Today’s Indictments Do Not Support Narratives Of Either Republican Or Democratic Partisans Regarding Russia

Once again the objective facts released with regards to the Russia investigation run counter to the narratives of both Republican and Democratic partisans. The details presented in today’s indictment issued by Robert Mueller again contradicts claims from some Republicans that there was absolutely no Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Of course that was an absurd stand from the start. Russian has meddled in our elections for years, as the United States has meddled in their elections, and both countries have meddled in elections in multiple other countries. On the other hand, the indictments provide nothing to back the Democratic conspiracy theories of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign which somehow stole the election from Hillary Clinton.

We have known for some time that Russians have been active on social media. With the long history of both sides meddling in each other’s affairs, and with the growth of social media, those who are shocked by this are astonishingly naive. Nor is it a surprise that such actions violated federal election laws. As the indictment states, “FECA prohibits foreign nationals from making any contributions, expenditures, independent expenditures, or disbursements for electioneering communications. FECA also requires that individuals or entities who make certain independent expenditures in federal elections report those expenditures to the Federal Election Commission.” A far more interesting potential development would be, as I’ve speculated in the past, if there are grounds for a future indictment against Donald Trump, Jr. and Jared Kusnher for their attempts to obtain information from Russians at the Trump Tower meeting.

We know from the Trump Tower meeting that the Trump campaign had no qualms against colluding with Russia. However, while the Russians enticed them to attend, they had no information to actually offer. The indictment indicates other contacts between Russians and the Trump Campaign, however without the knowledge of the Trump Campaign. As the indictment states, “Some Defendants, posing as U.S. persons and without revealing their Russian association, communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump Campaign and with other political activists to seek to coordinate political activities.”

While it would hardly surprise me if there were to turn out to be some members of the Trump campaign who did knowingly communicate with Russians, at this time there remains no evidence of any collusion between the Trump Campaign and Russia, even if members of Trump’s family did show a willingness to collude with Russians. Obtaining the actual facts, as opposed to promoting the claims of partisans on either side, remains the top priority.

As Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein stressed, “There is no allegation in the indictment on the outcome of the election.” After over a year of investigations, there remains no evidence that Russia had any effect on the election result, no matter how much Hillary Clinton and her supporters wish to claim this.

While the activities of the Russians very well might have violated federal election laws, the evidence presented in the Congressional testimony regarding their actions on social media showed that their actions, such as purchasing $100,000 in Facebook ads were very trivial considering the vast amount of activity on social media and other campaign advertising. The Congressional testimony revealed that information from Russian Facebook pages accounted for “less than 0.004 percent of all content — or about 1 in 23,000 news feed items” on Facebook. Over half the ads were not even seen until after the election, and many had nothing to do with promoting Trump over Clinton. The Russian purchased Facebook ads also targeted deep blue states over battleground states or the rust belt states which cost Clinton the election.

The hysteria spread by many establishment  Democrats over Russian actions on social media, along with other false media reports regarding Russia, has had many adverse consequences including providing the Democratic establishment a bogus excuse for not correcting the actual mistakes which cost them the election after giving the nomination to a candidate so weak that she could not beat a candidate as terrible as Donald Trump, increasing Cold War style tensions with a nuclear power, playing into the desires of neocons who have been exaggerating Russian influence on the 2016 election, and increasing censorship of Americans (not Russians) on Facebook. Using Russian activity on social media to censor Americans is a far greater threat to our democracy than any actions done by Russians.

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  1. 1
    SocraticGadfly says:

    Largely agreed, Ron. I also have some First Amendment concerns about the indictment:

  2. 2
    The Dark Avenger says:

    Why does Trump act like he has something to cover up?  In the old Columbo show, even the perps had enough sense to appear/pretend to be innocent?  Why doesn’t Trump?

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:

    Trump does have his money laundering to cover up. Notice that it is Mueller looking into his finances which gets him especially upset.

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    SocraticGadfly, the issue with regards to the indictment is that the purchase of ads by foreigners violated election laws due to their failure to report the expenditures. However, I bet that many who are upset about the ads would object to Russians buying ads even if they had not violated election laws.

    When the matter first broke, Facebook had also said that the problem was how they covered up their identity when buying the ads, but if not for this there would not have been a problem with most of the ads.

    What many also ignore is that Russians had valid reasons for expressing their views (putting aside whether they violated election finance laws). One of the candidates has a strong history of bellicosity towards their country and has promoted policies which had a high risk of leading to war between their country and the United States. It is understandable that Russians would oppose Clinton. The US would have done far more if they saw a candidate in another country who had policies which opposed US interests.

  5. 5
    SocraticGadfly says:

    Ron …  some of the ads weren't "for" anybody … therefore, it's arguable they're not "election ads." (Of course, the duopoly says an ad against a Dem is automatically for a Rethug, etc.)

  6. 6
    Ron Chusid says:

    Yes, I have pointed that out in previous posts on the ads.

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