Democrats, Media Tempted by ‘Collusion Truther’ Conspiracy Theories

Nancy Pelosi (Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty)
Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty

Some Democrats and mainstream media outlets appear to be embracing “collusion Truther” conspiracy theories.

These hold that despite Attorney General William Barr’s announcement on Sunday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had not established that President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign had colluded with Russia, proof of collusion still exists.

There are several variants of this collusion theory, which are not mutually exclusive.

The Pelosi version: Mueller’s report could prove collusion, without Barr’s “spin” on its contents. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told reporters on Thursday that Congress needed to see the full Mueller report without the attorney general’s interpretation of its findings, which she called “arrogant” and “condescending.” The implication is that the full report contains evidence of collusion — never mind the fact that Barr quoted Mueller directly and that Mueller has not said anything in public to dispute the attorney general’s summary of his findings.

The New York Times version: Barr was incompetent. The Times published a story Thursday suggesting that Barr went too far in his four-page summary — and at the same time suggesting that he could not possibly have summed up a 300-page (or 700-page) report in just 48 hours. The summary “raises questions about what Mr. Barr might have left out of the four dense pages he sent Congress,” the Times reported. This theory is superficially to Pelosi’s version, except it implies that Barr’s omissions may have been due to incompetence, as well as political bias.

The Dick Durbin version: Mueller was incompetent. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) complained on Monday: “‘It looks like Lester Holt [of NBC News] got more information than Mueller did about obstruction of justice.” Durbin, like Pelosi, also suggested Mueller’s conclusions were distorted by Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

The Adam Schiff version: We don’t actually need the Mueller report to know there was collusion. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) argued at the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday — after Republicans on the committee unanimously demanded his resignation as chairman — that regardless of what Mueller found, there was enough evidence of collusion already in the public domain to justify the accusation. He made a similar claim on CNN Wednesday, saying there was “ample evidence of collusion in plain sight.” He did not explain how that “ample evidence” would have failed to convince Mueller that Trump had actually colluded with the Russian government.

Earlier in the week, House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) urged his party to move on to other issues, such as health care: “”I believe that the Mueller report has been done. It’s a chapter that’s closed,” he told CNN. Yet for many Democrats — and some journalists — the temptation of the Russia collusion theory is too strong to let go.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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