Without taking questions from reporters about the Mueller report, President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walk to board Marine One for the short trip to Joint Base Andrews, then on to his estate in Palm Beach, Fla., at the White House in Washington, Thursday, April 18, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

“Truth? What is truth?” said jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer. ... To pass from theological and philosophical truth to the truth of civil business, it will be acknowledged even by those who practice it naught, that clear and round dealing is the honor of man’s nature; and that mixture of falsehood is like alloy in coin of gold and silver, which may make the metal work the better, but it embaseth it.Francis Bacon, (1561-1626) “Essays, Civil and Moral”

The long and eagerly awaited Mueller report, redacted, has now been released. Few will have the temerity or the patience to go over its 400-plus pages with a fine-toothed comb. Democratic congressmen and congresswomen, or rather their already overworked staff, will be given that thankless task and told to hurry it up.

Never-Trumpers will never get over the shocking outcome of the 2016 presidential election. One and all, they hope to see evidence buried in the report proving that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to steal that election from Hillary Clinton — despite special counsel Robert Mueller’s clear summary to the contrary. Oh well, hope springs eternal.

I think there is little doubt that collusion with Russia did influence, in some respect, the 2016 election. What’s been disclosed thus far, however, is that the collusion was on the Clinton rather than on the Trump side. I think this is worthy of investigation.

Tasking the special counsel — what he should investigate and what he should ignore — was, at best, sloppy and unprofessional. At worst, it was political and slanted to damage the Trump campaign while giving Clinton’s a base on balls.

It seems clear that senior officers in the Obama Justice Department (specifically the FBI), the CIA and the office of the Director of National Intelligence began an investigation of the Trump campaign some months prior to the election. Apparently, it was based almost entirely on what’s become known as the “Steele Dossier.” It was prepared by a former British intelligence officer, Christopher Steele, who is said to have been fed false information potentially damaging to Trump by Russian agents.

This information, described as opposition research, was mostly salacious in nature. It was never verified, and it was partly financed by the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign.

Enter Attorney General William Barr. Democrats have pulled out all the stops to see an unredacted copy of the Mueller report, including all of its voluminous supporting documents. Barr has told them the law forbids him to do that. Information based on grand jury proceedings and other restricted material has been blackened out in the report. If they want to, Democrats can petition the courts to have it released. On the question of redaction, Barr seems to stand on firm legal ground. Everyone knows, or should know, that if he released confidential material to even a select few senior Democrats, anything deemed damaging to the Trump administration would be promptly leaked. It always is.

And then there is the bomb Barr dropped last week near the end of an hours-long session with a Senate subcommittee. He said it was clear to him that the Trump campaign had been “spied on” during the run-up to the 2016 election. He promised an investigation to find out whether or not this was justified. “Spying on a political campaign is a big deal,” he said.

Democrats were shocked! Shocked! House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Barr’s remarks “dismaying and disappointing.” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Barr had “destroyed the scintilla of credibility that he had left in terms of being a fair and impartial person.” Former FBI Director James Comey said, “I never thought of that [court-ordered electronic surveillance] as spying. ... If the attorney general has come to the belief that that should be called spying — wow.”

The mess all this has made needs clearing up. Perhaps Barr should appoint a special counsel to look into it. But who should that be? Well, Robert Mueller is now available. ... Wow.

Post Script: As I’m writing this Thursday (on the very day the redacted Mueller report is being released), I’ve received this email from Barnes & Noble: “Get the Mueller Report free on Nook.” It was directly followed by a second email from B&N. It read: “Mysterious Book Recommendations.”

Oh, my.

R.L. Schreadley is a former Post and Courier executive editor.

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