Donald Trump has wasted no time in responding to the report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller—at least to elements of it.
Let’s remember that the Department of Justice charged the Special Counsel with investigating the possibility of Russian interference into the 2016 Presidential election as well as the possibility of the Trump campaign’s cooperation with or involvement in Russia’s possible efforts to interfere in and influence that election.
A good portion of Attorney General William Barr’s summary of Mueller’s report focuses on the fact that the Special Counsel, in no uncertain terms, did decisively conclude that Russia did in fact engage in a rather deliberate and elaborately strategized enterprise to influence the 2016 Presidential election, in part through a well-orchestrated social media campaign. Even Barr’s summary presents this finding with substantial detail as to how Russia carried out this plot.
Trump swiftly appeared before cameras after news that Barr’s summary had been released.
His main messages?
Take a guess:
That there was no collusion; it’s all been a hoax; and now the Democrats should be investigated in turn.
Now, I know we’ve all given up on expecting any kind of Presidential behavior, not to mention decorum, from Trump.
Nonetheless, his complete lack of response and sense of urgency with regard to the first part of Barr’s summary detailing the plot and practices of Russian election interference still must worry us, whether or not his lack of response surprises us.
For two years, Trump has expressed little to no interest in knowing anything about Russian efforts to interfere in our election processes. He has shown no urgency in having election interference investigated, so we can understand how the Russians interfered and thus undertake measures to protect our democratic process from foreign infiltration and influence. All he has ever said is that if such efforts were made by foreign powers to interfere in our elections, those efforts in no way impacted the results of the 2016 election.
All he has cared about is defending his own legitimacy as President.
But let’s be clear. This lack of concern for our national security and for the security of our democratic processes, even if not unexpected, we need to emphasize is both strange and worrisome.
Trump could have responded to this report by declaring that the nation must act swiftly to end this interference in our elections and that he will ensure that the full array of the nation’s resources will be brought to bear on this threat to the central and sacred processes of democracy in the United States.
Even after his gloating declarations of “no collusion,” an astute President would have expressed concern for our national security and assured Americans that measures would be taken to protect our democracy.
Trump has consistently referred to the Mueller probe as a witch hunt.
Does he mean to say that Russia, too, is a victim of this witch hunt? That the search for Russian interference is a witch hunt?
We don’t know because Trump doesn’t address the issue.
And this is what should worry Americans.
As I watched the coverage in the first few hours after the release, I saw no significant focus on Trump’s ignoring the first portion of Barr’s summary.
The behavior is that of someone who already knew about it or who just doesn’t care.
Either way, his response—or lack of the response—should leave us worried about our national security.
Tim Libretti is a professor of U.S. literature and culture at a state university in Chicago. A long-time progressive voice, he has published many academic and journalistic articles on culture, class, race, gender, and politics, for which he has received awards from the Working Class Studies Association, the International Labor Communications Association, the National Federation of Press Women, and the Illinois Woman’s Press Association.