It’s amusing to watch Democrats as they prepare for the inevitable disappointment to come when Special Counsel Robert Mueller issues his final report.

If Mueller fails to produce evidence that President Trump colluded with Russia to win the election, Democrats will say that the report “did not draw a conclusion.” By doing so, the suspicion which has surrounded the President for nearly three years will linger. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is already setting the stage for this outcome.

The Hill’s Tal Axelrod writes, “former Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe on Friday made the startling claim that he believes it’s possible Trump is a Russian asset.”

First, coming from McCabe, it’s not startling. Not even a little bit.

Second, he’s telling us what McCabe, a four-time liar who was fired from the FBI due to his lack of candor, believes or would like us to believe.

Three, his noncommittal “it’s possible” makes his statement meaningless. It’s possible that anyone could be a Russian asset. McCabe provides no evidence.

That didn’t stop CNN’s Alisyn Camerota and former Director of National Intelligence and current CNN contributor James Clapper from running with it. (The segment can be viewed in the video below.)

But surprisingly, Clapper, who has been one of Trump’s most rabid critics, has begun to noticeably tone down his rhetoric.

Asked by Camerota, in a mildly accusatory tone, “When you hear the former Acting Director of the FBI say that it is possible the President of the United States is a Russian asset, what is your reaction?”

Clapper: The strange thing I think that has bothered a lot of people both in and out of the intelligence community is this strange personal deference to Putin by the president. I’ve speculated in the past that the way Putin behaves is to treat President Trump as an asset.

Okay, so Clapper is telling us that Trump’s “strange personal deference to Putin” and “the way Putin behaves” is the reason he believes Trump is a Russian asset.

Apparently because McCabe, Clapper and Co. have detected these subtle behavioral nuances, they are justified in opening up a criminal investigation of the President, right?

Clapper: You consider Putin’s background as a trained, experienced KGB agent and how he would approach someone who he was trying to co-opt or influence or gain leverage over, in this case, appeal to [Trump’s] ego.

And so, in that sense, that is what I mean when I think of a potential unwitting asset.

Camerota then asks him what a “witting” asset would look like.

Clapper: That to me would be, which frankly I rather doubt, is a recruited asset who is responding to the direction of a case officer. Again, I’ll put that phrase in quotes. I really don’t think that’s the situation here.

She says, if that is the case, will the Mueller investigation and what Congress is doing be enough?

Clapper: I think the hope is that the Mueller investigation will clear the air on this issue once and for all. I’m really not sure it will, and the investigation, when completed, could turn out to be quite anti-climactic and not draw a conclusion about that.

Why, he sounds almost reasonable. To me, it looks like Clapper is trying to manage, to tamp down, expectations about the report. Given what I would imagine are his close ties to the deep state intelligence community, I see this as good news. We’ll see what happens.