The Mueller Investigation Was Costly: But to Whom? - OZY | A Modern Media Company

The Mueller Investigation Was Costly: But to Whom?

The Mueller Investigation Was Costly: But to Whom?

By Grover Norquist


Trump opponents promised a mushroom cloud. But the thud was a dud, and Democrats will pay dearly.

Grover Norquist

Grover Norquist

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, is in the thick of politics more than most. Here’s what he has to say about the impact of the Mueller report.

Attorney General William Barr summarized the Mueller investigation saying it “did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government to interfere with the election despite multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.” Ouch.

We have lived with the huge promise of the Mueller investigation for 675 days. We watched it on TV. Read about it daily. From May 17, 2017, to March 22, 2019, The Washington Post published 1,184 Mueller investigation stories, The New York Times 1,156 and CNN 1,925, according to Republican National Committee research. Add in MSNBC’s coverage and these four outlets alone published an average of 13 Mueller-related stories every single day for 675 days.

Leading Democrat congressmen appeared on CNN to tell their base that they “knew” Trump colluded with Russia. Leaks, predictions and hints told us that the investigation would prove that the 2016 election was a fraud. That Trump was illegitimate. Democrats running for president, from Beto O’Rourke to Bernie Sanders, ran against the “colluder-in-chief.” Democrat audiences cheered.

Watching cheerleaders on CNN is not preparing for the Super Bowl scheduled for November 2020.

Republicans and Democrats spent those 675 days differently.

In between tweets trashing Democrats, President Donald Trump nominated — and the Republican Senate confirmed — two Supreme Court justices, 36 circuit court judges and 53 district judges. Today, over 10 percent of all federal judges were picked by President Trump and five of the 13 circuit courts have Republican-appointed majorities. The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals flipped this month.

Then the tax cut brought economic growth from 2.1 percent in 2016 to 2.9 percent in 2017 and 3.1 percent in 2018 (based on fourth quarter percentage gains). Before the Trump win, the Congressional Budget Office projected that gross domestic product (GDP) growth would be only 2.3 percent in 2017 and 1.9 percent in 2018. But since Trump’s inauguration, 6 million jobs have been created. Trump has reversed Obama’s anti-fracking policies, and the U.S. now produces more oil and gas than Saudi Arabia. Republicans were told to go out and tell the world of these achievements.


Democrats were told to hold still and wait for the Mueller report, which would make everything all right. But that was just a “shiny thing” giving hope of an easy victory — a rewriting of the 2016 election. It was the middle paragraphs of Ambrose Bierce’s short story, An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge: false hope.

Yes, there is a cost to the credibility of Democrats who promised collusion and some in the media who insisted their sources “knew” that Mueller would shut down the Trump administration. But more damaging was the opportunity cost of pinning one’s hopes on Mueller.

Democrats had hoped to beat Trump in 2020 by running against a tweeter-in-chief who had been mortally wounded by Mueller. Any candidate with a pulse could defeat that. Any policy program would work in a “not Trump” election.

And so 16 Democrats are already or soon-to-be running. What could go wrong? Pick one.

In 1972, Nixon was behind in the polls, so much so that Watergate made sense to his desperate campaign. But the Democrats picked McGovern and the election was no longer “not Nixon” but “Nixon rather than McGovern.” Heck, even the AFL-CIO refused to endorse McGovern.

The Democrats could still choose a strong candidate. But their policy positions are already being largely written — at least in public perception — by a freshman congresswoman from New York City. No airplanes. Really? A spending bill of $94 trillion added to the present debt in one decade?

The cost to the Democrats of “Waiting for Mueller” was failing to develop and promote a credible set of policies that America would turn toward. Where is the list of judges that the Democrats would appoint? Trump provided one in 2016. Where is the middle-class tax cut to contrast with the GOP cut in 2017?

Watching cheerleaders on CNN is not preparing for the Super Bowl scheduled for November 2020.

A few years back, a handful of conservatives (and Trump) embarrassed themselves by demanding to see Barack Obama’s birth certificate — the so-called “birthers.” After the Mueller report’s dead cat bounce, leading Democrats are still insisting that there is a smoking gun somewhere that Mueller missed, after 675 days, 2,800 subpoenas, 500 search warrants and with 19 lawyers. Plus 28 congressional hearings.

The positions are now reversed. Now the Republicans have the presidency and it’s the Democrats who are clinging to conspiracy theories. 

The believers in the Mueller report’s “promised” regime change sound like Monty Python’s Michael Palin in the “Dead Parrot” sketch frantically explaining to John Cleese that the dead parrot in his hand is “just resting” and “pining for the Fjords.”

This end game reminds Americans that Democrats tried to invalidate the Ronald Reagan election with the claim that Reagan colluded with Ayatollah Khomeini to defeat Jimmy Carter. Democrats spent 12 months insisting that the Bush 2000 Florida election count was a fraud. Another stolen election. Not until Nov. 12, 2001, did the media consortium announce that their own investigation found that Bush had, in fact, won the election. Denial is not an attractive trait for a party or candidate. Reagan swept up in 1984, Iran or no Iran. Bush won midterms in 2002 and in 2004 despite “Florida.”

Mueller was a costly distraction. He cost the Democrats almost two years that could have been spent preparing candidates and an agenda for November 2020.

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