- - Wednesday, May 31, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Vladimir Putin is not your ordinary commentator on American politics, though it’s true that punditry is not what it was before the internet gave every blowhard with a laptop or a smartphone a platform on which to display his ignorance. Besides, the devil can quote Scripture, as the wise man said.

Nevertheless, when Mr. Putin blew through Paris the other day he sat down with Le Figaro, the Paris daily, and reaffirmed his earlier declaration than Russia did not have anything to do with the hacking of the Democratic National Committee, or colluded in interfering in the 2016 elections.

Claims of Russian interference, he said, were driven by the “desire of those who lost the U.S. election to improve their standing. They want to explain to themselves and prove to others that they had nothing to do with it, their policy is right, they have done everything well, but someone from the outside cheated them.

“The people who lost the vote hate to acknowledge that they indeed lost because the person who won was closer to the people and had a better understanding of what people wanted.”

Mr. Putin may be a better pundit than a president, and he’s hardly the man to curate American politics, to use a word suddenly fashionable to describe art, food, politics and anything else dear to the hearts of the pretenders to knowledge. When he says, as he did in Paris, that Russia has never engaged in trifling with elections in other countries, we’re entitled to scoff.

Nevertheless, his insistence that there was no collusion with Donald Trump and his campaign comports with what James Comey and Dianne Feinstein say as well, so maybe he could be telling an approximation of the truth. If the devil can quote Scripture, maybe the old KGB hand can be telling it straight. Or maybe not. The jury, and the special prosecutor, are still out.

What is true is that the Democrats have put all their chips on Robert Mueller’s investigation of the notion that it was the Russians who cooked Hillary Clinton’s goose. There certainly doesn’t seem to be any “there,” but just because no one has seen a unicorn in the garden doesn’t mean there isn’t one somewhere.

The search for something, anything, to impeach President Trump for something he has actually done goes on, perhaps as a back-up crime just in case Vlad, James Comey and Dianne Feinstein are wrong. The Democrats are dreaming big with whatever evidence, or “evidence,” they can find.

Nancy Pelosi, who dreams of getting a corner office in one of the House Office Buildings again, thinks she might have found an alternative impeachable crime. She thinks it odd, maybe rising to high crime or at least misdemeanor, that Mr. Trump visited Saudi Arabia on his first overseas trip.

“I thought it was unusual for the president of the United States to go to Saudi Arabia first. Saudi Arabia!” (The exclamation point is hers.) “It wasn’t even alphabetical.”

Indeed, Mr. Trump, the secretary of State, the National Security Adviser, Mike Pence and a few others plotting the trip skipped over Albania, Algeria, Andorra and Angola in arranging the trip. Surely someone at the White House knows his alphabet better than to put Saudi Arabia ahead of that A-list quartet. But wait: Saudi Arabia begins with “S,” so it’s worse than Nancy thought.

Antigua and Barbados, Bhutan, Equatorial Guinea, Leichenstein and St. Vincent and the Grenadines all come before Saudi Arabia in the State Department’s alphabetical list of nations. Can’t anybody here play this game?

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