Journal Entry #46
1. Mueller’s Rorschach test.
NORFOLK, CONN., APRIL 19—Jiminy Cricket. It is black, it is white. It tells all, it tells nothing. The president is off the hook, the president now dangles on it —and will for the rest of his time in office.
We are in the peanut gallery of a circus of opinion now that the Mueller report is out. A lot of people make of it what they need so as to carry on with their “narratives”—a word one grows heartily tired of. These are the true believers—the MSNBC–watchers, the NPR–addicted, the New York Times faithful (“But The Times said so….”), the Democratic mainstream, all those blinded by their contempt for President Trump. Let us call these “the children.” They seem to think anything under the sun can be subjected to the right amount of spin and so conform to their beliefs.
I wish, one day, we Americans would believe and feel a little less and think a little more.
Others read the report more dispassionately, as it should be read. Let us call these… our troubled republic’s best hope of surviving this period of mania.
The Mueller report, in short, seems to have done little to make the past three years legible such that we can make our way past them with a common understanding of the events grouped as “Russiagate.” Mueller has given us a Rorschach test as much as he has delivered a conclusive report on a 22–month inquiry.
Cú Chulainn does not want to add much to the acreage of ink already published on this topic. Briefly, then.
Here are three heads from the opinion page in Saturday’s Times. “Mr. Mueller’s indictment” sits atop a Times editorial. Did I miss something? Mueller did not indict anyone. “It’s not the collusion, it’s the corruption.” A change of theme, I see. And all this time I thought it was the collusion “narrative.” “Mueller’s damning report.” If the damn thing damns anybody the damn thing damns Rachel Maddow et al.
Detached logic has fallen so far out of fashion, one long ago concluded. It is not pleasant living in such a fun house, I have to say.
Here is the head atop Glenn Greenwald’s analysis of Mueller’s document and conclusions, published Thursday in The Intercept: “Robert Mueller did not merely reject the Trump–Russia conspiracy theories. He obliterated them.” Greenwald is thoroughly responsible on all occasions and always excellent on matters with legal dimensions. He is, let us not forget, a constitutional lawyer by training. His piece is here. Cú Chulainn asks readers to find the Times stuff on their own. Désolé.
No need to go on about it. Greenwald, while carrying no candle for President Trump, gives us a well-supported read of the Mueller document. I have not read everything, but Greenwald’s piece is the best I have seen so far.
THERE IS ONE DIMENSION of Greenwald’s account that lapses, unfortunately. He makes reference to the 2016 mail thefts as if it is established that the Russians were the pilferers. In effect, he glosses the topic in just the way Mueller does: The Russian hand has been identified by ample evidence. This is a key point, of course, and I confess I have a horse in this race. But in the end, readers, we all have horses in this race. It would be difficult to overstate what rides on this matter by way of policy, diplomacy, East–West relations, global tensions, and a lot more.
It is a question of circular reasoning—a not-uncommon feature of the past three years. Mueller did not establish anything on this matter of the Democratic Party mail thefts. He interviewed no witnesses, of which an ample number were available. He did not examine forensic evidence, ditto. A plan to interview Julian Assange in exchange for limited immunity was scotched for reasons never explained by none other than James Comey, then the FBI’s director, and Senator Mark Warner, an obsessed Russophobe and purveyor of the orthodoxy.
So far as one can make out, Mueller simply accepted the fraudulent, evidence-free “assessment” issued by the self-styled “intelligence community” in January 2017. Greenwald follows Mueller, and Mueller followed a narrative—that word again—that would never stand up to principled scrutiny.
For the umpteenth time, the group of former spooks known as Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity has presented three layers of evidence indicating that the alleged “hack” in mid–2016 was no hack at all: It was a leak. These layers are (1) the download speed of the intrusion into Democratic Party mail servers, (2) “Russian fingerprints” that, it is proven, were artificially inserted, and (3) the numerical codes on the purloined files. As Ray McGovern, a VIPS member, puts it regularly, this evidence has never been challenged or disproven. Mueller’s people, once again, never even looked at it.
Per usual, the mail and social media messages started up again once the Mueller report was released Thursday: See? You were wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Apologize, apologize, pull out his eyes…. Do not wait for it, children.
Once senses that this lapse on Mueller’s part—and I confess to surprise Greenwald has lapsed, too—will now be essential to the Rrrrrussians-did-it nonsense just as “collusion” was until this week. Cú Chulainn understands: Turn over the stones as to the mail question and the phony investigation into it and some of our most essential institutions—the FBI, the intelligence agencies, the Democratic Party’s superstructure—would be in danger of collapse. Cú Chulainn understands, but he also regrets that our republic seems bent on spinning itself into oblivion as the world walks steadily past us.
2. Who got there first?
I PROPOSE A CONTEST. The thought came about as follows.
The aforementioned Mr. McGovern called the other day. It seems that one of his VIPS colleagues unearthed a column Cú Chulainn wrote when the Rrrrrussians were first accused of hacking, stealing, and disseminating the Democrats’ mail. I recall the occasion vividly. It was July 25, 2016—a sunny Monday. Three days earlier WikiLeaks had started disgorging its now-famous trove of email. On the Sunday, Robby Mook, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, was all over the morning talk shows. He cited “experts” who were able to identify the Russians as the culprits and—this part got my blood boiling—were also able to tell us the Russians’ motives. So far as I know, this was the first manifestation of what we now call Russiagate. My semi-retired reporter’s instinct immediately sensed the nonsense.
That Monday morn I rapped out a column as fast as my fingers could traverse the keyboard. Salon published it right away. I do not know how or why a colleague of Uncle Ray’s found it, but it is now republished courtesy of the good people running OpEdNews.com. The reprint is here. Kindly as the people at OpEd News are, something happened to the punctuation for one or another reason—commas and quotation marks are left out, making things unclear here and there. The version archived on this web site, thus, is here.
Seeing it again—and what a tear I was on that day—got me to thinking. Was this the first published piece to recognize Russiagate for what it was and call it the fabrication it has turned out to be?
I cannot answer this. But I put that column forward to call forth other nominations for who got there first. It may well be another or others beat me to the post. Well and good. I intend this bit of fun as a way of preserving the record. And, goodness knows, the record is in need of its preservationists.