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Politics & Policy

Nancy Pelosi’s Conspiracy Theory

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wields the gavel as the House of Representatives votes in favor of two counts of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill, December 18, 2019. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

The term “conspiracy theory” has gotten a bit diluted over the past couple of years. These days the media often use it as a way to dismiss some right-winger’s suspicion that, say, a Democrat is corrupt, or is not being truthful, or has some motivation other than the purported one. But what Nancy Pelosi is peddling right now is a conspiracy theory, and also a discredited one. It’s also, by the way, nuts.

The strong implication is that either the Russians “decided” (rather than simply tried to influence) the 2016 election or they’re about to decide the 2020 election. Both of these ideas are Alex Jones–level bonkers.

There is just no reason to believe that Russia (with or without Trump’s collusion) decided 2016. Unlike most conspiracy theories, this one was actually exhaustively investigated using the full force of the executive branch of the federal government, including subpoena power. Russian influence extended not much farther than a few goofy Facebook memes and the Wikileaks dump that unearthed some slightly embarrassing John Podesta emails, none of which anyone seriously thinks affected the election outcome. Luke Thompson reviews what he calls “Putin Derangement Syndrome” here.

The prospect that a losing candidate Trump might not accept defeat was a major national scandal. Pelosi and much of the Democratic party are still pushing the idea that the 2016 result was illegitimate. The speaker should take her own advice from October 2016:

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