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Mueller's findings: Too stupid to conspire. Too incompetent to obstruct.

Dana Milbank on

WASHINGTON -- I learned the hard way that predictions are perilous in the current age: I literally ate a column asserting that Republicans would never nominate Donald Trump for president.

So please forgive this victory lap as I claim total EXONERATION(!) by the Mueller report for my forecast in November 2017 that the president and his aides might be saved by their own stupidity:

"With all the documentation of Russian collusion piling up, President Trump's best excuse may be that his people were too incompetent to organize a conspiracy. Luckily for him, an innocent-by-reason-of-stupidity defense has the virtue of being plausible. For example, there is clear and compelling evidence that Donald Trump Jr. is dumb as a post."

This was essentially Robert Mueller's conclusion as he recounted the June 9, 2016, Trump Tower meeting, for which Russian interests promised "official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary" Clinton, and Trump Jr. replied "if it's what you say I love it."

Prosecutors "considered whether to charge Trump Campaign officials with crimes in connection with the June 9 meeting," Mueller wrote, but couldn't "prove beyond a reasonable doubt that these individuals acted 'willfully,' i.e., with general knowledge of the illegality of their conduct." Specifically, prosecutors couldn't prove "the participants in the meeting were familiar with the foreign-contribution ban or the application of federal law to the relevant factual context."

Apparently unaware that this meant he isn't the sharpest tool in the shed, Trump Jr. welcomed Mueller's findings Thursday as vindication. "TOLD YA!!!" he boasted.

 

Who says ignorance of the law is no excuse?

Mueller's findings on obstruction were similar: Not guilty by reason of incompetence. "The President's efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests," Mueller concluded, listing former FBI director James Comey, former White House counsel Donald McGahn and former White House deputy chief of staff Rick Dearborn.

After two years of investigation, Mueller's findings about Team Trump can be roughly summarized as follows: Too stupid to conspire. Too incompetent to obstruct.

These findings are entirely consistent with what I've found covering the Trump campaign and administration. I'd submit only one addendum: Too dumb to govern.

...continued

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