In stunning news, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee announced late Monday that they’d found no evidence of collusion between Russia and the Donald Trump campaign. Moreover—and more hilariously—they don’t even believe that Russia was necessarily trying to help Trump when they screwed with the 2016 election. And they were led by the man you see in the image at the top of this story, Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) who when he’s not pretending to be impartial likes to go around D.C. in a MAGA hat.
Originally, I thought I might write this whole story in straight-faced news speak, but it’s just too stupid and irrelevant to deserve that kind of effort. Yes, of course the Republicans in the House say there was no collusion. They may even be right—seriously, it’s not inconceivable. But it doesn’t matter if they’re right, because they almost definitely didn’t do the leg work, and even if they discovered that there was collusion, they would still say “no collusion.” If Josef Stalin had gotten a citation for littering in the Soviet Union, and then the Politburo released a report proclaiming his innocence, it would not mean that Stalin didn’t litter.
Amazingly, Republicans on the committee still haven’t showed their conclusions to Democrats—that will happen sometime Tuesday, and the Dems are already planning a rebuttal. And the list of figures they declined to interview includes Paul Manafort, George Papadopoulos, Rick Gates, and Michael Flynn. Which is a little like writing a book about Babe Ruth and never interviewing anyone who played baseball.
The Times has the summary. Along with the no-collusion-conclusion, Republicans completely undermined what remains of their integrity with this little piece of audacity:
Representative K. Michael Conaway of Texas, who is leading the investigation, said committee Republicans agreed with the conclusions of American intelligence agencies that Russia had interfered with the election, but they broke with the agencies on one crucial point: that the Russians had favored Mr. Trump’s candidacy.
“The bottom line: The Russians did commit active measures against our election in ’16, and we think they will do that in the future,” Mr. Conaway said. But, he added, “We disagree with the narrative that they were trying to help Trump.”
I’m someone who is really sick of the Russia collusion story, and believes that it won’t end up taking Trump down. While I support Mueller’s investigation, I believe the best way to defeat Trump is on policy and activism, and the hyper-focus of a certain kind of liberal on all things Russia makes me a little nauseous. But even someone of my persuasion knows that Russia interfered in the election, and they really wanted Trump to win. It may have been a weird ragtag Internet operation of dubious influence, but it happened, and Trump was their horse. NBC News’ Ben Collins, formerly of The Daily Beast, laid it all out on Twitter last night, provided Mueller’s recent revelations weren’t good enough for you:
And that's the fatal flaw of the Republicans in the House. If they had just said “there's no evidence of collusion,” you might have to take them seriously, at least for a second. But they couldn't do that, just like Republicans in general couldn't stop their divide-and-conquer polarization strategy designed to advance the interests of corporations before it produced a demagogue like Trump. It seems very much like the GOP has resigned itself to appealing only to its most hyper-partisan citizens—the ones who will reflexively shout “fake news!” when they encounter anything that doesn't fit perfectly into their ideology.
It's absolutely moronic to insist that Russia wasn't gunning for Trump, in their limited amateur-saboteur ways, but the House intel committee just couldn't help itself. This is why the party is racing off the tracks, and it's why they're going to be punished in 2018.
But at least they made one man happy: