Former special counsel Robert Mueller listens to committee members give their opening remarks before he testifies before the House Intelligence Committee hearing on his report on Russian election interference, on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Wednesday, July 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
For three years, US politics has been embroiled in a silly food fight over allegations of Russian interference in our election in 2016. An entire industry was developed, without evidence, around the exotic notion that the Russians had elected Donald Trump president. Over time, the entire thing has been revealed to be thoroughgoing fraud. Investigation has shown that entities associated with various tentacles of Putin’s Kremlin spent about $250,000 on Twitter ads and about $100,000 on Facebook ads. The entire budget for the operation–personnel, facilities, advertising buys, general and administrative expenses, and your basic skim off–was a paltry $1.25 million a month. In other words, the Russians didn’t spend much more on the 2016 election than Pierre Omidyar is spending on Bill Kristol or than Hunter Biden spent on hookers and blow. But still, we have people whose dishonesty has been rampant for the past three years engaging in more dishonesty to try to defend their indefensible behavior since January 2107. For instance:
Mueller found that the president engaged in activity in numerous instances that met all statutory elements of obstruction of justice. Mueller found that the president lied to the public, repeatedly, and that Trump's answers to the Special Counsel were untrue.
— Susan Hennessey (@Susan_Hennessey) December 11, 2019
Based upon the report issued by Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz, I think it is now extremely safe to say that not only was the driving factor in the investigation, the dossier compiled by Fusion GPS hireling Christopher Steele, fraudulent, we now know the FBI used fraudulent and deceptive documents to enable a FISA warrant to be issued on Carter Page. We also know that the dossier was the central focus of the Mueller investigation. We know that the “pee tape” allegation was known to be false before the end of January 2017. We know that FBI had disproven the rest of the dossier at least by that time. We know the investigation into “Russian” hacking of the DNC server was investigated as well as it was ever going to be by the time Donald Trump was inaugurated. I saw “as well as it was ever going to be” because no law enforcement investigation of that incident ever happened. It was all carried out by a DNC contractor.
In fact, by the time that James Comey was canned and a callow and feckless Jeff Sessions allowed himself to not only be maneuvered into acquiescing his own recusal from the case (and appointing a nominal Republican who’d somehow managed to serve as a US Attorney under Barack Obama for eight years to choose a special counsel and supervise his work), the FBI knew that a) the dossier was fake, b) Carter Page was an operative of another US intelligence agency, and c) that Stephan Halper was a self-serving fraud grubbing money from the US government. They also knew from the numerous lures dangled in front of George Papadopoulos and Carter Page that they were not Russian assets. The very fact that neither Page nor Papadopoulos was charged with any crime linked to their dealings with foreign nationals or foreign governments is a testament to the emptiness of the allegations.
This poses the question of why Robert Mueller chose to drag out an investigation that he knew to be utterly and totally fraudulent for an additional two years and, in the process, insert an equally fraudulent political narrative into the 2018 campaign.
Poll after poll showed the Russia Hoax investigation loomed large in an election where one of the major issues was President Trump himself. Gallup found that the Russia Hoax was a significant concern to a staggering 45% of the electorate. When you peel off the layers of voter concerns about Trump’s behavior and the desire of some voters to elect a Democrat Congress to ensure a check on him, you find the silly idea that the Russians favored him to be front and center. Throughout the election cycle, CNN, MSNBC, and the major networks ran story after story of Trump’s Russia connections and mongered rumor after rumor on what Mueller was finding and would eventually find. Pundits on the left and especially on the right dismissed any critique of the Mueller as being something that only Trump cultists would entertain.
Mueller could’ve easily turned over his Manafort investigation to a real prosecutor and pronounced case-closed on the Russia Hoax within weeks of assuming his position. If he felt honor-bound to indict a handful of Russians who may or may not exist (and no, the fact that any of the Russians Mueller indicted actually exist as people has never been proven) and a couple of Russian companies, one of which did not even exist until after the 2016 election, to vindicate himself, he could have done that just as effectively after announcing there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia as before. What he had no right to do was to insert himself into the center of the 2018 campaign.
If the actions of Peter Strzok and Lisa Page and James Baker and Andy McCabe and Bill Priestap and James Comey rise to the level of meddling in the 2016 election (I don’t think you can interpret surveillance on and espionage against a political campaign anything else), then Robert Mueller even more clearly led a program of interference in the 2018 campaign and there needs to be a reckoning for Mueller, his team, and his enablers for their actions.