In a piece at National Review this weekend, former U.S. Attorney Andrew McCarthy says that Washington’s hysteria about supposed “collusion” between President Donald Trump and Moscow ignores the fact that both political parties are guilty of cozying up to Russia over the decades. As he puts it beautifully in his opening line: “When the ‘collusion’ music stopped, was Donald Trump the guy left without a chair?”
The only thing that could potentially be a gamechanger in the Mueller report is that the special prosecutor comes out with proof linking Trump to the cyberattack on the Democratic National Committee. That crime is at the heart of Russia’s illegal election meddling of 2016 – without such a crime, the country’s efforts to affect the election would hardly be worth talking about. There is nothing altogether special, after all, about Russian trolls spreading dubiously-sourced news on Facebook or making memes on Reddit. The DNC hack was the only real problem, and there is no indication whatsoever that Trump had any foreknowledge (or any behind-the-scenes involvement in) that crime.
Perhaps Mueller is about to prove that he did. That would certainly put the president in a difficult spot.
Otherwise, this is going to come down to vague notions of what “collusion” really means. Did Trump spread and promote the leaks coming from the DNC? Well, yeah. Duh. It was in the media. Those emails were in the news. Of course he was going to talk about them – they were very enlightening. Did some of his campaign officials have talks with Russian representatives? Perhaps they did. So what?
“For most of his eight-year tenure, President Bill Clinton flaunted his warm relationship with Boris Yeltsin, Russia’s first post-Soviet president,” notes McCarthy. “Clinton committed to support Moscow with financial assistance, including subsidies to adjust decommissioned military officers and nuclear scientists to the new order.”
“Then there was President George W. Bush peering into Vladimir Putin’s soul, finding a ‘trustworthy’ ally,” he reminds us. “Of course, Putin humiliated the Bush administration and Congress’s bipartisan Russia accommodationists by invading Georgia, annexing swathes of its territory in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The White House quietly withdrew the ballyhooed U.S.–Russia Civilian Nuclear Power Agreement from congressional consideration. No matter: Even as Russia continued its Georgian occupation, President Obama revived the agreement in 2010, insisting that the pact promoted U.S. national security. To appease Putin, the president also shelved Bush’s plans for missile-defense installations in Eastern Europe.”
Put plainly, the Democrats (and, on occasion, the Republicans) have treated Russia like a wayward child that only needs a little friendly buttering to come back to the “good side” for years. Time and time again, Putin and the once-communists have taken advantage of Washington’s mercy. This was never a problem for the Establishment until Trump came along. It was never a problem, more specifically, until their heir-in-waiting, Hillary Clinton, lost in a shocking upset to the New York billionaire. It was never a problem before the American people rose up and said, in near-unison, we’ve had enough of 21st century globalism – we’re going to go in another direction. Only then did Russia become the Great Menace. Only then did “collusion” become a thing.