Sanctimony Revisited

John Linder Former Congressman
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The story about the meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and the Russians could not have come at a more propitious time for the political and chattering classes. It gives them one more reason to display their sanctimony. Not that they ever needed a reason.

Was it wrong for Trump to take the meeting? Probably. Would another campaign have turned it down? Never. They would, however, have handled it differently. And those who are in high dudgeon over meeting with a “foreign adversary” regarding domestic politics need to take a deep breath.

Imagine for a moment a political consultant, say Matthew Dowd, advising the McCain campaign in 2008 against Barack Obama. A Russian agent approaches a campaign operative and says, “Putin is helping Obama by keeping his first two wives locked up in Lubyanka until the election is over.”

Well. Who knew Obama had two previous wives? But this is from the Russians. A conundrum. Dowd puffs himself up and pronounces, ex Cathedra, “We do not accept information from adversaries.”

Sure.  Actually, Dowd would turn to a trusted friend, probably an attorney who has experience separating wheat from chaff, and say, “Check it out.” It would be campaign malpractice to not do so.

Likewise, when the Clinton campaign heard that Ukraine had dirt on Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort they sent a veteran Democrat operative to Ukraine to meet with, not some political lobbyist seeking access, but Ukrainian government officials who were anxious to involve Ukraine in our election. Information regarding Manafort’s previous work for the Ukrainian opposition party was made public and Manafort was forced to resign from the Trump campaign. Interestingly, this colluding with a foreign power was not considered anti-American nor newsworthy.

Michael Reagan has recently written about efforts by Democrats to get the former Soviet Union involved in our elections. Senator Ted Kennedy asked long-time friend and former Senator John Tunney to go to Moscow and seek the Soviets’ help in his primary challenge against President Carter. President Carter and Speaker Tip O’Neil both appealed directly with the top leadership of the Soviet Union asking for their help in defeating Reagan.

Do you remember the days of wall-to-wall news coverage of those attacks on our democracy? Me neither.

The Russians, and the Soviets before them, have been meddling in free elections for 70 years. Most nations pick sides in other nations’ elections. We have our own interests to look after and whoever is elected in the UK or Germany or France, or more recently Israel, matters to us.

Michael Caputo was sent to Russia in 1994 by President Bill Clinton to help in Boris Yeltsin’s election. President Obama sent $350,000 and former Obama campaign workers into Israel to attempt to defeat Bibi Netanyahu. Our CIA snooped into the backgrounds of each of the candidates in the 2012 French elections.

Professor Dov Levin of Carnegie Mellon University has assembled a database documenting as many as 81 occasions between 1946 and 2000 when the United States interfered in elections in other countries.

But, apparently this one was different. This was end-of-democracy interference. One CNN contributor considered the Russian involvement in our election so grave that he said we should bomb the KGB.

Bomb the KGB! Not for annexing Crimea. Not for threatening Eastern Ukraine. Not for killing our allies in Syria. For hacking emails! They are unhinged.

One year ago the FBI began investigating whether Trump colluded with the Russians in their interference. There is no evidence. But that has not stopped the media and the Democrats from creating enough smoke to demand more investigations.

Senate Democrat Leader Chuck Schumer and the House Select Committee on Intelligence Ranking Democrat Adam Schiff, were both told by the FBI that President Trump was not under investigation. Both continued to raise questions in public as though he was.

The Donald Trump Jr. meeting with Russians was predicated on a lie and lasted 20 minutes. We’ve had more than a week of wall-to-wall coverage of a meeting that produced no result.

Sunday’s talk shows told us breathlessly that we now have heard four different versions of the story about the meeting. The media will not rest until they get the bottom of this. You will remember how dogged the media was to get to the truth about Benghazi. We might have heard a third and fourth version of that story too if the media had as much invested in the deaths of four Americans as they did in the last election.

In a conversation about the Trump meeting with Brian Williams on MSNBC, Andrea Mitchell said that she had no idea what others were talking about regarding the Clinton campaign and Ukraine. Nor, it appears, did she care.

Are you beginning to wonder why the press deserves constitutional protection?

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