Russian Meddling and Democrat Useful Idiots

Mueller's indictments reveal the Deep State and media liars.

It was Big News when Mr. Mueller, the special prosecutor who's charged with finding out whether there was electoral collusion between Mr. Trump and the Russians, announced criminal charges against a number of Russian citizens.

Mr. Mueller issued charges against a few Russian citizens who came to America, checked out our political situation, and tried to disrupt the 2016 election by generating "fake news" via social media.  There were also charges brought against Russians who did whatever they did from Russia without even visiting the US - and an American or two who were involved without ever really knowing what they'd got themselves into.

The media cast this as a massive victory over Trumpian treason; Trump claimed it as total vindication of his innocence.

They're both wrong: the whole thing is silly, pointless, and ought to be embarrassing to Mr. Mueller if he could possibly be embarrassed.

A Whole Lotta Nuttin'

Politics as Usual

First and foremost: we may not like it, but this is how the game of international politics is played.  We interfere in other countries' politics all the time, and they dabble in ours.  In theory it can be an act of war; in practice, nobody cares unless it makes a clear and obvious difference, and often not even then.

When Democrats accused Mr. Trump of dancing with the Russians, Republicans reminded us that Teddy Kennedy tried to persuade the Russians to attack President Reagan to help deny him a second term.  These shenanigans remind us of Finley Peter Dunne's 1895 quote:

"Sure, politics ain't bean-bag. 'Tis a man's game, an' women, childer, cripples an' prohybitionists 'd do well to keep out iv it."

The New York Times explained how we do it:

Bags of cash delivered to a Rome hotel for favored Italian candidates. Scandalous stories leaked to foreign newspapers to swing an election in Nicaragua. Millions of pamphlets, posters and stickers printed to defeat an incumbent in Serbia.

The long arm of Vladimir Putin? No, just a small sample of the United States history of intervention in foreign elections.

It would be newsworthy if the major powers weren't trying to meddle in each others' elections.  Claiming that this is some new and horrendous crime is simply absurd - and yes, St. Barack Obama is just as guilty as everyone else.

Some writers have suggested that the Russians had a very specific revenge-based agenda: they wanted to turn Americans against Hillary because she had criticized the legitimacy of the election which declared Mr. Putin president of Russia.  One could argue that Mr. Putin's messing with her presidential campaign was a simple tit for tat, much as Lee Harvey Oswald's assassination of President Kennedy was retaliation for Mr. Kennedy's telling our CIA to try to assassinate his hero Fidel Castro.  Find us an election in either country in the past thirty years that the other side hasn't meddled in, and then maybe we should waste time contemplating motives.

Nothing Worthy of Extradition

Second, what kind of use of taxpayer money is it to attempt to build a case that can never be presented in court?  Our Constitution doesn't normally allow trials in absentia - and given that the accused are Russian citizens in Russia, does anyone seriously think that Mr. Mueller is ever going to get a chance to even talk to them, much less try them in front of a judge?  Does even he imagine this in his wildest dreams?

We've pointed out that international law has well-defined procedures for pursuing criminals from one country to another: a court in the aggrieved country can ask the country where the alleged miscreant resides to extradite the defendant to the pursuing country.  The reasons for when to do or not to do this are defined by longstanding treaties.

In this case, what the Russians did while in Russia, or even during visits to America, was probably not against Russian law, so there's no way that the Russians would honor our request to send them to the US for trial - even if they had independent courts willing to embarrass their own government, which they really don't.  Is it against American law for a U.S. citizen to meddle in another country's election?  No - we are not specialists in international jurisprudence, but we couldn't find any sign even of an argument that it is.

It's not even clear that buying their own Facebook ads for political purposes was against American law - although setting up fake bank accounts is illegal.

Why would Mr. Mueller bother to bring criminal charges against Russians citizens he can never arrest, other than to score political points in the US?  The Boston Herald wondered why that was all we got from Mr. Mueller's year-long "fake news" investigation, and rightly so.

The Russians Made No Difference

Third, between Facebook, Twitter, and Google, the Russians bought maybe a million dollars worth of ads.  Hillary and her supporters spent more than a billion, that is, one thousand times as much attacking Mr. Trump and trying to convince Americans to vote for her, for all the good it did them.

The best estimates say that the Russian ads got maybe a billion views across Facbook, Google, You Tube, and Twitter. During the same time, Facebook alone served trillions of views. The Russians were noise level.

Either Hillary's marketing advertisers were totally incompetent, the Russians are marketing geniuses - or she lost, fair and square.  We think she lost, and so does Mr. Mueller: that is why the one reasonable statement in his charges is his conclusion that the Russians didn't affect the election one way or the other.

As even the Times put it, their efforts were a "drop in the bucket" of American partisanship.  We don't expect their admission of the negligible effect of whatever the Russians did to persuade them to stop baying after Mr. Trump's hide, of course, but that doesn't make it any less true and relevant.

So, having established that the Russians did nothing outside of admittedly tawdry and unseemly international norms, can't ever be brought to American justice, and didn't make any difference anyway, why did Mr. Mueller's team bother?

The Plan - Sow Discord and Distrust

Most of the Russian activity seems to have been aimed, not at electing or harming any particular candidate, but simply at sowing general distrust of American institutions, particularly the election process.

Indeed, it doesn't look like the Russians expected to affect the election itself at all.  They were convinced that Hillary would win regardless of what they did; they simply supported everyone besides her to minimize her margin of victory.

Along the same lines, it appears that many of the "Lock her up" stunts during the campaign were instigated by the Russians.  If she'd won as the Russians expected, "Lock her up" might have amplified Mr. Trump's "Crooked Hillary" tag line and convinced some number of Americans that their President was a crook who'd cheated her way into the White House as President Kennedy had done in 1960.

The Russians were just as dumbfounded as everyone else when Mr. Trump won, but they seem to have recovered their equilibrium fairly quickly and moved on to greener pastures.

In contrast, our Democrats were not only utterly gobsmacked, they decided that their best plan was to falsely accuse Mr. Trump of colluding illegally with the Russians to defeat their heroine.  She was clearly so much better qualified than Mr. Trump, and the Democrats have decades of experience padding their vote counts, how could she have lost other than by Mr. Trump cheating her more than she'd cheated him?

Rather than accepting the voters' verdict or their own incompetence at election fraud - either would have done - the Democrats have instead spared no effort to undermine Mr. Trump's presidency and our electoral institutions.  In other words, they've boldly picked up the torch the Russians lit and are running with it with all their might.

Of course, elected Democrats aren't alone in this evil pursuit.  After he was fired, Mr. Comey improperly leaked a memo which he hoped would lead to the appointment of a special prosecutor - and sure enough, his dear friend Mr. Mueller was duly appointed.  After a year of investigation, Mr. Mueller has found evidence that, shock of shocks, the Russians meddled in the election and that it made no difference to the outcome.

Anyone who pays attention has known this for a year or more - but hey, it was still worth a try on the off chance that he might have found an actual crime to pin on President Trump, right?

The New York Times reports President Trump's reaction:

... saying that President Barack Obama had not done enough to stop the interference and denying that he had ever suggested that Moscow might not have been involved.

Mr. Trump is correct - he never said that the Russians hadn't done anything in the election, and his asking them to release Hillary's email shows that he knew they were involved.  He merely said that he had not been involved in any conspiracy with them, which appears to be true.

He's also right in saying that the Obama administration knew about the Russian activities and did nothing; the New York Times reported that the FBI was aware of Russian hacking of the State Department, the White House and the Joint Chiefs of far back as 2014, long before Donald Trump even seriously considered running.  They also described Mr. Obama's deliberations about what to do about it, and his final decision of nothing:

Mr. Obama was briefed regularly on all this, but he made a decision that many in the White House now regret: He did not name Russians publicly, or issue sanctions. There was always a reason: fear of escalating a cyberwar, and concern that the United States needed Russias cooperation in negotiations over Syria.

"We'd have all these circular meetings," one senior State Department official said, "in which everyone agreed you had to push back at the Russians and push back hard. But it didn't happen."

The Times said that their investigation "reveals a series of missed signals, slow responses and a continuing underestimation of the seriousness of the cyberattack" which seems to be typical of Mr. Obama's feeble foreign policy.

Hoist On Their Own Petards?

It seems patently obvious to us that Mr. Mueller's sole purpose has been to try to hang something, anything, on Donald Trump, or at least on his campaign.  And yet, despite his apparently best and very costly efforts, his investigation and the collateral nosiness he inspired have instead revealed the following tidbits:

  • Hillary partisans cheated during the primaries to deny Mr. Sanders the Democratic nomination, which was arguably illegal and certainly actionable.
  • Hillary's campaign secretly paid Fusion GPS, an intelligence company, to collect what became known as the "Steele Dossier" hoping to damage Mr. Trump's campaign.  Historically this sort of opposition research wouldn't be illegal, but if meddling in a U.S. election is a crime if you're a foreigner, well, Christopher Steele is a Brit.
  • The FBI used this bit of partisan opposition research to justify getting a FISA warrant to let them wiretap Mr. Trump's campaign.  The FBI doesn't seem to have told the court that the dossier hadn't been verified or that it had been paid for by the Clinton campaign.  These willful omissions of material fact are probably crimes and, at a minimum, warrant disbarment for the lawyers involved.
  • Mr. Trump was correct when he Tweeted that the Obama administration was wiretapping him and his staff.  Although Mr. Obama's adroit use of his presidential powers make it not a crime, the American people might not be happy that such things can go unpunished.
  • Mr. Peter Strzok, a senior FBI agent who worked for Mr. Mueller's witch hunt until his pro-Hillary partisanship was revealed, said "there's no big there there" with respect to the Democrat's theories about Mr. Trump conspiring with the Russians.  He appears to have known what he was talking about.
  • The fact that, as the Times put it, the steady flow of stolen "documents constantly undercut Democratic messaging efforts" suggests that the Democrats were systematically lying throughout the entire campaign and never imagined being turned into "the most transparent administration ever."
  • The fact that the FBI has still not been given access to the DNC email server that was compromised suggests that the DNC is still hiding something they can't trust the FBI to cover.  We think they're being over-paranoid - the FBI has proven itself more than willing to cover for Democrats and kneecap Republicans thus far, but how can this be anything other than a sign of an incredibly guilty conscience?
  • Mr. Trump is being criticized for "doing nothing" about the Russian cyber attack on our electoral systems - in other words, the exact same policy pursued by Barack Obama to surround-sound applause.  What's more, nobody has suggested anything constructive he could do.  Should we nuke Moscow?  Assassinate President Putin?  Send them a strongly-worded note that will only be seen by some minion in the bowels of the Kremlin filing department?  Meddle with their elections - as if we aren't already, and as if our biased partisan government trolls haven't already proven themselves incapable of competently rigging our own election system which presumably they understand better than the Russian one?  Anyone have any ideas?  Apparently nobody in our government, media, or intellectual establishment does, on either side of the aisle, except to carp that Somebody Should Do Something.  Now that's leadership of the elites!

The bottom line is that there was no conspiracy with the Russians - the Russians merely spread the same sorts of traditional disinformation they spread routinely all over the world and which our MSM has spread for years.  They hoped merely to undermine Hillary's presidency by emphasizing the "Lock her up" meme.  This came to naught when Mr. Trump won, but swarms of "useful idiots" in the Democratic party decided to claim that Mr. Trump had conspired with the Russians in order to undermine his administration and perhaps get him thrown out of office.

They probably didn't know at the time that Hillary's campaign had paid for the Steele dossier.  Our mainstream liberal news outlets have ignored that revelation, however, so funding and promoting the bogus and grossly misused dossier hasn't hurt them as much as it should have.

In the meantime, the damage they've done to American institutions by their false attack on Mr. Trump by far exceeded anything the Russians could have imagined even in their wildest dreams.  Today, nobody with the brains that God gave geese trusts the integrity of our election system, or our FBI, or our Justice Department, or either of our two parties - or, really, anything governmental or media-related at all.  And rightly not.

It's too bad that the Democrats and their MSM allies have turned out to be such effective useful idiots.  But if there's any silver lining in this whole sordid mess, it's this: the 2016 election did not create the corruption.  It simply exposed the utter venality that has existed throughout our government, top to bottom, for a very long time, in a way that Americans can no longer pretend not to see.  And that, really, is extremely useful.

Now we just have to decide what, if anything, we are going to do about it.

Will Offensicht is a staff writer for and an internationally published author by a different name.  Read other articles by Will Offensicht or other articles on Foreign Affairs.
Reader Comments

I wrote this this comment for a WSJ article; I thought it appropriate here.

"Alinksky documented the rules for radicals; the Communists invented them. The irony is that Progressives have not only used those rules on their political opponents here but tried them on the masters of the trade and we've seen how that worked out. The old dead Communists must be rolling with laughter in their graves and Putin just smiles slyly while thinking "What useful idiots"."

February 21, 2018 6:48 PM

As usual an insightful analysis. But... most folks think that the Clintons gave Putin the State Dept approved Canada/.US uranium mine in return for Clinton Foundation “ contribution” and some Bill Clinton speech “ honorariums”. So why did Putin turn on Hillary ? Most assume he had enough on the Clintons to assure useful idiot compliance. And he must have known that Trump was a wild card. I’m sure they have some salacious stuff on The Donald while doing Miss Universe in Sochi or getting a Trump hotel in Moscow. . But most folks figured that a guy with 3 wives would have had some casting calls in between . But Trump wanted to enrich the middle alien concept to the DC elite and Putin. So why did Putin turn on the Clinton machine he bought and paid for ?

February 21, 2018 9:44 PM

@Bsinn We don't pretend to fully understand Mr. Putin's mind, but we believe that he thought it impossible that Hillary would not win - that was what every voice he could hear was saying. He had bought her and knew her price so he was OK with that, but he might as well reduce her margin of victory by supporting other candidates. His "lock her up" meme, which, by the way, he didn't invent, he merely amplified what was already there, might weaken her later on.

He was totally shocked when she lost. All his efforts would have gone for nothing except that the idiot Democrats picked up the job for him and tried to undermine Mr. Trump!

"Why Putin Didn't Do It" at presents a number of reasons why we do not believe that Mr. Putin was the public servant who turned the hitherto secretive Obama administration into the "most transparent administration ever."

February 22, 2018 3:42 PM
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