The Media’s Trump-Russia Death Spasms

This week’s confirmation hearings for William Barr, the former U.S. attorney general nominated by President Trump to serve in that post once again, are expected to focus mostly on the most powerful man in Washington, D.C.: Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Democrats and Republicans have signaled they will demand Barr’s loyalty to the unelected lawyer who, for the past 20 months, has politically handcuffed the Trump Administration, Congress, and, to an extent, the American people. As the investigation into whether Donald Trump and his campaign colluded with the Kremlin to influence the 2016 presidential election drags on, the incoming attorney general must convince the Senate Judiciary Committee that his fidelity to Robert Mueller is unwavering before he gets the nod.

According to the news reports, Barr will tell the committee in hostage-tape fashion on Tuesday, “It is vitally important that the special counsel be allowed to complete his investigation. I have known Bob Mueller personally and professionally for 30 years. We worked closely together throughout my previous ensure at the Department of Justice. We’ve been friends since. I have the utmost respect for Bob and his distinguished record of public service.”

Well, that’s reassuring!

An Unprecedented and Possibly Unconstitutional Investigation
Not coincidentally, the legitimacy of the Mueller probe took on new life over the weekend after the New York Times published a “bombshell” report that confirmed the FBI began an investigation into President Trump in May 2017. Concerned that Donald Trump posed a national security threat because he really is a Russian asset just masquerading as president, the FBI initiated both a counterintelligence and criminal probe shortly after Trump fired their boss, James Comey.

That work was transferred to Mueller when he was appointed special counsel later the same month.

The reason for the unprecedented and possibly unconstitutional investigation, according to the Times, is “if Trump had ousted the head of the FBI to impede or even end the Russia investigation, that was both a possible crime and a national security concern.”

The Times story points to two sketchy, Comey-sourced accusations—that Trump demanded a loyalty pledge from Comey and that the president attempted to end an inquiry into Michael Flynn—as justification for the investigation. There was more weak sauce to bolster the egregious move by the FBI, including an interview with Lester Holt on NBC News days after Comey was removed and a dismissal letter that Trump never sent.

But the headline and gist of the Times story were enough to refuel Trump-Russia collusion hysteria that had been slowly disappearing from the front pages and cable news shows in recent weeks. “The new revelation means that there also may be a national security component to the investigation brings the country into shocking new territory as it grapples with Trump’s relationship with a hostile foreign power,” warned Time magazine.

Anti-Trump columnists listed, presumably with a straight face, the “evidence” proving the president is indeed a Russian asset. Lengthy defenses about the FBI’s actions were posted by Trump haters at Lawfare and USA Today. Arguing that it would have been a scandal had the FBI not opened up a file against a sitting U.S. president, author Tom Nichols again insisted that Trump has something to hide about his secret ties to the Russians: “This information is most likely regarding the possible entanglement of Trump’s finances in New York with the Russian mob, Russian intelligence and the Russian government.”

Mika Brzezinski on “Morning Joe” noted suspiciously how Trump “never said no” when he was asked by another reporter if he was working for the Russians.

Even Trump’s vanquished foe, Hillary Clinton, pounced on the news: “Like I said: A Puppet,” she tweeted on Monday morning, and linked a video of her saying that during one of the debates.

Building Up To an Anti-Climax?
But the reality is that the Times article and resulting hysteria are the death spasms for Trump-Russia election collusion. The public now is being told not to expect any earth shattering surprises out of Team Mueller. ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl admitted over the weekend that Mueller confidants warned the final report, due shortly, will be “anticlimactic.” If that happens, the media will be further discredited as reliable, skeptical, and honest brokers of the truth and instead will be mocked as the hostile, reactionary propagandists that they are. They are not just accomplices in the biggest political scandal in U.S. history: they are co-conspirators.

In fact, the Times story is just another example of the media’s Trump-Russia spin machine; it was alarming not for what it did report but for the key details it twisted, misrepresented and/or omitted. In the nearly 2,000-word account, one name does not appear: Andrew McCabe.

The Times failed to mention that when the FBI initiated its probe of the president, the agency was being led by former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, a crucial point that can only be explained as an intentional oversight by the reporters. Not only is McCabe a known partisan, text messages between his counterintelligence chief, Peter Strzok, and his agency counsel, Lisa Page, indicate McCabe was instrumental in orchestrating the “insurance policy” if Trump won the presidency.

Trump fired the deputy director shortly after an internal investigation concluded McCabe leaked unauthorized information to the news media and lied about it to federal officials. The disgraced G-Man is now being investigated by a grand jury and could soon face criminal charges. Seems like relevant information to include in the Times’ “bombshell,” correct? The only reason it was omitted was to conceal the highly-political nature of the FBI investigation.

The Times also gives short shrift to Christopher Steele, the infamous dossier author. He is described as a former British spy who “compiled memos in mid-2016” about Trump’s alleged ties to Russia. But that doesn’t even begin to fully inform the reader about Steele, the political hired gun who was retained by Fusion GPS and paid by the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee to dig up dirt on Trump in 2016. His “memos” comprised the “dossier,” which included wild allegations that remain unverified. Steele met with American news outlets in the weeks before the election, planting negative stories about the Trump campaign. He was fired by the FBI right before Election Day for those unauthorized disclosures and for lying to the FBI about his contacts with the media.

Desperation Plays
There were other misrepresentations in the Times piece. No, Trump did not call on the Russians to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails and no, the Republican Party did not soften its platform on the Ukraine to please the Russians. Not only are these well-worn myths in the media, even if true, they hardly rise to the level of treasonous offenses.

And while The Resistance views the Times piece as the next big thing that will surely take out Donald Trump, it actually was a way to spin the pending release of damning congressional testimony by Lisa Page and James Baker, a former top official at the Justice Department.

Leaked testimony of both confirm not just the FBI investigation but other shocking news, such as the involvement of former CIA director John Brennan, tension between Obama’s Justice Department and the FBI as the Trump-Russia collusion plot took shape, and how the agency was considering investigating Trump before he fired Comey.

“We need to open the case we’ve been waiting on now while Andy is acting,” Strzok texted to page after McCabe was appointed interim director.

As the Mueller probe approaches its second anniversary without a single indictment related to collusion and the public grows impatient with the special counsel, the media are clinging to any lifeline to justify their shameful behavior. Their death spasms are apparent to everyone except themselves.

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Photo Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images

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