From Consortium News
Caught up in the frenzy to delegitimize Donald Trump by blaming his victory on Russian meddling, national Democrats are finishing the transformation of their party from one that was relatively supportive of peace to one pushing for war, including a confrontation with nuclear-armed Russia.
This "trading places" moment was obvious in watching the belligerent tone of Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee on Monday as they impugned the patriotism of any Trump adviser who may have communicated with anyone connected to Russia.
Ranking Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, acknowledged that there was no hard evidence of any Trump-Russia cabal, but he pressed ahead with what he called "circumstantial evidence of collusion," a kind of guilt-by-association conspiracy theory that made him look like a mild-mannered version of Joe McCarthy.
Schiff cited by name a number of Trump's aides and associates who -- as The New York Times reported -- were "believed to have some kind of contact or communications with Russians." These Americans, whose patriotism was being questioned, included foreign policy adviser Carter Page, Trump's second campaign manager Paul Manafort, political adviser Roger Stone and Trump's first national security adviser retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.
In a 15-minute opening statement, Schiff summed up his circumstantial case by asking: "Is it possible that all of these events and reports are completely unrelated and nothing more than an entirely unhappy coincidence? Yes, it is possible. But it is also possible, maybe more than possible, that they are not coincidental, not disconnected and not unrelated."
As an investigative journalist who has covered (and uncovered) national security scandals for several decades, I would never accuse people of something as serious as betraying their country based on nothing more than coincidences that, who knows, might not be coincidental.
Before we published anything on such topics, the news organizations that I worked for required multiple layers of information from a variety of sources including insiders who could describe what had happened and why. Such stories included Nicaraguan Contra cocaine smuggling, Oliver North's secret Contra supply operation, and the Reagan campaign's undermining of President Carter's Iran-hostage negotiations in 1980.
For breaking those stories, we still took enormous heat from Republicans, some Democrats who wanted to show how bipartisan they were, and many establishment-protecting journalists, but the stories contained strong evidence that misconduct occurred -- and we were highly circumspect in how the allegations were framed.
By contrast, national Democrats, some super-hawk Republicans and the establishment media are going whole-hog on these vague suspicions of contacts between some Russians and some Americans who have provided some help or advice to Trump.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry listens to Russian President Vladimir Putin in a meeting room at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, at the outset of a bilateral meeting on July 14, 2016.
(Image by [State Department Photo]) Permission Details DMCA
Given the paucity of evidence -- both regarding the claims that Russia hacked Democratic emails and slipped them to WikiLeaks, and the allegations that somehow Trump's advisers colluded in that process -- it would appear that what is happening is a political maneuver to damage Trump politically and possibly remove him from office.
But those machinations require the Democratic Party's continued demonization of Russia and implicitly put the Democrats on the side of escalating New Cold War tensions, such as military support for the fiercely anti-Russian regime in Ukraine which seized power in a 2014 U.S.-backed putsch overthrowing elected President Viktor Yanukovych.
One of the attack lines that Democrats have used against Trump is that his people toned down language in the Republican platform about shipping arms to the Ukrainian military, which includes battalions of neo-Nazi fighters and has killed thousands of ethnic Russian Ukrainians in the east in what is officially called an Anti-Terrorism Operation (or ATO).