US Democrats Got 'Major Political Utility' From Russiagate

© AP Photo / Dmitri LovetskyIn this Monday, Feb. 20, 2017 traditional Russian wooden dolls called Matryoshka depicting US President Donald Trump, centre left and Russian President Vladimir Putin are displayed for sale at a souvenir street shop in St.Petersburg, Russia
In this Monday, Feb. 20, 2017 traditional Russian wooden dolls called Matryoshka depicting US President Donald Trump, centre left and Russian President Vladimir Putin are displayed for sale at a souvenir street shop in St.Petersburg, Russia - Sputnik International
US Attorney General William Barr delivered a redacted version of the Mueller report to Congress on Thursday. Although it delivered a negative verdict on alleged Russian collusion with the Trump 2016 campaign, the Democrats have no intention of discarding such an incredibly useful narrative, experts told Sputnik Thursday.

Although almost half of the two-volume, 448-page report is devoted to questions about whether or US President Donald Trump obstructed justice by interfering with the Office of Special Counsel's investigation, the smaller sections pertaining to the probe's primary subject are far more damning for the Russiagate narrative. Perhaps the most important blurb can be found on page five of the report:

Attorney General William Barr speaks about the release of a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report during a news conference, Thursday, April 18, 2019, at the Department of Justice in Washington - Sputnik International
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"Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities," Mueller wrote.

Radio Sputnik's Loud and Clear was joined by three guests Thursday to discuss the fallout of the redacted report: Coleen Rowley, a former FBI special agent whistleblower and Time person of the year; Ben Norton, a journalist with the Grayzone Project and co-host of the Moderate Rebels podcast; and Dan Kovalik, a human rights and labor lawyer.

​"Bob Woodward nailed it a few months ago, our media just didn't report it: despite all of his interviews of the same witnesses as Mueller… he could find no evidence of collusion," Rowley said.

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The former FBI agent told Sputnik that Mueller's conclusions gave "room for the Democrat partisans and the media to have this fallback position that they need to investigate further, they need to call Mueller for hearings, and in fact it looks like they are not going to give up on trying to accuse, at the very least — I don't think they're going to try to impeach Trump, but they're going to continue to accuse him of having obstructed justice. And I'm sure they will continue to undermine his presidency, and certainly any of his foreign policies that would approach detente, or any meeting, even, with a foreign head of state, will be undermined from now on."

Kovalik said that impeachment, "along with the general Russiagate issue, has been what the Democrats think is their ‘silver bullet' to Trump in 2020 — but if they think that, they're very, very wrong."

"Polls show that, by and large, the American public hasn't cared about this issue, and they're going to care less now after this Mueller report. I think the Democrats, though, are obsessed with this; they are not going to let this go — again because they think this will allow them to beat Trump — and they think it's going to allow them to beat Trump without really offering anything to the American people in terms of Medicare for All and other important issues."

"That's what the Democrats have done for years: they've offered nothing to the working class people of America but tried to ride these other secondary issues, and that's why they continue to fail," Kovalik said.

Norton told hosts Brian Becker and John Kiriakou that what was "most laughable" was that the report mentioned a "Russian active measures social media campaign."

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"So this long two-year report and investigation… and the first 30 pages are about the supposed Russian social media campaign,' as if somehow that actually had a significant influence on the election."

Norton said the report, like so many others, highlighted "ridiculous examples of social media influence," but didn't acknowledge admissions by senior Facebook executives that the majority of the ads in question came out after the election and that one-quarter of them were never seen by anyone.

That, Norton says, "shows that they really couldn't find much."

"The most severe accusation from the report is that the Russian intelligence agencies, specifically the GRU, supposedly hacked the DNC [Democratic National Committee] and stole the emails and gave them to WikiLeaks," even though there was never an FBI investigation of the DNC servers, which were subsequently destroyed, Norton said.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was detained last week by British police after his asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London was revoked, and at that time a US criminal complaint and indictment against him were unsealed, alleging that he helped Chelsea Manning steal the US Army documents and US diplomatic cables that WikiLeaks published in 2010.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., arrives for a Democratic Caucus meeting at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, March 26, 2019. Schiff, the focus of Republicans' post-Mueller ire, says Mueller's conclusion would not affect his own committee's counterintelligence probes. - Sputnik International
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"The language of the report is actually not as strong as you would think, given the fact that people in mainstream corporate media outlets have been reporting this as undeniable fact," Norton said, noting that the report says "officers appear to have stolen thousands of emails and attachments."

"The fact that, even after two years, they're still using this ambiguous language, I think, again, leaves us room for doubt of the official security agencies' narrative," Norton said.

But then, Mueller's been known to prize expediency over accuracy, said Rowley, who has previously called the special counsel a "political animal" on Radio Sputnik. She recalled Thursday the role Mueller played in 2003 in helping then-Secretary of State Colin Powell deliver false intelligence about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

"In this case, he's doing much the same, in that he doesn't really have the facts on the GRU, but as all prosecutors know, ‘you can always indict a ham sandwich,' so he's letting that indictment stand," she said. "No one will ever know whether that was true or not… it's gospel truth that this hacking occurred."

"It defies what we know about WikiLeaks and Julian Assange to believe that they would do something purposefully to help Donald Trump in the 11th hour of the campaign. I mean, what motivation would they have for that?"

Indeed, Assange has consistently denied Russian state involvement in the DNC email dump, noting since 2016 that although he could not reveal the leak's source, "it wasn't a state party."

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"We also have to question: why was it a great sin to release these emails, which showed that the Democrats cooked the books in the primaries in favor of Clinton and against Bernie Sanders? I'm actually glad we do know that; that's a good thing," Kovalik said. "But also, those emails, as far as I can tell, did not make a big dent in the election, one way or the other."

"That's the other thing: that they assume that that release somehow turned the election against Clinton, when we know that what probably did turn the election against Clinton is Comey's letter" to Congress on October 28, which said the FBI had "learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation" into the private email server that Clinton used as secretary of state.

"That probably put the dagger in Clinton's campaign,"Kovalik said, a conclusion also arrived at by FiveThirtyEight in May 2017, "and yet we rarely even hear about that any more."

Norton noted that "from the beginning, there was major political utility for neoliberal Democrats, for the Clintonian wing that still controls the Democratic Party, and Russiagate has insulated them from criticism the entire time. It has been so useful, which is precisely the reason they won't let Russiagate die. It has been clear for many months now, if not from the beginning, that this was all a waste of time and energy. But actually, for them it wasn't a waste of time, because it's prevented them from any actual self-criticism, any actual reform."

"So now we're having another presidential campaign that's already started, and some of the leading neoliberal candidates like Pete Buttigeig and Beto O'Rourke and of course Joe Biden, these candidates really politically are not that much different from someone like Hillary Clinton, and we've seen that they've even resorted to these same tactics in their campaign," Norton said.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York speak to reporters about the Congressional Budget Office projection that 14 million people would lose health coverage under the House Republican bill dismantling former President Barack Obama's health care law, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, March, 13, 2017. - Sputnik International
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"And of course, we also have seen this backfire against the left wing of the party and Bernie Sanders," who is running as a Democrat. Norton noted that a recent article in the Washington Post, which is owned by Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world, "claimed that during the campaign, when Bernie Sanders was running against Clinton, that the Russian government was acting on his behalf to undermine Hillary Clinton."

"So essentially what they're saying now is, Russiagate has expanded, and if you supported Bernie over Clinton, then you're obviously just a useful idiot of the Kremlin."

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