Trump defenders need to get out of the weeds of the report and remind voters of the larger picture
Now that the long-awaited “Mueller Report” is out, and this non partisan investigation showed neither President Trump nor anyone in his campaign (except Paul Manafort and a few under indictment) worked with Russian operatives to “steal” the election from Hillary Clinton, the Liberal Establishment, still afflicted with Trump Derangement Syndrome, are picking at the details of the report to cast an ethical shadow on the president, Attorney General Robert Barr, and at some point, I will bet Mueller and his team may face liberal wrath.
Seeing no hard evidence of criminal misconduct, and being leery of seeking impeachment, the Democrats and their media allies are now trying to tag Trump and his campaign with being “unethical” and “chaotic” and are pretty much ignoring the larger picture of what to do to prevent foreign tampering with future elections and how this all affects American foreign policy – particularly toward Russia and Vladimir Putin, who this year observes 20 years leading this adversarial nation.
There is no doubt from reading the 448-report that Russian operatives did, indeed, try to help Trump over Hillary Clinton, as any other “outside group” or PAC would. There is no doubt that having an adversarial political power, or any foreign country, trying to sway our elections is a bad thing.
However, the following facts remain, and again, are not addressed in the report, nor are being mentioned much in the current debate, which conservatives need to add to their talking points:
- That whatever Russian operatives did, including leaking Hillary Clinton/John Podesta campaign emails to WikiLeaks, there is no documented evidence this swayed the 2016 election. Let’s remember that Clinton won the popular vote by 3 million votes; she lost in the Electoral College because Trump campaigned like a demon in key battleground states. But instead of making note of that, conservative commentators (and Trump and his people) continue to charge liberals with sour grapes and using Russiagate to undermine his presidency to regain political power. Fair point. But isn’t it far better to document what Clinton failed to do in the campaign and how Trump succeeded, in large part with his simple “Make America Great Again” message?
- Vladimir Putin has not benefited one bit from Trump being in office. The Mueller report documents ONE Russian oligarch getting a break from sanctions via contacts in the White House https://www.politico.com/story/2019/04/18/mueller-report-putin-trump-1282648 However, on the larger scale, where has Putin benefited from this new president when the U.S. has maintained sanctions due to his military occupation of Eastern Ukraine and Crimea, opposition to the Russia-German natural gas pipeline, and America’s policy in Israel and Venezuela and rubs against what Putin wants? If Trump were a “Putin stooge” or “foreign agent,” wouldn’t Vlad be getting more out of him?
- Russia has tried to influence American elections since 1960, and so have other countries – and we have tried to influence foreign elections, too. Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government reported in 2017, before Mueller was even appointed: “What seems to be lost in the incessant stream of political outrage, however, is a historically attuned recognition of the many precedents of foreign interference in U.S. elections—and vice versa. Political scientist Dov Levin has calculated that the United States and the Soviet Union/Russia intervened in 117 elections worldwide from 1946 to 2000—once in every nine competitive elections if averaged out.” https://www.russiamatters.org/analysis/russia-and-america-election-interference-nothing-new-25-stories Again, this is not being mentioned much by the White House, perhaps because liberals will pounce saying Trump is trying to rationalize Russian involvement in 2016. Instead, what the White House should do is submit a bill to Congress to PREVENT future hacking and infiltration – now, wouldn’t that be a more appropriate use of Congress’ time than these Russia probes?
- 4. The report surely attests to the chaos in the Trump White House and his campaign was happy to accept the Russian-derived data. We can expect the Liberal Resistance to forever note the “I’m Fucked” comment Trump made, and the fact he asked a number of go-betweens to fire Mueller and kill the investigation, but they ignored them. So, Trump’s management style will be debated in the upcoming campaign. In addition, Liberaldom is now saying the president and his advisers in the campaign should have cooperated with the FBI. One response to this would be, that campaigns are chaotic and frequently get wrapped up with “inside information” given to them and how to “use it.” According to the report, the Trump campaign accepted the Russia-derived information, but it was all arm’s length – much like how campaigns benefit from PACs and “unaffiliated groups” to do their dirty work in attack ads.
Of course, liberals will get on their high horses and say –this was different! This involved working with a “hostile foreign power.”
Again, no evidence of collusion with Russia. But perhaps we should remind Democrats and the liberal media of the last major effort by a U.S. adversary to influence elections – notably, the 1996-1999 “Chinagate” scandal, in which a number of Chinese operatives contributed well over $1 million to the Democratic National Committee to help Clinton’s 1996 re-election, and later, his impeachment legal defense fund, in order to open more trade up with the communist nation (which eventually happened) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China_Gate_(disambiguation)
Instead, the media make numerous analogies being Mueller and Ken Starr’s probe of Clinton and Lewinsky/Paula Jones, which led to his impeachment.
But Chinagate has more striking parallels to Russiagate, and I may write about this in more detail in a subsequent Bull Elephant column. Please read the Wikipedia article above.
However, we have to fight fire with fire and I believe reminding people that there is no evidence Russian involvement in 2016 tipped the scales to Trump and that Putin has gotten very little would be a good start.