Too much of nothing

In her response to my comments on her recent Trump/Russia column, Mona Charen writes: “The Wall Street Journal story about a Republican operative seeking Hillary Clinton’s hacked emails through Russia and claiming that he was working with Mike Flynn is possibly significant.”

Anything is possible, but it is highly unlikely. Mona links to Shane Harris’s June 29 Wall Street Journal story on which I commented here. Andrew McCarthy blew off Harris’s story in his NRO column “Still no collusion” and again in the American Greatness column “Collusion as farce.”

In a postscript to Harris’s story, it now turns out that Harris’s protagonist — Peter Smith — apparently committed suicide at a hotel near the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota on May 14. The Chicago Tribune reports the known facts related to Smith’s death here.

The Tribune’s long story concludes: “Peter Smith wrote two blog posts dated the day before he was found dead. One challenged U.S. intelligence agency findings that Russia interfered with the 2016 election. Another post predicted: ‘As attention turns to international affairs, as it will shortly, the Russian interference story will die of its own weight.'” I note the conclusion for the record, not because it is to be taken at face value.

Shane Harris’s contribution to the “collusion” hysteria in the Wall Street Journal represents something like the reductio ad absurdum of the journalism promoting it. In his latest installment Harris reported on July 12: “Russian Officials Overheard Discussing Trump Associates Before Campaign Began.” Subhead: “It isn’t clear whether Mr. Trump’s associates had any connection to his presidential aspirations.”

Harris’s story with the heavy breathing to which we have grown accustomed in the “collusion” journalism based on intelligence leaked by deeply dishonorable “current and former U.S. officials.” Harris reports: “Investigators are re-examining conversations detected by U.S. intelligence agencies in spring 2015 that captured Russian government officials discussing associates of Donald Trump, according to current and former U.S. officials, a move prompted by revelations that the president’s eldest son met with a Russian lawyer last year.”

Then comes the anticlimax: “The intelligence gathering wasn’t aimed at Mr. Trump or people in his circle, and it isn’t clear which Trump advisers or associates the Russians referred to, or whether they had any connection to his presidential aspirations.”

Would it be too much to ask Harris to get back to us when he has a story?


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