant repeating of those words – in tweets, in press gaggles, in speeches – that continues to hypnotize his weakling followers.
So powerful has the perception created by this lie become, that Trump was emboldened to tweet on Friday, “My Campaign for President was conclusively spied on. Nothing like this has ever happened in American Politics. A really bad situation. TREASON means long jail sentences, and this was TREASON!”
Spying on a political candidate is not treason, of course. But Trump was not spied on. Trump was investigated because he is a criminal. That is another matter. But what he bafflingly referred to once as the “oranges” (intending to say “origins”) of the investigation has become the next distracting narrative of the Trump cabal, and may even serve as a potent rallying cry into the election of 2020.
I cannot reread Donald Trump’s allusion to long jail sentences in his recent tweet without an ironic chuckle. I still recall with delicious avidity, that can only be had from warmed-over schadenfreude, the cries of “lock her up” from Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen and Roger Stone, four men serving or contemplating the service of long jail sentences. So the more Trump predicts extended prison sentences for his political enemies, the more extendedly do I chuckle.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.