Russiagate is the Worst Political Tragedy in Our History

Bryce Dunio ’22, Opinion Columnist

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For the past twenty-two months, prominent figures from the media, Democrats and intelligence community have relentlessly slung accusations of treason and betrayal at President Trump over his alleged ties to the Russian government. As the months progressed, new indictments were fired at those close to Trump and appeared to be closing in. New ‘bombshells’ littered the political landscape, drawing the attention of all major media outlets. Democratic congressman Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, claimed that he had evidence of collusion between Trump and Russia. Several Democrats, including but not limited to Brad Sherman, Maxine Waters, AL Green and Rashida Tlaib, have been vocal about and on occasion acted towards the impeachment of the president. On August 16th of 2018, we even saw former CIA Director John Brennan write in a New York Times opinion piece that “no claims of collusion are hogwash.” With accusations of the current US president orchestrating a coup with a major foreign power to undermine and threaten our democracy, Russiagate, as it has become known, dwarfed the scandals of the past. Not Watergate nor the Iran-Contra Affair meant so much to the very existence of our constitutional republic as this scandal did, resulting in the majority of our country biting its nails over what Special Counsel Robert Mueller would find from his investigations. And after twenty-two months of investigating, at least $25 million in tax payer dollars and 34 indictments, the Mueller investigation made its conclusions on Friday: there is no evidence of Trump or his campaign colluding with the Russian government to rig the 2016 elections. 

Just like that, the electric rhetoric of Russian collusion died in the arms of the media, Democrats and leaders of the intelligence community. Not only was there no evidence of collusion, but of those 34 indictments not a single one was for or related to collusion between Trump and the Russian government.

How could the hype and momentum behind such a conspiracy deflate so abruptly? The answer is simple: some people in this country hate our current president with such irrational rage that they can only believe he was elected with the help of the Russian government. They believe Trump to be an authoritarian looking to squash the spirit of American democracy, and others going as far as to claim he a fascist or a Nazi (because we all know how pro-Israel Nazis are). And some of these people are or once were in our government and our media. Where is Adam Schiff’s evidence? Where is John Brennan’s evidence? Where is any evidence, for that matter?

The truth is there isn’t any. The investigation itself was started in response to what became known as the Trump-Russia Dossier, a collection of 17 memos that was funded in part by the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The dossier made wild claims such as Donald Trump paying prostitutes to urinate on each other for his personal pleasure and being blackmailed by Russia for it, yet it was used as evidence by Comey’s FBI to obtain a FISA warrant to spy on a Trump campaign advisor. With Mueller concluding there was no collusion between Trump and the Russian government, it is now apparent that our own FBI used material it knew to be uncorroborated as evidence worthy of investigation.

I do not believe our country has yet realized just how embarrassing Russiagate has been for us. Our intelligence community, mainstream media, and the Democratic party as a whole have taken a blow from pushing this conspiracy and will not recover for years to come. Some Democrats, like primary candidate Beto O’Rourke, have actually doubled down on Russiagate and continue to further wound their own party, saying at a recent campaign event that “You have a president, who in my opinion beyond a shadow of a doubt, sought to, however ham-handedly, collude with the Russian government, a foreign power to undermine and influence our elections.” Bill Maher doubled down as well on his show, stating that “I don’t think it looks good, no further indictments,” as if confirmation that the president did not collude with a foreign power is bad news. He continued, claiming “I don’t need the Mueller report to know he’s a traitor, I have a T.V.” Maher would also not need a scientist to tell him the Earth is spherical, then, because he has a map.

There is already a mountain of reasons why Trump will win reelection in 2020, and the implosion of Russiagate may have just turned it into a slam dunk for the president. I do not know how our country let an unfounded conspiracy of the president being a traitorous Russian agent become such a mainstream belief, but I do know we must not let something like this happen again. This political tragedy largely outweighs Nixon spying on his opponents and Reagan’s Iran controversy. There will still be a sizeable chunk of the population believing there actually was collusion between the current US president and a foreign power, and O’Rourke and Maher are ensuring it. And as long as the nonsense regarding this political tragedy is peddled further, Trump’s odds of reelection only strengthen.

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