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The Russia Collusion Hoax: Unpatriotic?

A Commentary By Michael Barone

The report of special counsel John Durham is, or ought to be, devastating for anyone who has put any credence in what has now been definitively revealed to be the Russia collusion hoax.

With a painstaking examination of the evidence (1,753 footnotes!), Durham establishes conclusively that there was no basis for the FBI to have begun its Crossfire Hurricane investigation of ties between the Trump campaign and Russia in July 2016. The Bureau acted on "raw, unanalyzed, and uncorroborated intelligence" and without checking with intelligence entities.
In contrast, it brushed aside evidence unfavorable to Hillary Clinton, including "highly significant intelligence it received from a trusted foreign source pointing to a Clinton campaign plan to vilify Trump by tying him to Vladimir Putin so as to divert attention from her own concerns relating to her use of a private email server."
Nevertheless, this information was briefed by former CIA Director John Brennan to President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Attorney General Loretta Lynch and FBI Director James Comey. Perhaps someone in the press might want to ask one or two of them about it -- and whether they still believe the Russia collusion story.
The FBI received the Steele dossier, paid for by the Clinton campaign, in July 2016, used it to seek a FISA Court intelligence surveillance in October 2016, and continued to do so even though it determined in December 2016 that its primary concocter was Washington-based Russian citizen Igor Danchenko -- and in January 2017 that his sources were "rumor and speculation."
It should be -- and used to be in the United States -- a firm principle that law enforcement and intelligence agencies should not attempt to influence election results. But that is exactly what happened here. Comey, for reasons of his own, saw to it that the contents of the Steele dossier were made public and that a special counsel, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, be appointed to investigate the collusion that the FBI had found no basis to believe to have existed.
So let it be clear. There was no collusion between Donald Trump or the Trump campaign and Russia. There was no valid basis for the FBI investigation. The Steele dossier, paid for by the Clinton campaign, was a figment of the imagination of a dodgy Washington-based apparatchik.
As Fox News' Brit Hume, a top-rank journalist for more than 50 years, tweeted: "The Durham Report should be a sobering rebuke to far too many journalists who swallowed the Steele dossier and the FBI's improperly based investigation of its wild claims. Think of all the stories about how much of the bogus dossier had been vindicated. None of it was."
The argument is commonly made that Donald Trump's refusal to accept the result of the 2020 election has, for many Americans, cast a pall of illegitimacy over Joe Biden's presidency that risks making his administration less effective than it would be if Trump would accept the truth.
That's a strong argument.
The same argument can be made against those in the FBI and in intelligence agencies, and against many journalists as well, who collaborated in or advanced the Russia collusion hoax. The pall it cast over the legitimacy of the Trump presidency surely adversely affected his administration and thus hurt the country.
When are the perpetrators and advancers of the Russia collusion hoax going to confess error and apologize for the damage they have done? To judge from initial responses -- and non-responses -- to the Durham Report, the likely answer is never.
Yet these same people can be heard lamenting that many of their fellow citizens don't trust long-established government institutions and lack respect or even interest in long-established journalistic outlets.
It doesn't seem to cross their minds that by perpetrating and prolonging the Russia collusion hoax, these institutions and outlets have proven that they are willing to disregard rules of fundamental fairness and to lie and mislead to produce election outcomes to their liking.
In so doing, they forfeit, quite possibly for many years, the trust of a large number of their fellow citizens. Do they care about that?
Why did the Russia collusion hoax enjoy such gleeful credulity from so many liberals? My theory is that many have resented what they consider attacks on their patriotism, dating back 70-some years to the McCarthy era or 20-some to the Iraq war, and they regarded attacking Trump as unpatriotic as an example of turnabout being fair play.
It may not have crossed their minds that it could be unpatriotic to concoct and promote a fraud like the Russia collusion hoax.
Michael Barone is a senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and longtime co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.

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