- - Monday, May 29, 2017


The Democrats are pinning a lot on the pursuit of the great white whale, the proof that Donald Trump colluded with the Russians to win the 2016 election. It’s the pursuit, born of Trump Derangement Syndrome, on which all hope of winning elections next year and in the year 2020 thrives.

Wiser heads in the party are warning that this could be a fool’s game. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the co-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, concedes that she has seen no evidence that the president has done anything wrong. So has James Comey, the former director of the FBI, who pursues his own vendetta to get back at the man who sacked him.

What if Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor now assigned to command the official pursuit of the great white whale, doesn’t find it, either. This has occurred to the wiser heads. But worse, what if Mr. Mueller finds actual facts that lead to unfortunate conclusions about important Democrats, such as Barack Obama and John Kerry? What then? What if the special prosecutor only finds that Donald Trump, like presidents before him, only did what presidents are sworn to do in the execution of their sworn duties?

Two years ago President Obama worked behind the scenes, just as President Trump is accused of having done, to work out a new and more productive relationship with Vladimir Putin, in part to reduce Russian aggression in Ukraine, and to improve generally U.S. relations with an old enemy. He did not try to hide what he was doing. Why should he have?

John Kerry, the secretary of State, was leading the campaign to improve the conversation with the Russians. “I don’t think that anybody at this point is under the impression that a wholesale reset of our relationship is possible at this time,” a senior administration (not further identified) told Josh Rogin of Bloomberg News, at that time. “But we might as well test out what they are actually willing to do. Our theory of this all along as been, let’s see what’s there, regardless of the likelihood of success.”

Mr. Kerry proposed going to Moscow to meet Mr. Putin himself, and planning proceeded to working out the details of the trip, but everything was canceled when the president and the secretary of State concluded there was no prospect of “demonstrable progress.”

“Back-channel communications” are the name of the game between governments, and some of the older hands at The Washington Post and The New York Times surely know this. Nevertheless, the two newspapers continue to push the notion that President Trump and his administration has tried to sell out American interests to the rogues in Moscow. Just what these interests are is not clear, but the Trump administration is surely up to something bad and maybe evil. Why else would the bad people in the Trump White House be talking to the bad Russians, and probably in rooms with the doors shut? Maybe even at night, at night there if not yet night here.

“They meet often, often without any staff members present, and talk on the phone regularly.” Well, that sounds pretty nefarious, but it’s actually not about Donald Trump, or Mike Pence, or Rex Tillerson. That was what Josh Rogin of Bloomberg was reporting two years ago about John Kerry and his outreach to Russia, selected because of “his close relationship with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.”

There was nothing wicked, shameful or illegal about it, just a president and his administration going about their sworn duty. It’s what presidents, their secretaries of State and other surrogates do. This, as the special prosecutor might find, is what President Trump and his surrogates have done, too. Someone might explain this to the editors of some of our esteemed newspapers. They could use the tutorial.



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