"But (Democrats) should not feel bruised. The notion that the special counsel was about to take down Mr Trump has long owed more to feverish Democratic imaginations than reality. The reams of evidence the special counsel has already made public, in hundreds of pages of court filings, did not point to a grand conspiracy between the Trump team and Russian agents. The obstruction case looked hard to prove.
"If anything, the heavy burden of proof the special counsel was labouring under made his investigation look like a distraction from the more salient political questions surrounding Mr Trump's dealings with Russia. For example: do American voters think it acceptable that their president continues to deny the existence of an attack on their democracy by a hostile power, which he has consistently lied about his links to, may owe his job to, and which he has done hardly anything to deter from continuing its assault?
"Democrats might also feel Mr Mueller has done them a tactical favour. A more damning report on Mr Trump, including a clear allegation of criminality, would have made it hard for them to avoid impeaching him. Yet that course of action has always looked like a hiding to nothing. Protected by his party, Mr Trump almost certainly could not be removed by impeachment proceedings, and might well be strengthened by a failed effort. Democratic leaders know this perfectly well. Despite well-publicised calls for Mr Trump's impeachment from a few hotheads, most Democrats in Congress are against it.
"The best they could have hoped for from Mr Mueller was therefore a report that justified their continuing oversight operations against Mr Trump, without forcing them to impeach him. The special counsel appears to have delivered something close to that.