Yesterday, a very politically-savvy friend called me up, sounding bewildered. "You have to explain something to me that I don't understand," he said. "I've been really busy lately and have missed a lot of the news. What am I missing about this story that some Democrats with the Clinton campaign funded the Trump dossier that makes it a scandal?"
Before I answered him, I said I had to clarify something. First and importantly, I said, this isn't a case of Democrats with the Clinton campaign funding the dossier. It was an opposition research project started by a Republican during the GOP primary. And it was continued to be funded by a Republican. When Trump won the GOP nomination, the Republicans who were funding the project dropped out. And so, these Democrats took over the already-existing protject.
Okay, that was clear to him. But he was still confused. "What I don't understand," he repeated, "is what am I missing about this story that is a scandal?"
It was the easiest political discussion I've ever had with this fellow.
Nothing. You're missing nothing.
It's not a scandal, I continued. There is absolutely nothing wrong with what was done. It was normal, perfectly legal opposition research when the Republicans began the project. And it was normal, perfectly legal opposition research when the Democrats took it over. It's normal. Legal. Not a scandal. You're missing nothing.
He was still confused, though, because he is such an otherwise-savvy political guy and couldn't figure out why he wasn't seeing what so many Republicans were yelping about. "But is there something fishy with the company that put together the dossier??" he asked. "Are they tied to a foreign government or have a sleazy reputation or something?? Is that why it's a scandal?"
No, I told him again. It's not a scandal. The company is Fusion GPS, and they're a normal, perfectly legal company that puts together research reports. They're not a foreign government. They're a company. There's nothing wrong with them. There is no scandal. None. You're not missing anything. You don't see the scandal because there isn't one. It's just a case of the Republicans concerned about the mere existence of the dossier and concerned about the things in it that have been already confirmed, and concerned about anything else that might get confirmed in it which could be even more damaging. And so, they're trying to send up smoke screens and distract people and discredit the dossier, which is normal and perfectly legal. There's nothing wrong with it. There's no scandal.
"So, I'm not missing anything. There's no scandal. At all."
There is no scandal.
This is nothing more than picking up a normal, perfectly legal opposition research project that Republicans themselves funded but then dropped out, and continuing to fund it.
And the sad, pathetic part is that there are die-hard Trump supporters who will believe that there is a scandal, because they need to believe it and will believe anything. If my actually politically-savvy friend could have been even slightly bewildered on this, merely because he'd been distracted for a week, I can only imagine how it will be embraced by die-hard Trump supporters who seemingly have been willfully distracted for a lifetime..
There is only one thing that actually matters with the dossier. One. That is the contents of what's in it. And thus far, much of what's in it has already been confirmed as true.
There is, at least, one funny thing to come from all this, though funny is a numbing, head-banging way. And that's that for all the Republicans squealing like stuck pigs here about opposition research -- these are the very same people who were defending "opposition research" as the reason Don Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort all met with Russian government officials. The only difference is that meeting like that with Russian government officials is not just conspiring with a foreign government (not to mention one that is our enemy) but it's really illegal. Which when you get down to it is a Really Big difference.
Not to worry, though. As soon as they figure out what Republican initiated the dossier and first funded it, those of you who love the squealing sound of stuck pigs will get your hearts' content.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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