National Security & Defense

The Corner

Those FBI Indictments Are Gonna Come Someday, Right?

This morning, Chris Cillizza writes at CNN that the forthcoming testimony from former acting Attorney General Sally Yates “is about to bring back the Russia story in a big way.”

How much had the Russia story gone away? And how much difference will Yates’ testimony make?

Most people who didn’t vote for Trump will continue to believe that Russian malfeasance “stole” the election for him and beat Hillary Clinton. Most people who voted for Trump will dismiss it all as sore loser nonsense. What have we learned in the past six months about the alleged Russian skullduggery during the election? That Michael Flynn had foreign clients that he was legally obligated to disclose and didn’t? (His early departure was one of the luckiest breaks the Trump administration has had so far.) That Carter Page liked to boast how close he was to the Trump campaign, to the point where Trump’s legal team wrote him a threatening letter to knock it off?

That Roger Stone liked to boast about his connections to WikiLeaks? (WikiLeaks at least publicly said they knew of no communications with Stone.)

Yes, yes, there’s a constant “drip drip drip” of stories about the Trump 2016 campaign and alleged ties to Russian figures. But so far, it’s background noise.

Right now the investigation is moving on two tracks, the Senate Intelligence Committee and the FBI. The really key question is, did anyone in the United States commit any crimes in an effort to assist Russia’s desire to meddle in the 2016 presidential election? You figure that if anyone in American politics did, the FBI and the intelligence community will be able to uncover it and get an indictment. When the FBI indicts someone for committing a crime, then it’s a big story. Until then, this is mostly fevered speculation.

Those of us with long memories remember “Fitzmas,” the excited report that Karl Rove had been indicted… and Whitewater… and the indictment of Rick Perry that was dismissed… 

Democrats seem quite convinced that indictments will arrive someday, based upon… well, Louise Mensch has a list of 210 people who she claims are Russian agents. The list includes…

35 American politicians and government officials, 26 journalists, 26 organizations and corporations (among them think tanks, banks, media outlets, foreign intelligence agencies, and security firms), 18 Russians, 18 US citizens notable for political donations or affiliations, 80 low-profile Twitter accounts Mensch has characterized as “Putinbots” or similar (many of which appear to belong to Americans who support President Trump), and two British politicians. The list includes figures as disparate as Bernie Sanders and Sean Hannity.

Oh, and she contends Andrew Breitbart was murdered by Vladimir Putin so that Steve Bannon could take over Breitbart.com.

In this light, is it really that surprising that so many Americans tune out the investigation into Trump’s campaign and Russia ties?

 

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