The Biggest Plot Hole In Russiagate Is That Nobody Can Even Say What It Is

Caitlin Johnstone
4 min readJul 12, 2017

After months and months of shrieking about Russian hackers, Kremlin bots, RT propaganda and urinating prostitutes, the dauntless crusaders for the Russiagate conspiracy theory are now crowing that they have at long last been vindicated by a new revelation that has nothing whatsoever to do with any of these things. Today’s Shocking Trump-Russia Revelation is that Donald Trump Jr. published his emails with a British tabloid reporter last year who claimed that the Russian government supported Trump over Clinton, and wanted to provide documents to the Trump campaign proving Clinton’s connections with the Kremlin.

Leaving aside the fact that no such documents ever surfaced, the fact that none of these manic Russiagaters seem to be remotely curious about their anointed queen’s Kremlin connections, the fact that it should surprise no one that Russia prefered Trump over the woman who wanted to set up a no-fly zone in an area where Russian military planes are conducting operations, the fact that the lawyer Trump Jr. met with is nowhere near the Kremlin power broker these people are pretending she is, and the fact that what Trump Jr. was doing is virtually identical to what the Clinton camp was doing at the exact same time — leaving all of that aside — the single biggest plot hole in this Trump-Russia collusion narrative is that nobody has ever painted a clear picture of what specifically said collusion is meant to have looked like. The fact that Trump Jr.’s emails don’t fit with any part of the preexisting Russiagate narrative, don’t confirm anything the Russiagaters have been saying about what happened, and never manifested in any actual released documents of Clinton-Russia connections doesn’t seem to bother these people at all.

For pointing out the consistent failure of these tireless Russia conspiracy theorists to provide a clear, non-debunked, fact-based argument for their collusion narrative with enough evidence to satisfy our mandatory skepticism in a post-“Saddam has WMDs” world, I get called a Kremlin agent, a Russian bot, and, most recently, a “denier”, the latter used with the same tone you’d reserve for a Holocaust denier.

But what exactly is it that I’m denying? Nobody has ever been able to tell me what this collusion thing even looks like. The fastest way to get a Russiagater to block you on social media is to demand a specific, concrete narrative describing what this collusion is supposed to have looked like so that you can tell them what kinds of proof you would need in order to believe that it happened.

Try it. Press them. What exactly is the specific accusation here? How specifically does Trump Jr.’s email correspondence prove what Russiagaters have been saying for the last nine months, for example? Or how did the hacking collusion happen? Why would Russian hackers need to “collude” with Trump at all in order to help kill the campaign of a candidate whose election they already wanted to avoid? Why wouldn’t they just do it on their own? You won’t get a straight answer. At best you’ll get some vague, amorphous gibberish about smoke and fire, but if you press them about what this vague Trumpy-Putiny-smoke-fire-something-nothing thing is supposed to have looked like, you’ll get, at best, an accusation of being a Kremlin agent.

For this reason, the Russiagate argument is completely devastated before it ever gets off the ground. In order for there to be a debate, both sides need to clearly define their position. I can clearly point to the lack of solid evidence needed in a post-Iraq invasion world, while Russiagaters are unable to even articulate what specifically their alleged collusion is supposed to have looked like. It’s impossible to argue against something if the other party refuses to even define what you’re meant to be arguing against. This bad thinking is the only thing that keeps this debate going in political discourse.

There is no clearly-defined fact-based picture of what specifically Trump-Russia collusion is meant to look like, and there never will be. Unlike Watergate, which began as an investigation into a concrete burglary and then followed a logical series of investigations into interconnected factors up to President Nixon, Russiagate is an investigation of a person. It began with people disliking Trump, and then trying to find a crime to get him out of the way. That’s all this is, and that’s all it ever will be. We will never, ever see any hard evidence proving that Trump colluded with the Russian government; we will never even see a consensus fact-based argument about how specifically it is supposed to have happened. We will only ever get this vague, gaseous, Trumpy-Putiny-smoke-fire-something-nothing thing, because as long as the Russiagaters keep refusing to make a solid argument, it can never be fully obliterated for the fallacious nonsense that it is.

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