Let me confess up front to having an enormous bias here: more than just about anything else in the world, I want to see Donald Trump go down in screaming flames, if for no other reason than that he is a colossal asshole and I hate seeing assholes win. I also have more than a few policy disagreements with him, so even if he wasn't such an odious louse, I would still want him to go down in screaming flames. And of course I am not alone in this. A lot of people were hoping the Mueller report would be the beginning of Trump's undoing. So I don't know how much of what I'm about to say is colored by my disappointment at how events have unravelled. And yet... something's not right here.
For starters, our process for uncovering wrongdoing by the president is deeply flawed. Despite the appearance that Robert Mueller was being objective and patriotic, the fact of the matter is that he was, notwithstanding Trump's occasional tweets to the contrary, a Republican, and so he could have a partisan bias. There's no check-and-balance on Mueller. If he decides to put his thumb on the scales in favor of the president there's no one who is going to stop him. But even if Mueller is exactly what he appears to be, a professional doing his job fairly, objectively, and competently, there is still the problem that his work is being filtered by William Barr. Remember, we don't know what the Mueller report says. All we know is what William Barr says it says, and we know that Barr is strongly biased in favor of the president.
But even if Barr is being completely honest about the contents of the Mueller report, the process here is still deeply flawed. If you want to uncover someone's wrong-doing, you don't give prosecutorial veto power to someone who was appointed by and is beholden to (indeed, works for) the subject of the investigation. Congress is supposed to be the governmental body that keeps the president in check, but that only has a chance of working if Congress has some way of learning the actual underlying facts unfiltered by people with obvious conflicts of interest. So there's that.
But even more troubling to me is that there's just something very fishy about the way things have gone down in the last two weeks. Mueller seemed to be on a roll, racking up indictments and convictions, and closing in on the president's inner circle. The entire time, Trump was acting like a cornered animal, tweeting non-stop criticism of Mueller, accusing him of hunting witches and being a (gasp!) Democrat (there is no more serious insult in the Republican lexicon). I've long since lost count of the number of times Trump called for the investigation to be shut down. Hell, he fired James Comey in a failed attempt to shut the investigation down! And then, all of a sudden, before Mueller released his report, Trump suddenly changed his tune. On March 20, Trump suddenly stopped the criticism and said that the report should be made public, that people should see it. That was two days before Mueller delivered the report which -- surprise, surprise! -- "exonerated" Trump.
Why would Trump suddenly change his tune so radically in advance of the report? I can think of only one possible explanation: he knew the fix was in. Just as I can think of only one possible explanation for his announcement during the campaign, on June 7, 2016, that he was going to give a "major speech ... discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons...": he knew about the infamous Trump Tower meeting that was scheduled to take place on June 9, and he knew (or at least he thought he knew) that that meeting was supposed to yield dirt on Hillary. If that's not collusion, I don't know what is.
To quote Baby Herman, notwithstanding Trump's claims of total vindication (which even William Barr doesn't actually agree with), the whole thing stinks like yesterday's diapers.
And that's the real problem here. The country is divided. One way or another, we really need to know the truth, and having a report about possible wrongdoing by the president released only after the president has had a chance to "review it for accuracy" is not going to give the skeptics a lot of confidence that we're getting the truth.
Our legal system is supposed to be, for better or worse, adversarial. It doesn't work if the prosecutor is working for the accused.