For two years, the Trump administration has operated from beneath a storm cloud. Allegations of collusion with a foreign government in order to secure the presidency are perhaps the most egregious crimes a president has been accused of in the modern era, making for a unique opportunity for media outlets keen to capitalize on the rising divisions within the nation’s populous.
And then, just like that, it was over. After all the hype, the accusations, the “insider” reports that seemed to spell the president’s doom, special counsel Robert Mueller’s report ended with a fizzle, rather than a bang. He found no evidence President Trump or his campaign staff colluded with the Russian efforts to see Trump elected, and while he did leave the obstruction charges without a conclusion, many Americans now can’t help but see the president’s aggressive tweeting and exasperated comments as the behavior of an innocent man who was being accused of treason. The president may not have the most polished demeanor, but it’s safe to say most of us would fray a bit at the ends as every aspect of our lives was under very public investigation for two years over suspicions of a crime you didn’t commit.
“(T)he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” — Attorney General William Barr
The cultural implications of Trump’s innocence will be far-reaching. In the United States and indeed all over the world, Trump’s name prompts references to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the man behind the influence campaign that sought to benefit from Trump’s election efforts and one of the world’s few remaining political boogeymen. Putin’s aggressive behavior and emphasis on “doomsday weapons” make him a villain through the lens of American foreign policy, but America’s embattled president has demonstrated a friendliness toward him that has left many uncomfortable. Some previously attributed this warm regard to the possibility the two were “in cahoots,” but now it seems clear Trump just recognizes Putin wanted him elected, and as such, sees an opportunity for friendly discussion.