On July 16, 2018 Pres. Donald Trump held a press conference in Helsinki Finland alongside Russian Premiere Vladimir Putin. When questioned about Russian interference in the 2016 election, Trump stated that he believed Putin’s denials despite the fact that the entire US intelligence community and Justice Department says there is massive evidence of a well coordinated Russian campaign of disinformation using social media and other methods. (View entire press conference on YouTube) Political pundits screamed “Russia must have something on Donald Trump”. They could find no other explanation as to why he would ignore his own experts and defend Putin. Just days prior he had also been at a summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jung Un in which he claimed he had negotiated a nuclear disarmament treaty that made the world safer. In fact the agreement had no teeth and really nothing had changed between the US and North Korea. The next day I wrote a blog post titled “There’s No Collusion or Blackmail Because They Didn’t Need It”.
I said in part…
The entire Trump campaign was poorly managed. There was no need for cooperation with Russia because Russia’s efforts were already so sophisticated and organized that it needed no coordination with the Trump organization itself. I think those of us who are sitting around waiting on Mueller to come up with a smoking gun that proves collusion occurred are going to be sorely disappointed. There just wasn’t any collusion because there didn’t need to be. Why would Russia risk it? Like I said, they were already way more organized and effective than the campaign itself.
Yesterday a highly redacted version of the Mueller Report was released and it reached the conclusion that despite attempts to connect with Russian officials, the campaign did not conspire or collude with Russia. It makes it abundantly clear that Russian did have an extensive coordinated campaign of misinformation during the 2016 election. It makes it abundantly clear that Russia believed that supporting Trump was in their best interest. There is ample evidence that Russia has benefited by having Donald Trump as president. That still doesn’t mean it was a coordinated effort. Basically my prediction was correct. Trump is right. There was no collusion although the report makes it clear that the word “collusion” really isn’t important. The real operative word would be “conspired” but there is no evidence of conspiracy either. Basically the report agrees with my prediction that the campaign wasn’t clever enough to engage in such coordination.
Robert Mueller stopped short of saying that Trump engaged in obstruction of justice, however the report listed 10 incidences that could be evidence of obstruction. Because it is a long-standing DOJ policy that a sitting president cannot be indicted, he made no such suggestion that he should be. And despite Trump’s claims that he was completely vindicated, the report clearly says that nothing in the report regarding obstruction exonerates the president. It points out that after the president is out of office, he can still face criminal liability for his actions. He notes that it is the job of Congress to determine if he is guilty of any crimes. However media analysis notes that even if the House of Representatives passed Articles of Impeachment and the Republican majority Senate failed to vote him out of office he could still face criminal liability after he was out of office. And if he was removed from office, he could still face criminal charges. All of that impeachment does is remove a person from office. It does not impose criminal sanctions such as jail time.
A failed impeachment attempt would likely be worse for the Democrats than to put up with Trump for another two years. It would only serve to make Trump a martyr and embolden his base. Personally I don’t think they should attempt to impeach him. Also note that while Nancy Pelosi is often portrayed as being radically out-of-control and a danger to the president, she herself agrees that impeachment is not appropriate under these circumstances.
For me, the most disturbing part of the report was that on multiple occasions several administration officials refused to carry out Trump’s orders because they were most likely illegal. I did not double checked the list but I believe all of those people are no longer with the administration. Without so-called “human guardrails” to keep the president in check, the government is at grave risk. It might be a best strategy for the Democrats to leave Trump alone and hope that his current staff and cabinet members fail to keep him in check and he is permitted to go forward with his illegal ideas.
The bottom line is I predicted that the Mueller Report would not make a difference. I predicted it would not find conspiracy or collusion. And I was right.
One more thing… Russia didn’t interfere
It bothers me that Russia’s actions are described as “interfering” in our electoral process. If they are guilty of some crime for such interference then every political party, PAC, or other organization engaging in political speech is also guilty. Like it or not Russia was exercising the beloved American right to free speech. They didn’t hack our voting machines that we know of. They didn’t stuff ballot boxes. They didn’t kidnap voters and keep them from voting or engage in any sort of election fraud.
All that they did is produce propaganda. They engaged in false political speech. Our own political parties do the exact same thing. Why are we so outraged at their actions? Are we saying it’s okay for us to lie to ourselves but we can’t let others spread the same lies? The problem is not Russia. The problem is that our gullible electorate will believe outlandish things with no basis in fact, no independent facts in support, and routinely ignores all attempts to debunk such lies. As long as the large portions of the American voting population refuses to engage in rational, critical thinking and make reasoned decisions about who to vote for, our government, our society, our way of life is at grave risk. And Russia is not the problem. We are.