I did not like candidate Donald Trump’s blandishments toward the Putin regime. It was part of why Trump was closer to the bottom than the top of my preferred GOP candidates. I thought his performance as president in the meeting with Putin in Helsinki was appalling. But we are talking here about policy disputes. Trump has a right to be wrong, even seriously wrong, on a policy matter. That does not make him a Russian agent.
If members of Trump’s campaign were corruptly selling accommodations (such as sanctions relief) to Russia, then by all means prosecute them to the full extent of the law. But if the campaign was exploring whether sanctions relief could be traded for Russian actions in America’s interests — just as Obama told us sanctions relief for Iran was being bargained in exchange for what he claimed were advances of America’s interests — that might have been wrong-headed or naïve, but it wasn’t criminal.
Apparently Senator Burr thinks of “collusion” as criminal conspiracy, and he thus realizes that there was not one. Special Counsel Mueller, by contrast, has been unleashed to probe collusion not just in the form of criminal conspiracy, but in whatever form: All manner of contacts with a regime that, just the blink of an eye ago, President Obama was mocking Mitt Romney for regarding as a geopolitical foe, even as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton helped Moscow build its version of Silicon Valley — notwithstanding Defense Department and FBI worries that we were thus improving their military and cyber capabilities.