A Predictably Partisan Report
Terry H. Schwadron
April 29, 2018
If you issue a report with only a partisan majority weighing in, you can’t expect that it will carry the gravitas it needs to persuade anyone who does not already believe the conclusions.
This is one of those reports that immediately goes up the shelves and is never used again, other than for partisan reasons.
The House Intelligence Committee’s Republican majority issued a 250-page report that basically says there was no colluding, conspiring or other arrangements between the Trump campaigns and Russia, but acknowledges that along the way, there were some instances of really bad judgment by people close to Trump.
The topline result had already been released, so the release of this completed report does not really add many details.
But there are so many questions that the report does not answer as to make it come off as a deflecting shield for President Trump. To that end, the president immediately jumped on it and used it as an actual independent finding of his personal innocence in all-things-Russia.
Since every investigation needs to blame someone, the Republican authors of this document turn their attention to the U.S. intelligence services for not determining earlier that Russians indeed were trying to interfere in the election processes. They blamed Barack Obama for failing to sound alarms loudly and early, and for surveilling Carter Page, a Trump associate who has had more than his share of contacts with Russians. And these same authors blamed Democrats as a group for hiring Fusion GPS, which led to the Christopher Steele dossiers, which, in turn, unfairly outlining a conspiracy between he campaign and Russians.
“The report accuses the intelligence community of “significant intelligence tradecraft failings,” reported the Washington Post, who said the report suggested that Russia’s main goal was to sow discord in the United States and not to help Trump win the election.
Obviously, all that just set up a you-say-we-say battle with Democrats, who took the bait, and so we are left with a big puddle of nothingness, which may have been the goal all along for committee chair Devin Nunes R-CA. In a dissent, the Democrats attacked the majority’s methodologies and its failure to follow up with lots of suggested witnesses.
Former Rep. Steve Israel, a New York Democrat, remarked that the GOP’s House Intelligence Committee report acknowledging Russian meddling in our elections but no collusion by the Trump campaign is like any bad crime fiction. We know how it’ll end before finishing the first chapter. No stunners here, no twists of plot. This is a political document written in a midterm election, for a midterm election, by Republican members of Congress who fear losing a midterm election.
The one area of agreement does seem to be the next time: Though they absolved the Trump campaign, the Republicans warned that Putin’s government would be back without significant deterrence efforts, summarized the New York Times. “Unless the cost-benefit equation of such operations changes significantly, the Putin regime and other hostile governments will continue to pursue these attacks against the United States and its allies,” the Republican majority wrote.
Throughout, Republicans on the committee have wanted to pursue the investigators, including the FBI and Justice Department rather than the meat of the probe.
It is just that kind of partisanship that makes it difficult to judge just what is important in the news, and what is just partisan-laced argumentation. The Robert Mueller investigation continues on, some of the characters in the story are appearing in court now, the Senate Intelligence Committee has been acting in a more bipartisan manner, and the media are continuing to introduce new elements of the story.
Even as this House Intelligence Committee rehash was being distributed, The New York Timesdisclosed emails in Moscow involving Natalia V. Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who met with Trump campaign officials in Trump Tower in June 2016 on the premise that she would deliver damaging information about Hillary Clinton. The e-mails show that in at least one instance two years earlier, Veselnitskaya, worked hand in glove with Russia’s chief legal office to thwart a Justice Department civil fraud case against a well-connected Russian firm. In ot aher words, she was closer to the Putin government than she had let on.
The question raised by the House Committee report is whom it is supposed to serve? It reads as if it had only one reader — the one in the Oval Office.