For two years, we have heard that Donald Trump is a Russian stooge, an agent of the Kremlin, a traitor who will be thrown in prison, and a treasonous and illegitimate president — all false, on every count.
On Sunday night, Attorney General William Barr sent a four-page letter to Congress summarizing the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller’s two-year investigation into the Trump campaign. “The special counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 election,” Barr wrote.
Just like that, two years of nonstop Trump-Russia conspiracy theories peddled by the mainstream media fell flat.
“This was an illegal takedown that failed,” Trump told reporters. And he’s right.
To America’s ruling class, the 2016 election was illegitimate, but not because of corrupt processes or manipulated votes. It was illegitimate because the wrong person won.
Consider the history of Trump-Russia hysteria: Starting in October 2015, a variety of anti-Trump actors, ranging from neoconservatives associated with the Washington Free Beacon to Democratic operatives with the Hillary Clinton campaign, commissioned research firm Fusion GPS to look into Trump’s personal and professional life. In June 2016, Fusion GPS hired British spy Christopher Steele to search for any connections between Trump and the Russians. Steele worked with Russian Intelligence agents to produced the infamous Steele dossier, a report full of potentially campaign-ending charges, most notably allegations of collusion between the Russian government and the Trump campaign.
This report was passed on to the press, which for the most part it declined to publish because the claims were so outlandish and unsupported by any evidence. But this wasn’t too flimsy for the late Sen. John McCain (R‑Ariz.). Always a fan of regime change — only this time at home — McCain (along with others) gave the dossier to the FBI in hopes of sinking Trump once and for all.
President Obama’s FBI submitted this “salacious and unverified” evidence, in the words of former FBI Director James Comey, in an application for a FISA warrant to spy on Carter Page, a former foreign policy advisor for the Trump campaign. The charge, of course, was foreign collusion. Realize the irony: a foreign collusion investigation sparked by a fake dossier, created by a Brit in conjunction with Russian intelligence agencies, then used by the Obama administration as a pretense to open an FBI investigation into members of the opposing party’s campaign. After this fiasco and prolific criminal leaks, Trump fired Comey and the Mueller investigation began shortly thereafter in May 2017.
For the last two years, Americans have been force-fed a conspiracy theory more widespread, more damaging, and more destabilizing to our democratic norms than anything any YouTube crackpot has ever said. And all of it intentional. This narrative had real consequences for our national unity. The investigation bitterly divided our nation and plunged us into a cold civil war. How are Democrats supposed to view the half of the country that elected a man who conspired with a malevolent foreign government to steal the election? And how should Republicans think of the rest of their countrymen when they see a permanent, entrenched deep state launching an effort to expel the duly-elected president from office?
America’s media and ruling class concocted this hoax to pick a new winner in the 2016 election, because in their view, the American people got it wrong. Somehow, some way, Trump must be removed from office. The FBI harassed and impeded the Trump administration over the last two years using every tool at their disposal: 19 lawyers, 40 FBI agents, 2,800 subpoenas, 500 witnesses, 500 search warrants, 230 communications records, 50 phone taps, and 13 foreign government intelligence requests. Who, exactly, is the threat to our democracy again?
“I knew they would stop at nothing to try to stop me,” Trump told his supporters during the campaign. “Nevertheless, I take all of these slings and arrows gladly for you. I take them for our movement so that we can have our country back.”
Trump appears to have survived these slings and arrows — for now. But rest assured, more are coming. Acrimony and instability serve only to delegitimize the president — and that’s the goal. Unlike rogue Twitter users, the false prophets of “Russiagate” won’t lose their platforms. No one will pay a price for being wrong. Those wholly unserious people who fell for this hoax, a claim ludicrous on its face, don’t have any interest in accountability, nor do they care for any answers as to why this was allowed to happen.
As for getting our country back, it’s clear to everyone now that America’s ruling class will deploy every weapon they have to hijack the 2016 election until the very end.
Garrison Grisedale is a George Washington Fellow and a senior studying Politics.