All the news points backward. Everything pops up from pieces of evidence that are said to be key. Mueller proceeds more like a patient cat than an anxious pooch. He feints and springs. We hyperventilate.

Relax, friends. In the immortal words of Sheryl Crow, "lay back and enjoy the show." Today we mention the talkative Papadopolis only in passing. We concentrate on what seemed to me a gulp. It was the surprise trump seemed to exude when he found he had been elected for real. Way back in Nov. '16. He won.

Ouch. I think in that instant truth emerged.

The truth is and was and will be that Trump entered the presidency on the basis of activities so numerous and convoluted that it will take Mueller months more to create a plausible picture of what was going on. The conclusion is that regardless of what happens, Russia is not going away -- ever. The corollary is that we will remain in suspense and agony and speculation.

It is sort of a serious version of the current preoccupation with tweet wars. We make stories up out of tweets as though they really mattered in the long run.


But in the serious version of things, we are involved in the question of the presidency itself. A laser focus on that is what can save us from frustration at Mueller's care and caution.

This is not about the millions of things we can deduce from what we know about Trump's bad boy behavior. It is about one thing. Did he knowingly act with other consenting associates to encourage activities that can be shown to have rendered the final result of the election an ongoing mystery?

I think Trump's election night gulp may have had a tiny element of awe, but mostly it was a statement that goes like this: "Good Lord, now I am really in trouble." I realize that is exactly the sort thing Trump's base regards as liberal dreaming.

They will say Trump is doing fine and all we have to do is watch things continue to get better and better. But all this really says is that after he gulped, Trump moved on to put the best face he could on things. How well he has succeeded is best reflected in his standing among Americans and in the degree to which the GOP Congress continues to support him.

On this second day of the new year, the verdict is that Russia will remain in its obtrusive spot as the top challenge Trump faces.


Added to the strength behind the Mueller probe is the question of how Trump will handle things tomorrow and in the days beyond. Will he fire Mueller and would that ensure his impeachment?

My guess is that if Trump goes Pence does too. That is why we may have to wait for the results of the 2018 election to see things resolved.