Russiagate and the Mueller indictments

Friday’s Grand Jury indictments of 13 Russians and three Russian organizations indicate that Russian meddling in the 2016 elections went far beyond mere Russian propaganda on social media.

But there were no charges of knowing collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian agents.

Russians allegedly entered the United States under false identities, impersonated Americans on social media and organized political rallies on behalf of fake organizations—all to promote the candidacy of Donald Trump or discredit his opponents.

They are charged with violating American laws on campaign financing, registration of foreign agents, identity theft and fraud.

All this is within Special Prosecutor Robert S. Mueller’s mandate to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election.  He is not like a Kenneth Starr in the Whitewater investigation, fishing for anything that can be used against the President.

There’s no question that Vladimir Putin welcomed the candidacy of Donald Trump.   He promised to improve relations with Russia, and, as Putin said, why wouldn’t the Russian government welcome that?   That’s not evidence of a Trump-Putin plot to rig  the 2016 elections

If there really was such a plot, this would be grounds for an impeachment.   But this is so improbable as to be virtually impossible.

All the information that has come out about Trump campaign officials trying to set up meetings with Russians is, to me, evidence against collusion.   If the fix were really in, Trump would have ordered his underlings to stay as far away as possible from Russians.

The real problem is the way the Russiagate issue is being exploited politically.

It is being used as a justification for military confrontation with Russia in Ukraine, Syria and other countries.   A confrontation at worst risks an accidental nuclear war and at best creates a useless conflict which brings no benefit to Americans.

It is being used as a justification for censorship of Americans, particularly leftists, whose views supposedly serve the interests of Russia.  I suppose this would include me, as a blogger who voted for Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic primary and the Green Party in the general election.  I think about the 1950s and 1960s, when progressives who supported civil rights or labor rights were accused of following the Communist Party line.

We’re told that Russian secret intelligence services are trying to disrupt American politics by stirring up controversy, and the Mueller indictments are evidence that this is true—at least to a certain extent.

But what is more disruptive to American democracy than trying to reverse the results of an election after the votes are counted?   Or making secret police and intelligence agencies, such as the FBI and CIA, the arbiters of the legitimacy of an American election?

I am not now, nor have I ever been, a supporter of Donald Trump.   But I think that if Democrats pursue Russiagate as a substitute for campaigning on issues, the Republicans will keep control of Congress in 2018 and Trump will win reelection in 2020.


Text of the Grand Jury indictments.

What Mueller’s Indictment Reveals by David A. Graham for The Atlantic.

Russian Influence Campaign: What’s In the Latest Mueller Indictment by Sarah Grant, Quinta Juracic, Matthew Kahn, Matt Tail and Benjamin Wittes for Lawfare.  {Added 2/18/2018]

This Is What $1.25 Million a Month Bought the Russians by Emily Tamklin for Foreign Policy.  [Added 2/18/2018]

Russia’s Election Meddling: Worse Than a Crime, a Blunder by Robert W. Merry for The American Conservative.  [Added 2/18/2018]

Mueller’s Russian Indictment by Ian Welsh.

Mueller Indictment: The Cycle of Election Meddling by the US and Russia by Kevin Gosziola for ShadowProof.

Anti-Trumpists Use Mueller Indictments to Escalate Tensions With Nuclear-Armed Russia by Caitlin Johnstone for Consortium News.

An Indicted Russian Picks Up the Phone and Mocks the Idea That Russia Meddled by Adrian Chen for The New Yorker.  [Added 2/19/2018]

Goofy indictments divert attention from criminal abuses at the FBI and DOJ by Mike Whitney for The Unz Review.  [Added 2/19/2018]

Do Russiagate Skeptics Go Too Far? an interview of John Feffer of the Institute for Policy Studies on the Real News Network.  [Added 2/20/2018]

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4 Responses to “Russiagate and the Mueller indictments”

  1. whungerford Says:

    Russian efforts to make Trump the nominee may have been significant. Russian efforts to embitter Sanders supporters likely determined the outcome of the election before any votes were cast or counted. If the Trump campaign conspired with Russians, they may be guilty of crimes, but regardless of that, the election was likely stolen.


    • peteybee Says:

      @whungerford — During the primaries, media across the entire spectrum built Trump up. I’m guessing his ability to draw the attention of viewers eager for drama, and thus max out ratings for news channels for nearly a full year, had a lot to do with it.

      Trump also delivered for the Republican party. Trump’s idiotic but effective style set records for Republican primary turnout. In the general election, as a percentage of voting age population nationwide, he attracted more votes than any Republican since Reagan ’84. On candidate Trump’s shady and dubious coattails, Republicans took both houses of Congress, a formidable majority of governorships. They collect the bonus of a Supreme Court majority and I don’t know how many federal judgeships.

      Keep in mind the alternative to Trump was Cruz. During the primaries, Trump made the case, to Republicans, that his right-populist candidacy would deliver the above prizes. On this political scorecard level, very much unlike his policy related statements, he did deliver.

      Anyone with a pulse in the US could’ve told you that a Clinton running for President would rile up Republicans to the maximum level. A Russian social media astroturfing operation did not do that.

      As for Sanders supporters being riled up… as another Sanders supporter myself, the DNC’s leaning on the scales during the primaries was palpable in real time, and since then I’d say we’re pretty well vindicated by the Podesta emails (irrespective of the process which brought them to light), as well as Donna Brazile’s revalations.

      Once again, a situation created Team DNC insisting against all measurable evidence (including the vast majority of polls during the primary itself) that Clinton was the “most electable” when a great swath of Americans found her controversial at best. Just like in 2008 by the way, when a more intelligent choice was made in the D primaries.

      Mis-attributing these things to the fact that Russia does not like Clinton due to her foreign policy (obviously, in light of recent history)- that completely distorts one’s view of what is actually happening right here in the US. It eats an inordinately large fraction of news time on what should be a minor story. It prevents the D party from potential self-improvement and dooms the D party to continue selecting relatively weak and unpopular candidates in the future. And most disturbingly, it sets up the unlikely situation where Democratic voters seem happy about naturally conservative-dominated (i.e., Republican) FBI/security-agencies getting an ominous veto power over political speech.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. whungerford Says:

    I disagree that foreign efforts to influence our elections had better be ignored–foreign governments shouldn’t choose our leaders, election laws should be enforced, we need to reestablish confidence that fair elections are possible. Arguments made above that any cure for Russian interference is worse than the disease are vague and unconvincing.


    • peteybee Says:

      I should correct myself first, Trump was acually an average Republican in terms of general election performance, however his primary numbers were most impressive.

      I was responding to the implication that “Russian efforts to make Trump the nominee may have been significant”. They were not. Since the outcome was close, you could say they were the straw that broke the camel’s back. There were a great many straws in this election.

      The second thing I am saying, and the most important, is that if the Democrats leaders want to win, and if my vote can help them win, they should nominate a better candidate.

      Lastly, regarding cure being worse than the disease. If you think the possibility of an FBI investigation casting a negative light on a Democratic candidate is far fetched, do you not remember 2016? The constant Fox News barrage about the Clinton email server? James Comey’s bizarre public announcement that Clinton did the acts she was accused of, which in other cases may have merited charges, but for her were reckless without criminal intent? We can now expect this times 10. Or do you perhaps think the FBI will lean Democratic going forward?

      Liked by 1 person

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