NYT's Brooks: Let's face it, there's really no evidence on this Russian collusion stuff and this isn't Watergate

The New York Times’ David Brooks isn’t your typical conservative. In fact, many in the movement don’t consider the columnist an ally at all. He’s of a more moderate stripe and not one to shy away from criticizing Republicans; he once called Sarah Palin a “cancer” to the party. Yet, he did voice his concern about the lack of evidence being put forward with all the Russian collusion hysteria that’s embroiled the liberal news media and the Democratic Party. Are we getting ahead of ourselves? It seems that the “politics of scandal” that the Left is so desperately trying to gin up against Trump while lacking evidence to do so is making Mr. Brooks nervous; he made it known on last Sunday’s Meet The Press. He also said that what’s been discussed isn’t Watergate reloaded:


I’m actually getting more uncomfortable with this whole deal, thinking that maybe we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves. And I’m bothered by the lack of emerging evidence about the underlying crime, that there was actually collusion or coordination between the Trump White House.

And so what’s happened is we’ve surrounded the president with this legal minefield, and Donald Trump being Donald Trump, steps all over the legal minefield and blows them up six ways from Sunday. But it’s become an investigation about itself. And you know, I’ve lived through Whitewater, I’ve lived through a lot of these. And there’s a lot of shady behavior that don’t rise to the Watergate level. And I’m just afraid we’re being swallowed up by the politics of scandal, when there’s less and less evidence that they actually colluded. And maybe that’ll come out, but so far it hasn’t, and it bothers me.

What’s ironic is that his paper’s editorial board is doing just that concerning Russia, blasting Trump for being indifferent to Russia’s interference campaign. In other words, they’re attacking Trump for not being pro-active on an issue that they feel is important. Oh, and they also admit that there’s no evidence that the Russian interference campaign impacted the results. Maybe it’s because they didn’t [emphasis mine]:

 So let’s take a moment to recall the sheer scope and audacity of the Russian efforts.

Under direct orders from President Vladimir Putin, hackers connected to Russian military intelligence broke into the email accounts of senior officials at the Democratic National Committee and of Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta. They passed tens of thousands of emails to the website WikiLeaks, which posted them throughout the last months of the campaign in an attempt to damage the Clinton campaign.

Even more disturbing, hackers sought access to voter databases in at least 39 states, and in some cases tried to alter or delete voter data. They also appear to have tried to take over the computers of more than 100 local election officials in the days before the Nov. 8 vote.

There is no evidence that these efforts affected the outcome of the election. But that’s beside the point. The Russians have engaged in behavior like this in other countries, and they’re getting better at it. An American presidential election may be their biggest target to date, but it’s hardly their first. In the last decade they have hacked computer networks in Estonia, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, France, and Bulgaria — often stealing data. They have disseminated fake news stories and other disinformation to interfere with elections in other countries, as they did here.


…to the extent that Mr. Trump countenances the idea of a Russian attack, he seems to regard it as all about him. The “obsession” with it, he claims, is driven by Democrats upset over losing an election they expected to win. That is demonstrably false.


Even if the investigations find no evidence that Mr. Trump’s campaign colluded with the Russians, the president’s refusal to accept the truth about this attack on our democracy denies reality and leaves the country vulnerable to more damaging attacks. The true obsession is Mr. Trump’s, with his own brand, and it’s distracting him from his most important duty — to protect the nation.

First, the fake news stories played no pivotal role in influencing the election. Second, there is no direct evidence that Vladimir Putin ordered the interference campaign. It’s something that we may never know. That claim is based on a high confidence assessment from the intelligence community’s report from January. That’s not the same thing as a statement of fact. Also, Russian intelligence didn’t allegedly break into the email of John Podesta like something out of a Mission Impossible movie. He let them in by changing his password through a phishing scam. A typo from his staffer in an email about a password change led to the breach. The Times reported on this in December [emphasis mine]:

 Hundreds of similar phishing emails were being sent to American political targets, including an identical email sent on March 19 to Mr. Podesta, chairman of the Clinton campaign. Given how many emails Mr. Podesta received through this personal email account, several aides also had access to it, and one of them noticed the warning email, sending it to a computer technician to make sure it was legitimate before anyone clicked on the “change password” button.

“This is a legitimate email,” Charles Delavan, a Clinton campaign aide, replied to another of Mr. Podesta’s aides, who had noticed the alert. “John needs to change his password immediately.”

With another click, a decade of emails that Mr. Podesta maintained in his Gmail account — a total of about 60,000 — were unlocked for the Russian hackers. Mr. Delavan, in an interview, said that his bad advice was a result of a typo: He knew this was a phishing attack, as the campaign was getting dozens of them. He said he had meant to type that it was an “illegitimate” email, an error that he said has plagued him ever since.

We also need to stop playing this holier than thou game regarding election interference. The United States has interfered in foreign elections—81 times between 1946-2000—and has even participated in facilitating coups in some of them when we didn’t like the result; Chile’s Salvador Allende found this out.

The kicker is the last part, where the Times says there may not be evidence of collusion, but we just don’t like Trump and we’re mad that he’s not taking an issue we find to be very, very important. It’s just a tantrum. Not to mention, getting back to Brooks’ point about lack of evidence and the politics of scandal, the Times is neck-deep in it, peddling a piece about Trump associates having interactions with Russian intelligence officials a year before the election. Buried in the story is that these associates had done business in Russia, which isn’t a crime, where run-ins with the FSB is common, so nothing unusual, and contained zero evidence of collusion or wrongdoing from the parties listed. So, it was a nothing burger. In his testimony to Congress, FBI director James Comey took it a step further, saying it was more or less a bogus story.