John and Steve have written good posts on the indictment against Internet Research Agency et al. handed up by the grand jury in the Special Counsel investigation yesterday. The government has posted the indictment here. My comments follow on theirs. I will try not to repeat their points.
There is no substitute for reviewing the primary documents with your own eyes. I have embedded the indictment at the bottom of this post via Scribd. For some reason, the Scribd software removed it, thinking it was copyrighted material. Government documents are not subject to copyright as a matter of law. The help desk promptly restored it at my request. If you don’t get anything else from these comments, I hope you will have a look at the indictment.
As the Wall Street Journal observes in the related editorial today (behind the Journal’s paywall): “The 37-page indictment contains no evidence of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, but it does show a systematic effort to discredit the result of the 2016 election. On the evidence so far, President Trump has been the biggest victim of that effort, and he ought to be furious at Vladimir Putin.”
The Journal editorial asks a good question: “The indictment also makes us wonder what the Obama Administration was doing amid all of this. Where were top Obama spooks James Clapper and John Brennan? Their outrage became public only after their candidate lost the election. If they didn’t know what was going on, why not? And if they did, why didn’t they let Americans in on the secret? President Obama sanctioned Russia for its meddling only after the election.”
Obama was probably reluctant to echo the foreign policy of the 1980’s for which he had derided Mitt Romney in the campaign of 2012. He didn’t want to admit that Romney might have had a point. It didn’t comport well with his belief that all was for the best in the best of all possible administrations. For more on the Internet Research Agency, see this interesting Atlantic sidebar.
Andrew McCarthy’s weekly NRO column was posted this morning but obviously written before the indictment was released yesterday. Andy knows what he is talking about and is a natural teacher. His column today reiterates and expands on critical points he has previously made but that now emerge starkly in light of the indictment: “It has long been manifest that there is no criminal ‘collusion with Russia’ case. If there had been, there would have been no need for the legerdemain of conducting a criminal probe surreptitiously, under the label of ‘counterintelligence.’” After the indictment, this observation obtains even more so. His column strongly suggests that the obstruction gambit should be retired.
The indictment states that the Russians supported Trump in the Republican primaries and Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries. They supported Trump in the presidential campaign. They obviously thought that their candidacies “sowed confusion” in the ways that became obvious to us all. They were outrageous.
By the same token, the Russians viewed Trump’s presidential campaign as doomed — just as I and everyone else did. They supported American chaos and hysteria and demoralization. Supporting Trump or other actions to detract from the magnitude of Clinton’s victory might weaken Clinton when she ultimately won. That’s obviously what they had in mind. They were victims of traditional thinking and conventional wisdom, just like me.
And just like CNN’s Chris Cillizza. Cillizza continues in his obtuse mode commenting on the indictment. He is also overcome with excitement. He thinks the Russians wanted Trump to win. He doesn’t understand what they were up to, or anything else relevant to what happened for that matter. Cillizza thinks, just to take one small example, the allegations of the indictment prove something “beyond a shadow of a doubt.”
For those of us who have followed the twists and turns of the collusion hysteria since the day after the election, one question hangs over the indictment. In the words of the Lieber/Stoller song, is that all there is? It’s too soon to tell, but one guy who should have some idea is the malicious former Gus Hall supporter John Brennan. See Lee Smith’s invaluable column explaining how Brennan drove the collusion investigation. Brennan commented on the indictment via Twitter (below)
DOJ statement and indictments reveal the extent and motivations of Russian interference in 2016 election. Claims of a “hoax” in tatters. My take: Implausible that Russian actions did not influence the views and votes of at least some Americans.
— John O. Brennan (@JohnBrennan) February 16, 2018
I don’t want to overread Brennan’s comment. If the indictment reveals the extent of Russian interference in the 2016 election, as Brennan states, it may be reasonable to infer that there aren’t many more shoes to drop. The investigation continues. Hope abides for Cillizza and his colleagues among the Democrats’ media adjunct. As for the Russian collusion with the Clinton presidential campaign through the services of Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele, however, Cillizza and Brennan et al. have maintained radio silence.