It requires a special degree of mendacity to compare Robert Mueller’s recent indictments to the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Only someone desperate to get attention, or to please his new Trump-hating masters at a top news organization, or to improve his name recognition to sell his new book, would be shameless enough to equate one of America’s most horrific attacks to an unproven attempt by a handful of shady Russians to sway votes in a presidential election. One might even feel tempted to pity such a soulless, craven opportunist because, clearly, his brain is broken.
But you can’t feel sorry for Max Boot, the NeverTrump neoconservative whose tirades against the president and the Republican Party just earned him a primo spot in the Washington Post. Instead, you should feel sorry for the families and friends of the 9/11 victims Boot just exploited for clicks.
Boot called the alleged election interference by 13 Russian social-media agitators, “the second-worst foreign attack on America in the past two decades. The Russian subversion of the 2016 election did not, to be sure, kill nearly 3,000 people. But its longer-term impact may be even more corrosive by undermining faith in our democracy.”
Think about that for a moment. Boot, an historian who advocated going to war in Iraq, thinks a few Russian-funded Facebook campaign ads will have a longer-term impact than a massive terrorist attack on U.S. soil that killed 2,977 people, injured more than 6,000, and remains one of the most traumatic events in U.S. history. According to Boot’s logic, a Rooskie ploy to get a few unsavory hashtags trending is worse than the following: Fort Hood (13 dead), San Bernardino (14 dead), Pulse nightclub in Orlando (49 dead), Hudson bike path (eight dead), and Boston marathon (three dead). All because his candidate—Hillary Clinton—lost the election.
I dare Boot to try to persuade the parents of Martin Richard that low-level Twitter chicanery during a presidential election is a more devastating blow to our country than the murder of their child.
Boot went further, blaming Trump for “ignoring” the Russian threat—less than 48 hours after the Mueller indictments were announced. In more 9/11 comparisons, Boot accused the president of “refus[ing] to appoint a commission to study how to safeguard America,” much like the Bush Administration did after the 9/11 attacks. (Fun fact, Mr. Historian: The 9/11 Commission was formed 14 months later.) Nonetheless, Boot lamented how “we are at war without a commander in chief.”
His entire column was an adventure in false equivalence, imagining crimes that were not committed by people who were not involved, such as Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. Boot, like his fellow NeverTrumpers—folks on the Right who opposed Trump’s candidacy and voted for either Clinton or Evan McMullin—are on a hardcore mission to destroy the Trump presidency and take the GOP down with it. Their only hope now is for Robert Mueller to uncover clear cooperation between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, a fever dream that is quickly fading with each passing day and each inconsequential indictment.
Led by their de facto leader, Weekly Standard editor-at-large Bill Kristol, the NeverTrumpers’ raison d’être is keeping the Mueller investigation alive. Some have loosely organized into a group called Meeting of the Concerned. Has-been legislators, washed-up Bush Administration officials, and unknown political pundits have found a new purpose—and renewed media fame—by vouching for the credibility of the Trump-Russia probe. In December, a group of Republican outliers, including former Minnesota Governor Arne Carlson, former U.S. Rep. Chris Shays, and former EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman (see a pattern here?) wrote an open letter defending Mueller and waving off legitimate charges of political influence on his team:
We understand concerns about a senior FBI agent detailed to Mueller’s team who sent anti-Trump texts with an attorney who had also worked on the team. But when Mueller learned of the texts, he ousted the agent. The attorney had already departed. That is evidence of the high standards that Mueller has imposed.”
They even justified reported political donations made to Democrats by some on Mueller’s team: “Many of the undersigned donated to candidates of one or another party in or around our government employment. It never impacted our faithful adherence to our oath to support and defend the Constitution.” (Oh, did I mention how intolerably sanctimonious they are?)
But instead of honestly facing the reality that the Mueller probe may come up empty, the NeverTrumpers are doubling-down, aiding and abetting a similarly seditious media and Democratic Party to stoke irrational fear among the American public. When Trump joked that maybe the Russians knew in 2014 that he would run for president, even though Trump himself didn’t know, Kristol tweeted this:
Leaving aside all the public information and comments by Trump by 2014 suggesting that he was thinking of running in 2016, maybe Trump told the Russians directly he was thinking of running on his visit to Moscow in November, 2013? https://t.co/PEiWSjngwp
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) February 17, 2018
Are you serious? How far gone does one have to be to not only think that, but to post it on social media?
Not to be outdone, the man Kristol elevated to public notoriety (a sin, in my opinion, far worse than any of his anti-Trump campaigning), Evan McMullin, called Trump the “key” to Russia’s election interference:
Moscow hacked your opponents. You encouraged it. Moscow called for your opponents’ imprisonment. So did you. Moscow stoked racial tensions. So did you. Moscow pushed nativist rhetoric. So did you. Moscow attacked the media. So did you. You were key to Moscow’s attack on America. https://t.co/6VpLPABvgK
— Evan McMullin (@Evan_McMullin) February 20, 2018
Sensing their plan to help Democrats win the House and Senate in November is quickly fading, some NeverTrumpers are already blaming Russia and Trump’s inaction for the assumed outcome of the mid-term elections. Here is David Frum:
“Most observers predict a grim year for the GOP in 2018. But the economy is strong, and selective tax cuts are strategically redistributing money from blue-state professionals to red-state parents. The Republican National Committee commands a huge financial advantage over its Democratic counterpart. A little extra help could make a big difference to Republican hopes—and to Trump’s political survival.”
This is their out: Rather than having to admit they were wrong that Trump’s presidency would be a disaster and how he would wreck the Republican Party, they will now use the, “It was the Russians!” excuse for their once-again dead-wrong political predictions.
In the process, the NeverTrumpers are helping obscure from public view very important developments in the Russian collusion investigation. On the same day the Russian interference charges were announced, the judge in the Michael Flynn case issued an order for Mueller’s team to produce “any exculpatory evidence in the government’s possession” that wasn’t offered up during Flynn’s plea negotiations. This could set the stage for Flynn to withdraw his guilty plea, which would be a major blow to Mueller.
This week, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes sent a letter to more than 20 former and current government officials with several questions about the Steele dossier. The move suggests congressional investigators are getting close to identifying key players in the Obama administration who helped promote the Trump-Russia conspiracy scheme.
As this falls apart, expect the NeverTrumpers to become even more hysterical and hyperbolic: It might be only a matter of time before Boot and company roll out some Auschwitz comparisons.