The tl;dr version:
1. My basic policy is that most people in power are possibly psychopaths (see my new book The Psychopath Economy) and therefore we should investigate them as often as we can. Trump especially falls into this category, as do many of the people around him.
2. I had no problem with the Mueller investigation. Ever.
3. My main issue with it has always been that some people on the left seemed to treating collusion as a fact, despite there being no (or not enough, if you prefer) evidence to conclude that. As I’ve always maintained – meeting with Russians, in and of itself, was neither illegal nor evidence of collusion. Neither was hoping Russians would release hacked emails.
4. The media hype around collusion for the last two years, in my opinion, was not justified by the evidence.
5. The Mueller Report, rightly or wrongly, declared there (and I quote): The investigation did not establish that the contacts described in Volume I, Section IV, supra, amounted to an agreement to commit any substantive violation of federal criminal law-including foreign-influence and campaign-finance laws, both of which are discussed further below.”
6. Therefore Mueller seems to agree that there wasn’t enough evidence to conclude a conspiracy / collusion – and so why all of the hype about it for the last two years? Why were people so convinced it was a fact?
7. As for Russian interference, the FBI already investigates that, so there’s no need for a separate investigation, as far as I can tell. That does seem like a waste of money, but hey, the US has money to burn, so why not.
8. As for who hacked the DNC, I acknowledge that Mueller concurs with the intelligence agencies – which isn’t surprising, seeing as he’s a former Director of the FBI. I, of course, don’t trust the FBI or the CIA, because they have been caught out lying continually in the past. That doesn’t mean they are wrong in this instance, but they have a shitty track record at telling the truth, especially when it involves Russia. Does that mean you should or shouldn’t trust his findings on collusion? I don’t care. Trust or don’t trust. Up to you.
9. Assange, on the other hand, has an excellent track record of exposing lies and telling the truth, at least as far as we know. That said, he might be lying in this instance, or just plain wrong. I have no evidence either way. So I’m neutral on the issue.
10. If Russia *did* hack the DNC and leak it to Assange, I don’t really care. Good on them both. The leak exposed the Clinton / DNC corruption, and a lot more, including France’s motivations for destroying Libya, so the leak was in the public interest and I applaud whoever was behind it.
11. Was all of the hype around collusion justified? Apparently not, if Mueller couldn’t find enough evidence to charge anyone with conspiracy. So why did the hype exist? Maybe the media, supposedly made up of professional and highly trained journalists and editors who are good at being objective, just got carried away? Like they did when they told us Saddam had WMD. But Cicero told us to always ask “cui bono” (who benefits)? Who benefited from two years of collusion delusion? The media sold a ton of papers and tv advertising, which boosted their revenues. The DNC got to distract people away from their own corruption (as revealed by the leaks) and how they screwed the Sanders campaign during the primaries – and eventually lost the election to a buffoon who didn’t even want, or expect, to win. Did these parties deliberately distract the American population with the collusion delusion? I don’t know. I have no evidence to support those theories. But I would love to know.
The LONG version:
To avoid having to repeat myself over and over: my point over the last could of years has never been that Trump isn’t dirty or guilty of all sorts of crimes. On the contrary – I assume he is dirty. What I’ve been going on about for the last couple of years has been that the COLLUSION narrative that everyone has been obsessed with was based on zero evidence. Having meetings with Russians was not illegal or evidence of collusion – it was evidence of having meetings with Russians.
As for people saying there was evidence but just “not enough for indictment”, I think that’s heavy spin doctoring. Conspiring is like being pregnant. It’s a binary situation. Saying “but they french kissed” does not mean there is evidence they are pregnant. An agreement to conspire on something is black and white. Either they agreed to conspire or they didn’t. There isn’t any way to have a partial agreement.
Over the last couple of years, a lot of people told me I was insane / naïve / a dupe because I wouldn’t agree with the collusion narrative. They assumed Trump (or his campaign’s) guilt, I gather, because it’s what they wanted to believe. But, of course, it turns out I was right (at least according to the Mueller Report).
And I’m highly amused that those same people are now either: a) denying they ever claimed there was / believed in collusion, b) trying to spin it into “but but but what about cover ups?” or c) saying “but but but he’s a criminal.” Instead of being honest and saying “yeah we sure did jump the gun on that one and maybe we should learn to think before we buy into media narratives.”
I think the questions we should be asking now are:
Who created the narrative?
What did they hope to gain?
Why did the media push it for two years when it was obviously bullshit from the get-go?
And why did you buy into it?
And before you say something about “Russian interference in the democratic process”, a) that isn’t new, b) we didn’t need this investigation to tell us that and c) there’s already ongoing investigations into that, has been constantly for 100 years.
Investigations are fine, have as many as you want. But investigating the foreign interference in domestic politics is something the FBI gets paid to do and has been doing for nearly a century. Russians attempting to interfere in American elections has been going on since 1930. Nothing surprising about it. FBI files are full of it. Pretty much all J. Edgar Hoover ever thought about.
It should be pretty clear to everyone by now that the whole COLLUSION!!! narrative we’ve had for two years was overblown and that *someone* had an agenda behind it. Was it the Obama administration trying to deflect attention from their failure to stop the Russians? Was it the DNC trying to deflect attention from how they fucked Sanders and lost the election? Was it the media just profiting from the chaos? Was it Wall Street who continued to bleed America dry and run their foreign wars while everyone was distracted by nonsense? Was it a little of all of those things? I don’t know the answer – BUT I think those are the right questions to be asking about now because THAT is what is destroying America’s democracy. Not the Russians. Not Trump. It’s the forces that allowed Trump to get elected in the first place.
Amy Goodman interviewed Noam Chomsky recently and asked him to explain the Trump presidency. At the 48 minute mark he nails the move of both major parties to the right since the 1970s, and how the GOP managed to balance their primary constituency – big business and the wealthy – whilst also targeting small but passionate niches – the religious right and gun owners. He also explains why Russiagate was such a bunch of nonsense.
I would have hoped that after the whole “Saddam has WMD!” furor 18 years ago, Americans – especially those on the “left” – would have developed a better bullshit filter when it came to interpreting the US media. Apparently they aren’t ready yet. Here’s a handy guide for what to do the next time you hear something in the news which maps into your confirmation bias.
The way people are doubling down on their commitment to the Russiagate narrative reminds me of how members of a doomsday cult act then the big day doesn’t happen. They don’t acknowledge they were wrong. They are too invested in their beliefs. So they often become more fervent than ever before. American politics has become, more than ever before, a matter of religious fervour – even for the atheists.
One other thing I’ve suspected over the last year or so is that Trump (and his father before him) actually has real connections to Russian mafia via Semion Mogilevich, Bayrock, Felix Sater, etc. We talked about those on BFTN 4 and BFTN 18. I’m quite surprised Mueller didn’t report on that or Trump’s reported tax fraud (as discussed that on BFTN 21).