Diary

The Russia Hysteria: A Brief Primer

Today’s Washington Post Russia hysteria takes the form of a brief meeting in June, 2016 in which Trump’s son, son-in-law, and campaign manager agreed to hear a Russian lawyer who claimed to have dirt on Hillary Clinton, but who was apparently actually lobbying for reduced sanctions on Russian nationals. The meeting was brief; nothing happened. But it is enough to consume a few news cycles, outshining California Congressman Brad Sherman’s symbolic filing of impeachment papers for “obstruction of justice”.  For those suffering fatigue from the constant barrage of noise without substance, it may be helpful to put forth a few definitions:

1. Collusion (as in Trump colluded with the Russians). The legal definition:  “Secret cooperation between two people or entities in order to fool, defraud, or gain an unfair advantage over another.”  To be a crime, there must be intent (perhaps, but none shown); conduct (none shown); concurrence of both parties (none demonstrated); and causation (arguably the Russian disclosure of Hillary and Podesta’s e-mails swung the election.) Despite the best efforts of the Bernstein/ Woodward  Wannabe’s looking for their Watergate, and the days of testimony under oath, not a shred of evidence has come forward that the Trump campaign cooperated with the Russians during the election. The critics have not even put forward a “theory of the crime” – Conspirator X agreed with Conspirator Y to provide money, information, or good will in exchange for the actions of the other. No dates; no actions; no witnesses.

2. Obstruction of Justice (as in Trump intervened to thwart a legal investigation). The legal definition: “An attempt to interfere with the administration of the courts, the judicial system, or law enforcement officers, including threatening witnesses, improper conversations with jurors, hiding evidence, or interfering with an arrest.”  The best that the Democrats have been able to come up with is an unsubstantiated memo entry by Comey that Trump told him “I hope that you can let this go”, referring to the investigation of Michael Flynn. In testimony, Comey agreed that he was not directed to do anything, and that the knew of no case where someone had been criminally prosecuted for expressing a hope.

In the broader sense, the enduring Russia story is a reflection of the lack of a Democratic agenda, and the lack of leaders who can bridge deep divides in the party.  The base is angry; the party organization tilted toward Hillary; any centrists are totally silent; in fact, with Republican victories in the past decade, most of the centrists are gone.  It doesn’t matter that the Clintons actually received hundreds of thousands of dollars for approving the sale of major American uranium interests to the Russians. It doesn’t matter that President Obama had a failed “reset” with Russia and that he (with a mistakenly open microphone) told Russian Vice President Medvedev that he would have more “flexibility”after his re-election. It doesn’t matter that reporters and political “opposition research” firms are unable to find any Trump business ties to Russia. It doesn’t matter that the Democrats actually hired an opposition research firm to dig up Russian dirt on Trump, producing a false and discredited “dossier”.

The hope of the #Resist Democrats is that the accumulated innuendo will eventually wear down the White House, supporters in Congress, and the public. The recount was futile; the attempted electoral college subversion was futile; the impeachment motion which was filed this week by California Congressman Brad Sherman will be futile.  Those who lamented the Republicans as “The Party of NO”, are now proud of rejecting not only the Trump agenda, but also the structure of American democracy.

Two pieces of advice: wait for the results of Robert Mueller’s investigation; and ignore anything else about Russia’s involvement in American politics. Fortunately, Trump seems able to do that, working with Putin to resolve the Syrian tragedy – a potential accomplishment largely absent from the Post, the Times, CNN, and MSNBC – and Fox for that matter.

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www.RightinSanFrancisco.com – 7/14/17