Each week seems to bring another sign that Russiagate is a loser for the Democrats and the Washington Post / CNN / MSNBC cabal: the Nunes memo (which showed a politicized FBI deliberately misleading the FISA court); the indictment of 13 Russians and three companies (for a plot beginning in 2014 to discredit American democracy); the indictment of another Manafort associate (for lying about lobbying work done in the Ukraine in 2014.) The breathless headlines of 2017 – “Trump Preparing to Fire Mueller” – have given way to background stories on “little Adam Schiff”, the lead Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, and criticism that Trump is not doing anything to keep the Russians out of the 2018 mid-term elections. For Mueller’s part, he is proving that he can do something – even if it has nothing to do with his charter of pursuing collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign.
To the untrained eye of the casual observer it looks as if the leaderless Democratic Party has allowed its Trump-hating base to determine the agenda, and has placed a very large bet on the increasingly unlikely premise that Robert Mueller will find collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians, while in fact the only collusion yet to surface was the Clinton/DNC sponsorship of the Russian dossier used to get approval to spy on a Trump campaign associate. Add to that the fact that Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein joined Trump in receiving unbenownst Russian support and activists like Michael Moore were duped into attending Russian-organized protest rallies after the election. One cannot blame the media and the Democrats for believing that campaign leaders like Corey Lewandowski and Paul Manafort would have sought Russian assistance, but despite the most aggressive investigation since the pharoah’s search for Moses no evidence has yet been found.
So, what can the Democratic line of reasoning be, with so much staked on Mueller, the economy accelerating, and Trump’s popularity rising to a level equal to Obama’s at a similar point in his presidency? The Mainstream Media offer several lines, each more desperate:
1. It is not over with Mueller. Some new witness or document will come forward. The truth: It ain’t over til its over, but there is not even a murmer of evidence that Trump or a close associate had any part in Russian involvement with the election.
2. There may not have been collusion, but there was obstruction of justice. This relies on Trump’s comment to Comey that he hoped Flynn would not be prosecuted. In the Democrats version, Comey becomes a patriotic saint who was fired for refusing to give Flynn a pass. The truth: Comey allowed political considerations to influence decisions for and against Clinton and Trump, and far overplayed his role.
3. Trump may not have been involved, but he would not have won the election without the help of the Russians. The truth: While, unlike Hillary, they understood the need to campaign in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, their 100 person, $2,000,000 effort gets lost in the $6.4 billion spent by the Republicans, Democrats, Political Action Committees, and hundreds of thousands of activists on both sides – and much of the Russian effort was after the election.
4. Trump is guilty now for not moving aggressively to protect the Fall elections. The truth: Obama knew of the Russian effort in 2016 and did nothing. Jeff Sessions has formed a Department of Justice Cybersecurity Task Force to identify threats and actions to be taken.
5. Trump will fire Mueller. The truth: This intent was leaked to the New York Times in June, but never corroborated, and there has been no such indication from the White House for the past eight months. Nor is there any apparent reason to give the Democrats a free gift.
On the other side of the coin, the Russians caught willing partners in the Democratic Party, the Mainstream Media, and the NeverTrumpers for their effort to discredit American democracy. Recounts gave way to an attempt to subvert the electoral college, which gave way to the Russian conspiracy theory. We will go through a paroxysm of recrimination about the interaction of politics and social media before the first amendment is rediscovered. Some purging and time will be needed to rebuild faith in the FBI. While there is no evidence of interference with voting machines or tabulations, it will be necessary to upgrade safeguards. Eventually most Democrats will acknowledge that Hillary lost.
The best advice for the Washington Post editorial board? Give it up. There is no Watergate here. No Deep Throat. No Pulitzer Prize. There are more fruitful things to criticize on policy and person.