The Anesthetic Effect of Ukrainegate

Wary political commentators on the Right have noted that the ginned-up outrage over President Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president serves two political purposes: One, to supply the impeachment goods that Special Counsel Robert Mueller could not deliver and two, to obfuscate the ongoing investigations led by Attorney General William Barr into how the Obama White House unleashed the country’s most powerful government agencies against the Trump presidential campaign in 2016.

There is, however, a third motive behind the nonstop cacophony over Trump’s call and subsequent “whistleblower” report: To anesthetize the American public when the verdicts of Barr’s inquiries, currently underway by multiple authorities at the Justice Department, are rendered.

“Ukrainegate” is another way to numb the collective shock when Americans finally learn the details of the international sting operation concocted to sabotage Trump’s presidential campaign and later, derail his presidency. The reaction from the Left and NeverTrump Right will be, “So what if President Obama’s CIA, FBI, and State Department prodded foreign governments to investigate his political foe and influence an election? Trump did the same thing! Who cares if Obama wanted to damage the Trump campaign? Trump is doing the same thing to the Biden campaign!”

The president’s enemies hope that the latest manufactured scandal—animated by anonymous operatives, Obama holdovers and, of course, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.)—will act as an epidural to the backbone of the body politic when evidence of legitimate federal corruption, strong-arming, and election interference finally is revealed.

Of course, the two situations are not remotely comparable. Trump’s private call with Ukrainian President Zelensky covered a range of topics, including a request to “find out” why the Ukrainians halted an investigation into Hunter Biden after his father, the sitting vice president at the time, threatened to withhold U.S. aid until the lead prosecutor investigating his son was fired. (He was.) “Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it…It sounds horrible to me,” Trump said on July 25.

Contrast that rather innocuous comment with a lengthy, insidious investigation into Trump’s presidential campaign, which included using foreign-sourced political opposition research as evidence before a secret court to spy on a Trump campaign volunteer for a year, and involved the intelligence services of numerous U.S. allies.

The scheme included the deployment of spies and powerful government investigative tools. Political operatives, such as a former British spy and the wife of a top Justice Department official, worked as intermediaries between Obama’s law enforcement apparatus, the Democratic National Committee, and Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Meetings organized by former CIA director John Brennan in 2016 and attended by President Obama’s closest advisors, including Vice President Joe Biden and former National Security Advisor Susan Rice, took place in the White House Situation Room, a secure facility not far from the Oval Office. Those briefings, ostensibly intended to review intelligence reports about Russian election interference, undoubtedly revolved around fabricating “collusion” between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

During his congressional testimony, Brennan, when discussing how he collected information about Trump campaign aides said to be suspected of colluding with the Russians, bragged about his agency’s capabilities and how that material is funneled to the FBI for action. “We have a unique collection of authorities that make us the closest partner with the bureau in this matter,” he told the House Intelligence Committee in May 2017. “We have the intelligence liaison relationships with our foreign services, our sister services.”

Brennan capitalized on those relationships in his pursuit of the Trump campaign. “That summer, Robert Hannigan, [head of U.K. intelligence] flew to the US to personally brief CIA chief John Brennan,” reported The Guardian in 2017. “James Clapper, director of national intelligence, later confirmed the ‘sensitive’ stream of intelligence from Europe. After a slow start, Brennan used the…information and other tip-offs to launch a major inter-agency investigation.”

Brennan confirmed that intelligence he collected on Trump associates—private U.S. citizens whose only crime was working for Donald Trump’s campaign—was then given to FBI Director James Comey. “I was worried about the number of contacts that the Russians had with U.S. persons [connected to the Trump campaign],” Brennan testified. “Therefore, I felt that the FBI investigation [into the campaign] was well-founded.”

While Brennan was working over his international counterparts, Comey’s FBI also was collecting foreign-sourced dirt on Trump campaign aides. British businessman Christopher Steele, working as both a paid Democrative operative and an FBI informant during the campaign, authored a dossier filled with still-unproven allegations purportedly sourced from Putin cronies. It specifically cited Russian officials as curators of sketchy rumors about Trump and members of his team. That foreign-based gossip was portrayed as serious intelligence and circulated among the highest echelons of the federal government, including on Capitol Hill.

There was more foreign interference. In the summer of 2016, FBI agents headquartered in Rome were meeting with Steele. An Italian-based “professor” and suspected Western intelligence asset reached out to campaign aide George Papadopoulos to entrap him. In late July, a “tip” from an Australian diplomat about a fishy conversation with Papadopolous would make its way to Comey’s FBI, an allegation that reportedly triggered the official opening of the investigation into Papadopoulos and three other campaign officials.

So, it is indisputable that the Obama administration actively partnered with foreign interests to infiltrate, surveil, and subvert Trump’s presidential campaign. An anti-Trump propaganda campaign ensued; lawmakers, Steele, and Clinton deputies planted collusion-themed news articles in the press leading up to election day.

But now, the perpetrators of the international operation to “Get Trump” are completely mystified by Barr’s outreach to those same allies as he continues to excavate the remains of their failed mission. “I don’t understand [Barr’s] predication of this worldwide effort to try to uncover dirt, either real or imagined, that would discredit that investigation in 2016 into Russian interference,” Brennan whined to MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace on Wednesday night. (Brennan, like all Russiagate hoaxsters, continually conflates the Russian election interference inquiry with the counterintelligence probe into the Trump campaign for “collusion.”)

Brennan then confessed that he is a person of interest in Barr’s investigation. “I’m supposedly going to be interviewed by Mr. Durham [the U.S. attorney appointed by Barr] as part of this non-investigation,” the former CIA director said. Brennan then blamed the “hand of politics” for the ongoing “quasi-investigation.”

Unfortunately for Brennan and his conspirators, the Ukrainegate gambit quickly is falling apart as the partisan chicanery behind the “whistleblower” report comes into clearer view. But there’s a good chance the manufactured scandal already has softened Barr’s expected body blow to the Russiagate culprits by setting up a false equivalence. Justice might finally be served, but a weary American public might not care.

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