The Great "Russian Collusion" Hoax, or "Happy No Collusion Day!"
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“You shall not follow a multitude to do evil”
We now know the results of the investigation of Special Council Robert Mueller’s investigation into the possible “collusion” (the media’s word—not a legal one) between Donald Trump, or his campaign, with the Russian government. In the words of Attorney General William Barr:
The Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election. As the report states: ‘[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.’” [Emphasis added]
The language, taken from the Mueller Report itself, that the investigation “did not establish” that any such “collusion” took place is very strong language in the eyes of the law. For a criminal indictment, the prosecutor must have evidence they believe can make the case a crime was committed “beyond a reasonable doubt.” If the case was close, the Special Counsel could have, and likely would have said, “we believe the evidence cannot establish beyond a reasonable doubt that [crime x was committed,” etc. or some other similar formulation. But the Special Counsel didn’t say that. They said that the evidence did not establish such evidence—which is a far more broad, far less exacting standard. Meaning: not only did the evidence not meet the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard, but it didn’t even reach a standard far below it.
A Lie, a Fraud, a Hoax—Yes, a “witch hunt”
We now know that the hysteria surrounding this issue was just that—hysteria. A New McCarthyism. It was, as the President said, a “witch hunt.” Now, let’s be clear about what I mean when I use that term: I was fine, in theory, with the Mueller investigation completing it’s work. That, to me, was not necessarily a “witch hunt,” given that it did in fact establish that there was Russian interference in the election.
What was a “witch hunt,” however, was the way in the media handled it. And not just the media—foreign policy “experts,” intelligence “professionals” (the most galling of whom were former head of the CIA, John Brennan, and former DNI, James Clapper), and various political “analysts.” We often forget where the term “witch hunt” comes from. It’s a reference to various attempts to imprison and execute witches in the medieval era, but more apropos to the American context, the Salem Witch Trials of 17th century Massachusetts. But what happened in those trials that forever memorialized the term “witch hunt”? It wasn’t just the actions of government officials that led to that moniker—rather, it was the fact that so many ratted out their friends, their relatives, their associations, in scandalous and often slanderous accusations of “witchcraft.” Thus, a “witch hunt” is anything that resembles something like that—spurious accusations thrown around with little to no evidence, unwittingly, unthinkingly, irrationally, out of fear, malice, and/or hysteria, whether by government officials, or the general populace.
That is exactly what happened here. Many have outlined who, when, and how that happened, so no need to do so again here. I recommend, however, Sohrab Ahmari’s column, Mueller Madness: The Media Pundits Who Got it Most Wrong, in the New York Post. Among the luminaries most tattered by this madness, according to Ahmari, are:
In Network TV
Alec Baldwin, SNL
Brian Ross, ABC
Chuck Lorre, Producer of The Big Bang Theory
Jimmy Kimmel, late nigh comedian on ABC
Stephen Colbert, late night comedian on CBS
Ken Dilanian, NBC
Joy Behar, co-host of The View on NBC
Michael Avenatti, “Stormy Daniels’” Lawyer
Benjamin Wittes, Brookings Institute
Molly McKew, Information-Warfare Expert
Alyssa Milano, Actress
Seth Abramason, University of New Hampshire
Kathy Griffin, Comedian
Richard Painter, University of Minnesota (law)
Lauren Tribe, Harvard Law School
Robert De Niro, Actor
In Cable TV
Rachel Maddow, MSNBC
Ana Navarro, CNN Contributor
John Oliver, late night comedian on HBO
Donny Deutsch, MSNBC Contributor
Morning Joe, MSNBC
John Brennan, MSNBC Analyst (and former CIA head)
Don Lemon, CNN
Christ Hayes, MSNBC
Bill Kristol, Editor-at-Large at The Bulwark
Natasha Bertrand, The Atlantic
Ryan Lizza, Esquire
Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine
Paul Krugman, New York Times
Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post
Max Boot, Washington Post
Adam Davidson, The New Yorker;
I would add to the list people like Seth Meyers, on SNL, and Bill Maher, on Real Time (HBO), among others. Both constantly pedaled the totally unsubstantiated allegations as fact, and smeared anyone who denied it.
The issue was never whether or not we should care about Russian interference in our elections—who wouldn’t agree with that? The fundamental fact that made this a “witch hunt” were the outrageous claims made about the President made with little to no factual basis. That is what made this a “witch hunt.” Many of us, myself included, were willing to see what Mueller came back with. But what I always objected to were the accusations which were made in total excess of the facts on hand.
So we spent the last two years engaged in this madness—a madness which was no doubt used to great effect by the Democrats in the 2018 election, based on fraudulent accusations about the President supposedly stealing the 2016 election. So who really stole an election? It clearly wasn’t Trump.
A Particularly Orwellian Turn
And in a particularly Orwellian turn, many in the media are now claiming, “Well, Mueller didn’t exonerate the President.” What an obscene remark! How can those who claim to be guardians of our “democracy” (we’re actually a Republic—but that’s an argument for another time) claim that it is the job of a prosecutor, an agent of the state, to “exonerate” anyone? In this country, as in all truly free countries, you are innocent until proven guilty. You do not require agents of the state to “exonerate” you! Even if you are indicted, you remain innocent until proven guilty.
It is not the job of a prosecutor to exonerate anyone. It is the job of a prosecutor to gather evidence in order to prosecute possibly criminal acts. They are tasked with investigating whether such evidence exists, and if it does, if it is strong enough to reach the “beyond reasonable doubt” standard in the courtroom. One lawyer on MSNBC stated: “The absence of an indictment is not an affirmation of innocence.” This is an obscene statement for a lawyer to make—retaking 1L courses may be necessary.
Thus, the Orwellian media which aided and abetted, indeed inflicted this hoax on the American populace is now taking yet another Orwellian term: treating as normal, and taking for granted, that a prosecutor has the duty, or even the competence, to “exonerate” anyone.
The Washington Post likes to say “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” Indeed it does. But that “darkness” includes Orwellian Newspeak—the very sort of Newspeak vast segments of the media inflict on the American people on a nearly daily basis.
The Definitive Word on this Hoax
Much more can be said, and has been said, about this matter. To reasonable people on all sides, the result is clear: the “Russian collusion” narrative was a hoax—a total and utter hoax. The President has been vindicated. Whether he acted perfectly in every action he took or word he uttered (or tweeted), or not, he is an innocent man—and we now know that he behaved like one.
But I believe the definitive word on this hoax comes from a rather unlikely source: a Left-wing journalist, Glenn Greenwald, on a Left-wing media outlet, Democracy Now! I believe it is the final word on this matter, and one which should be read to our children, our grandchildren, and their grandchildren long into the future, in the event any other similarly Praetorian plot to take down a legitimately elected U.S. President is undertaken:
Let me just say one thing about this idea that he [Trump] is a ‘Kremlin asset’ or that ‘we need to find out what his relationship is with the Russians’—We just had a 22-month investigation in which the media and Bob Mueller did nothing but look into that exact question. He’s saying it like nobody’s ever asked this before. We have the answer.
And as for him being a ‘Russian asset’—it’s so irresponsible to say that, because the reality is that the conflict between the U.S. and the Russians are at a worse and higher level than they’ve been in many years, probably decades. How can you say Donald Trump is a ‘stooge of the Kremlin’ when he’s right now trying to remove one of Vladimir Putin’s client regime states in Venezuela? Or when he’s trying to bully Angela Merkel out of buying Russian natural gas, probably the thing that’s most important to the Russian economy? Or when he sold lethal arms to the Ukrainians, something Obama refused to do on the grounds that it would be provocative to Russia? Or when he bombed Putin’s client state in Syria?
Over and over again, the Trump administration has taken actions far more adverse and aggressive and belligerent to the Russians than the Obama administration did. That’s why this whole narrative that ‘Trump all along was being blackmailed by Putin,’ that ‘he’s an asset of Russian intelligence’—this is idiocy. It is completely irrational. It is contrary to all facts. And Bob Mueller’s investigation, who spent 22 months examining that core question, ‘What is the relationship between Trump and the Russians?’ concluded that there is no relationship.
It’s time to stop these dangerous conspiracy theories that are ratcheting up tensions between the two most dangerous countries on the planet.The reality is the Trump administration has been constantly belligerent to Putin, has constantly acted adverse to the Kremlin’s interests, and there is zero basis for thinking or believing or finding evidence to assert that Trump in any way is beholden to Vladimir Putin and to Russia. The whole thing has been a joke and a fairy tale from the start.
Who was against “Obama was a Muslim,” “Obama was foreign born,” “Hands up don’t shoot!” “RUSSIA!” etc. etc. etc. mania?
I am against all conspiratorial hysterias. I insist, with my historical mentor John Adams, on evidence, reason, and facts. As he reminded us many years ago at the Boston Massacre trial, at which this patriotic and anti-British lawyer successfully defended the very British soldiers whose masters he despised, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
I don’t care what party you are, what President you are, what issue you are harping on about. I will never go along with mobs fueled by little more than their masturbatory rage. Self-satisfaction has never been a reliable guide to finding Truth.
Let us always remember March 24, 2019, the day on which Attorney General Barr finally put another anti-reason hysteria to death. It was a good day.
Happy No Collusion Day!