Donald Trump Jr. made a fairly short appearance on Capitol Hill on June 12 to answer questions for the Senate Intelligence Committee. The president’s son had already testified in 2017, and his most recent – and almost certainly, his last – appearance before a congressional committee was more of a question-and-answer session. The intention was to clarify some perceived discrepancies between what Trump Jr. had already told lawmakers and what other individuals – most notably former Trump attorney Michael Cohen – had said about certain events in 2016 and 2017.
Emerging from the hearing after less than three hours, Trump Jr. said he was “glad this is finally over.” He told reporters that he had not changed any part of his original testimony. “There was nothing to change,” he said. “There needed to be clarification [sic] because Michael Cohen who, let us not forget, is serving time right now for lying to these very investigative bodies.”
There is little chance that Trump Jr. will make any further appearances before congressional committees, which means the Democrats have hit yet another brick wall on the road to incriminating President Donald Trump in a conspiracy with the Russians.
Schiff Keeping Collusion Story on Life Support
Over on the House side, a confrontational Intelligence Committee hearing gave Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) another opportunity to flog the now-expired Russia collusion horse. “[T]he special counsel reached no conclusion,” the committee chairman said during the hearing, “as to whether the Trump campaign’s many Russian contacts constituted collusion since that term is not defined in criminal law.”
Either Schiff has not read Robert Mueller’s report or he was being entirely disingenuous. The report explores the term “collusion,” acknowledging that, since it has no legal definition, the special counsel chose to interpret it as meaning “coordination” and “cooperation.” The report is clear that evidence of neither was established.
While he admitted that the special counsel did not find sufficient evidence of a conspiracy, the outspoken Trump critic did suggest that most Americans would believe that the report’s findings “constitute plain evidence of collusion.” Exactly how Schiff comes to such a conclusion or why he believes he has the right to speak for the majority of the American people was not explained.
The Reality of Russian Motives
Andrew McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor who testified at the House Intelligence Committee hearing, cast doubt on the idea that Russian President Vladimir Putin would have specifically sought to influence the 2016 election in favor of Trump. “Putin tends to back the candidates he believes will lose on the theory that an alienated losing faction will make it harder for the winning faction to govern,” McCarthy told the committee. “It is a mistake, I respectfully submit, to allow him to divide us by portraying him as on one side or another. He’s against all of us.”
Neither Schiff nor anyone else who sought to perpetuate the Russia collusion story has made a rational argument as to why the Russian leader would have preferred Trump, rather than Hillary Clinton, to become the next U.S. president.
McCarthy, while correct about Russian thinking, did not fully explore the most obvious aspect to Russia’s interference in the presidential election: It is entirely fair to assume that the Russians, like almost everybody else, expected Clinton to win the 2016 election, and that is precisely why their disinformation war was largely aimed at undermining her as a candidate and potential president.
The Russians could not possibly have imagined that they had the power to significantly influence the final result of the election; even former President Barack Obama scoffed at the very idea that an American election could be “hacked.” Obviously, the Russians sought, instead, to destabilize the political system and damage the candidate most likely to become the next chief executive.
At the heart of the efforts of collusion conspiracy theorists is an attempt to delegitimize the Trump presidency. Ultimately, these people are still trying to convince the American people that, but for Russian meddling in 2016, Donald Trump would not have been elected. Even the U.S. intelligence community – which appears to have been deeply involved in the plot against the president – has acknowledged that there is no evidence that Russian interference had any effect whatsoever on the outcome of the election.
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