Politics sometimes makes for strange bedfellows and that’s certainly the case here. Glenn Greenwald made a career out of trashing conservatives (including some at this site) but he’s been very skeptical of the Russia collusion story. That’s not because he thinks highly of President Trump but because he generally believes people are too quick to believe the worst about Russia. That’s one more area where I don’t agree with Greenwald but there’s no denying his criticism of the media’s fixation on collusion has been pretty solid. Today the Intercept published a piece saying the collusion conspiracy has been obliterated by the Mueller report:
The two-pronged conspiracy theory that has dominated U.S. political discourse for almost three years – that (1) Trump, his family and his campaign conspired or coordinated with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election, and (2) Trump is beholden to Russian President Vladimir Putin — was not merely rejected today by the final report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. It was obliterated: in an undeniable and definitive manner…
…consider Mueller’s discussion of efforts by George Papadopoulos, Joseph Misfud and and “two Russian nationals” whereby they tried “to arrange a meeting between the Campaign and Russian officials” to talk about how the two sides could work together to disseminate information about Hillary Clinton. As Mueller puts it: “No meeting took place.”
Several of the media’s most breathless and hyped “bombshells” were dismissed completely by Mueller. Regarding various Trump officials’ 2016 meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, Mueller said they were “brief, public and nonsubstantive.” Concerning the much-hyped change to GOP platform regarding Ukraine, Mueller wrote that the “evidence does not establish that one campaign official’s efforts to dilute a portion of the Republican platform was undertaken at the behest of candidate Trump or Russia,” and further noted that such a change was consistent with Trump’s publicly stated foreign policy view (one shared by Obama) to avoid provoking gratuitous conflict with the Kremlin over arming Ukrainians. Mueller also characterized a widely hyped “meeting” between then-Senator Jeff Sessions and Kislyak as one that did not “include any more than a passing mention of the presidential campaign.”
There’s more but the gist is the same: A lot of the alleged bombshells turned out to be duds. Greenwald points out that after all of this, “not a single American…was charged or indicted on the core question” of collusion. And he concludes that is the real “Boom” in this long media fixation:
These facts are fatal to the conspiracy theorists who have drowned U.S. discourse for almost three years with a dangerous and distracting fixation on a fictitious espionage thriller involved unhinged claims of sexual and financial blackmail, nefarious infiltration of the U.S. Government by familiar foreign villains, and election cheating that empowered an illegitimate President. They got the exact prosecutor and investigation that they wanted, yet he could not establish that any of this happened and, in many cases, established that it did not.
Greenwald reminds us that just a few weeks ago that former CIA Director John Brennan was breezily predicting a slew of final indictments for conspiracy (on MSNBC of course):
John Brennan has a lot to answer for—going before the American public for months, cloaked with CIA authority and openly suggesting he’s got secret info, and repeatedly turning in performances like this. pic.twitter.com/EziCxy9FVQ
— Terry Moran (@TerryMoran) March 25, 2019
To paraphrase Mary Katharine Ham (who I wrote about earlier), Democrats and the media set the bar at collusion/conspiracy. It wasn’t there. That’s the bottom line we should be focused on after two years of flogging this claim.