A Primer on the Trump Russia Collusion Investigation
Nothing has loomed larger over the first year of the Trump administration than Russiagate: an investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election. First and foremost, the question that must be addressed is: what type of collusion and what type of interference?
What has largely been overlooked is that this investigation is about collusion related to one specific incident: the hack of emails at the Democratic National Committee (DNC), which were subsequently disseminated by wikileaks.
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No one is seriously suggesting that the Russian government hacked into voting machines or changed a single vote tally. Obama’s own cybersecurity advisor has stated that it is impossible that Russia hacked vote tallies.
Why has the United States been fixated on these email hacks?
The greatest takeaway from the hacks, in fact, has little to nothing to do with Donald Trump; rather it has enormous import for Hillary Clinton’s rival for the Democratic nomination, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. The emails conclusively revealed that the DNC, which is charged with maintaining neutrality, was actively working to hand the nomination to Clinton, while enthusiastically sabotaging Sanders’ campaign.
That is a serious problem. It led to deep divisions and resentment within the Democratic Party. It tarnished and discredited Hillary, and enabled her detractors to remind the American people about what had always been perceived as her greatest character flaw: her dishonesty.
Was the Trump campaign involved in collaborating with the Russian government to hack the DNC?
To date, there is not a shred of evidence to that effect.
What about the criminal charges filed by the Special Counsel Investigation under Robert Mueller?
Thus far, four have been criminally charged: Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, George Papadopoulos, and Michael Flynn.
In the case of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his business associate Rick Gates, the charges have absolutely nothing to do with Trump-Russia collusion. Rather, they involve tax evasion and money laundering related to their work for the Ukrainian government.
Former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos and former NSA adviser Michael Flynn have both pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements.
These are process crimes, that is to say “an offense charged by a prosecutor alleging criminal conduct related to an investigation of a crime, but not to the crime itself.”
The Papadopoulos case has been extensively analysed by the PanAm Post in a podcast earlier this year, but essentially, the charges are hardly sensational. Papadopoulos changed his story on the timing and importance of various contacts with Russian nationals. Nothing in the Papadopoulos indictment suggests that the Trump campaign hacked DNC emails, however.
Michael Flynn’s guilty plea on one count of making false statements was also a process crime, related to his contact with the Russian ambassador on a pending Israel resolution at the UN, and Obama’s expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats. That is the role of an NSA Advisor. It is hardly a crime to have diplomatic contact with the Russian government. As of yet, there is no evidence that Flynn’s misstatements to the FBI have anything to do with “hacking” the DNC.
As of yet, there has been no smoking gun. There has been no document, no recording, no meeting, no evidence whatsoever, to suggest that the Trump campaign participated in any way, shape, or form, in helping the Russian government to hack DNC emails.
In today’s highly polarized America, this seems to be of little importance to the rabidly anti-Trump media, and to the blue state Americans who utterly despise the man. But it should.
Democrats should also remember the last impeachment debacle: when a sitting President, Bill Clinton, was caught lying under oath, on a subject completely unrelated to Special Prosecutor Ken Starr’s initial investigation. Clinton was busted for a process crime as well. The impeachment effort proved to be a drastic miscalculation for the Republicans, and proved unpopular with the American public.
As the Russia investigation proceeds to investigate the motivations for Flynn’s misstatements to the FBI, all eyes will be on the possibility of finding some “smoking gun”: some piece of evidence that proves that the Trump campaign worked on hacking DNC emails.
Until that moment, the investigation will have failed to fulfill its stated purpose.
In the meantime, however, new information has come to light recently that reveals a strong anti-Trump bias and a lack of neutrality within the FBI.
Top FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok was fired from the investigation because he exchanged anti-Trump tweets with his mistress, FBI lawyer Lisa Page. What is even more troubling, however, is that it appears that Strzok, a highly partisan Democrat, was instrumental in changing the language in the FBI report on HRC’s email server, from “grossly negligent” to “extremely careless”, sparing her from criminal prosecution.
Now, new evidence has emerged that Strzok spoke about a potential “insurance policy” in the unlikely event of Trump’s election; the discussion allegedly took place in the office of Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe.
The Strzok angle is extremely serious: it now appears that FBI agents were actively conspiring both to exonerate Hillary Clinton, and to sabotage the Trump presidency. The FBI and its investigations are supposed to be neutral and impartial, and they clearly were not.
This is an outrageous violation of due process, and Trump and his supporters are, rightly, making political hay out of it.
Talking with Russians is not a crime. Having diplomatic contact with Russian government officials when you are a presidential candidate, president elect, or president, is not a crime.
The Democratic establishment, and indeed many in the GOP establishment as well, so despise Trump, that they are preparing to stage a coup d’etat against a democratically elected president, using the Russia investigation as a pretext. A complete lack of evidence is inconsequential to them. They will go to any lengths, take any measures, and distort the reality, in order to drive Trump from office.
The FBI is in shambles, and Republicans are certain to press for an investigation into bias over the course of the coming year. The real investigation should be into the blatant and highly calculated attempt by the US government and the Deep State to sabotage a democratically elected president and stage a coup d’etat.