On Thursday, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) rose in her own defense as the Democrat-run House of Representatives prepared to strip her of her committee memberships because of offensive comments she made on social media before she had been elected to Congress or even run for office.
Greene explained that the appeal of the QAnon conspiracy theory, in which she had once believed, was that it explained otherwise bizarre claims of “Russia collusion.”
House Rules Committee Chair Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) said Greene was trying to blame others for her misdeeds. That was both false and unfair.
Greene acknowledged that what she had said was wrong. She was trying to explain it: when an entire political party, and the whole of the mainstream media, believed a conspiracy theory that Vladimir Putin put President Donald Trump in office, the idea that a Deep State cabal was out to get him was not entirely implausible.
No one has ever been held accountable for the “Russia collusion” hoax that dominated our national politics for the entire Trump presidency — right up to its last days, when Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) indulged Hillary Clinton’s speculation that the Capitol riot was a secret plot by Putin.
The Russia hoax divided the nation, damaged confidence in our elections, and undermined national security. It nearly toppled a democratically-elected government. And it was all a lie.
The only person who has ever been punished is former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, who was involved in the Obama administration’s effort to investigate the supposed collusion. He pleaded guilty to forging an email that led the FISA court to grant a surveillance warrant against Carter Page — and, through him, the Trump campaign.
Clinesmith was sentenced this week — to probation, community service, and a $100 court fee, barely more than a parking ticket in many major cities.
Most of the other people involved in the hoax have earned promotions, joining the many Obama-era officials who have “failed upwards” into new positions in the Biden Administration.
One such is National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, who falsely accused Michael Flynn of conspiring with Russia, and spread his theories among leading journalists.
Instead of apologizing to Flynn and to the public for the hoax, Sullivan now finds himself in Flynn’s old job in the White House.
Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, who lied about her knowledge of the “unmasking” of Trump officials in intelligence reports, now leads President Joe Biden’s White House Domestic Policy Council, though she has little domestic policy experience.
Even rogue FBI agent Peter Strzok has been rewarded, indirectly: his wife, Melissa Hodgman, was recently named acting director of the Division of Enforcement at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Special Counsel Robert Mueller revealed in 2019 that he had found no evidence of any “collusion” between any U.S. citizen and Russia. But Democrats never accepted that conclusion.
Indeed, then-candidate Joe Biden even agreed with a voter in New Hampshire who said — well after the Mueller Report — that Trump was “an illegitimate president” controlled by Putin.
(Today, Democrats tell us that casting doubt on the legitimacy of an election is an impeachable offense.)
Biden never recanted that view. Nor did the media who reported on “Russia collusion” ever admit their mistakes, much less return their Pulitzer Prizes. No editors were fired or reassigned. They just took cover in the fact that everyone else had done the same thing.
The result was that the American public lost faith in the media. Hence the reluctance to believe the “experts” on the coronavirus pandemic (who were often wrong, anyway); hence the belief in widespread election fraud.
As Greene noted, the QAnon conspiracy theory thrived on the Russia collusion hoax. The “Q” phenomenon claimed, in part, that “Deep State” operatives were secretly trying to undermine President Donald Trump — which they were. It was a kernel of truth that made the wilder parts of the story believable to millions of Americans.
Democrats and the media never cleared the air about “Russia collusion,” allowing mistrust and suspicions about secret machinations to persist.
This week, Democrats punished Greene because she backed the QAnon theory years ago, as a private citizen. Next week, they will put Trump on trial because of a riot by people who believed conspiracy theories about the election.
But they themselves embraced one of the most damaging conspiracy theories in history. And hardly anyone has had to answer for it.
It is well past time for Democrats and the media to come clean about the “Russia collusion” hoax and what it cost us.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is How Not to Be a Sh!thole Country: Lessons from South Africa. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.