In his final report, delivered in April, special counsel Robert Mueller couldn't have been more clear about whether Russia tried to meddle in America's 2016 election for president.
"The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion," he wrote in the 448-page document.
Mueller emphasized the point again when he stepped down from his position on May 29.
“I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments — that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election,” he said. “That allegation deserves the attention of every American.”
Yes, it does.
Mueller concluded no collusion to interfere in the 2016 election for president happened between Donald Trump or Trump associates and Russians, but the fact a foreign nation - a former Cold War adversary, no less - pursued a strategy of any kind through which it hoped to affect the outcome of a U.S. election for president should deeply disturb all Americans.
However, no less than the current occupant of the White House treats the matter as, well, a joke.
President Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Osaka, Japan, during the G20 summit late last month. During a joint public appearance of the two leaders, Trump was asked by a reporter if he planned to warn Putin about meddling in U.S. elections.
“Yes, of course, I will,” replied the president, who then turned to Putin and, in an almost playful tone, said, “Don’t meddle in the election," and Putin smiled.
You have free articles remaining.
What Trump said to Putin is nobody's concern, anyway. At least, according to Trump.
"I'll have a very good conversation with him. What I say to him is none of your business," Trump said as he left the White House for Osaka after a reporter asked him whether he would tell Putin not to interfere in U.S. elections.
Just a private get-together between a couple of old buddies, right?
Finally, according to a New York Times story on his public appearance with Putin in Osaka, Trump returned to a favorite theme - his dislike of journalists.
“Get rid of them. Fake news is a great term, isn’t it?" Trump said. "You don’t have this problem in Russia, but we do.”
“We also have," Putin said in response. "It's the same.”
Sure, why not end freedom of the press, a cornerstone of our true democracy, and replace it with, oh, state-controlled media, like in North Korea, right? (Or like in Russia, which ranks 180th out of 199 countries for press freedom, behind Iraq and Sudan, according to Politifact.) If only those prying media eyes weren't watching and telling Americans what their government is doing (or what other governments, like Russia's, are trying to do to Americans)?
We found the whole episode, well, bizarre. And troubling.
Putin is probably laughing about all of it in Moscow. No one should be laughing here at home.