By John Ruberry
“But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.”
John Quincy Adams on America.
The United States has survived a Civil War and two world wars, and the Cold War.
But can it survive Russian bots? And a search for “monsters.”
Thirteen Russians were indicted on Friday–none were arrested because they don’t live here–for interfering in the 2016 presidential election by acting as “trolls” from St. Petersburg. These “bots” utilized Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to stir up controversy and discord. The group that the accused were associated with was appropriately known as “the Troll Farm.” The scheme was hatched in 2013, a year before Donald Trump declared his candidacy for president, which you’ll recall was initially viewed by nearly everyone as a sideshow and a stage for the real estate mogul to promote his businesses and his Celebrity Apprentice television franchise.
Last spring Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced his appointment of former FBI director Robert Mueller as the special prosecutor on alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and…any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”
The Troll Farm issued such click-baity stories like this one, which I recall seeing, “Hillary Clinton has already committed voter fraud during the Democrat Iowa Caucus.”
As with the indictments of former Trump campaign officials Paul Manafort, who briefly was Trump’s campaign manager, and Rick Gates, none of this has anything to do with so-called Russian collusion between Trump World and Russia. The same can be said of the plea deals between former White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and low-lever staffer George Papadopolous. These four men clearly fall under “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation,” The last two pleaded guilty to lying to federal officials but not colluding with Russia. The first two have been charged for actions that predate Trump’s presidential run.
Which led the president to remark on Twitter a few hours ago, “I never said Russia did not meddle in the election, I said ‘it may be Russia, or China or another country or group, or it may be a 400 pound genius sitting in bed and playing with his computer.’ The Russian ‘hoax’ was that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia – it never did!”
I never said Russia did not meddle in the election, I said “it may be Russia, or China or another country or group, or it may be a 400 pound genius sitting in bed and playing with his computer.” The Russian “hoax” was that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia – it never did!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 18, 2018
So far Rosenstein, remember he’s the man who appointed Mueller as special prosecutor, agrees.
“There is no allegation that any American is a knowing participant,” Rosenstein said when announcing the indictments of the 13 Russians. “There is no allegation that the charge altered the outcome of the 2016 election.”
And the search for “monsters,” Trump calls it a witch hunt, goes on. While Mueller seems to be on to something with the bots, where was Barack Obama when the Troll Farm broke ground during his presidency? Obama famously and wrongly ridiculed Mitt Romney for calling Russia “our number one geopolitical foe” in a debate. Shortly before leaving office, Obama did tell Vladimir Putin, “cut it out.”
All the same, America will survive the bots.
John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit. His wife, who was born in the Soviet Union, is not a Russian spy, she assures him.