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Keep calm and carry on

I realize that over the past several years I have written countless cautionary, blinking-yellow-light columns devoted to Donald Trump, his enablers in Congress and, of course, his MAGA base. As I reflect on the saturated chaos that defines his term, I’m often reminded of the words KEEP CALM and CARRY ON that were on large posters covering the walls of London’s buildings during World War II.

It was a time of the blitz, a scorched-earth period when the night skies over London were filled with the beams of searchlights and sirens wailed and German bombers flew overhead. KEEP CALM — CARRY ON. And so the Brits did. They carried on.

I know it would be false equivalence to compare what the Brits endured to these last two-plus years of Trump. But for some reason, the admonition resonates. And yet I realize that to pay close attention to what is taking place week after week, well, calm is not an emotion that comes to mind.

I’ve come to understand how much certainty and hope I placed in Robert Mueller. His report would disclose the illegality of Trump and his cohorts. It would be an unequivocal indictment of all that was self-evident and would, not unlike Nixon, result in Trump being perp-walked, with all pomp and civility, to the West Wing exit where a cab (not a helicopter) waited.

Perhaps that imagined scene is too Hollywood, too much the stuff of fantasy and unicorns, for who in this script could have imagined Bill Barr, cast as AG, stepping forward and with his flat, deliberate, smoker’s voice insist that the conclusion of the Mueller Report was “no collusion,” “no obstruction,” finishing with his signature flat affect, “total exoneration.” And then — wait for it — Barr now leads an investigation of the investigators, his rationale being that “Things didn’t jive.” What things didn’t?

So an inquiry is now underway, taking time and resources away from efforts to protect our 2020 election. The Barr Justice Department is in the hunt for civil servants who, in the words of Trump, committed “treason,” meaning, by definition, gave comfort and aid to a nation-state with whom we were at war. Keep calm — but good grief.

Indictment? Not even close. I listened as Mueller eventually spoke for nine minutes, stating that this would be the first and last time we would hear his voice. And then quickly headed for the exit, leaving us to contemplate what must be the most infamous double negative — “We didn’t have confidence that the president didn’t commit a crime” — that seemed meant to obfuscate the fact that if Trump were someone other than the president, he would be Michael Cohen’s cellmate.

Of course, analysts and pundits point out that the Mueller Report is a nuanced, lawyerly road map created for the Blue Wave Congress to go north to a place known as Impeachment, with Inquiry as a rest stop.

Meanwhile, Trump wanders the early-morning corridors of the White House wondering, “What’s a guy have to do to get impeached around here?” A question that gives the Dems pause, knowing that there’s an election on the horizon and victimhood is a geography Trump travels on a regular basis.

Perhaps what a guy has to do is grant an interview to ABC News in which he is asked, would he have a problem accepting oppositional research offered by a foreign nation or would he call the FBI? Recall that receiving in kind something of value from, say, Russia, who was an admitted stakeholder in the outcome of the 2016 election, is illegal. “So, what would you do, Mr. President?” “Well, I’d listen.” Oppositional research? Sure. Everyone does it. Bring it. But Mr. President, isn’t that the definition of collusion and isn’t this déjà vu all over again? Even if the country is, as you suggested, Norway?

Remember, KEEP CALM — CARRY ON.

Chris Honoré is an Ashland Tidings columnist.

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