The Trump-Russia collusion narrative is dead

Originally posted on FOX News

Friday’s grand jury indictment in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election destroys Democratic claims that the Trump presidential campaign colluded with Russia to win the race, and that the Russian interference cost Hillary Clinton the election. It is now time for Mueller to look into real election interference and collusion with the Russians by the Democrats.

The grand jury indicted 13 Russians and three Russian entities for their alleged efforts to interfere with the 2016 election. The indictment says the Russians hid their involvement in this scheme and communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump campaign. There was no allegation in the indictment that any American was a knowing participant in the scheme.

Boom. The Democratic Trump-Russia collusion narrative is dead.

But the left will continue to argue that Russia handed the presidency to Donald Trump. Expect them to claim this is proven by two things: the sophistication of the election interference effort; and the allegation that the accused Russians promoted the Trump campaign and worked to disparage Hillary Clinton.

Don’t be fooled. The indictment says the Russian election interference effort started in 2014. It says that the Russians staged rallies for and against Trump after the election and also promoted the Bernie Sanders campaign.

These facts strongly indicate this was a Russian campaign to sow confusion in the United States and to undermine Clinton, who Russian officials expected to win the election.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein noted that the indictment does not allege the Russian operation changed the outcome of the presidential election. This is similar to what the U.S. intelligence community found. It reflects the fact that while this scheme was an egregious assault on our democracy, it was far too small to have any effect on the election.

Consider that while the indictment alleges the Russian operation spent thousands of dollars per month in social media ads and had hundreds of fake Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. In contrast, the Clinton campaign spent tens of millions on social media ads and had hundreds of staff working on social media. There also were hundreds of pro-Clinton organizations, including labor unions that conducted their own massive social media efforts on behalf of Clinton.

To put this in perspective, last November Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said the estimated $100,000 that Russian entities spent in social media ads to affect the 2016 presidential election was “like five one thousandths of one percent” of the $81 million spent by both campaigns on social media ads.

The bottom line from the indictment: no Trump campaign collusion with Russia. The Russians did not hand the election to President Trump.

Now Special Counsel Mueller must turn to real and far more serious instances of election meddling and collusion with the Russians by the Clinton campaign, the Democratic National Committee and the Obama administration to damage the Trump campaign. These efforts included misleading the FISA (Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act) Court to approve electronic surveillance of a Trump campaign staff member and leaking highly classified National Security Agency intelligence to the press.

Although Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election is a serious matter that must be addressed, Democratic abuses to weaponize U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies to win a presidential election represent grave threats to our democratic system. There must be indictments of everyone involved in Democratic election meddling as soon as possible.

About Fred Fleitz

Fred Fleitz, Senior Fellow. Fleitz served in U.S. national security positions for 25 years at the CIA, DIA, Department of State and the House Intelligence Committee staff. During the administration of President George W. Bush, Mr. Fleitz was chief of staff to John Bolton, then Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. During his tenure with the House Intelligence Committee, he was the staff expert on the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs and briefed key National Intelligence Estimates on these issues to committee members. After he left government in 2011, he founded and served as Director of the Langley Intelligence Group Network (LIGNET), Newsmax Media’s global intelligence and forecasting service. Fleitz is a regular commentator on Secure Freedom radio and has appeared on the Fox News Channel. Mr. Fleitz is the author of Peacekeeping Fiascoes of the 1990s (Praeger) and is working on books on intelligence reform and the Iranian nuclear program. Mr Fleitz holds an MA in Political Economy from Fordham University and a BA in Politics from Saint Joseph’s University.