Marc Thiessen sure has a short memory of history on why Congress is divided on placing countermeasures to the active Russian propaganda. He even uttered the innocent-seeming question of Where is our bipartisanship?
So why is this not happening? Because Democrats have politicized the issue, weaponizing the Russia inquiry in an effort to delegitimize Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton with these unfounded collusion charges. They have put their partisan goal of bringing down President Trump ahead of what should be a national goal that unites both parties — uncovering and stopping Russia’s attack on our democracy.
Thiessen should read the newspaper where his columns get printed. Just one month after Trump won, the Washington Post published a piece on how the Obama White House responded when they finally figured out the Russian’s scheme.
The Obama administration has been debating for months how to respond to the alleged Russian intrusions, with White House officials concerned about escalating tensions with Moscow and being accused of trying to boost Clinton’s campaign.
In September (2016), during a secret briefing for congressional leaders, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) voiced doubts about the veracity of the intelligence, according to officials present. […]
According to several officials, McConnell raised doubts about the underlying intelligence and made clear to the administration that he would consider any effort by the White House to challenge the Russians publicly an act of partisan politics.
Just to be clear: Obama tried to be non-disruptive and McConnell thought the intelligence report was a White House’s play to inject partisanship. Thiessen went further:
The president’s critics complain that his response to the Mueller indictment is defensive. America is under attack, they say, and all he can talk about is himself. Well, whose fault is that? For more than a year, Democrats have repeatedly accused Trump of colluding with Moscow. Now the special counsel has issued an indictment that shows — at least with regard to this element of the Russian effort — that no collusion took place.
Let’s go back to history. Mueller’s original objective was to look into the meddling and scoop up any wrong doings he found while there. Last Friday’s indictment was the first part. Thiessen admitted that an expose of collusion “will still emerge” and inserted that caveat neatly in the middle of the piece. But it’s an important caveat. So what if “Trump’s response is not the behavior of someone who is worried that Mueller will find evidence he knowingly engaged in collusion?” He could just shut up like any previous president would when their administration is under review. By speaking up, by drawing attention to it, Trump is risk of having to backtrack or engage in historical revisions. Just let Mueller’s team do their jobs rather than issue threats of firing or complaining that the world is out to get him.
In fact, the only evidence so far of any cooperation between a hired operative of a 2016 campaign and Russian officials is when the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee paid Christopher Steele to collect dirt on Trump from Russian officials. If Trump had paid a former spy to collect dirt on Clinton from Russian officials, Democrats would be shouting that they had the “smoking gun.”
It’s true Trump didn’t hire a former spy to dig up dirt, but he did invite the Russian hackers to hack Clinton’s email server.
Russia’s effort was sophisticated and complex, and presents an ongoing threat not just to America but to our allies as well. Trump was not in office when the Russian effort began in 2014 . . . or in 2015 . . . or in 2016. For three years, President Barack Obama did virtually nothing in response to this attack on America.
“Virtually nothing” is Thiessen’s way to sound certain. Again, the Obama administration and the intelligence committee did not put two-and-two together until that summer. And when Obama did, what did McConnell, the leader of Congress think? He refused to be a partner in stopping the Russian effort.
Look, we all have blinders. When the facts don’t sync with our views, we’d likely either reject them or rationalizing them into something we can live with. Thiessen is clearly undergoing some sort of self-rationalization. He should hurry along and accept history as it happened and not penning a dumb take that tried revise facts and timelines. For doing so, Thiessen inaugurated my new, occasional series: Dumb Takes.