The best and worst things to happen to President Trump this week were the same: A special counsel was appointed to dip a spoon into that steaming, nasty bowl of borsch I’m calling "The Russian Affair." It’s the best because the president insists “there is no collusion” to be found between his team and Russian hackers.
If the president’s assertion is true, nothing could be better than a rigorous, unblinking investigation which finds zero proof. Imagine how the White Housers could crow then: pounding their critics for wasting millions of tax dollars on a fruitless hunt for Cossacks in the cupboard; blowing raspberries at Democrats over their hand-wringing worries; and probably mocking Rosie O’Donnell again because – well, the president just likes that.
Add in the fact that the guy in charge of this probe, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, is being lavishly praised as a pillar of credibility, and if I’d done nothing wrong, I’d be dancing in the Rose Garden over the iron-clad confirmation of innocence just around the corner.
But there are downsides. The investigation could – and likely will – drag on for months, constantly refreshing the cloud of suspicion over Pennsylvania Avenue. The special counsel can subpoena witnesses who might provide embarrassing details about the inner workings of Trumpland, even if they don’t expose a plot with the Kremlin. If Mueller starts scrutinizing financial records, he could be the guy who finally compels President Trump to hand over his tax returns. All of this could keep the president’s legislative agenda in turmoil too, if only because his Republican allies might be squeamish about cozying up to him until the facts are settled.
And although there is no proof of any wrongdoing involving the president at this point – what if the special counsel does find something? What if someone in Team Trump did share some herring with Vladimir Putin, if you know what I mean?
Oh then, I can imagine even the ghost of Tolstoy saying, “Now that’s a tragedy!”