At least Tomas de Torquemada, the Grand Inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition, had a shred of evidence when he unleashed his horrific crusade to purge Spain of alleged secret Jews. They were the Spaniards whose ancestors were Conversos, neighbors whose forefathers, generations or even centuries earlier, had converted to Catholicism, often at the point of a sword. Everyone who was a descendant of a Converso, (many of whom didn’t even know they were of Jewish ancestry) was suspect. That they were of Converso ancestry was all the evidence the fanatical Castilian Dominican friar needed to send the suspected infidels to the rack. Pretty paltry evidence, but evidence nonetheless. Of course, Torquemada, himself a descendant of Converso’s, conveniently exempted himself from the Inquisition
Today’s inquisitors are simply partisan Never Trumpster members of any of the various congressional or agency committees who have been feeding at the Never-Trump trough. Let’s count them. There’s the House Intelligence Committee, the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Senate Judiciary Committee, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, The Senate Judiciary Armed Services Committee and the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism. And, of course, we have the FBI, the CIA and the NSA, all of which have, and are, conducting their own investigations. The first of these investigations commenced last July, nearly a year ago.
There seems to be plenty of evidence that the Russians practiced high mischief during the 2016 presidential campaign, but that’s really nothing new. We’ve engaged in some pretty impressive mischief ourselves. Our snoops were bugging German Chancellor Merkel’s phone for ten years, and in July of last year, the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations found that an NGO with connections to President Obama’s 2008 campaign used U.S. taxpayer dollars in an attempt to oust Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2015. But we digress.
Here’s what we know so far: none of these Trump/Russia investigations have found a shred of evidence (not a shred) linking the Trump campaign, or Trump himself, to any election collusion with Russia. Everyone agrees that there’s been plenty of smoke, but they’ve lost sight of the fact that most of the smoke has been created by leaks from anonymous sources within those committees and agencies who are searching for collusion. And according to none other than former FBI Director James Comey, media stories suggesting that the multitude of investigations have found collusion simply have been dead wrong.
This is serious stuff. The Russians could have never dreamed in a million years that their cyber-age mischief (hacking and leaking the unseemly goings on in the Clinton campaign) could have so tied up and paralyzed our government. Nor could they have imagined the distemper that would be unleashed in the land. Last month in Portland two men were killed and another injured when they tried to stop a deranged man from harassing two women, one black and the other wearing a hijab. As we went to press today, a Sanders supporter began shooting up a congressional Republican baseball team practicing for an annual Republican-Democrat charity baseball game. We are making a spectacle of ourselves searching for some scintilla of evidence that Trump or his campaign was involved in the Russian hijinks. The Clinton campaign masterfully pivoted attention from its own foibles to the fact that we learned of them from Russian hackers. The Russian hacking and the predictable innuendo that the Trump campaign must have been involved became the issue.
Our top intelligence agencies have been investigating the possible link between the Trump campaign and the Russians ever since Moscow’s election mischief became apparent nearly a year ago. One of the most powerful men in our nation’s intelligence community has been James Clapper, former US Director of Intelligence, the cabinet level position that coordinates all of our intelligence efforts and advises the President accordingly. No fan of President Trump, Clapper nonetheless confirmed that as of the time he left government none of our intelligence agencies could find any evidence that the Trump campaign or Trump himself had colluded with the Russians.
Former CIA Acting Director Michael Morell, himself a presumed Clinton supporter, also concluded that the CIA had found no evidence that Trump associates cooperated with the Russians. Smoke but no fire, “not even a spark,” he said. The same is true of virtually every Democratic member of a congressional investigating committee when asked if their committee had found any evidence of collusion. No evidence. Plenty of smoke, but no evidence. And where has the smoke originated? From unnamed sources within the various committees. The one named source who has, perhaps, the greatest gripe regarding President Trump, Former FBI Director James Comey, has also acknowledged, under oath, that the bureau had found no evidence of collusion, and that press reports to the contrary were simply wrong.
The Russians probably can’t believe what we are doing to ourselves. We had an election in which both candidates wound up with an opponent they could only have prayed for. Each had millions of followers who could not countenance a win by the other side. Millions on each side delight in whatever misery they can inflict on the other side. Little to nothing gets done and the nation suffers as politicians get in their licks.
As we have written in recent essays, the danger of “over-the-top” implacable, bitter and revengeful harassment of the Trump Administration could well produce a backlash that will redound to the benefit of the Republicans and to President Trump.
Now, irrational schadenfreude reigns supreme. We are reminded of Shakespeare’s “The Rape of Lucrece”:
“What win I, if I gain the thing I seek?
A dream, a breath, a froth of fleeting joy.
Who buys a minute’s mirth to wail a week?
Or sells eternity to get a toy?
For one sweet grape who will the vine destroy?
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