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Inference Entertainment Marathon

Theater Review
by Kevin T. McEneaney
Sat Sep 14th, 2019

Laura Forman reading the Mueller Report

What do you know about Robert Mueller’s report? If you believed news accounts about it, you might have been misled. Some reports hinted or stated that it was so long that it would take forever to read; that it was choked with a dull laundry list of facts; that it either exculpated Trump and his associates or was a prejudiced document; that it was an incomplete work. In fact, The Mueller report is no longer news because it’s old news, and it is now merely an artifact of cultural entertainment. since the pace of news is like a forgetful waterfall.

You may not know that the Mueller Report is quite an amusing document; that it is easy to read; that it is concise and not windy; that it is, above all, droll in the French manner. Most of the report recounts hard evidence against people yet concludes that the evidence was not abundant enough for conviction. Did you know that George Papadopoulos (formerly an oil and gas consultant and member of Ben Carson’s campaign before becoming a member of Donald Trump’s foreign advisory board) may have been working with Israeli intelligence through Joseph Mifsud? Did Russian and Israeli intelligence work to get Donald Trump elected? We know the former did, but an investigation of the latter was dropped. The woman, Olga Polonskaya, who was introduced to Papadopoulos as Putin’s niece, was probably Mifsud’s mistress. Papadopoulos made at least six attempts to a team of Trump’s campaign members to visit Moscow and meet with Russians. There are many amusing, laconic details.

For some people, like former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the evidence is overwhelming. In Session case, both for prematurely dealing with the Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak before being appointed Attorney General, and for lying to government investigators, yet there was no prosecution in this case because the fictions of Sessions’ misunderstanding questions, or of improper contacts with Russians was not prosecuted due to the risible “reason” that Sessions’ reasoning process was so narrow that he could not properly understand some questions put to him and he misinterpreted what he was asked. There was so much “reasonable doubt” in his case. In part wo the reader learns that Sessions, in fact, never recused himself from the Russia investigation; Trump's attacks on Sessions were merely political theater.

Other cases were not prosecuted because they might raise First Amendment issues. Or that, even with much evidence, that there was some doubt about attaining a conviction. For others like Donald Trump Jr., a conviction was unlikely because he could not have willingly violated the law due to the likelihood that he knew nothing about the law. The Mueller Report reads like the reverse companion to Franz Kafka’s great novel The Trial. Instead of everyone being found guilty for nothing, everyone is found innocent, or nearly innocent, for no reason at all—for even specious reasons.

The passage describing the prohibition of accepting “anything of value” from a foreign government during an election is priceless. A thing of value includes tangibles like door hangers and intangibles like propaganda weapons. Since Mueller could not monetarily assess the likely financial value of “dirt on Hillary Clinton” in a presidential campaign, the whole issue goes up in smoke, even though if it was worth merely a dollar, it would have been a crime.

The Mueller Report, a masterpiece of inference and some gossip, will not live as a legal document, but as a document for bemused entertainment. It’s clear that the Russians were playing a double game: they succeeded in entrapping Trump with a skein of ambiguity that would permit leverage for blackmail, or alternatively, hobble his presidency. They could bring him down at any moment, yet it remains more to their advantage to keep him in power. They have, as they say in poker, an ace in the hole and a dealer with an ace at the bottom of the pack ready to fall to the card table.

Yes, the Mueller Report is a conspiracy as the Right Wing has it. It’s a conspiracy to annotate violations of federal law without thorough prosecution. Yet a number of actors do remain behind prison bars right now.

You can purchase the paperback edition of the Mueller Report for $20 or download it for free by going here. It is best read out loud, which is why Laurie Woolever and Christopher Duncan organized a free public reading of the Mueller Report at the Poughkeepsie Trolley Barn at 489 Main Street. I was there on Friday evening. The Redacted announcements can be quite funny. The second half of the Mueller Report will be read on Saturday.