Special counsel John Durham has completed a four-year investigation into the FBI’s aggressive pursuit of Donald Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia prior to the 2016 U.S. election. He has concluded that the FBI gave in to confirmation bias in claiming links between Trump and the Kremlin, treating unsubstantiated private reports as trustworthy evidence, and leaping from legitimate concerns about Trump associates (e.g., Paul Manafort) to direct insinuations about Trump himself.
The Trump cult will of course respond to this news by doing exactly the reverse of what the FBI did, which is to say they will take Durham’s criticisms of the FBI’s overzealous and biased presumptions about Trump’s alleged secret ties to the Russian government as evidence that Trump is pure and wonderful and has never had an un-American thought in his head, so let’s all MAGA!
The proper conclusion to draw from Durham’s report, in light of everything we know about the past seven years and everything that is still happening as we speak, is, if I may say so, more or less what I have been saying from my lonely outpost in Limbo all along.
Donald Trump was not strictly colluding with Russia, and indeed is not intelligent or emotionally stable enough to collude with anyone in a manner that would be useful to the other party. The reason people with confirmation bias might leap to the assumption that he was colluding with a foreign government, however, remains as true today as it was obvious all along: Trump admires Vladimir Putin enormously, regards him as a great man and role model, a kindred spirit if you like (although in this last judgment Trump merely flatters himself). He is susceptible to both Putin’s praise and his bullying tactics, for Putin, at least as Trump is capable of understanding him, perfectly matches Trump’s notion of a strong, decisive leader worthy of respect, admiration, and deference — exactly the sort of he-man, tough-guy president that the silver-spooned, manicured, pampered Trump pretends to be for the reality television fan club he so desperately courts and craves.
Trump’s unwillingness, even now, to criticize Putin directly with regard to his unjust war of annihilation against Ukraine, and his insistence on pretending to be neutral and merely “anti-war,” in that way appeasers (and colluders) always do, clearly pegs him as a de facto Putin ally, at best a useful idiot, and certainly pro-tyranny and anti-liberty in the most overt and incontrovertible ways. There is no backing out of this now, either for Trump or for his millions of obedient cultists. Trump is pro-Putin, which by ever-clearer implication means pro-Russian-imperialism, pro-Soviet-redevelopment, pro-oligarchic-tyranny, pro-unprovoked-wars-of-national-extinction. If you adopt that position, which has been Trump’s regular and consistent position on Vladimir Putin throughout his entire political career since 2015, and you believe this position can be reconciled with a pro-American, pro-liberty position, which has been the increasingly blurry surface of the MAGA propaganda throughout the same period of time, then Heaven help you.
Furthermore, if you are jumping for exonerated joy, along with Trump, over Durham’s criticisms of the FBI, you might perhaps take just a moment to ask yourself why Trump is still praised in the Russian state media, and why many of Trump’s biggest media allies, most notably Tucker Carlson, are treated as the only true and honorable journalists by the Russian state media. Trump was not colluding with Putin in any official, tactical way. This does nothing to alter the fact that Putin actively supported Trump, propagandized for Trump, and continues to see Trump and the MAGA movement as his best American friends and apologists, even as he slaughters, displaces, and kidnaps thousands of Ukrainians weekly, not to mention throwing thousands of his fellow Russians into suicidal traps weekly. Why would that be? Would it be because the Kremlin regards a strong, liberty-supporting, individual-rights-defending, anti-tyrannical government in the United States as somehow beneficial to Putin’s tyrannical expansionist ambitions? Or for some other reason?