After months and months of shrieking about Russian hackers, Kremlin bots, RT propaganda and urinating prostitutes, the dauntless crusaders for the Russiagate conspiracy theory are now crowing that they have at long last been vindicated by a new revelation that has nothing whatsoever to do with any of these things. Today’s Shocking Trump-Russia Revelation is that Donald Trump Jr. published his emails with a British tabloid reporter last year who claimed that the Russian government supported Trump over Clinton, and wanted to provide documents to the Trump campaign proving Clinton’s connections with the Kremlin.

Leaving aside the fact that no such documents ever surfaced, the fact that none of these manic Russiagaters seem to be remotely curious about their anointed queen’s Kremlin connections, the fact that it should surprise no one that Russia prefered Trump over the woman who wanted to set up a no-fly zone in an area where Russian military planes are conducting operations, the fact that the lawyer Trump Jr. met with is nowhere near the Kremlin power broker these people are pretending she is, and the fact that what Trump Jr. was doing is virtually identical to what the Clinton camp was doing at the exact same time — leaving all of that aside — the single biggest plot hole in this Trump-Russia collusion narrative is that nobody has ever painted a clear picture of what specifically said collusion is meant to have looked like. The fact that Trump Jr.’s emails don’t fit with any part of the preexisting Russiagate narrative, don’t confirm anything the Russiagaters have been saying about what happened, and never manifested in any actual released documents of Clinton-Russia connections doesn’t seem to bother these people at all.

For pointing out the consistent failure of these tireless Russia conspiracy theorists to provide a clear, non-debunked, fact-based argument for their collusion narrative with enough evidence to satisfy our mandatory skepticism in a post-“Saddam has WMDs” world, I get called a Kremlin agent, a Russian bot, and, most recently, a “denier”, the latter used with the same tone you’d reserve for a Holocaust denier.

But what exactly is it that I’m denying? Nobody has ever been able to tell me what this collusion thing even looks like. The fastest way to get a Russiagater to block you on social media is to demand a specific, concrete narrative describing what this collusion is supposed to have looked like so that you can tell them what kinds of proof you would need in order to believe that it happened.

Try it. Press them. What exactly is the specific accusation here? How specifically does Trump Jr.’s email correspondence prove what Russiagaters have been saying for the last nine months, for example? Or how did the hacking collusion happen? Why would Russian hackers need to “collude” with Trump at all in order to help kill the campaign of a candidate whose election they already wanted to avoid? Why wouldn’t they just do it on their own? You won’t get a straight answer. At best you’ll get some vague, amorphous gibberish about smoke and fire, but if you press them about what this vague Trumpy-Putiny-smoke-fire-something-nothing thing is supposed to have looked like, you’ll get, at best, an accusation of being a Kremlin agent.


For this reason, the Russiagate argument is completely devastated before it ever gets off the ground. In order for there to be a debate, both sides need to clearly define their position. I can clearly point to the lack of solid evidence needed in a post-Iraq invasion world, while Russiagaters are unable to even articulate what specifically their alleged collusion is supposed to have looked like. It’s impossible to argue against something if the other party refuses to even define what you’re meant to be arguing against. This bad thinking is the only thing that keeps this debate going in political discourse.

There is no clearly-defined fact-based picture of what specifically Trump-Russia collusion is meant to look like, and there never will be. Unlike Watergate, which began as an investigation into a concrete burglary and then followed a logical series of investigations into interconnected factors up to President Nixon, Russiagate is an investigation of a person. It began with people disliking Trump, and then trying to find a crime to get him out of the way. That’s all this is, and that’s all it ever will be. We will never, ever see any hard evidence proving that Trump colluded with the Russian government; we will never even see a consensus fact-based argument about how specifically it is supposed to have happened. We will only ever get this vague, gaseous, Trumpy-Putiny-smoke-fire-something-nothing thing, because as long as the Russiagaters keep refusing to make a solid argument, it can never be fully obliterated for the fallacious nonsense that it is.

— — —

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  1. Thank you, Caitlin, for once again putting all this into simple, meaningful terms.

    Trying to talk about this with those supporting Russiagate is like trying to spar with a mist. No matter what you say to them, they keep changing the topic, bringing up other stuff, and throwing out convoluted scenarios. Their final method is basically to go “harumph” and say anyone who doesn’t see the problem is just an idiot- yet when you ask for evidence, or when they are really obtuse, ask for their logic, they just throw their hands up (figuratively) and say, “See what I mean, you just are a Trump lover.”

    When I countered one of these types in a comments section over at Common Dreams with the fact that Veselnitskaya is not connected to the Russian government at all- he started blabbering out me “parsing it too deep” and then said I’d wise up if I read a post he linked to- which I did and didn’t say anything concrete at all about whether she really was a government agent or not.

    These people have such a visceral dislike of Trump, one that runs deeper than a political disagreement, one that is really a revulsion of a certain type of culture that isn’t theirs, that they will, as you say, latch onto anything they think can be used to attack him. Oh well.

  2. I really don’t think there are too many real people who actually care too deeply about this crap in the real world. There may be a lot of people who have had thoughts of Trump/Russia/hacking/collusion drilled into their heads by nonstop repetition from corporate media sources. But the ones who are doing all the vehement posting about it in comment threads and on social media are almost certainly all some stripe of Brock/CTR/Share Blue/Media Matters sock puppets. They’re simply the opening act for another pathetic attempt at trotting out HRC for one more presidential run in 2020 that will almost certainly fail once again.

    There’s also a pretty formidable paper trail showing how this story evolved. Wikileaks showed that the whole genesis of the narrative was to distract from the Clinton’s Russian ties and “Shattered” showed that John Podesta and Robbie Mook made the decision to go all in on the Russian hacking fiction after HRC’s 2016 loss.

    1. I agree. I take a look at the people around me and they have, for the most part, tuned out the Russia stuff. They realized a while ago there was nothing there. The constant harping on it by the corporate media only helps to reinforce what they have come to believe: corporate or establishment narratives are all lies. I think they should keep at it, keep at digging their own graves.

    2. I will have to disagree with you, most “real” people don’t pay that much attention to politics, twitter, or corporate news. But lots of these people really really hate Trump, and if something is said often enough, especially something that proves their gut feeling about Trump, they think there must be something to it. I have many friends that wont talk about politics, unless it is to hate on Trump.

      1. I agree. Basically people who would proudly say, “I’m a Democrat!!!!!!!!!” if asked their politics, have bought into this. They usually don’t do any critical thinking, but, boy, do they repost memes that promote Russiagate a lot on their Facebook wall.

  3. I like to distill and summarize news in my mind, so I concluded that the main reason Republicans, Democrats and the Media are pushing all these imaginary stories is so that the Government gets seriously involved in finding the truth (!) and use that as a great excuse to do nothing. To do nothing about real issues that people care about, like healthcare, because they basically hate the average American.

    I read somewhere the other day that Mitch McConnell laments the fact that he has to postpone work on healthcare to deal with all this Russia stuff. Take a deep breath and think about his logic. He laments the fact that he can’t work on a bill that will strip 26 million Americans of their health coverage. To me, the Russian stuff is a golden opporunity to hide who he really is. And that goes fos the Democrats, too.

  4. Okay, so there was no collusion and Putin/the Russians did not interfere in our elections. You’re very likely right, and all this is much ado about nothing. So, yay. Your point then is that Trump is good, you’re happy with the way things are going, and all is well? Because it seems like you are harping on “there’s nothing to the Russia thing” just as much as others are harping on “there is something to it” – to the exclusion of all else. Russia may not have colluded to interfere in our elections, but they do want to continue their march to oil and pipeline control, with Trump and oil friends along for the ride to help them out. There’s a good deal to be worried about in all those dealings, I’m thinking. Plus, many other things are going to hell while so many, including you, fuss about yes or no to Russia and the elections. Have you nothing to say or offer about any other issues? Or are you just pleased to make your non-Russia point and leave it at that, because everything is great and there’s nothing more to talk about? Honestly, I’m as tired of listening to your harping as I am theirs. “Yes they did/No they didn’t” back and forth while things go to hell! Okay, you win, Russia didn’t interfere in the elections! Yay! Is there perhaps something else you could pay some attention to? Or is that all you’ve got?

    1. I think there is a clear difference in the many progressive posts criticizing the faux Russiagate hysteria and the idea that there is related support for Trump – GOP policies. GOP policies are to many of us worse that Trump policies but neither, except with respect to campaign positions regarding a more peaceful foreign policy and domestic infrastructure repair, are positions we support. I and many other progressives who have similar positions seek to make this clear in our posts but to little avail. The straw man arguments continue unabated, identically to the manner facts are distorted to continue the soft coup attempt via “Russiagate”.

    2. “Reds dumb crazy into normal”, say the Blues.
      “Blues hype normal into crazy,” Reds accuse.
      A McCarthyist bore.
      This propaganda war,
      Leaves us cynical toward both of those views.

  5. How many evil Ruskies can be fit,
    Into Don Junior’s meeting to sit?
    As numbers tumble out,
    And gleeful pundits shout,
    It’s looking more like a Marx Brothers skit.

  6. Jr. at least attempted to break the law here, and his emails prove that 45 and his administration have been lying about it. Sometimes the coverup is worse than the crime (see Bill Clinton, Richard Nixon, and most of human history). This is a big deal for a President.

    It appears your defense is 1) Clinton was also doing illegal things, and 2) the emails don’t prove all the horrible things he is accused of.

    Those things don’t make him innocent. And for the sake of argument let’s assume that Clinton, Trump, and Russia all did illegal things. Regardless of her, we have to deal with Trump, who is President and thus vastly more important than Clinton at the moment, and who needs to be held accountable.

  7. George Orwell was a genius.

    American troops with PTSD are committing suicide at a record rate; our infrastructure needs four TRILLION between now and 2020 for maintenance; at least 10 nuclear power plants are past their safe operating dates and have been rubber-stamped to keep operating; we’ve been committing WAR CRIMES in Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia and god knows where else and isn’t it funny how those US troops guarding those Afghan poppy fields have translated into a heroin and Percocet epidemic, but let’s not talk about anything of substance, let’s bloviate about a BIG NOTHING 24/7 and keep people dumded-down and bawling like sheep.

  8. Why is it that everything the Democratic party wants to investigate is being investigated? The republicans have the House, the senate, and the presidency, and Fbi and Department of Justice is investigating only the russia thing and trump? It feels like everyone gets their orders from the Clintons.

    Why isn’t fbi and the department of justice opening email investigation of hillary? Trump is right, he shouldn’t have appointed Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. What has he done since he has been in office? Why doesn’t he open email investigation of hillary? Why doesn’t he appoint a special counsel for investigating hillary and the clinton foundation?

    Jeff Session is a wimp, he recused himself from russia investigation. That’s what democrats wanted. Jeff Session looks like a wimp too, all pale in the face.

    I am a progressive. I stand with everything H A says, especially what Jimmy Dore says, he is a true progressive. Jimmy Dore shouldn’t connect himself with young turks, they are nothing but part of fake news media.

    I voted for Trump because of what democrats did to Bernie, and because of hillary. I would vote against hillary even if the republicans chose as their nominee the most hated person in the history of mankind. Because of the corruption of democrats – they are for wars, they are for big banks, they are for farmaceutical companies, they are for insurance companies, they are against the working class – I will never vote democrat again in my life. Never! I will vote republican just in spite of democrats. Bernie should distance himself from democratic party , join Green Party.

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