One of the key assumptions promulgated by the Mueller report was basically ignored during the July 24 congressional hearings with the former special counsel.
Amid all the back and forth, and the often-hapless hemming and hawing by Robert Mueller, no one questioned the report’s contention that the Russians interfered in our election in large part to get Donald Trump elected.
If they could elect Trump, the theory goes, the Russians would have covert control of the White House by blackmailing Trump over his planned Moscow hotel or something like that.
As someone who has been to the Soviet Union and then the Russian Republic several times, this strikes me as a serious (possibly deliberate) misreading of how the Russians operate and how their intelligence agencies—the KGB in its new guise, the FSB—operate.
To begin with, the Russians were reading the same polls we were that gave the likelihood of a Trump victory as somewhere between slim and none. Why waste their efforts in favor of Donald, even assuming they wanted to?
More importantly, there’s the matter of the Steele dossier. This repugnant and now widely discredited document had plenty of unpleasant things to say about Donald Trump, from the allegation that he engaged in an elaborate conspiracy with Russia to the ludicrous accusation of the existence of the so-called “pee tape.”
As Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said to Mueller during the hearings, the salacious details in the dossier could only have come from two sources–former UK spy Christopher Steele making them up himself or Russian contacts feeding him the dubious information. (A combination of the two is also possible.) If it’s the latter, or even partially the latter, it makes the Mueller report’s (or is it the Andrew Weismann report?) contention that the Russians favored Trump completely absurd. How could you possibly be favoring a candidate while disseminating that kind of gossip?
Moreover, that the dossier was paid for by the Clinton campaign and had Russian fingerprints all over it points to an opposite conclusion. The Russians favored Hillary. Plenty of reasons exist to believe this possibility. If there is any truth to the Uranium One story (the Clintons acquiescing to and profiting from the sale of 20 percent of U.S. uranium mining capacity to Putin), it should be obvious that the Russians had considerably more potential blackmail capability with Mrs. Clinton than with Trump.
Although this is yet another reason to regard the Mueller report as little more than Democratic Party propaganda, in the end, I don’t believe the Russians actually favored Hillary. That’s not their style. They were doing what they have been doing since the days of the tsars’ secret service, the Okhrana: sowing discord and turning us against each other. They seem to have done a brilliant job in this case.
But don’t believe me. Believe former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who said as much when announcing in February 2018 the indictment of the 13 Russian hackers at the St. Petersburg troll farm. He went further to demonstrate the hackers’ “even-handed’ approach as equal-opportunity disrupters: “After the election, the defendants allegedly staged rallies to support the president-elect, while simultaneously staging rallies to protest his election. For example, the defendants organized one rally to support the president-elect and another rally to oppose him, both in New York, on the same day.”
Nevertheless, the Democrats wanted to use all this to unseat a president. Trump himself has called it treason. He may well be right. We shall soon see.
Meanwhile, it’s worth reading the book “Disinformation” by Ion Pacepa, the former intelligence chief for Romanian dictator Ceausescu and the highest-ranking officer from the former Soviet bloc to have defected. Pacepa gives the best explanation I have seen of how Soviet and Russian methodology functions. And it costs a lot less than the pathetic Russia probe.
Roger L. Simon, co-founder and CEO emeritus of PJ Media, is an award-winning author and Academy Award-nominated screenwriter. His new novel, “The Goat,” will be published in September.