Not too long ago I found myself asking the very ugly question (at least for liberals and most of the MSM), what happens if the entire Trump – Russia collusion story turns out to be a big, fat nothingburger? There’s still plenty of smoke being generated to be sure. We’ve got one of Trump’s lawyers insisting he’s not under investigation even as the President’s own Twitter account implies differently. Mueller is grinding away at his new job assignment and may well turn up other “meetings” that some Trump associates had with the Russian lady who sells newspapers at the kiosk down near the Newseum, but we’ve yet to hear anything solid even from the New York Times’ infamous unnamed sources.
The “what if” question popped up yet again this weekend from a different angle. How will Trump’s most visceral critics react if it turns out that there’s simply no there there? We may be getting a preview in this column at the LA Times from James Kirchick. First of all, just to establish his bona fides, let’s see how Kirchick describes the President in terms of his “history” with the Russians to date. (Emphasis added)
When the Manhattan businessman announced his presidential bid in the summer of 2015, Moscow perked up its ears. Here was a candidate arguing against America’s traditional world leadership role, who attacked American allies as scroungers, who wanted to make “America first” and whose amoral, transactional worldview rendered him an outlier among a crop of Reaganites. Here was a reality television show host whose outbursts made American politics – and, by extension, America – look like a foolish country. And here was a businessman who had dealings with some minor Russian oligarchs, whose understanding of Russia was limited to the glitz and glam on offer for big spenders in Moscow.
Combined with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s personal loathing of Hillary Clinton (owing mostly to his paranoid belief that she orchestrated protests against him in 2011), all these factors convinced the Kremlin to intervene on Trump’s behalf through a combination of hacks, leaks and disinformation.
So we might safely assume that Kirchick isn’t spending his afternoons at home grilling Trump Steaks while wearing his bright red MAGA hat, right? Someone viewing the Trump administration in this light likely isn’t going to be terribly upset if the President is thrown down in disgrace and might even welcome such a turn of events. But how does the author explain the dismal alternative reality where Trump wasn’t actually a Russian deep mole all this time and ready for impeachment hearings? Here’s Kirchick’s opening salvo.
Were such evidence to be produced, it would make Trump guilty of treason — obvious grounds for impeachment.
Yet Trump is likely to be found guilty of nothing more than being an unscrupulous jerk…
[I]t’s just as likely that Trump’s impulsiveness, and not his fear of being exposed as a secret Russian agent, led him to fire Comey. An avid cable news watcher, the president loathed hearing about “the Russia thing with Trump and Russia,” as he put it. Trump was annoyed with Comey for being a “showboat,” since as everyone in Washington knows, there’s only room for one showboat in that town.
Kirchick goes on to describe the President with just about every unflattering comparison imaginable. But in the end, he concludes that the most likely reality to be found when the wheels of this investigation grind to a halt is that the President’s, “morally objectionable views and behavior were wide out in the open throughout the presidential campaign.”
Is this the attitude that most of Trump’s critics will take if all this comes to naught? It would be a realization that they really, really hate the guy and he does all sorts of things that look terrible at first glance, but in the end it was just Trump being Trump. So I’ll close with the same question I asked at the end of the previous column. Would there be an apology coming? Doesn’t sound like it from Kirchick at least, but even an admission that “the unscrupulous jerk” didn’t actually break the law is probably better than nothing.
EDIT: (Jazz) It was pointed out to me by Mr. Kirchick that after spending multiple paragraphs pointing out how he had specifically not accused the President of collusion (while simply insulting him) that I turned around in the final passage and implied that he should apologize. That wasn’t my intent since I was referring to the multiple sources referred to in the previous article, but he’s correct. So rather than that, it’s me who is here offering an apology to Kirchick. Sorry about that. Leaving the original article intact as I don’t want to “disappear” my mistake down the memory hole.