Dispatch April 27, 2018

House Republicans Complete Their Cover-up

The House Intelligence Committee’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election is exactly the partisan document everyone expected it to be. It shows the committee’s investigation wasn’t about getting to the bottom of what happened, but was instead a partisan effort by Trump’s congressional accomplices to exonerate him and his campaign—even in the face of rapidly mounting evidence of their crimes.

The report purposefully minimizes the contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia.

  • As we’ve previously noted, the committee failed to interview or obtain sufficient information from individuals involved in 81 percent of the 70+ contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives.
  • The few meetings cited in the report are described as if they were isolated incidents, obscuring the year-long pattern during which at least 10 individuals on the Trump team chose to actively pursue communication and coordination with their Russian counterparts.
  • The report even suggests that post-election attempts to establish backchannels between the Trump transition team and the Kremlin prove there was no collusion during the campaign—when what they really demonstrate is that Trump and his team did everything they could to hide the truth about their relationship with Russia from the public.
  • As if to prove the insufficiency of the investigation, The New York Times today reported something the committee couldn’t be bothered to find: A trove of emails from Natalia Veselnitskaya, the lawyer who attended the June 9, 2016 meeting in Trump Tower, revealing the depths of her relationship with the Russian government.

The report’s goal is to recast the Trump campaign as victims of a Russian counterintelligence operation. But that was a cover-up story they needed to settle on months ago, and apparently no one told Trump this was the lie to be telling.

  • Never mind all the high-ranking campaign officials with longstanding ties to Russia—that just “illustrates the necessity for U.S. presidential campaigns to better investigate individuals who serve in senior positions within the campaign” to ensure they’re not Russian cutouts.
  • Never mind that campaign aides like George Papadopoulos and Carter Page repeatedly brought up their Russian contacts to their superiors and that 22 members of the Trump team knew about contacts during the campaign and transition; the problem is that “the Trump campaign was not notified” by Obama administration officials “that members of the campaign were potential counterintelligence concerns.”
  • Never mind that Donald Trump Jr. jumped at the chance to meet Russian operatives he was told were “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump,” and brought along Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort; all that really matters, the report concludes, is that they didn’t get the information they wanted.
  • If the report’s claims were true, Trump, the innocent victim of Russian information warfare, would have more reason than anybody to want to get to the bottom of things—so why is he doing everything he can to impede the investigation and protect Russia from being punished?

House Republicans’ real targets are anybody who would dare try to hold Trump and his campaign accountable for their crimes.

  • In a masterpiece of false equivalency, the report equates the June 9 meeting and the Trump campaign’s reliance on WikiLeaks (which even the Republican authors acknowledge is “a hostile foreign intelligence operation”) with Democratic lawyer Marc Elias’s funding of Fusion GPS’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s Russian ties.
  • The report repeats the debunked Republican myth that the Steele dossier “formed an essential part” of the warrant to surveil Page—despite the fact that he’s been on the FBI’s radar as a potential foreign asset since 2013, and Republican judges have found surveillance produced sufficient evidence to renew the FBI’s warrant three times.
  • The authors even have the audacity to suggest repealing the Logan Act, a centuries-old law banning freelance foreign policy of the kind conducted by Michael Flynn—a clear sign that Republicans are just looking to clear the path for Trump and his allies to escape justice by any means necessary.

But the facts speak for themselves. Every day brings new evidence that Trump and his team are involved in major crimes, from lying to the FBI and Congress to money laundering to conspiracy against the United States. With Trump and his Republican accomplices pulling out all the stops to clear his name, protecting the investigation and finding the truth about the President’s involvement with Russia’s attack on the U.S. is more important than ever.