There’s a tremendous amount of information to absorb and I’ve done my best within the limited time I have, but I’d like to get my thoughts out there while this story is fresh. Consider this post more of a “gut reaction” based on the limited information I’ve taken in so far. I haven’t read the indictment yet so a more “just the facts” post will follow within days, maybe.
The timing of this is fantastic. I say that because I had downloaded NBC’s archive of 200,000 Russian bot tweets and was planning to perform a detailed analysis on it this weekend. Now I don’t have to do it. Thanks, Mueller! I just might have to take back some of the mean things I said about you on my blog–especially because you’ve shown that you will prosecute anonymous online trolls for making political statements that disparage the federal government.
I have two general feelings about this development. The first is that I’m pleased, but very tentatively for reasons I’ll explain. I’m pleased because this is a major step toward finding out the truth of the scope, methods, and intent of Russia’s interference in the 2016 Election. Understanding what really happened serves the public interest and is absolutely necessary for restoring faith in our institutions.
Nobody on either side should question that. I still think that a special commission would have been a better choice than a special counsel to get us here, but that’s the way it shook out.
Lots of Trump supporters are aglow over this development and I think they’re failing to look at the big picture. Yes, it has been shown that “no Americans were aware” of this mass propaganda conspiracy tweet thing (Rosenstein had a fancier name for it), but it’s not the end of Mueller’s investigation, contrary with what some are saying.
There are still the questions of the DNC/Podesta Wikileaks affair, the Trump Tower meeting, Papadapolous’s activities, and the obstruction accusations over Comey’s termination among others. I also wonder if Mueller is looking into Christopher Steele, Strzok and Page, and other issues that everybody is wondering why Sessions isn’t moving on. Steele, in particular, is the one person who I’m confused about the lack of an indictment and to me it’s a foregone conclusion that it’s going to happen. Either Sessions is going to bring it or Mueller is.
But hey, actual Russians committed actual election interference and I’m sure Putin will get around to extraditing the accused right after he ships Snowden over here in a crate.
That’s where I have to speak of my other feeling about this development: annoyance.
These charges are insane at first glance. I admit that I haven’t gone through the indictment yet, but I don’t understand how it’s a crime for anyone overseas to create anonymous accounts on a platform that allows it and to express opinions about American politics and show preference for one candidate or another. Okay, maybe the Russians used bots, but that’s a violation of Twitter’s terms of service instead of a federal crime, isn’t it?
If this ever comes to trial, I would think that the defendants have a defense in the First Amendment. “Whoa,” you might say. “How do you figure that Russians in Russia have rights under the US Constitution, you asshole?” I wouldn’t think so either, but federal courts have been ruling that foreigners overseas are protected by the US Constitution. Look at the Hawaiian judge who threw out Trump’s travel ban.
I don’t get this. You mean to tell me that foreigners aren’t allowed to express opinions about American political campaigns? You can think I’m being silly, but I’m wondering what this means for RVS. If I write a post, say about the Middle East, and I get a bunch of commenters from Iran who all criticize Trump’s foreign policy, is that a crime? Mueller’s indictments are leading me to think so. Clearly, I need to do some homework but this is how it looks to me on its face.
I’m just going to say that I’d be surprised if any of these suspects ever get tried. I’d be more surprised still if any are convicted. This move looks symbolic to me, although it’s a step in the right direction for truth.
Now, I’ll add one more point to this that I think all of you should take into account. Rosenstein was very careful to point out that these activities did not have an impact on the election but were intended to cause discord in American society. I agree about the low impact, just based on the limited analysis that I was able to complete on the tweets before this news hit. I also think Rosenstein is correct that the goal was discord and the Russians achieved it beyond their wildest dreams.
This was a small scale effort, from what I can tell. Almost comical. But look around you and see how this whole Russia narrative has deepened divisions between Americans, undermined the election results, trashed the reputation of the FBI (much of this was self-inflicted but wouldn’t otherwise have gotten this much attention), and sowed distrust for the American press. They got a lot out of it for what they put in.
What I gathered from Rosenstein is that he wants to get the truth out about the 2016 Election and put us back on the path to restoring faith in our institutions. Does this help? I think so. In fact, this particular development makes me think it’s even less likely that Mueller is going to lay a glove on Trump. It’s hard to imagine anything that would create greater discord in American society than an impeachment.
Anybody have any gut reactions to this or has anyone done more digging? Like I said, I’ll probably do a more in-depth post later.