It’s interesting watching the narrative on the Democrats change after Mueller’s report essentially blew up the Russian collusion conspiracy theory. This op-ed published by CNN suggests what the new “official” media line might look like:
The partisan warfare over the Mueller report will rage, but one thing cannot be denied: Former President Barack Obama looks just plain bad. On his watch, the Russians meddled in our democracy while his administration did nothing about it.
The Mueller report flatly states that Russia began interfering in American democracy in 2014. Over the next couple of years, the effort blossomed into a robust attempt to interfere in our 2016 presidential election. The Obama administration knew this was going on and yet did nothing. In 2016, Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice told her staff to “stand down” and “knock it off” as they drew up plans to “strike back” against the Russians, according to an account from Michael Isikoff and David Corn in their book “Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump”.
Why did Obama go soft on Russia? My opinion is that it was because he was singularly focused on the nuclear deal with Iran. Obama wanted Putin in the deal, and to stand up to him on election interference would have, in Obama’s estimation, upset that negotiation. This turned out to be a disastrous policy decision.
The op-ed suggests some blame-shifting going on. The author of the op-ed is not a Democrat, but a former assistant to George W. Bush, and also a former campaign adviser to Mitch McConnell.
The op-ed’s entire hypothesis of “blaming Obama for everything” rests on the idea that there was a major Russian plan to influence the 2016 election in some way. The establishment and the media have been unable to assemble a coherent explanation of what it is the Russians supposedly did in 2016.
In spite of this matter being investigated for three years, there is no formal accounting of Russian activity in the 2016 election. This is almost certainly due to the fact that there was little to no activity that can be proven to have taken place.
The only thing that has been confirmed so far is that someone in Russia spent a small sum of money (about $50,000) on Facebook ads, and Google’s Sundar Pichai reported that someone in Russia spent $4,700 on Google ads. That is the entirety of the great Russian influence operation in the 2016 election. It’s not even clear the ads were purchased by someone acting on behalf of Vladimir Putin – just that someone in Russia bought them.
I think this op-ed has two goals. The first is to help re-establish the idea that Russia installed Trump in office, even though the media and the Democrats have been unable to produce a coherent explanation of what Russia supposedly did to help Trump.
The second goal is to defend the intelligence community by pretending there was a gigantic Russian disinformation operation to justify the gross abuse of power these agencies undertook during the Obama years.
It will be interesting to see whether this new narrative sticks, or whether the Democrats continue to insist there was “secret” collusion that Mueller was unable to find.