The Barr Report into the Mueller Report was a bit like one of the Guardian’s Digested Reads, by the satirist John Crace, in which a difficult novel or current bestseller is reduced to a 1,200-word pastiche, with the Digested Read Digested, summing up the summary, tacked on to the end as a laugh-out-loud punchline.

In the case of Attorney-General William Barr’s four-page précis of the 300-page report into allegations that Donald Trump and his team conspired with Russia to interfere in the 2016 presidential election there were in fact no jokes, just paragraphs of attributed exculpation. But the digested read digested, contributed by Trump himself, immediately lightened the mood. ”It’s a complete and total exoneration,” he quipped, adding “It’s a shame our country had to go through this.”

Well, quite.

But now things have got worse. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chair of the House Intelligence Committee, has chosen, uncharacteristically, to go toe to toe with his Republican colleagues on the committee over their refusal to commit to a parallel investigation into the President’s alleged misconduct. All nine GOP committee members signed a letter this week demanding Schiff’s resignation. What they got in response was a likely indicator of how seriously Democrats take the collusion charges and how determined they are to get to the bottom of what happened in the run-up to the 2016 election.

Schiff, a veteran House representative from California, known for his mild manner and almost prudish demeanour, was clearly incensed that his political opponents were, as he saw it, ready to draw a line under any suggestion that the President should now be left alone to run the country, using the Mueller report as cover.

Listing a score or more of the allegations, some of them extremely serious, that have been laid against Trump in connection with Russia, he rounded on the Republicans like a man possessed.

You might say that’s all okay. You might say that that’s just what you need to do to win. But I don’t think it’s okay. I think it’s immoral. I think it’s unethical, I think it’s unpatriotic, and, yes, I think it’s corrupt and evidence of collusion.

Schiff seemed particuarly troubled by the revelation that Trump was in the middle of a real estate deal in Moscow during the presidential campaign that could have made him “hundreds of millions of dollars” and which he concealed from the public.  While he accepted Mueller’s conclusion that the President’s behaviour did not amount to conspiracy with a foreign power, it remained, he said, shameful conduct that, if accepted, would mean that America had lost its way.

Where we go from here, nobody knows. But if the President thinks he has got away Scot-free, he has apparently another think coming.

When I was last in America, three months ago, my friends and family were convinced that Special Counsel Robert Mueller would do for Trump what the FBI had done for the spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in 1951, though probably without the grizzly coda in New York’s Sing-Sing prison. Mueller, as a former FBI director, was said to be the perfect man for the job – thorough, determined, unbiased, a seeker after truth. And the truth was, I was assured, that Trump was Putin’s patsy, with a nomenklatura of advisers either in the pay of Moscow or in the pantomime role of useful idiots.

In the event, as we now know, Trump was cleared of the main charge that he had colluded with Russia. How Mueller arrived at his verdict, only the Attorney-General and his top associates know, and they aren’t saying. There was no reference in the Barr version to the closed-door meeting between the President and the Russian ambassador, or to the rumoured “pee-pee” tapes, or to the secret meeting in Trump Tower in which the President’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, the President’s son, Donald Trump Jr, and Paul Manafort, his then campaign director, meet with a Russian lawyer known for her close links to the Kremlin.

On the secondary charge of obstruction of Justice – which may or may not have included the firing of FBI director James Comey – Mueller, we are told, was considerably more circumspect.

After making a “thorough factual investigation” into these matters, the Special Counsel considered whether to evaluate the conduct under Department standards governing prosecution and declination decisions but ultimately determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment. The Special Counsel therefore did not draw a conclusion – one way or the other – as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction.

Speaking for the Department of Justice, Barr displayed no such reticence.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and I have concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice … In cataloguing the President’s actions, many of which took place in public view, the report identifies no actions that, in our judgment, constitute obstructive conduct, had a nexus to a pending or contemplated proceeding, and were done with corrupt intent, each of which, under the Department’s principles of federal prosecution guiding charging decisions, would need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to establish an obstruction-of-justice offense.

In Scotland, “not proven” would be the court’s verdict – a long way from “total exoneration”.

But we are were we are, as everyone seems to say these days, and the problem now for the Democratic Party is how to put Mueller, and indeed thoughts of impeachment, behind them and then get on with the business of finding a presidential contender to take on Trump in 2020.

Nancy Pelosi, the 79-year-old Speaker of the House, was surely right when she said that there was no mileage to be gained in trying to impeach Trump. “He isn’t worth it,” she told journalists. Her view, and that of quite a few younger Democrats, is that the law will eventually catch up with the President, most obviously in New York, where federal prosecutors for the city’s southern district are looking into allegations of business malpractise, fraud, tax evasion, overseas donations and the payment of hush-money to two women with whom he reportedly had sex.

Some of the questions arising from the many investigations into Trump and his entourage – a number of whom are now serving jail terms or are about to be sentenced – may be answered once the complete version of the Mueller Report is published, which looks to be inevitable.

But, whatever happens, can the Democrats actually move on, or are they doomed to remain forever caught in the headlights of the Trump presidential motorcade?