What Mueller indictments mean for Trump, Democrats — and Facebook
by Editorial Board
New York Post
February 18, 2018
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment Friday of a Russian “troll farm” and 13 foreign nationals leaves little doubt Russia was working to undermine US democracy. But the filing also knocks the teeth out of the “collusion” claim.
That is, the charges are a strong sign that there’s nothing to Democrats’ charge that Team Trump worked with Russia to steal the 2016 election.
Mueller confirms that the trolling entity, the Internet Research Agency, used fake accounts on Facebook and Twitter to spread disinformation, sway public opinion and promote rallies. The “strategic goal” was “to sow discord in the US political system.”
Indeed, IRA began meddling as early as 2014, more than a year before anyone thought Donald Trump would run. And though it began favoring him and bashing Hillary Clinton in mid-2016, it seems clear that was simply because she was the clear favorite — and thus the one to slam to promote that “discord.” Indeed, Mueller’s team notes the trolls also promoted Bernie Sanders — and, after the election, pushed both pro- and anti-Trump rallies.
Yes, the operation was outrageous. But there’s scant evidence it made much (if any) difference in the 2016 results — which, again, makes sense if that wasn’t the goal. It appears Russia didn’t even target key states in the general election.
Nor (though Mueller didn’t weigh in on the point) is it clear if even a single person who might’ve seen the propaganda changed his or her voting as a result. (So much for Clinton’s excuse that Moscow caused her defeat.)
As for Dems’ greatest wish, proof of collusion to justify President Trump’s removal, Mueller’s indictment also falls far short. The closest it gets is its allegation that the defendants, posing as Americans, “communicated with unwitting individuals” tied to the Trump campaign. But it makes no charges that any of them knowingly took the bait.
Mueller isn’t finished, of course; maybe he’s sitting on evidence against Trump. But there’s an excellent chance he’s got nothing — that his indictments so far are just the result of his thoroughness and that he’ll wind up clearing the president.
Collusion has always seemed unlikely, with no evidence yet to emerge, 15 months since the election. Even anti-Trump FBI agent Peter Strzok, who’d been involved in the pre-Mueller probe, was reluctant to join Mueller’s team because “there’s no big there there.”
It’s past time to start facing the real issues: Facebook has to own up to its failure to realize (or to care?) how it was being used.
Trump, meanwhile, needs to stop downplaying Moscow’s meddling, and respond more seriously. And Democrats should get ready to admit that their smears against the president were just that.