Holman Jenkins writes in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal that Russia did indeed intervene in the 2016 presidential election, but not for the purpose you might think. Moscow was not trying to sway the election to a particular candidate, though I believe that Russia would have preferred Hillary to Trump. Hillary would have continued her “reset button” soft stance on Russia that she pursued while Secretary of State.
Moscow’s sole purpose in messing with the American election was simple: to discredit the U.S. leadership class. That would best serve Russian goals, more than which candidate might happen to win. Most Americans don’t yet see this because, as Jenkins says, “…it’s clearer than ever that what’s occupied Americans for the past six months are baseless accusations about the Trump campaign.”
Jenkins doesn’t say so but that is probably fine with Putin because it just might help discredit the U.S. leadership class, Putin’s real intent all along. Jenkins is worth a read if you have access (It’s behind a pay wall) or if you have the print edition.
Here is my summary:
Last Sunday the Washington Post ran a 7,000 word account of what Obama knew about Russian meddling and what he did about it (nothing). What was left out may be more important than what was said. No evidence of Trump collusion was offered, nor was Obama shown to be worried about it. Obama had evidence that Putin was personally directing Russian espionage but concluded that Russian meddling was unlikely to affect the outcome of the election. Obama was convinced that Hillary was going to win and therefore the Russian espionage would never be known by the American public, at least not until after the election was over with Hillary Clinton safely in the oval office.
Next comes the really interesting part. What prompted James Comey to take the unusual decision to come out publicly in July of 2016 to clear Hillary Clinton on intelligence-mishandling charges? Comey was prompted at least partially by a false intelligence report referring to a nonexistent Democrat email confirming that Loretta Lynch would quash any charges against Hillary. Comey knew this intelligence was false but he didn’t want it to become publicly known.
During April and May the New York Times and the Washington Post alluded to the existence of this document. The Post described it in detail and said the FBI considered it a Russian plant. Even though Comey knew the intelligence report was false, he cited it as the reason he came out publicly in July to announce the end of the Clinton email probe. The other reason, a stronger reason, is that he knew Loretta Lynch was compromised by her airport tarmac meeting with Bill Clinton in which the Hillary investigation must have been the main topic of the discussion.
The whole episode with Comey was orchestrated to clear Hillary from her email scandal before the election. But then something happened “unexpectedly.” Trump won. [Dont’ ask me to explain why Comey staged another Hillary email episode a week before the election. It’s beyond my ken. Farcical Comey?]
Trump’s win had upset their apple cart and they needed a new strategy, both to smooth the way for dealing with a Trump presidency and to avoid public focus on the attempt to provide cover for the corruption of Loretta Lynch and the bumbling of the FBI.
Russia never attempted to hide its meddling. It’s goal was always to sow confusion and bring disrepute on the U.S. Leadership class. That’s why Jenkins believes any action that ignores Comey’s participation will constitute a coverup. The truth, says Jenkins, is absolutely unacceptable to the establishment that Special Counsel Robert Mueller represents. There is no appetite for the truth among Republicans or Democrats, nor the Trump White House, not even the Kremlin because Putin doesn’t want relations with the U.S. to become all-out hostile. If the truth were acknowledged in the U.S., it would give Putin a victory, however. It would complete the task Putin originally set for himself in discrediting the U.S. Leadership class.
Actually, Putin may gain his victory without taking any of the credit or blame for it. The U.S. leadership class can be relied upon to discredit itself without Putin’s help. Nevertheless, Jenkins is right in his conclusion: Expect q coverup because it is the only way to limit the impact of these ugly events by the loathsome U.S. leadership class.