Yup, it’s another one of those days. News comes out that seems Russiagate-related, multiple terms trend on Twitter about it, the people who’ve risen to fame and fortune selling this baseless conspiracy theory to the world have a massive online parade acting as though this proves everything they’ve been saying, my social media notifications get flooded with a bunch of “HAHAHA I BET YOU FEEL STUPID NOW” comments… and then the facts come out and it’s nothing.
But if you try to point out evidence that suggests that nothing about this new “bombshell” report is what Russiagaters are claiming it is, they try to shout you down and make fun of you so you’ll shut up. If you want to skip this last step you have to wait 24 to 48 hours until their feeding frenzy wears off.
Happens every single time, without exception.
People have been saying that Michael Flynn is going to find himself in hot water since the beginning of this year, when White House insiders leaked that he’d lied to the FBI about his interactions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, which he has now pled guilty to. Flynn was reportedly asked to leave his position by Trump for misleading Vice President Pence about his interactions with Kislyak.
If you read the actual Statement of Offense against Flynn, though, there’s nothing in there that lends any weight to the Russiagate narrative. Flynn did indeed lie to the FBI, which is a thought crime — I mean felony — in America. What he lied about was the fact that he’d successfully asked the Russians through Kislyak not to overreact to the sanctions the outgoing Obama administration had slammed on them in December, an interaction which according to former Ambassador to Russia Jack Matlock would have been standard practice.
As Stephen Cohen wrote in The Nation earlier this year:
Communications, including meetings, between representatives of US presidents-elect and foreign capitals, particularly Moscow, have been “common practice” over the years, according to Jack Matlock, ambassador to Russia for Presidents Reagan and Bush; Matlock had previously arranged meetings in Moscow for President-elect Carter’s transition team. Moreover, Obama’s own Russia adviser, Michael McFaul, told The Washington Post recently that he visited Moscow in 2008, even before that year’s election, for talks with Russian officials. The Post implied that this was “appropriate contact.” So, it seems, was Flynn’s, though perhaps inept.
So this was Flynn trying to influence the Russians, not the other way around, which we see again in part four of the Statement of Offense. Flynn requested that the Russians help kill a UN resolution on behalf of Israel, and that Russia refused, which is harmful to the Russian collusion narrative but says a lot about collusion with Israel (not that anyone will care). Reportedly Flynn was instructed to make this request of “every member” of the UN Security Council, not just Russia. There is also (not that anyone will care) mention of multiple acts of deception regarding Flynn’s relationship with Turkey.
Since none of this is itself damning, Russiagaters have been focusing on the speculation that Mueller would have cut a plea deal with Flynn in order to receive devastating testimony against the Trump administration. From what we’ve learned so far, though, Flynn is expected to testify that Trump had asked him to help orchestrate a collaboration with Russia in fighting ISIS in Syria, an agenda Trump has openly espoused since long before the election.
Then there’s this interesting analysis published in the National Review by former Assistant US Attorney Andrew C McCarthy, who has extensive experience in prosecuting criminal conspiracy. McCarthy argues that if Mueller was accepting a plea from Flynn to implicate anyone in a greater conspiracy, Mueller’s case would necessarily have relied on having Flynn plead guilty to that plot instead of a mere process crime:
Nevertheless, as I explained in connection with George Papadopoulos (who also pled guilty in Mueller’s investigation for lying to the FBI), when a prosecutor has a cooperator who was an accomplice in a major criminal scheme, the cooperator is made to plead guilty to the scheme. This is critical because it proves the existence of the scheme. In his guilty-plea allocution (the part of a plea proceeding in which the defendant admits what he did that makes him guilty), the accomplice explains the scheme and the actions taken by himself and his co-conspirators to carry it out. This goes a long way toward proving the case against all of the subjects of the investigation.
That is not happening in Flynn’s situation. Instead, like Papadopoulos, he is being permitted to plead guilty to a mere process crime.
If Trump were colluding with Russia, he wouldn’t need Flynn to iron out a relationship with them. If Russia were colluding with Trump, they wouldn’t be rejecting his administration’s requests. If Trump were Putin’s puppet, Flynn wouldn’t have had to go begging them not to overreact to Obama’s sanctions after Russia’s puppet had already been elected. As always, the latest Russiagate scandal weakens the collusion narrative with Russia while highlighting other sleazy relationships with other countries that go ignored because they don’t fit the narrative.
I’m noticing more and more legit lefties and progressives starting to crumble toward the relentless demands of the Russiagaters, which is disturbing yet understandable. Every time one of these new “bombshells” comes up the whole cult goes crazy screaming “See? We told you! Join us and help us impeach Donald Drumpffvthk!”
Even though there’s no actual evidence behind the claims, if you’re a part of what passes for America’s left then a lot of your friends will have likely fallen for the light show, and it’s tempting to fall in line with them. It’s a ton of peer pressure to have to deal with over and over again; every time a new feeding frenzy starts a few more doubters fall off the wagon and into the fray with a reluctant-yet-relieved “Hmm, well there does seem to be something to this…”
I’ll never tell my readers what they need to believe, but I will strongly encourage you not to cave in to groupthink. Stand firmly in your truth, whatever that may be, no matter how many people try to bully and cajole you into joining their particular political religion. As we discussed recently, it is your human duty to stand unapologetically in your own authority, even if that means standing alone.
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