Even in victory the Democrats are rearing the ugly head of Russiagate to further vanquish the vanquished and protect their power, writes Joe Lauria.
By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News
Russiagate was an invention to help explain away Hillary Clinton’s defeat in 2016 and to undermine the legitimacy of the man who beat her.
Now that that man himself has been defeated, and a Democrat is back in the White House, one would think it was over. But Russiagate has proved too useful an instrument to discard. It beat up not only Donald Trump, but riled Russia too. It was an elixir for CNN’s and MSNBC’s ratings.
And now Russiagate is poised to be used again against Russia, Trump and Trump voters. The latter are way more than “deplorable” now. They are “cult members” and a threat.
Democrats are surely sticking to the Russiagate story as sure as it was exposed as pure opposition research stitched up to appear as a serious intelligence assessment.
Last Friday Clinton invited House Speaker Nancy Pelosi onto her podcast to discuss the events at the Capitol. In the middle of it, Clinton, who has no official position in the Biden administration, revealed the power she has behind the scenes. She brought up the topic by asking Pelosi:
“We learned a lot about our system of government over the last four years with a president who disdains democracy and — as you have said numerous times — has other agendas. What they all are, I don’t think we yet know. I hope historically we will find out who he’s beholden to, who pulls his strings.”
“I would love to see his phone records to see whether he was talking to Putin the day that the insurgents invaded our Capitol,” Clinton went on. “We now know that — not just him, but his enablers, his accomplices, his cult members — have the same disregard for democracy.”
As if those words weren’t astonishing enough, Clinton made a startling policy proposal. She wanted to know if Pelosi thought the U.S. needs “a 9/11-type commission to investigate and report everything that they can pull together.” Sounding as if this were pre-arranged, Pelosi responded, “I do.”
.@SpeakerPelosi and I agree:
Congress needs to establish an investigative body like the 9/11 Commission to determine Trump’s ties to Putin so we can repair the damage to our national security and prevent a puppet from occupying the presidency ever again. pic.twitter.com/yR7LQmXm5Z
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) January 18, 2021
Normally before any investigation can begin there has to be some prima facie evidence of wrongdoing. There has to be something to investigate. But in this instance all there is is wild speculation. Speculation that Trump may have been on the phone with Putin while Trump supporters marauded through the halls of Congress.
The Usefulness of Russiagate
Repeatedly blaming Russia allows Democrats to deny the role they have played in the devastation of working and formerly middle class Americans–which helped elect Trump and fueled the assault on the Capitol.
Rather than enact a social democratic agenda that will repair the damage done to the poor and working class from 40 years of bi-partisan economic neoliberalism, the Democrats, now in control of Congress and the White House, continue to smear their enemies as Russian agents, while threatening a domestic War on Terror and even more surveillance. (It’s not enough that Trump is gone and led a mostly disastrous presidency and that many of his followers were duped by him.)
Russiagate is also too useful to discard because it is a tool for politicians to get out of sticky situations. In previous years, if a publication revealed a politician’s corruption and it was completely verified, that politician in most cases would eventually resign.
Today that politician can override the truth of the exposure by falsely blaming a hostile foreign power for being behind it. The corruption story is still true, but now the focus is on who leaked it, which is irrelevant. (U.S. prosecutors routinely use evidence from criminals turned informants to nail bigger fish.)
Such of course was the case with WikiLeaks‘ publication of the Clinton and Podesta emails. (Even though Russia was immediately blamed, four DNC officials did resign, including the chairwoman— sacrificial lambs to keep Clinton in place.)
Beyond that, Russiagate has been a convenient and successful strategy of deflection from one’s own responsibility for America’s social and political crises.
The message is that the destruction of American democracy has nothing to do with bipartisan approval of money’s corruption of politics, and vast overspending on the military instead of on education, health care and infrastructure.
Instead it is all being engineered by an evil genius in the Kremlin—a virtual James Bond villain. The adolescent level of political education in the public, and in much of the media, creates fertile ground for such a grand deception to flourish.
It is more absurd and transparent to suggest that Moscow had something to do with the Capitol uprising than it did with the 2016 election.
Despite four years and counting of Democratic Party propaganda about Trump conspiring with Russia to steal the 2016 election, a $32 million, 22-month investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence of any conspiracy.
Shawn Henry, the head of the company CrowdStrike hired by the Democratic Party and Clinton campaign (while keeping the FBI away) to examine the DNC servers declared under oath to the House Intelligence Committee that no evidence of a hack was discovered.
Despite this, the Russiagate saga is still believed by millions of Americans, bolstered by Congressional studies that relied on intelligence briefings. Mueller and Henry were legally obliged to tell the truth. Intelligence agencies aren’t.
And now Clinton and Pelosi will shamelessly reinvigorate the Moscow-menace malarkey (h/t Biden) into a risky, renewed tension with Russian, which just might work nicely with the hawks in Joe Biden’s cabinet.
Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former UN correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and numerous other newspapers. He was an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times of London and began his professional career as a stringer for The New York Times. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @unjoe