Right On: For Democrats, what goes around comes around, part 2

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OPINION — Hillary Clinton blames almost everybody but herself for her election loss. Trump/Russia collusion is at the top of her list.

So did the Russians meddle? Yes.

Did their meddling defeat Clinton? Almost certainly not, but there’s no way of knowing what role each of her various campaign blunders played in her loss.

Read more: Right On: For Democrats, what goes around comes around, part 1

So what do we know?

Our government now claims to have proof that Russians, almost certainly with Russian government approval, hacked into Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s email and into the Democratic National Committee as well. Thousands of hacked emails from both sources were published online by WikiLeaks.

Did these leaks influence the campaign? Yes, but their primary effect was outrage that political organizations had been hacked. Their contents, while there were juicy tidbits for political junkies, made little difference to most voters.

Don’t believe me? As a test before you read the next paragraph, see if you remember a single revelation from the email hacks.

Revelations about Democratic National Committee favoritism toward Clinton and opposition to Bernie Sanders attracted the most attention. Podesta’s hacked emails included disparaging comments about Catholics and evangelicals, Hillary Clinton being given debate questions in advance, collusion between the Department of Justice and the campaign and negative descriptions of a Latino politician.

With the hacks now largely forgotten by Clinton apologists, Russian use of Facebook, Google and Twitter has drawn massive media and Congressional attention. Left-leaning media were quick to point to anti-Clinton, pro-Trump messaging of various kinds.

Facebook says Russian ad purchases totaled about $150,000. The Clinton campaign spent a total of $1.5 billion dollars including as much as $40 million in Facebook ads. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called the possibility “crazy” that this tiny amount of Russian spending could have influenced the election.

Zuckerberg knows whereof he speaks. Liberals estimate that as many as 126 million Americans saw Russian Facebook messages over 32 months. Compare that to 517 million Facebook ad impressions per hour. Over 3 million user posts, messages, photos and shared links are added every minute. The average American sees upwards of 5,000 branding messages or ads per day from all sources.

Anyone who believes that Russian Facebook ads turned the election must believe Russians are vastly better at targeting American voters than the Clinton campaign was.

Russian strategy is now clear: They do all they can to promote and exploit social and political divisions in our society. While their Facebook meddling was little noticed during the election itself, the subsequent uproar has been a great success.

Nevertheless hoping to find actual Trump/Russia collusion, the Clinton campaign and the DNC funded an opposition research shop, Fusion GPS. Fusion had previously been funded by conservative Trump opponents to do the same during the Republican primaries.

There is nothing wrong morally or ethically with opposition research. Athletic teams, competing companies and political parties do it all the time: “Know thine enemy.”

Democrats were embarrassed about this particular turn to the dark side and denied repeatedly that they had funded Fusion’s work. Both Maggie Haberman and Kenneth Vogel of The New York Times blasted Clinton’s campaign and the DNC for sanctimoniously lying for a year about their involvement.

Fusion’s resulting 35-page Trump dossier consisted of various unsubstantiated claims of Russian attempts to bribe and blackmail Trump. It also claimed that Trump campaign operatives met with Russians, seeking hacked DNC and Podesta emails.

A number of analysts have concluded that much of the dossier was disinformation provided by Russian government sources that fooled Fusion. If so, it is another evidence of Russia’s successful attempt to sow discord in America’s government and institutions.

Democrats shopped the dossier around, but no major news organization was willing to ride this pony before the election. Responsible news organizations check their sources and the dossier’s claims were largely unverifiable and several have been shown to be complete fabrications.

So why weren’t the Clinton campaign and the DNC using dossier information themselves against Trump before the election? The only logical explanation is that they didn’t believe it and wouldn’t stand behind it publicly.

So as an alternative, Clinton staffers used the dossier privately to convince friends in the Obama administration to turn America’s formidable intelligence apparatus on Trump, hoping something useful would be discovered.

Given information from Fusion, the Obama administration sent spies and spooks to find Trump/Russian collusion. The FBI and NSA obtained wiretap warrants and began monitoring Trump advisors.

This brings us to another impact of Russian meddling: using the FBI and the intelligence community for partisan politics. As The New York Times concluded, the investigation’s partisan purposes were revealed when a summary of the dossier was widely distributed within the Obama administration and to Congress, ensuring it would be leaked.

As part of this effort, Sen. Harry Reid wrote an open letter to FBI Director James Comey 10 days before the election demanding an investigation into the charges, hoping his letter would sway voters.

Obama’s partisan purposes were further demonstrated by over 260 “unmasking” requests made by Obama staffer Susan Rice and U. N. Ambassador Samantha Power. FBI and NSA intercepts, with names of U.S. citizens unmasked, were illegally and widely circulated within the outgoing Obama administration and Congress, ensuring more leaks with the intent of tarring the incoming administration.

Caught up in this partisan dragnet – but rightfully so – were Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos, both of whom lied to cover up meetings with Russians. Neither of them is accused of asking for or accepting stolen emails. When the Trump campaign wouldn’t touch the emails, they found their way to WikiLeaks.

In fact, no evidence of Trump/Russian collusion has surfaced yet in spite of frenetic efforts by the media and the special prosecutor. The Manafort and Gates indictments and Papadopoulos guilty plea do not mention collusion.

If collusion evidence emerges, so be it: Prosecute and impeach as appropriate.

As this column goes to press, the House Intelligence Committee is expecting to receive FBI files pertinent to Obama’s Trump investigation. The committee may be able to tell us whether the Obama administration used the dossier to launch and leak a politically-motivated FBI investigation.

Turnabout is fair play. Democrats insisted on a Trump/Russia collusion investigation; they got it. Now they are the subject of a Congressional investigation to determine if they are guilty of what the Constitution calls “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Howard Sierer is an opinion columnist for St. George News. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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  • Stephen Joe November 9, 2017 at 9:36 am

    Nice spin Howard! Your target demographic must surely be impressed. This progressive democratic socialist is however, unimpressed by your consistently insipid rants.

    • .... November 9, 2017 at 9:55 am

      Yep. ..couldn’t of said it any better

      • mesaman November 9, 2017 at 9:05 pm

        Don’t be so modest, dottie. Of course you could have said it better but you’d have to be a progressive democrat socialist to do so.

  • terry87 November 9, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    I keep finding myself telling republicans that Hillary lost, and you need to move on. You got your guy, why is everyone still talking about her? Maybe focus on here and now and … we’re going to do moving forward? Clinton’s not coming back, she has no chance and she knows that. All this Clinton stuff is distracting everyone from more important issues.

    There are people investigating the collusion. Trump’s and Hillary’s. If they did something wrong, it’ll come out. But right now, all we can do is wait for the investigations to run their course, and it’s irresponsible to make claims about these investigations when they haven’t even been completed. You don’t know …. More importantly, there are actual issues that need to be addressed….healthcare, taxes, infrastructure, etc., etc…. Only we’re not focusing on that, we’re just … on each other and making the world insufferable.

    In an ideal world, people would stop writing articles that only serve to divide people, and instead put more heart and integrity into their stories. Stop being part of the problem.

    Ed. ellipses

  • Caveat_Emptor November 9, 2017 at 6:25 pm

    Howard, if your objective was to continue to stimulate discussion of the 2016 election and subsequent events you have been successful.
    It is still too early to conclude what relationship your candidate had with Russia, if any, and more importantly, what influence that may have had on the electoral vote outcome. RM’s investigation will give us the facts, but few have the political courage to act.
    IMHO – we have an uneducated electorate, on average, who may vote for a candidate, but do not seem to ask too may questions…..they are swayed by rhetoric, instead of the facts. They voted against “business as usual”…….
    In all fairness, HRC was certainly not without her baggage, and further revelations would have occurred during the twelve months since last election. We pretty much knew that the DNC was ignoring Bernie, in HRC’s favor…..Donna Brazile confirmed our suspicions with her most recent book.
    Obama told his share of whoppers, perhaps even believing them…….and his executive orders, at times, were inconsistent with common sense. The current administration has chosen to roll back some of these stupid requirements, in conjunction with some common sense regulations that protect the electorate.
    Let’s revisit the subject after the first of year once some form of tax reform has been approved. It is likely to favor the 1% of individual taxpayers, and burden our kids and grandkids with huge future defecits…..

  • bikeandfish November 9, 2017 at 7:36 pm

    I would think logic would dictate that Howard treat any and all discoveries found during the investigation with an unbiased response. If the author expects us to wait for the results of the investigation before judging the Trump administration than the same expectation should apply to the elements involving HRC. But instead of being consistent and intellectually honest we get partisan tribalism and its most over used tool, deflection.

    We are doomed to continue to repeat this disfunctional cycle until Americans are willing to hold their own candidates, parties and representatives accountable with the same vigor they do their opposition. But that means dealing with cognitive dissonance, facts and getting out of our bubbles. That happens daily to us all but I am not convinced we have seen the sea change needed to erode away any of the political loyalties that are causing these problems.

    If history is any indication, in 3 or 7 years America will experience a inverse situation in regards to government representation. We’ll swap roles. When the new president is investigated, and lets be honest that is going to be part of our cycle of disfunction as well, the Democrats will use the time honored tool of deflection while the Republican party jumps at every chance to indict the majority party. Its cynical but partisan hacks like Sierer don’t give me, an unaffiliated moderate, any reason to think a different outcome is on the horizon.

  • dodgers November 10, 2017 at 5:20 am

    Howard-good column. I appreciate your informative and objective explanation. Let’s hope the Russian collusion investigation isn’t limited to our current president and administration, but instead covers ALL who may be involved. That said, I have little confidence that the political establishment will earnestly pursue any evidence leading to one of their own.

  • dodgers November 10, 2017 at 5:39 am

    Howard-good column. I appreciate your informative and objective explanation. Let’s hope the Russian collusion investigation isn’t limited to our current president and administration, but instead covers ALL who may be involved. That said, I have little confidence that the political establishment will earnestly pursue any evidence leading to one of their own.

  • commonsense November 10, 2017 at 11:21 am

    Well done Howard. The blowback from Dems is predictable. I’ve seen nothing from any liberal source explaining the methods and logic of a Russian/Trump collusion. Hillary became so exposed that the Republicans didn’t need any help from Russia.

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