SYNDICATED COLUMN: The Russia-Trump Conspiracy Theory is a Dead Letter. Here’s Why.

Image result for russian meddling

The Democrat-led anti-Trump “Resistance” and its numerous media mouthpieces have been promoting their “Russia hacked the election” narrative for two years. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi fired the biggest recent salvo in this campaign after Trump invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit Washington.

“The notion that President Trump would invite a tyrant to Washington is beyond belief,” Pelosi said in a statement on Friday, calling Putin a “thug.” (The recurring use of “thug” to describe Russians has become so consistent as to have become a de facto ethnic slur.) “Putin’s ongoing attacks on our elections and on Western democracies and his illegal actions in Crimea and the rest of Ukraine deserve the fierce, unanimous condemnation of the international community, not a VIP ticket to our nation’s capital.”

Despite liberals’ uncharacteristically focused and sustained efforts — imagine if Obama and company had pushed as hard for a public option on healthcare! — their #RussophobiaMatters campaign is doing poorly. Fewer than one percent of voters think Russia is a major issue.

Democratic leaders are confused. They’ve got the newspapers and NPR and a passel of cable news stations all over their “Trump colluded with Russia” story. Why don’t people care? Christ, even Democratic voters don’t care!

Aside from famine and war few things are sadder than the sight of a hopelessly perplexed House and Senate Democratic leadership. So rather than let them spend a third year wondering why Russiagate keeps being greeted by a great national yawn, I’m here to explain it to them.

Everyone else can stop reading now.

Dear Mr. Schumer and Ms. Pelosi:

First: even if the story were true, it wouldn’t make sense. You’re asking us to believe that Trump’s people met with Putin’s people, not to discuss Trump’s sleazy real estate developments in the former Soviet Union, but to encourage Russian hackers to break into the DNC, steal Hillary’s emails and funnel them to WikiLeaks with a view toward angering enough voters to change the outcome of the election in Trump’s favor.

Trump doesn’t even read one-page memos. Yet we’re being asked to believe that he supervised a ridiculously complex Machiavellian conspiracy?

WikiLeaks didn’t get the DNC documents from Russia or any other state actor. They got them from a disgruntled pro-Bernie Sanders staffer at the DNC.

Anyway, the intelligence community — you know, the friendly folks at the CIA, FBI and NSA whom Democrats worship the way Republicans revered firefighters after 9/11 — says whatever Russian hacking occurred did not affect the outcome of the election.

Then there’s this: Trump didn’t actually want to win. Why would he go to such lengths to steal something he didn’t want?

Second: everything you accuse Russia and/or Putin of doing is something the U.S. has done or is doing bigger and worse. Russia undermined Ukraine and forcibly annexed Crimea. By current international standards Russia committed a misdemeanor; as The Washington Post noted at the time: “Most people in Crimea wanted to break away from Ukraine and join Russia.” Meanwhile, the U.S. was occupying both Afghanistan and Iraq. Those are felonies: neither the Afghans nor the Iraqis want us around.

Third: I’m going to use small words here — where’s the evidence of Russian “meddling”?

In 1962 President John F. Kennedy went on TV to discuss the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba. Because he needed Americans to trust and believe that the threat he described was real, he displayed aerial surveillance photos of the missiles in his speech to the nation. This meant revealing the existence of spy technology the Soviets weren’t aware of, so it was a difficult decision for him. But providing credible evidence was more important.

At this writing, the Democrats’ Russia arguments boil down to:

  • Media outlet quotes anonymous congressional official or anonymous intelligence agency employee.
  • Said anonymous source says the intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia meddled in the election.
  • Details of how Russia accomplished said meddling are absent.
  • Details of how effective said meddling was are absent.

If evidence of said meddling actually exists, Democrats should follow the JFK example and cough it up. In detail. And explain what it means ­— also in detail.

Until then, Russia as a political issue will continue to be a dead letter.



(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of “Francis: The People’s Pope.” You can support Ted’s independent political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)


  • To quote prank-caller extraordinaire Matt Hillock, “Well, that’s the end of THAT story.”

    He can still be nailed on foreign emoluments, his Twitter history is utterly deranged – suggesting that he needs to be removed through the 25th Amendment. He’s trapped in a job he didn’t want but he can’t back out of, so somebody needs to act.

    • > He can still be nailed on foreign emoluments

      Recent news: the judge is allowing the D.C. & Maryland emoluments lawsuit to go forward. It’s not as sexy as Boris & Natasha, but it might just work …

      … however, given the way our legal process works the case wouldn’t be decided until after Trump’s single term is over.

      • The 25th Amendment is a way out, but to do it, the grandees of the Republican Party have to admit that they backed a mental case as President and Pence will have to take down Daddy for the Big Chair.

      • Just like they did when President Ronald Alzheimer couldn’t remember bombing Libya.

        😀 🙂 😀

        Come to think of it, I sincerely doubt any *sane* person would want the job in the first place.

  • Oh, come ON, Ted – you’re much better than this pile of strawman poop.

    No, Russia didn’t “hack the election” … neither did they paint it blue or put it in an oven at 350 degrees. But by repeating this strawman nonsense over & over you weaken you own argument – or rather you would if you actually had one. Accept the phrase as shorthand for several cybercrimes and address them instead. (You know, substance?)

    “Details of how Russia accomplished said meddling are absent.”
    Bullshit. They’ve not only named names, but enumerated the specific technologies used. They’ve provided SHA1 hashes of the specific binaries from the spearphishing attacks.

    “Details of how effective said meddling was are absent.”
    And … so? Neither can you prove that they weren’t effective. But we still prosecute attempted murder, even if it wasn’t effective. However, by insisting on unobtainable proof you are raising the bar to ridiculous heights, again undermining your own argument.

    But the biggest hole in your ‘argument’ is that you have no credible explanation of your own. Given a reasonable explanation vs. none whatsoever, I’ll choose reasonable every time.

    to wit: WRT hacking DNC servers, sophisticated spearphishing attacks, and a well-coordinated psy-ops campaign on social media; The FBI, The CIA, The NSA, a half-dozen independent cybersecurity firms, Interpol, MI5, Congressional dems & pugs both, Facebook, Twitter, industry experts and industry insiders ALL point their fingers at Russia.

    Why? What is their motivation? Is it a lie? A Hoax? Are they all very sad that Hillary lost?

    (I’ve been asking this same question for nearly two years, now. Still haven’t gotten an answer.)

    Computers are SCIENCE. They don’t lie, they don’t participate in hoaxes, and they don’t have hidden agendas. They run on ones and zeroes. Those ones and zeroes can be shown to other geeks who can verify your conclusions. You can’t just make shit up and get away with it. There is no way in hell that those independent firms would lie or hoax or whatever – because unlike Joe public, they KNOW they’d get caught. They’d destroy their careers and their firms, not to mention their professional reputations.

    Facebook & Twitter similarly have nothing to gain & everything to lose by participating in a hoax. (conspiracy?) We’re talking world-class geeks here, people with large reputations who would become laughing stocks once they were discovered. And yes, they would be discovered. (It’s that science thing again.)

    • alex_the_tired
      July 24, 2018 1:35 PM

      Now I’m even more confused.

      • Hey, Alex –

        You missed out on some of the epic cat fights over this issue. (Count yourself lucky)

        Here’s a good starting place:

        Now with 468 feetnotes!

        And here’s the dirty secret: Ted & the rest of the deniers are fixated on Hillary and the Hillbots. For them, it’s all about refuting the idea that Hillary lost because of Russian interference. (See falco’s response yesterday) They couldn’t care less about DastardlyRussiansGate per se.

        Me, I don’t give a damn about Hillary – the election was nearly two years ago. I do care about the distinct possibility that a sitting president conspired with an unfriendly foreign country to undermine our election process. I spell that “treason.”

    • To CH:

      You have been given answers, you simply refuse to consider them because they aren’t what you want to hear. A LOT of government agencies would get a LOT more funding if there were a (continued from Obumma) rekindling of the Cold War with Russia. The 24/7?365 Rootin’ Tootin’ Putin hate is also cynically calculated to keep the donor dollars rolling into the Clinton coffers, if not for a 2020 run by HRC, then, at least, continued control of the DNC and presidential and congressional candidates.

      The very computer science you insist MUST give conclusive answers has shown conclusively that the DNC email “theft” MIUST be a an internal leak because the files taken could not have been transferred at the speed determined it it were a hack.

      The weakness of your theory is that “independent firms” deliver anything other than what their client (in this case DNC) wants. I’m referring to those firms hired to corroborate the DNC hack story (and the likes of Steele foe the pee-pee dossier.) They were hired in lieu of turning the DNC servers over to any, or all, of the various and sundry intelligence agencies that WE are ow told, by the DNC, that we must trust.

      Your insistence that corporate giants must be taken as honest brokers, of anything, is about the most naive attitude I’ve read on this site.

      • Okay, let’s look at the pieces.

        First of all, your understanding of how cybersecurity works is rather off. I know I’m repeating myself, but you can’t just make shit up. You need server logs, stack traces, and binaries. You need to coordinate them across different domains and countries. If this ever goes to trial, those will need to be verified by other experts and they already have The DNC did hire CrowdStrike, but they didn’t hire the other five who have weighed in. Moreover, if it were simply a matter of hiring someone, then Trump could easily hire someone to say the opposite. Where are they? What is the motivation of those firms that WEREN’T paid?

        You’ve also failed to address the fact that the liars would be destroying their careers and companies.

        So yes, I do reject your answer in the case of CrowdStrike, and note that you have failed to address the other five.

        > Your insistence that corporate giants must be taken as honest brokers

        For the record I do not believe that corporate giants need be taken as honest brokers. But that wasn’t the question I asked – I asked “why?” Remember, they do business in Russia – so making false accusations would be detrimental to their business. Moreover, we still have that science thing in the way – should it ever come out that they’re lying it would be harmful to their reputations.

        They have nothing to gain and a lot to lose by lying. But I cannot reject your answer because you haven’t given one: “Why?”

        The intelligence community as a whole are not necessarily honest, agreed. But they do still have that science thing that just won’t go away. They are also competitors, continually sniping at each other and vying for territory. The fact that they are all telling the same story says something.

        Money? Perhaps, although the big money today is in terrorism. But consider this – how much money would be in it for the CIA if they could show that the NSA was lying? They could sink their competitor and take over their jobs.

        meh, I’ll give you 25% on this one, I don’t buy it but it is vaguely within the realm of possibility.

        REPUBLICAN congress-critters voted to sanction Russia. You haven’t given a motivation for them at all; nor for the industry insiders & observers.

        So, out of five groups, you scored 25% on one, and provided zero answer on the other four. You didn’t even try to address why all these disparate groups are all telling the same lie.

        Lastly: you don’t understand engineers. You are not going to find a single one that will stand up in court and say that 1+1=Volkswagen, and even if you did your opponent could simply bring in a few million more who will say 1+1=2. It’s science, opinion and politics count for nothing.

        I stand by my statement: no one has answered my question.

        > you really couldn’t care less that the major candidate that you were most likely to have voted

        I voted for Bernie in the primaries and Jill in the election, and I note that you’re right back to “It’s all about Hillary”

      • re: lying corporate giants: They are ALREADY damaging their reputations by admitting they were played. Why would they tell a lie that damaged their own businesses?

    • To CH,

      So you really couldn’t care less that the major candidate that you were most likely to have voted for, and her party that has lost control of the entire federal government and 60% of state governments, appears to be spending the vast majority of it efforts for the future on this “resistance” rather than on a actual strategy (i.e. credible ideological platform) to get voted back into political control?

      It appears, unfortunately, that the DNC and its controllers, the Clintons, could well have been losing power and influence precisely because they not only are, but for a while, have been engaged in losing, magical thinking.

      Further it is something to care about at least because any actual “victory” in ousting His Hairness would simply reinforce the
      use of magical thinking … with ensuing, continued electoral losses.

      I don’t give a good god damn about Hillary but rather about the terminal damage she and hubby are doing to the only apparent institution (i.e. “the Democratic Party”) standing in the way of frank domestic fascism … if we aren’t already there.

  • alex_the_tired
    July 25, 2018 12:23 PM

    I’m reminded of Lee Atwater’s work in the field of warping public opinion. In order for something to be effective, it had to be simple AND terrifying, such as the Willie Horton ad. I can’t get terrified over email leaks. We’ve all been through numerous reports of how this computer at that company got hacked and now 80 million people have had their identities compromised. Computer forensics isn’t going to rally anyone. Same for climate change. Until the next superstore hits New York, everyone’s going to keep kidding themselves about how it really isn’t that bad.
    The only issues the Dems can run on, they abandoned years ago. Healthcare? Higher minimum wage? Roe v. Wade? The first group is too sick to rally, the second is too poor, and the third has been a great cashcow for decades. Once the Republicans overturn it, the only strategy the Dems can pull is to finally admit that abortion availability is mainly a problem faced by poor and minority women who can’t afford the run-around vs. the upper middle class woman who can sidestep all the hurdles. The Dems will continue to address the needs of white women vastly more than they do minority ones, and although the DNC will still get contributions from the Brie Club, voters will drop away.
    Bernie has two great issues he’s been talking about for years: living wages and affordable healthcare. The Dems can’t successfully play the “I was for it before I was against it” gimmick anymore. Hillary botched that so badly anyone who tries to use it in a false way will simply be too obvious.

  • […] Ted Rall Ted Rall’s Blog […]

  • Ted, Ted – you fail to understand : all your words and those of the sources to which you link are utterly irrelevant ; those Russians = thugs are just <a href=""baaaad, and Gospoding Putin is the worst. Just ask the new reincarnations of Tail Gunner Joe….


  • To CrazyH,

    Your attitude that SCIENCE is without interpretation, ESPECIALLY in courts of law, ranks down their with your major-league naivete about corporate honest brokers.

    As one Sanders & Stein voter to a self-avowed other one, I wonder why you, and the entire US corporate media conglomerate, aren’t 0.001% as concerned (relative to Russia gate) about the clear cut cheating of Sanders in the Dem primaries by the DNC/HRC as revealed by the central event that led to Russia hysteria: leak/hack of the DNC emails.

    No, CH, it’s NOT about Hillary, it’s about the DOMESTIC enemies of the republic which, by virtue of the exposure of the DNC emails, now officially include BOTH major US political parties and their continual election fraud.

    • But falco, investigating foreign «meddlers» – as long as they don’t reside in, e g, Israel or Saudi Arabia – is far more fun, and likely to lead to «better» results…. 😉


    • “I wonder why you … aren’t 0.001% as concerned (relative to Russia gate) about the clear cut cheating of Sanders”

      Whatever makes you think I”m not concerned about it? (Especially given the number of posts I’ve made on the subject.) Yes, I do have this strange idea that a president committing treason is more important than domestic dirty politics, but that in no way means I’m not concerned.

      The answer, of course, is that you’re still mired in the same false dichotomy, so yes, it IS all about Hillary (for you.) You are completely incapable of weighing DastardlyRussiansGate on its own merits, ‘cuz Hillary.

      So, when you walk down the street, do you see Hillary’s face on every woman you meet? Do you check under your bed to see whether Hillary is hiding under it? How many consecutive minutes can you go without thinking about Hillary?

      I do, however, admit to being so naive as to believe that if 1+1=2 today, then it will still be 2 tomorrow. Also that proving it in court isn’t so hard as you seem to believe.

  • Hey, didja see where Consigliori Cohen ratted out The Don? Seems that Duh Don did indeed know ahead of time that DJTJR was meeting with that Russian Spy in Trump Tower. (not that it wasn’t glaringly obvious at the first, but we now have someone willing to testify to the fact.)

    heh-heh. Cohen is playing with the big boys now, way out of his league. He never in a million years thought they’d raid his office. Now that there are possible repercussions for his acts, he’s singing a different tune: “Pigeon”

  • Some readers and posters here will find Aaron Maté’s article on the Nation website of interest ; others, of course, who know better, will not….


  • I think Russian-American journalist Masha Gessen has the most clear-eyed view of the situation. She does not dismiss the concerns, but she says we really need to revive our democracy ourselves, and stop blaming Putin. The vulnerabilities in our democracy have been building for years: not enough Americans making the effort of staying informed, being distracted by trying to make a living, watching entertainment media of all sorts etc.
    After Bill Clinton’s pushing of democracy on Russia in the 1990s, the failure of shock treatment, the rise of oligarchs, no wonder Russians find Putin a stable leader. Gessen talks about how propaganda is used to undermine Russians’ ability to believe in anything, which has become more apparent happening here in the USA lately. Once you confuse the public, they become exhausted and find authoritarian leadership comforting instead of alarming.

    • Plus, I marvel at how factory workers were able to work full-time but then were also able to organize unions, have a rich social life and get things done…before there was TV.

      • Now there are so many law stacked against unions, plus outsourcing and automation…one wonder how much longer they can hold on.
        The only response from D.C. and most state houses in response to union action will be more laws to crack down on unions. Only the young and those with noncorporate incomes can really protest, any worker with a family is putting his or her family at risk if they do more that walk around peacefully in designated areas with signs. They can donate funds to a candidate that pays them lip service and then votes the party line

      • «Only the young and those with noncorporate incomes can really protest, any worker with a family is putting his or her family at risk if they do more tha[n] walk around peacefully in designated areas with signs.» The climate for unions wasn’t so hot earlier either, Oldvet, even after the passage of the NLRB in 1935. In the US South, the Ku Klux Klan attempted to hang labour organisers, in the North people like Henry Ford hired thugs like Harry Bennett to destroy the UAW. The difference now seems to be that just those people who would benefit from and who desperately need the services of a real union, seem to have been convinced that unions are opposed to them. The impression I get from a distance is that this is the result of the fact that many of the unions that still exist in the US are public sector unions, and the rage felt in wide sectors of the working class against government policies which impoverish them and further enrich the super rich has been skilfully deflected into rage against other people, themselves workers, in that sector, who, due to their unions, have managed to maintain a modicum of economic power against the bosses. Talk about «false consciousness» !…


    • > we really need to revive our democracy ourselves


      Regardless of whether The Dastardly Russians or The Deep State had a hand in the elections, ultimately it’s We duh People who cast the votes.

  • Alas, Ted, given the nature of US politics, the Russia-Trump Conspiracy Theory is not a dead letter – what else do the DNC (or John McCain) types have to offer – surely they’re not going to attack Mr Trump for threatening war with all and sundry, which, after all, is SOP for a «no option off the table» US government ? That, on the other hand, it should be a dead letter is made quite clear from this interchange between Professor Stephen Cohen, who knows what he’s talking about, and the despicable Max Boot, who hasn’t a clue….


  • Gerrymandering and dark money those are core issues in our elections, if most districts where completive and money was keep low with fee air time for the top several candidates people would realize they might be able to get some need changes enacted…..just a dream

Comments are closed.