One thing Robert Mueller made clear during his congressional testimony is that the Russians intend to keep meddling in our elections.
“They’re doing it as we sit here,” he said.
In a news conference after the special counsel’s appearance, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said there was no doubt about which campaign benefited from that interference during the 2016 election.
“Today, the director outlined in powerful words how Russia intervened massively in our election, systematically in a sweeping fashion,” he said. “How, during the course of that intervention, they made multiple approaches to the Trump campaign, and far from shunning that foreign involvement in our election, the Trump campaign welcomed it, made full use of it, put it into its communications and messaging strategy and then lied about it.”
Of course, that didn’t convince guys like Fox News contributor Dan Bongino.
“Dear Liberal Twitter,” he wrote. “You do understand that ONLY 1 presidential campaign took assistance from Russians in the 2016 election, right. Because you’re all so smart you’re obviously aware that the campaign that did this was the Clinton campaign. You know this, right?”
All in all, both sides seemed to leave the hearings at least a little bit disappointed. The former FBI director refused to give Democrats the sound bites they wanted to launch impeachment hearings, and he also refused to address the conspiracy theories put forth by Republicans.
Still, President Donald J. Trump seemed happy with the result.
“I would like to thank the Democrats for holding this morning’s hearings,” he wrote, calling the sessions “a disaster for Robert Mueller & the Democrats.”
A quick look at social media will tell you that few Americans had a change of heart as a result of the special counsel’s testimony.
A friend’s post during the hearings prompted one Facebook user to suggest that the president had done more for the country than the last several presidents combined.
“This Mueller disaster was nothing but a witch hunt, …” she said.
Never mind that the special counsel specifically rejected that assertion.
That same post prompted a Trump detractor to point out that the special counsel’s investigation had landed a number of the president’s closest advisers in jail, but the president’s supporters insisted the real problem was Democrats still fuming about the president’s upset win over Hillary Clinton.
“They’re still mad that Hillary lost the election,” one said.
Another Trump critic pointed out the president’s frequent lies.
“I don’t think Americans deserve to have a flat-out liar in the Oval Office,” she said.
Supporters countered that all politicians lie and that the thing folks like about our current president is that he won’t back down in the face of the Washington establishment.
“He won’t be bullied, and that’s what fuels the hate,” one man argued.
No one on that Facebook thread voiced any change in opinion as a result of the special counsel’s testimony. They all had their minds made up, and if anything, their viewpoints seemed to have been hardened by what they saw in the two hearings.
Of course, not everyone was paying attention.
“I stay away from politics,” one said.
“I’m out of the loop,” another admitted.
Lots of folks are turned off by the gridlock in Washington. They’re sick of the negativity, and they’re convinced that one vote won’t make a difference anyway. They stay clear of the 24-hour news cycle.
“It’s all just too depressing,” one said.
When the election rolls around, many of those people will throw up their hands and stay home.
And that, of course, is exactly what the Russians are hoping for.
Kelly Hawes is a columnist for CNHI News Indiana. He can be reached at email@example.com