Kelly and Buskirk Talk Russian Scapegoats and NeverTrumpers

American Greatness senior contributor, Julie Kelly, joined publisher Chris Buskirk and guest-host of the Seth and Chris Show, Robert Graham, for a discussion of her recent piece, “Russian Scapegoats at the Ready for 2018” as chances of a Democrat sweep in November appear to be diminishing.  You can listen to their discussion at the link below or read the transcript that follows.

Chris Buskirk: All right. I’m Chris Buskirk. This is The Seth and Chris Show. Seth is off today, but guess what? Good news. We’ve got Robert Graham in for the duration today. He is my co-host today. A lot of you know who Robert is. Robert is the former chairman of the Arizona GOP, the Arizona Republican party. He is also a former senior advisor to … What’s the name again?

Robert Graham: That campaign.

Chris Buskirk: Trump, the president. Trump. That’s it. Senior advisor to President Trump. Guess what? We’ve got a threesome going here and it’s going to be fun. Julie Kelly is our guest. Julie is a senior contributor to American Greatness. Julie, is it true? Are the Russian scapegoats at the ready?

Julie Kelly: They are. They’re already coming up with their excuses, our anti-Trump friends on the Left and the Right.

Chris Buskirk: You know, it’s great with the technology we have. We’ve had it now for 30 years. It’s just word processing technology. You can just create a macro for the articles. I assume this is what they do at places like The Huffington Post and Slate and CNN and what not. They just create the articles. They can just maybe drop in a few variables and they can just re-write themselves. They all rewrite themselves and they can propagate out to the websites all within an instant.

Julie Kelly: That’s what it seems like they’re doing, especially on this issue, which is, as my article is on American Greatness, people already blaming Russian bots and Russian Twitter trolls for election interference in the midterm election. Just in case the democrats don’t win as “bigly” as that as the Democrats are predicting that they will.

Chris Buskirk: Julie, where is this coming from? Who’s propagating these stories?

Julie Kelly: Good question. Well, there’s an interesting project [crosstalk 00:01:44].

Chris Buskirk: Or is it Russian bots propagating the stories about the Russian bots?

Julie Kelly: I really don’t think that they’re clever enough to do it. I just think we are giving these folks way too much credit, but it’s coming from a few different places. These are primarily political pundits who are just cribbing off of singular indictments of the 13 Russian Twitter trolls and a few different Russian companies. They’ve overblown this, exaggerated it, as we would predict that they would.

Then also, coming from the NeverTrump Republicans, our friend Bill Kristol, who’s the editor at large of The Weekly Standard, who I refer to as the de facto leader of the NeverTrump tribe. He’s come up with this new group called Hamilton 68, which is based on one of the Federalist Papers and is warning all of us about “the Russians are coming.” They interfered in our democracy, attacked our democracy as he’s written. And we need to make sure they don’t have the same success in the 2018 election. He started this group that’s already under fire and being criticized by many journalists for allegedly tracking about 600 Twitter accounts that they think are linked to the Russians and that they are pushing these hashtags that are influencing, I guess, people’s minds and thoughts and forcing them to participate in hashtags that they otherwise wouldn’t.

Chris Buskirk: I don’t know about you Julie, but if I see a hashtag, I just can’t control myself.

Julie Kelly: Right. I mean they just enter your mind through your index finger and all the way. Then pretty soon, you’re just repeating a hashtag you don’t even know what it means.

Chris Buskirk: Right. I mean I see these things on social media and I just lose control of myself. I do whatever they say. But look, the good news is, I’m not alone. That’s just the way Americans are. We can’t distinguish the so-called fake news, what the Russian bots are putting out there. We can’t figure out that Hillary Clinton was the most corrupt person ever to represent a major party in a presidential election in this country. I would not have known that.

Julie Kelly: No. I mean I’m pretty sure that there is some Russian somewhere who forced me to vote for Donald Trump. I mean how else could I possible explain such a ridiculous action? It had to be somebody else. It couldn’t be my own decision making. It’s just so funny now. I think, Chris, and your new … I’m mad that Seth isn’t there today. You know why? Because we were talking about Mr. Rogers yesterday on Twitter.

Robert Graham: All right.

Chris Buskirk: Right? You guys started talking about Mr. Rogers on Twitter. You know what I thought? I’m going to write in Mr. Rogers on the ballot in November.

Robert Graham: I’m actually going to put #MrRogers. I’m on it.

Julie Kelly: Will you please? #ItsaBeautifulDayintheNeighborhood.

Robert Graham: A beautiful day. That’s right.

Chris Buskirk: Julie, you want to know what would actually make my life complete? Is if we found out that Bill Kristol’s group was funded by a Russian oligarch.

Julie Kelly: Well, you know what? It’s not too far-fetched because it connected with this really weird organization. It’s Alliance for Securing Democracy, I believe is the umbrella group. That benefits from a German non for profit . . . it’s really shady sounding. Glenn Greenwald at the Intercept in this new piece has really blasted this new project, Kristol’s new project, and Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist has too. These are just a group of people who still cannot reconcile the fact that Trump was elected over their objections. They’re now very worried that this so-called blue wave of Democratic wins in the fall will not allow the Democrats to take over Congress, which actual so-called conservatives have been hoping for. So they’re already looking for excuses because they just can’t come to terms with the fact that a Republican Congress and Trump are governing far more effectively than they ever imagined that they could.

Chris Buskirk: Or that the people that they supported ever did.

Julie Kelly: Right. Right! If you look at the polling right now and you look at the polling right now. . . I mean Trump did not have a good week last week. I wrote about that. I think he derailed a little of the positive trajectory that was happening for him professionally and personally. His numbers were going up. There’s this gap between the generic congressional ballot, between Democrats and Republicans, it’s really been cut in half at the end of the year last year. Things are really on a good path. I think that is scaring a lot of people. But here’s the other flip side too-

Chris Buskirk: You mean like The Weekly Standard?

Julie Kelly: Yes.

Chris Buskirk: You said it was scaring people. I said, yeah, like The Weekly Standard.

Julie Kelly: Everyone at The Weekly Standard pretty much is very worried. There’s another great NeverTrump piece today. It’s on my Twitter timeline if anybody wants to see it. The NeverTrumpers are really starting to get some long overdue criticism from the Left and the Right, which is good.

Chris Buskirk: Well, I know you’ve been doing your part for a long time.

Julie Kelly: I have. I hope these people don’t think I really . . . I mean, I’m not impressed with these people. I just really think they should be called out and I want them held accountable for the damage that they’re doing in our political discourse. And also, for opening rooting for Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Shumer to take over the Senate and House of Representatives next year.

Chris Buskirk: Yeah. This is Bill Kristol and David French and Jonah Goldberg. I mean these are people who call themselves conservatives, but if they had their druthers, we would not have . . . just one example, Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court. We would have Hillary Clinton sitting behind . . . We would have Hillary Clinton in the White House and that’s just unacceptable. You can’t say that you’re one thing but then wish for the opposite things to happen.

Julie Kelly: They’re actually reversing themselves on a number of even previously held positions. Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post, she has scores of columns before Trump was elected where she supported you know, tax cuts and she was anti-gun control and she was very pro-Israel and pro-deregulation and anti-climate change and against the Paris Climate Accord. She’s flipped on every single one of those issues. Tom Nichols, the author of The Death of Expertise is just mockable considering how he’s behaving. He’s another one. So they’re really reversing themselves on so-called principled conservative ideas because they hate Donald Trump. And now they hate the Republican party and they hate anybody who voted for Donald Trump. So it’s not just about Donald Trump.

Robert Graham: Hey, Julie. This is Robert.

Julie Kelly: Hi.

Robert Graham: You know, it’s interesting that you bring that up because I think this is one of the biggest risks that NeverTrumpers or even the Democrats because they keep flip flopping on their issues because they just want to be in opposition of Trump. The base is smart. I mean people don’t give credit to the voters and the voters are watching this and they’re seeing this legitimate flip-flop away from where these people have been kind of steady or staying the course in relation to their policy positions. Now they’re changing just because Trump’s there. I don’t know if you’re seeing it the communications you’ve had, but we’re seeing it in the sense that people are saying, “You know what? The guy is staying the course and these other people are just making a lot of noise just because they don’t like him.”

Julie Kelly: Oh, absolutely. I think it empowers and motivates them even more. It’s counterproductive to what they’re trying to do.

Robert Graham: Yeah. I mean I agree.

Chris Buskirk: Julie, can you stay with us another segment?

Julie Kelly: Yes, absolutely.

Chris Buskirk: Great. Julie Kelly is our guest. She’s a senior contributor at American Greatness. She wrote a really, really excellent new piece today, published at American Greatness, “Russian Scapegoats at the Ready for 2018.” You can find that at I’m Chris Buskirk. He’s Robert Graham. This is the Seth and Chris Show and we’ll be right back.

I’m Chris Burskirk. This is The Seth and Chris Show. My co-host today is Robert Graham. He is the former chairman of the Arizona Republican Party. Seth is out today. He’ll be back tomorrow. We’re joined right now by Julie Kelly, senior contributor at American Greatness, author of must reading. If you’re going to stop and read something, I’m going to give you two things that you need to read today. One of them is Julie Kelly’s piece at American Greatness, “Russian Scapegoats at the Ready for 2018.” I thought it was really insightful, Julie. Then the other thing that I think people need to read is something else that we published at American Greatness by Spencer Morrison called “Why Trump is Right About Tariffs.” Have you had the time to think through the tariff issue at all, Julie? I’m just interested in your thoughts on that, particularly . . . I don’t know if you’ve seen this. The breaking news right now is that President Trump’s top economic advisor Gary Cohn is going to resign.

Julie Kelly: I did see that. Yeah. I haven’t delved into that issue. I will definitely read the piece on the website today. I mean as much as it sounds unsafe to me, not something that a Republican or not even a conservative president would do, I think that it raises the issue of what do you do? You see a lot of just reactionary, well, this is anti-American, anti-capitalist. This has never worked. But we haven’t been in a similar situation, I think, before where you’ve had American workers really penalized and hurting by these industries disappearing. I’d like to learn a little bit more about it, but I feel like it’s one of those issues I’ll leave to the experts.

Chris Buskirk: Yeah. I’ll just read you just a little snippet that I thought was so smart. Spencer Morrison says this. He says, “President Trump is right. Our trading partners, particularly China, Japan, and Mexico are taking America to the woodshed. Consider that China steals more than half a trillion dollars in American intellectual property every single year. This is one of the reasons America’s trade deficit with China is so massive. For example in 2010, Chinese companies stole high speed rail designs from American firms, thereby depriving them of hundreds of billions of dollars in potential revenues. Such theft occurs in nearly every industry, whether it’s software programs or branded consumer goods. The worst part? We let it happen.” He says, “The globalist GOP refuses to punish China for its predatory trade policies. Why? Some Congressmen are Chinese pawns, no doubt, but many erroneously believe that asymmetrical free trade works. Some even think large chronic trade deficits are good. This is wrong, seriously wrong.”

This is the part that I really like. He says, “Economic growth has nothing to do with international free trade. Rather, growth depends upon human creativity made manifest in better technology.” I think that’s the central point, Julie, is that this sort of free trade fundamentalism misses the point that if you want your economy to grow, you have to come up with new and better things. New basic technology.

Robert Graham: Well, the whole mantra we had back in the ’80s and ’90s where it was buy American, buy American. Well, that’s great when America’s buying America’s goods and services, but if you want to expand the economy, you have to make products and services not only affordable but of value to those that are buying them. To your point exactly, that’s how you do expand economies by bringing dollars, the world, it has to come to us and buy our goods and services. This whole thing with the tariff has been interesting because if you’ve watched his pattern of negotiation, this is typical Donald Trump. It’s the shock and awe. He’s going to smash down on the world and say, “This is where I think things need to be,” but he’s holding people accountable. I mean look at the membership with China with the World Trade Organization or not, and trying to get as deep as they possibly can to show the world that they’re great.

But the intellectual property, I mean you talked about software. Do you know a lot of companies, when they move there, even if it’s a manufacturing of a hardware in technology, they have to hand over all the intellectual property to China in order for them to come in and manufacture. It’s very easy for them to steal it because it’s part of their criteria. They’ve got to give it to them for “safekeeping” of course. Then they go ahead and they re engineer and they work it into the market. I think it’s a powerful statement to move on just as he’s done in some other situations. Not just with Paris [Climate] Accord, but you start looking at the TPP, what he’s doing with NAFTA, and others. People are nervous, but at the same time, he’s repositioning us in a stronger point of negotiation.

Chris Buskirk: Julie—

Julie Kelly: I think that’s a great point, Robert. I mean what’s really being overshadowed today is . . . I mean we’ve heard this before, but it seems like it could be different this time is the potential for talks between North and South Korea now. I know the president talked about that today as well. I think, Robert, you’re right. I mean he just kind of goes out there and starts smashing things and everybody gets into a panic that this is going to be war or trade war, nuclear war. Then it seems to open up a whole different set of negotiations that are favorable either for peace or for American workers.

You know what? I do want to say something funny about Chinese stealing our technology. Before I started writing about politics, I wrote a lot about GMOs and agriculture and biotechnology. They caught seven Chinese scientists in DeKalb, Illinois, just west of where I am in the suburbs of Chicago. They were actually in a cornfield stealing corn seeds because the corn here is genetically modified. They were stealing it and were shipping it back to China to see if they could deconstruct the genetic composition of these seeds. They didn’t go to jail, but they were fined. Yes, you’re right. It’s in every sector that they’re trying to steal our intellectual property and our technology, even corn.

Chris Buskirk: Yeah. It’s very frustrating while the Bill Kristols of the world are wringing their hands over Russia, which is a declining power. Really, I mean Russia . . . Is Russia an adversary of ours? Yeah, it is. There are opportunities, of course, for places where we may be able to work together, maybe not, but it’s a declining power. Meanwhile, we ignore the real threat, which is China. I mean this is the tremendous distraction. If you want to talk about Russia being successful in trying to stir the pot and take America’s eye off the ball, they’ve been very successful in getting people like Bill Kristol to chase a bright shiny thing, which is basically of no importance. Meanwhile, or I guess I should say as compared to, the strategic threat that’s very real and is very organized, which is China, which is a strategic adversary of ours.

Julie Kelly: That’s a great point. I think they’re also giving Putin exactly what he wants, which is attention. I mean he’s deflected that he has any involvement with any of these Twitter, Facebook election interference, but he’s interviewed by Megyn Kelly. I think that they are applying great powers to this man and his government, in his country, that he just does not have. Of course, that plays right into hands. He loves it.

Robert Graham: Well, it’s great. I mean if you look at a president of any nation, do you really think they have the time to kind of deconstruct or break down or really try to influence? I mean at the magnitude they would have to influence elections like this, it just doesn’t compute. I agree that China is the 500-pound gorilla, but we’re in a weird cycle economically. We talk about this hegemonic or king of the hill cycle, and President Obama took his eye off the ball so much that he let these other players kind of percolate up to the top as it relates to this economic foothold. That’s what I think about. We hit the refresh button when our browser’s not working right. Well, I think Trump is the great refresh button. I think he’s hitting the refresh button and he’s putting people on notice that hey, we’re here and the United States is really making it happen.

Chris Buskirk: Julie, we’re going to have to leave it there, but thanks so much for joining us. I appreciate it.

Julie Kelly: Thanks guys. Have a great week.

Robert Graham: You as well.

Chris Buskirk: Thanks, Julie. Julie Kelly has been our guest. She’s a senior contributor at American Greatness. You can follow her on Twitter. You can find all her writing at We’ll be right back.

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One response to “Kelly and Buskirk Talk Russian Scapegoats and NeverTrumpers

  • Great discussion. Thanks for calling out the neverTrumpers. What might add to that a bit is more around why the Trump hate, especially in light of his performance and results, is so visceral. I suppose a big part of that is just embarrassment over being so horribly wrong, but most adults – which they claim to be – can eventually swallow their pride and admit to a mistake. Why anyone would convert to a complete a$$ over this is hard to fathom.

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