US President Donald Trump winks during a Cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 2, 2019

One of the most underrated fundamental truths of life is that expectations dictate how humans react to nearly everything. If you doubt that, you have probably never been the parent of a child on Christmas morning.

When it comes to the never-ending Trump/Russia saga, expectations are particularly central because, thanks to the totally unprecedented allegation of a winning presidential campaign being aided by a foreign adversary, we are sailing in completely uncharted waters. If possible, the “Twilight Zone” factor was somehow elevated even further with the leaking of the news this past weekend that our FBI investigated our sitting president as a possible Russian asset.

Weirdly, even Donald Trump–either by a masterfully evil design, or as a result of his remarkably reliable dumb luck–played perfectly into this expectation game himself when, when in response to a direct softball question, he technically didn’t even deny being a Russian agent. This of course ignited another round of media speculation around the idea that it could be proof he really IS a Russian agent!

A fairly substantial portion of the population—and an extraordinary number of Twitter-based “Collusion Conspiracy Celebrities”—now are totally convinced that when Robert Mueller releases his “final report,” it will be proven that Trump and Russia were knowingly on the same team, and that our president is effectively the “Manchurian Candidate” come to life. Anything short of Mueller posting the infamous “pee tape” online, along with revealing audio of Trump and Putin conspiring together to take Hillary Clinton down, will be seen by many of these people as a significant disappointment.

While there are very credible officials who seem to continue thinking this kind of a scenario is still possible, and I would never rule anything out when it comes what Trump is capable of, the reality is that there is no solid indication that anything of the sort is in the cards. In fact, a very strong argument can be made that these insanely high expectations for what Mueller will be able to produce play directly into Trump’s hands, and may even allow him to bizarrely declare “victory” while surviving revelations which might have crippled him otherwise.

I have written numerous times that Trump and his campaign were clearly guilty of some very serious violations of both law and ethics, but that I am doubtful that the very worst scenarios could ever be convincingly proven, even if any of them actually even transpired.  

While it has been largely ignored and rationalized to almost an hilarious degree by those who are already morally convinced there was clearly “collusion,” there is almost no public indication that Mueller is even close to concluding that there was “heavy collusion” between Trump and Russia, at least not which is realistically provable in such a high-stakes situation.

As an ardent conservative critic of Trump and someone who believes he is a threat to nearly every aspect of our country, I am very concerned about this possibly-massive gap between expectations and reality.

For instance: when Mueller inevitably concludes that Trump likely committed obstruction of justice and perjury, thanks to the absurdly high expectations which have been created, it won’t seem to most of our dangerously desensitized populace, or even much of the media, like a very big deal.

My anxiety about this highly plausible scenario was elevated yesterday when ABC White House Correspondent Jon Karl (who is not at all liked by Trump) reported on This Week that his sources connected to the Mueller probe are saying that the final report will “almost certainly be anti-climactic.” There are many reasons to trust Karl’s report which have nothing to do with the fact that he basically articulated the outcome which I have been predicting/fearing for quite a while now.

Karl is a good reporter who is (unlike Carl Bernstein, who is articulating the opposite view) in a position to have contact to with the right people here. And Karl is clearly smart enough not to be played by a source with an agenda. The fact that he was willing to reveal this tidbit, going very much against the media herd and preferred narrative in a way which is sure to bring him a lot of flak, tells me that he has strong confidence in what he is being told.

I have written previously that one of the things which keeps me from concluding for sure that Mueller isn’t going to prove “collusion” (please notice the distinction I keep making between allege/suspect and prove) is that there have been no high-profile leaks indicating that he will not do so. Karl’s report may have been exactly that moment about which I’ve theorized, and it is an extremely telling example of confirmation bias that almost no news media picked up what he said–obviously because it simply doesn’t conform to what anyone in the non “conservative” media wants to hear right now.

The reality is that, as much as it may seem like one, this is not a Hollywood blockbuster movie, and Robert Mueller is not Batman, or even Tom Cruise. Let’s not let Trump benefit from the fact that he probably actually is so amoral as to be capable of being a Russian asset. Because when it isn’t proven or established that he definitely is, this will inexplicably enable him and his sycophants to plausibly diminish what Mueller actually does prove.

[Featured Photo by Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty]

John Ziegler is a senior columnist for Mediaite. He hosts a weekly podcast focusing on news media issues and is documentary filmmaker. You can follow him on Twitter at @ZigManFreud or email him at