The most breathtaking aspect of special counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of 13 Russian nationals is not the charges against the defendants, but how perfectly those charges describe the machinations of the Russiagate Players.
By Russiagate Players, I refer to the relevant Hillary Clinton campaign officials and allies, Obama administration principals and holdovers in the law enforcement, national security and foreign policy apparatuses, Fusion GPS players and the journalists apparently in cahoots with them, who all helped create and disseminate the fast-collapsing Trump-Russia collusion narrative.
In spite of the media spin on the indictment, the primary actions of the Internet Research Agency that employed these 13 Russians can best be described as follows: Russian nationals fraudulently funded and created social media accounts and hosted or supported rallies to propagate varying political messages favorable to varying candidates and constituencies at different points during and after the 2016 election. The indictment details the Russian conspirators at one time or another supporting a total of four candidates, including Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Jill Stein. It details the Russian conspirators backing issues at one time or another ranging from Black Lives Matter to immigration limits.
Thus, while the major headline was the indictment’s calling out of the conspirators’ operations “supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump…and disparaging Hillary Clinton,” and adds that some of the defendants “communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump Campaign,” this is an unfair characterization of the full indictment’s descriptions. It is at the very least interesting that Mueller makes this specific assertion given the details in the indictment.
More accurately, based on the substance of the entire document, the indictment describes the defendants as having “knowingly and intentionally conspired with each other (and with other persons known and unknown to the Grand Jury) to defraud the United States by impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful functions of government through fraud and deceit for the purposes of interfering with the U.S. political and electoral processes, including the presidential election of 2016.”
The ultimate “strategic goal [was] to sow discord in the U.S. political system, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”
‘Fraud to Interfere With an Election’ Describes Who?
Set aside for a second the fact that there is almost nothing to indicate these efforts changed the minds of even one American in a 2016 presidential election featuring two of the biggest household names arguably to ever run for the presidency. Also set aside the fact that the Russians’ spend to propagate these messages was pitiful in a multi-billion-dollar presidential election.
If we are talking about “fraud and deceit for the purposes of interfering with the U.S. political and electoral processes, including the presidential election of 2016,” perpetrated by foreign actors, does anything better fit this description than the collective Christopher Steele dossier drama? Here we have a document alleging “salacious and unverified” Russian disinformation-like details about President Trump’s connections to Russia, sourced from unknown Russian officials by an ex-British intelligence agent.
The dossier was funded by Trump’s presidential opponent and the Democratic National Committee (DNC). It served prominently both directly and indirectly in a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant used to effectively spy on the Trump campaign, presented to the FISA court four times without mention of many core details about the document’s defects, conflicts of interest, or the document’s author’s breaking of FBI protocol, causing it to cease working with him for its Russia investigation.
Was everything about this document not fraudulent and deceitful, from creation to weaponization? Did it not lead to a cascading series of events “interfering with the U.S. political and electoral processes, including the presidential election of 2016”? How about the notion of “sow[ing] discord” in the U.S. political system?
Talk About Undermining America
The entire Russia hysteria stemming in large part from the Steele dossier, as well as the unverified but purported Russian hacking of the DNC and a series of tangential Russia-related crumbs, have paralyzed our government and been used as justification for undermining its core principles and institutions. The Russia hysteria has, among other things, enabled or led to:
- Politicized acts of the law enforcement and intelligence community
- Corruption of the FISA court
- The potential withholding of critical information from an incoming presidential administration
- Illegal leaks
- The at least legally dubious surveillance and unmasking of numerous U.S. officials
- The political, legal, and financial destruction of former national security advisor Mike Flynn, whose scalp acting Attorney General Sally Yates et al. claimed in the early days of the Trump presidency just as the anti-establishment national security and foreign policy team was being stood up
- All manner of investigations bogging down both administration staff and the Republican Congress, thereby stifling their policy agenda.
In addition to these tangible costs, the general Russia hysteria has subverted the Trump presidency. It has cast a pall over practically every decision the president makes on personnel and policy even remotely related to Russia, delegitimized his presidency, and been a linchpin of efforts to ultimately topple him in a bloodless coup.
The real story of the first year of the Trump presidency was the willingness of the president’s adversaries, Right and Left, to disregard the constitutional norms they claim to cherish in service of resistance. Executive branch officials have refused to take orders from the commander-in-chief. Judges have wholly ignored the separation of powers and the plain language of the law. Federal officials have illegally leaked confidential communications with foreign counterparts to the press.
It is not the president who has been lawless, but his opponents who have made a mockery of the rule of law and undermined our republican constitutional order, supposedly in its defense, but in reality out of self-aggrandizement, self-interest, or at very best a misguided Messianic complex.
Quick, Everybody, Cover Your Backsides!
The disingenuousness in all of this is staggering. If what the Russians did is on par with 9/11 or Pearl Harbor—an act of war—then it is remarkable that we did not nuke the Soviet Union several times over during the Cold War, given the active measures the Soviet Union employed against America through Communist front groups, subversive espionage efforts, and outright collusion with political figures such as “Liberal Lion” Ted Kennedy.
Let us also not forget that the indictment dates such Russian activities back to 2014. Where was the Obama administration in all this? If Russia was such a major threat, why did the Obama administration bless the Uranium One deal, or hastily expel back to Moscow a Russian spy ring that targeted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton?
If the Russians’ actions were tantamount to an attack on the republic, why did the Obama administration also merely tell Russian President Vladimir Putin to “cut it out” and impose cosmetic sanctions after the 2016 election? One answer: The Obama administration viewed Russian aggression as a mere inconvenience to be ignored if it meant helping cede the Middle East to Russian ally Iran.
The Democrats, the media, and the Never Trumpers doth protest too much. The perpetual Russia hysteria in spite of the fact that, after almost two years an adversarial press and hostile political class has found no “there” there regarding nefarious Trump-Russia collusion, looks more and more like a “tell.” Those who have perpetrated this narrative have invested too much capital to handle evidence to the contrary or ever concede that perhaps they were wrong. Others risk being exposed as the slow-motion house of cards on which the narrative rests tumbles, and boomerangs back on them.
In an act of breathtaking projection, the Left has acted precisely like the Russian apparatchiks it now claims hide under every bed. It has taken kernels of truth mixed with lurid lies and innuendo and spun them into what it believes is a politically powerful narrative aimed at bringing down a president.
In practice, the Left has achieved the ends the indicted Russians supposedly sought, of sowing discord and undermining our core political institutions. It appears the Russia hysteria peddlers are engaging in a more effective disinformation campaign than Russians could have ever constructed.
As Americans, we should always expect that agents of foreign powers are going to do things to try and undermine and disrupt our way of life. But it is incalculably worse when Americans knowingly do it against ourselves, and all merely for political gain.