FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

To Celebrate or to Not? The Mueller Question

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

Finally, it’s over. Well, sort of, anyway. Late Sunday afternoon, Attorney General Bill Barr released his much-anticipated summary of Bob Mueller’s Russia investigation. The big news, of course, was that nobody in Trump’s orbit “knowingly” coordinated with Russian efforts to disrupt the 2016 election. Trump won’t be charged with obstruction of justice and not a single American was indicted for conspiracy.

To the delight of Russiagate skeptics, it was a complete vindication. To the dismay of the liberal establishment and MSDNC — who all cashed in on the chaos — it was an enormous letdown.

Much of the celebration, however, took on a twisted form. Matt Taibbi was the most contorted, writing in a column that, “WMD was a pimple compared to Russiagate. The sheer scale of the errors and exaggerations this time around dwarfs the last mess.”

There’s no question Russiagate was a colossal abstraction, but comparing Russia-mania to the WMD deception, which led to an illegal war that killed a half million people while germinating ISIS, was a depraved mischaracterization.

The Intercept‘s $500,000 man Glenn Greenwald wasn’t far behind Taibbi’s glee, exclaiming on Democracy Now! that the last two years was “the saddest media spectacle I’ve ever seen.” Like Taibbi, Greenwald appears to have a memory lapse, forgetting just how culpable mainstream media was in perpetuating the lies that led us into the bloody war on Iraq. Maybe we should cut him some slack. It could just be that Greenwald wasn’t keeping tabs on the media’s mishaps back then, as he never abandoned his “trust in the Bush administration,” and accepted Bush’s “judgment that American security really would be enhanced by the invasion of this sovereign country.”

Yes, Glenn, Russiagate was bad, but it didn’t lead us into an endless string of wars in the Middle East. Just a reminder, millions of us were ahead of the curve in opposing the fucking monstrosity and we never for a second bought Bush’s bullshit lies.

Greenwald’s childish delight was also contradictory. The same report he glorified in exonerating Trump on collusion matters also found that Russia attempted to “conduct disinformation and social media operations” in an attempt to interfere with the 2016 election. A part of that effort, claims Mueller, was the hack of the Democratic Party by the Russian government that included caches of emails from John Podesta and the DNC, which were later handed over to Wikileaks and trusted journalists like Greenwald at The Intercept. As Barr’s summary notes:

“The Special Counsel found that Russian government actors successfully hacked into computers and obtained emails from persons affiliated with the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party organizations, and publicly disseminated those materials through various intermediaries, including Wikileaks.”

Let’s break it down. According to Mueller, Wikileaks along with Greenwald, were spoon-fed Democratic emails that were hacked by Russian operatives in the form of Guccifer 2.0 that were intended to damage Hillary Clinton and the Democrats. One doesn’t have to be a fan of Hillary to understand the motives and implications behind Russia’s alleged disruption campaign, but a transparent journalist, at least in hindsight, would be honest about their source’s motives as well as the timing of the dump, which happened at the same moment Trump’s p-grabbing tape from Access Hollywood hit the airwaves. Yet, Greenwald is cherishing the portion of Mueller’s report that claims there was no collusion while ignoring the Russian meddling charge, specifically his role in the matter. Don’t expect that to change. If Greenwald were to ponder whether or not Mueller’s team got it right on the DNC hack, it would throw the veracity of the whole report into question.

For the record, as many of our readers know, CounterPunch was also a target of alleged Russian interference in the form of the fictitious reporter Alice Donovan, who was directly named in Mueller’s July indictment. Donovan was accused by Mueller as having been the first persona to promote the DCLeaks project around social media. We published one story by Donovan during the election on cyber-warfare. Even though we were catfished, we were skeptical early on of the real intent of the Russia fixation and opted to reserve judgment on the Mueller report until it was wrapped up.

There’s no doubt Russiagate infected many liberal minds that obsessed over the prospect of Trump as a Russian agent beholden to Putin’s masculine appeal. The most pompous among them was Rachel Maddow, who, during a six-week stretch in 2017, covered Russiagate more than all other news topics combined. Maddow’s fear-mongering delirium only served as a 24/7 distraction to Trump’s much more tangible crimes. It was all by design, as Maddow’s sky-high ratings kept her show smoldering atop the stinky pile of cable news punditry.

Unfortunately, Russiagate isn’t likely to die a slow death. Wikileaks, who Mueller says played a role in disseminating the Democrats’ hacked emails, is still under investigation. The Julian Assange saga, whose indictment appears to be under seal, doesn’t look to be ending soon either. Chelsea Manning remains in solitary confinement for refusing a grand jury subpoena that’s tied to the Fed’s investigation of Assange. And on Monday, the Supreme Court decided it would not hear a challenge by an unknown foreign financial institution that’s fighting a Mueller subpoena. Then there is Michael Cohen’s ongoing cooperation and the dangling matters of Roger Stone and Michael Flynn.

The tentacles of the Mueller inquiry are likely to slither on for years in the form of probes by the Southern District of New York and others involving campaign finance and Trump Organization affairs. The House Judiciary Committee, the final arbiter on the question of impeachment, will continue its own investigation, utilizing its subpoena powers while pressing for the full release of the Mueller report, which the public deserves to untangle. In other words, the buck doesn’t stop with Bob Mueller and Bill Barr.

Despite the outright jubilation by the likes of Greenwald, the tepid denial by MSDNC, and sanctimonious relief by Republicans that there were no indictments filed against Trump, it’s pertinent to remember that criminal offenses aren’t always impeachable, and impeachable offenses aren’t always criminal in nature.

This administration has committed so many crimes, perpetrated so much destruction, it makes little difference if they “colluded” with Russia to influence the election or not, there is still much more fodder. Remember, Russia isn’t the real enemy. The entire bi-partisan establishment is.

More articles by:

JOSHUA FRANK is managing editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book, co-authored with Jeffrey St. Clair, is Big Heat: Earth on the Brink. He can be reached at joshua@counterpunch.org. You can troll him on Twitter @joshua__frank

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

April 24, 2019
Susan Babbitt
Disdain and Dignity: An Old (Anti-Imperialist) Story
Adam Jonas Horowitz
Letter to the Emperor
Lawrence Davidson
A Decisive Struggle For Our Future
John Steppling
The Mandate for Israel: Keep the Arabs Down
Victor Grossman
Many Feet
Cira Pascual Marquina
The Commune is the Supreme Expression of Participatory Democracy: a Conversation with Anacaona Marin of El Panal Commune
Binoy Kampmark
Failed States and Militias: General Khalifa Haftar Moves on Tripoli
Dean Baker
Payments to Hospitals Aren’t Going to Hospital Buildings
Alvaro Huerta
Top Ten List in Defense of MEChA
Colin Todhunter
As the 2019 Indian General Election Takes Place, Are the Nation’s Farmers Being Dealt a Knock-Out Blow?
Charlie Gers
Trump’s Transgender Troops Ban is un-American and Inhumane
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Just Another Spring in Progress?
Thomas Knapp
On Obstruction, the Mueller Report is Clintonesque
Elliot Sperber
Every Truck’s a Garbage Truck
April 23, 2019
Peter Bolton
The Monroe Doctrine is Back, and as the Latest US Attack on Cuba Shows, Its Purpose is to Serve the Neoliberal Order
David Schultz
The Mueller Report: Trump Too Inept to Obstruct Justice
Geoff Beckman
Crazy Uncle Joe and the Can’t We All Just Get Along Democrats
Medea Benjamin
Activists Protect DC Venezuelan Embassy from US-supported Coup
Patrick Cockburn
What Revolutionaries in the Middle East Have Learned Since the Arab Spring
Jim Goodman
Don’t Fall for the Hype of Free Trade Agreements
Lance Olsen
Climate and Forests: Land Managers Must Adapt, and Conservationists, Too
William Minter
The Coming Ebola Epidemic
Tony McKenna
Stephen King’s IT: a 2019 Retrospective
David Swanson
Pentagon Claims 1,100 High Schools Bar Recruiters; Peace Activists Offer $1,000 Award If Any Such School Can Be Found
Gary Olson
A Few Comments on the recent PBS Series: Reconstruction: America After the Civil War
April 22, 2019
Melvin Goodman
The NYTs Tries to Rehabilitate Bloody Gina Haspel
Robert Fisk
After ISIS, a Divided Iraq, Wounded and Grief-Stricken
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange as Neuroses
John Laforge
Chernobyl’s Deadly Effects Estimates Vary
Kenneth Surin
Mueller Time? Not for Now
Cesar Chelala
Yemen: The Triumph of Barbarism
Kerron Ó Luain
What the “White Irish Slaves” Meme Tells Us About Identity Politics
Andy Piascik
Grocery Store Workers Take on Billion Dollar Multinational
Seiji Yamada – Gregory G. Maskarinec
Health as a Human Right: No Migrants Need Apply
Howard Lisnoff
Loose Bullets and Loose Cannons
Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada
Dreaming in Miami
Graham Peebles
Consuming Stuff: The Polluting World of Fashion
Robert Dodge
Earth Day: Our Planet in Peril
Weekend Edition
April 19, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What Will It Take For Trump to Get His Due?
Roy Eidelson
Is the American Psychological Association Addicted to Militarism and War?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Time is Blind, Man is Stupid
Joshua Frank
Top 20 Mueller Report “Findings”
Rob Urie
Why Russiagate Will Never Go Away
Paul Street
Stephen Moore Gets Something Right: It’s Capitalism vs. Democracy
Russell Mokhiber
Why Boeing and Its Executives Should be Prosecuted for Manslaughter
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail