For Americans hoping Senate Republicans might finally engage the Russia collusion hoax seriously, last night’s interview of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell by “Special Report’s” Bret Baier was a tremendous disappointment. McConnell better figure out quickly that if he doesn’t hold the Resistance accountable for the Russia hoax that harmed his party and the entire country for many years, he won’t have a majority in the next term. If it helps to motivate him, he should remember that not having the majority in the next term means he won’t get to confirm judges, an issue he hopes will be his defining legacy.
For three years, a false and dangerous narrative of treasonous collusion with Russia to steal the 2016 election was woven throughout the media and government. This conspiracy theory harmed international relations, domestic governance, and the lives of many individuals. It ended when a special counsel probe was finally forced to admit in 2019 that there was no evidence that any American had colluded with Russia to steal the 2016 election, much less anyone close to President Donald Trump.
Debunking this false narrative was for many years left to a very small band of reporters and congressional investigators. Most of the attention-getting congressional work was done on the House side, including the revelation that Hillary Clinton’s campaign had secretly paid for the false narrative and that there was serious abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in how the government secured wiretaps to spy on Trump campaign affiliates.
Despite being controlled by Republicans throughout the ordeal, the Senate was largely absent from the fight with the exception of just a few senators — Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin being the primary investigators whose oversight work and document demands paid off. And their work should not be underplayed.
It is due to them that the detailed texts got out about the anti-Trump machinations of FBI investigator Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page. They sounded the alarm about Christopher Steele, author of the Clinton research, whom the media and government had falsely claimed was trustworthy. They detailed FISA abuse. They were concerned about the Flynn case from the very beginning, and fought with the FBI for information about it. They were also responsible for seeking information about the unmaskings that recently made the news. It all should have been much bigger news.
After the Russia collusion hoax helped Democrats win the House of Representatives in the 2018 election, the Senate needed to step up the fight. Yet McConnell didn’t prioritize the issue in any way. He never noticeably supported the senators or committees who were doing actual work. He instead deferred to Richard Burr of North Carolina, the ostensible head of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which for years has in effect been run by Democrat Mark Warner.
Burr was a Russia hoaxer, threatening legislation to protect Robert Mueller, the Republican who was presented as heading the probe. When Mueller appeared before Congress to defend the special counsel report, he had very little knowledge of it and appeared extremely befuddled. Read more about the failures of the Senate Intelligence committee with regard to the Russia hoax.
Only yesterday, after Burr’s cell phone was seized by the FBI as part of its investigation into alleged insider trading, did he finally step down from chairing the committee. That committee’s major addition to the Russia collusion storyline was the arrest of a staff member for lying about leaks to the reporter(s) with whom he was having extramarital relations.