Indictments Should End Trump Collusion Charge

Russian government photo

The recent indictment handed down by Robert Mueller exposes the fallacy of the collusion charge against President Trump, and confirms that Moscow is continuing its policy, initiated at the very start of the Russian Revolution over a century ago, to vigorously but inappropriately meddle in the politics of western democracies.

The key portion of the Indictment states that:

Defendant INTERNET RESEARCH AGENCY LLC (“ORGANIZATION”) is a Russian organization engaged in operations to interfere with elections and political processes. Defendants MIKHAIL IVANOVICH BYSTROV, MIKHAIL LEONIDOVICH BURCHIK, ALEKSANDRA YURYEVNA KRYLOVA, ANNA VLADISLAVOVNA BOGACHEVA, SERGEY PAVLOVICH POLOZOV, MARIA ANATOLYEVNA BOVDA, ROBERT SERGEYEVICH BOVDA, DZHEYKHUN NASIMI OGLY ASLANOV, VADIM VLADIMIROVICH PODKOPAEV, GLEB IGOREVICH VASILCHENKO, IRINA VIKTOROVNA KAVERZINA, and VLADIMIR VENKOV worked in various capacities to carry out Defendant ORGANIZATION’s interference operations targeting the United States. From in or around 2014 to the present, Defendants knowingly and intentionally conspired with each other (and with persons known and unknown to Case 1:18-cr-00032-DLF Document 1 Filed 02/16/18 Page 2 of 37 2 Case 1:18-cr-00032-DLF Document 1 Filed 02/16/18 Page 3 of 37 the Grand Jury) to defraud the United States by impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful functions of the government through fraud and deceit for the purpose of interfering with the U.S. political and electoral processes, including the presidential election of 2016. 3. Beginning as early as 2014, Defendant ORGANIZATION began operations to interfere with the U.S. political system, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Defendant ORGANIZATION received funding for its operations from Defendant YEVGENIY VIKTOROVICH PRIGOZHIN and companies he controlled, including Defendants CONCORD MANAGEMENT AND CONSULTING LLC and CONCORD CATERING (collectively “CONCORD”). Defendants CONCORD and PRIGOZHIN spent significant funds to further the ORGANIZATION’s operations and to pay the remaining Defendants, along with other uncharged ORGANIZATION employees, salaries and bonuses for their work at the ORGANIZATION. 4. Defendants, posing as U.S. persons and creating false U.S. personas, operated social media pages and groups designed to attract U.S. audiences. These groups and pages, which addressed divisive U.S. political and social issues, falsely claimed to be controlled by U.S. activists when, in fact, they were controlled by Defendants. Defendants also used the stolen identities of real U.S. persons to post on ORGANIZATION-controlled social media accounts.

 Robert Barnes, writing for Law and Crime, asks “Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted foreign citizens for trying to influence the American public about an election because those citizens did not register as a foreign agent nor record their financial expenditures to the Federal Elections Commission. By that theory, when will Mueller indict Christopher Steele, FusionGPS, PerkinsCoie, the DNC and the Clinton Campaign?… , if Mueller’s theory is correct, three things make the Clinton Campaign a potential target: it knew Steele was a foreign citizen; it knew, and paid, Steele to influence an election; and it knew, and facilitated, Steele neither registering as a foreign agent nor reporting his funding from the Clinton campaign to the Federal Election Commission, by disguising its funding of payments to Steele laundered through a law firm as a ‘legal expense.’ Don’t expect such an indictment. Mueller chose his targets because he knows they will never appear in court, never contest the charges, and cannot be arrested or extradited as Russian citizens.”

The fact that Russia’s latest meddling attempt began in 2014, before the start of the primary season, is highly significant.  When added to the common-sense fact that there is no reason why Putin would want a candidate, such as Trump, who promised to increase the American military and increase U.S. energy production (a major blow to Russia’s dependence on sales of its oil and gas assets for its economic stability) it becomes increasingly evident that the collusion charges were, essentially, little more than the actions of Clinton partisans both within government and the media.  Major news outlets who concentrated heavily but unquestioningly on the charges never analyzed why Putin would prefer Trump to Clinton, who, as part of the Obama Administration, allowed Russia to take the lead in nuclear arms for the first time in history, slashed Pentagon funding, sold 20% of American uranium to Russian interests, and failed to take any substantive response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Serious questions have been raised concerning media coverage of the Russian collusion story.

Lee Smith, writing for The Federalist reports that “Half the country wants to know why the press won’t cover the growing scandal now implicating the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice, and threatening to reach the State Department, Central Intelligence Agency, and perhaps even the Obama White House. After all, the release last week of a less-redacted version of Sens. Charles Grassley and Lindsey Graham’s January 4 letter showed that the FBI secured a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant to search the communications of a Trump campaign adviser based on a piece of opposition research paid for by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. The Fourth Amendment rights of an American citizen were violated to allow one political party to spy on another. If the press did its job and reported the facts, the argument goes, then it wouldn’t just be Republicans and Trump supporters demanding accountability and justice. Americans across the political spectrum would understand the nature and extent of the abuses and crimes touching not just on one political party and its presidential candidate but the rights of every American.”  It’s Smith’s belief that  “The Media Stopped Reporting The Russia Collusion Story Because They Helped Create It. The press has played an active role in the Trump-Russia collusion story since its inception. It helped birth it.”

Adding to the growing observation that media reporting, and indeed, advocating, the unsubstantiated allegations against the Trump campaign was both biased and unprofessional is the near-total amnesia about Moscow’s long history of serious meddling in western politics.

In 1983,  John Vinocur wrote in the New York Times: “Over the last two years, the Danish and Swiss governments have exposed attempts by ostensible Soviet diplomats, actually K.G.B. officers, to influence or buy their way into groups trying to block deployment of new medium-range missiles in Western Europe. The cases are the best evidence offered by Western counterintelligence officers who believe that the Soviet espionage agency’s highest priorities in Western Europe include attempts to exploit the disarmament movement…Beyond domestic political sensitivities, another problem acknowledged by counterespionage officials is the fuzziness of Soviet involvement in what the K.G.B. calls ”active measures” -operations to create a political effect abroad, as opposed to collection of information on weapons, politics and technology. Last year in Congressional testimony, the United States Central Intelligence Agency acknowledged its difficulties and echoed those of other Western intelligence services…The C.I.A. has described the World Peace Council, a Soviet front, as receiving over half the $63 million it estimates Moscow provided in 1980 to ‘its 13 major international fronts.’”

A CIA study by Vladimir Bukovsky released to the public in 2008 cites an even older example, documenting Moscow’s well-financed efforts to influence western politics through left-wing organizations in the 1950’s and onward.