By Lucy Komisar
Some notes from last week’s surreal House Judiciary and Intelligence Committee hearings where the Democratic inquisitors showed fake outrage and frequent ignorance about the subject of Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election. The Republicans refused to challenge the evidence-free premise of “massive,” albeit unproved, Russian interference, which put them at a big disadvantage. And nobody mentioned the unseen elephant in the room, William Browder.
At the Judiciary Committee
More Robert Mueller fakery. He said when it came to computer crimes, the Russian government was “implicated.” Implicated? Is that the new legal standard for conviction? He wrote about “sweeping and systematic” interference. So “implicated” means there is no direct evidence. Nobody followed that up.
How could the Russian government have used Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort’s polling data to interfere in the election? Would they change their campaign strategy? (Joke) Followed by the complaint that Manafort met with Russians and their agents. However, Tom McClintock (R-Cal) pointed out the focus there was Konstantin Kilimnik, a Ukrainian who also has Russian citizenship and has been identified as a source for the US State Department!
Joe Neguse (D-Col) about the Trump Tower meeting quoted the music publicist Rob Goldstone’s email to Trump Jr. as if it represented a real Russian effort to give “dirt” to Trump campaign when we know, Goldstone admitted, it was just a PR guy’s effort to get a meeting. For Nataliya Veselnitskaya to talk with the Trump people about William Browder. Is Neguse just disingenuous or really stupid?
At the Intelligence Committee
Adam Schiff (D-Calif) railed at “The most serious attack on our democracy by a foreign power in our history.” Really, ahead of Pearl Harbor or 9/11? Who died in the FB or DNC email attacks? Next to that, it was mild to hear his oft repeated but still unproved “foreign adversary’s sweeping and systematic intervention in a close US presidential election.” (Though home-grown racism and Citizens United are the real threats.)
Schiff: The Russians made outreach to the Trump campaign and no one called the FBI to report it. So, a music publicist’s email should have launched a major investigation. He says the Trump campaign welcomed Russian help. It wasn’t Russian “help,” it was lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya seeking to talk about Bill Browder, who had brought down the wrath of the Justice Dept on her client, Prevezon. Browder, BTW, went unmentioned in the hearings, even when they focused on the Trump Tower meeting.
Terri Sewell, (D-Ala): “The crown prosecutor of Russia offered to provide….support of Mr. Trump.” But, Russia doesn’t have a crown prosecutor, England does. Did she check that out? Or anything else about the Goldstone puffed up email? And “the Russian delegation” she cited didn’t have dirt abut Clinton, but about the tax evasion of a Browder client, the Ziffs. There was no delegation, just one person, the lawyer. Sewell was clueless.
Mueller talked about the GRU (Russian military intelligence) agents indictment for conspiracy. That’s the case the NY Judge Friedrich told him to stop lying about. Because he didn’t have the claimed evidence. To top that, Jackie Speier, (D-Cal): “It wasn’t just an intervention but an invasion, sinister and scheming!” Whew, quite a melodrama. Evidence, Mme Congresswoman?
Even Devin Nunes, (R-Cal), got a little crazy calling Fusion GPS a political operations firm. No, it’s an investigations firm. He said the Clinton campaign “dirty ops arm” met with Natalia Veselnitskaya more times than the Trump Campaign. Except if they met, it would be about the case of her client Denis Katsyv and his company Prevezon which Fusion GPS was investigating for the law firm she had hired in New York, not about Clinton. (But that would get us back to Browder, whose name was apparently not allowed to be mentioned at these hearings.)
Finally, Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) made some sense, pointing out that Mueller’s investigation showed no evidence that members of the Trump campaign played a role in the theft or publication of Clinton campaign emails and that it was inaccurate to claim that by the time of the Trump Tower meeting, the campaign knew that Russians had damaging information on Clinton.
Today’s exhibition of stupidity and Russophobic venality, largely by the Democrats, was depressing. Especially their smarmy talk about honesty when we know we have the best Congress money can buy, by Wall Street and corporations! (Can we remember their comments when they take lobbyists jobs if/when they lose their seats?)
The most bizarre fact of the hearings, of course, is that nobody talked about William Browder, the hidden figure at the origins of the Trump Tower meeting and a force in the Russiagate that made today’s vaudeville possible.
Natalia Veselnitskaya – official website