Two of the three committees in Congress charged with the responsibility to look for collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians has brought back a “no collusion,” verdict. This, despite major objections from the Democrats who serve on the two committees. One other Congressional committee continues to search for evidence of collusion.
I suspect they may find some members of the Trump campaign team attempted to create a combination of efforts between their campaign and the Russians. The report from the House Committee indicated as much. But, it is not likely they will find that Donald Trump was involved in such efforts. No matter the evidence to the contrary, some will believe candidate Trump was involved. Human nature being as it is, many will believe our president was involved no matter what the evidence shows.
The question that remains to be resolved is not whether the Trump campaign attempted to influence the election. Of course they did. The issue on the table relates to using “illegal” means to influence the election. Did they collude with the Russians? The finding from all three Congressional committees and the Special Counsel most likely will be that no laws were broken.
That will not change the fact that an organization in Russia, with or without direction and funding from the Russian government, attempted to alter the final outcome of the U.S. election for president. Their tactics are well known and are not limited to just U.S. elections.
German officials say the Russians have made similar efforts against the political party of Angela Merkel of Germany and, also, the British Parliament.
What tactics were used that might have affected the election? The Russian group made major attempts to hack into the White House, U.S. State Department, and the Democratic National Committee. They were successful in some of their efforts. The information gleaned from those hacks was passed on to WikiLeaks and was published before the election. Virtually everything published by WikiLeaks was negative toward the Hillary Clinton campaign or positive toward the Donald Trump campaign. Security experts believe two groups were behind the hacks, the Russian FSB spy agency and Russian Military Intelligence.
Tactics used by the two Russian groups went well beyond just hacking into computers in key locations in the U.S. They also placed ads on Facebook and other social media outlets. Reports from Facebook indicate that more than 80,000 ads were purchased from outside the country during the election campaign. Their efforts, no doubt, damaged the Clinton campaign.
There is ample proof that the Russians attempted to influence our 2016 election. Did they, in fact, succeed in their efforts. Did they influence the voters? Such influence cannot be proven without going into the minds of each individual voter. But, as close as the election was, how could they not have been an influence?
However, the question before the public with the 10-month long Special Counsel investigation and the three Congressional committees is, “Was there collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians?”
When the Special Counsel Office makes its final report, they may find that there was, in fact, an effort at collusion by members of the Trump campaign. Note the meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and others from the Trump campaign with several Russians. That proved to be an inept effort. In the end, they will probably find that, despite their efforts, no actual collusion took place.
If a “smoking gun” existed, surely after an investigation of four different groups over almost a year, one would expect evidence of collusion to turn up. No credible source has suggested that Donald Trump was involved in any illegal activity. President Trump has said over and over, “There was no collusion.” As far as his personal involvement is concerned, without more evidence on the table, that appears to be a credible statement.
— You can reach Dr. Mark L. Hopkins at email@example.com. Books by Hopkins, “Journey to Gettysburg, The Wounds of War, The World as it was When Jesus Came,” and “Facts & Opinions on the Issues of our Time,” can be acquired at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and through the E-mail above.