IT’S MUELLER TIME

Robert Mueller’s on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Don­ald Trump’s al­leged Rus­sian links is one of the hottest sub­jects of the mo­ment. But will his find­ings ul­ti­mately leave lib­er­als with egg on their face?

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The high­light of 2018 will likely be Spe­cial Coun­sel Robert Mueller’s find­ings in re­la­tion to the yarn about Rus­sian agents hack­ing the 2016 US elec­tion to help Don­ald Trump. An ex­cit­ing year ahead for Trump-watch­ers, then, track­ing the ex­o­cet of truth as it spears to­wards the scoundrel squat­ting in the White House.

Or maybe not. Maybe Mueller will re­port that while many of the Trump gang were up to their ox­ters in dirty deal­ing, he’d un­earthed no ev­i­dence of elec­tion-rig­ging, by Rus­sians of any­one else.

Thus, 2018 could be the year the massed ranks of the main­stream com­men­tariat are con­clu­sively ex­posed as in­ca­pable of lay­ing a fin­ger on the block-headed bigot. Will they be din­ing at Xmas on dou­ble help­ings of hubris?

Or per­haps Mueller will de­liver a “guilty” verdict in time for Novem­ber’s mid-term elec­tions. Even die-hard Trump vot­ers might balk at their pres­i­dent con­spir­ing with a for­eign coun­try to do down Amer­i­can democ­racy.

But if that’s so, shouldn’t a smidgen of ev­i­dence have sur­faced by now?

At the be­gin­ning of the year, a pro­fes­sor from the Lon­don School of Eco­nom­ics told BBC2’s News­night that elec­tion-med­dling was an in­te­gral el­e­ment in the Krem­lin’s cy­ber­war against the West. Pressed for a prac­ti­cal ex­am­ple, she pointed to a pro-Trump rally in Idaho which in­ves­ti­ga­tions had al­legedly shown had been or­gan­ised from a Rus­sian web ad­dress! We weren’t told the name of the town, or the size of the crowd, or how the district had even­tu­ally voted or, well, any­thing.

That re­mains the clos­est I’ve heard to an ex­pla­na­tion of how the vote-fraud op­er­a­tion is sup­posed to have worked.

The cartoon fas­cist with the vel­cro-ed hair is a bully, a liar, a thief, a racist, and an abuser of women. He’d col­lude with Vladimir Putin, Vlad the Im­paler or Beelze­bub him­self if he thought there was a vote or a dis­hon­est dol­lar in it. But that doesn’t mean he swin­dled his way into the White House.

There is a swathe of po­lit­i­cal opin­ion which can­not bring it­self to be­lieve that the var­nished gar­goyle gen­uinely out­polled Hil­lary Clin­ton in enough states to win.

They be­lieve in the corol­lary, too – that Trump vot­ers, like Brexit vot­ers nearer home, are slack­jawed ig­no­ra­muses who are ei­ther driven by ha­tred or haven’t a clue and can be dis­counted.

Few of those now yearn­ing for Hil­lary ar­gued at the rel­e­vant time for a clear-cut al­ter­na­tive to bi­par­ti­san neo-lib­er­al­ism at home and old­fash­ioned imperialism abroad. The only proven vote-rig­ging was per­pe­trated by the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee to stitch up Bernie San­ders and present the elec­torate with a war-mon­ger­ing crea­ture of Wall Street as their only al­ter­na­tive to Trump.

We will find out this year whether lessons have been learnt.

Arse­nal will win the Premier League with a late run on the rails af­ter City do a Devon Loch.

Many worry about the cost of wed­dings. But not Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Their big May day will cost £30 mil­lion. His brother’s Wil­liam’s wed­ding to your one si­phoned £5 mil­lion from the pub­lic purse in po­lice over­time alone.

Markle’s en­gage­ment ring set tax-pay­ers back £100,000. It would have cost £200,000 for a sprin­kler sys­tem at Gren­fell Tower, less than a mile away from sump­tu­ous, rent-free Kens­ing­ton Palace.

Min­utes af­ter the wed­ding was an­nounced, Down­ing Street re­vealed a freeze on work­ing age ben­e­fits for four years. Not a men­tion of that in next day’s drool­ing pa­pers. Markle is al­ready prov­ing her worth. Come May, ev­ery closet Roy­al­ist in the land will be slurp­ing from a trough of men­da­cious sen­ti­men­tal­ity. Start stiff­en­ing your sinews now.

The most sig­nif­i­cant de­vel­op­ment in pop­u­lar cul­ture in 2018 will be the re­lease of the Wood Burn­ing Sav­ages’ al­bum.

If you don’t know al­ready, TWBS are a fran­tic, pas­sion­ate, proper rock and roll band, taut sound gen­er­at­ing tu­mult that can scarcely be con­tained, shards of pol­i­tics slung out to slice through the thick­est bull­shit, rebel songs which can’t be colour-coded Orange or Green.

If you haven’t done al­ready, check out ‘Liv­ing Hell’ on YouTube, re­leased late last year, which in all sorts of ways in these sorts of days could be the defin­ing an­them of the age.

As a bonus, ‘Sis­ters Of Mercy’ could cure you of re­li­gion.

They are sup­port­ing Death From Above at the Olympia on March 14. Tick­ets on sale now. You won’t re­gret it. Prom­ise.

Derry Girls will win ev­ery­thing when the awards sea­son comes along.

We should all be send­ing vibe-waves of warmth across the At­lantic to en­cour­age Chelsea Man­ning to fol­low through on her regis­tra­tion as a can­di­date for the Demo­cratic nom­i­na­tion in this year’s Se­nate race in Mary­land.

Chelsea, pre­vi­ously known as Bradley, is the for­mer mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cer sen­tenced in 2013 to 35 years for leak­ing a huge cache of doc­u­ments de­tail­ing tor­ture, mur­der and cor­rup­tion by US forces in Iraq. Re­leased by Obama shortly be­fore he left of­fice, she is a hero­ine to hun­dreds of mil­lions, a hate fig­ure to all who find tor­ture, mur­der and rank cor­rup­tion un­prob­lem­atic when per­pe­trated by “our boys”.

Judg­ing from her whip-smart Twit­ter feed, she would take no pris­on­ers in bat­tling spaced-out Trump­ists, cop-out lib­er­als, sell-out Democrats, trans­pho­bic creeps and such. She’s bril­liantly cheeky.

A se­nior army of­fi­cer tweets, “You should be shot for trea­son,” to which comes the in­stant re­sponse, “And in­stead I’m be­ing shot for the cover of ‘Vogue.’”

I may be in love.

Robert Mueller: what will his in­ves­ti­ga­tion turn up?

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