The Nunes Memo is a National Gaslighting from the Trump Regime
I was listening to The Brian Lehrer show on WNYC this morning, and the discussion at one point was about the release of the Nunes memo. Listening to the host, and a few callers, I was astonished that the discussion became about, “Did Trump collude with Russia?” There’s something important people need to understand, collusion with Russian nationals is not necessarily a crime. However, there is a lot of criminality that can be associated with collusion.
In addition, today, that memo, isn’t really about facts or reason. None of the intelligent, logical things that people are saying about why the memo is stupid matters to the Trump regime or its supporters, because the Nunes Memo is simply a loyalty test for Trump supporters and their autocratic cult. When an autocrat lies, and says, “It’s a sunny day!” when it’s clearly raining, the point isn’t the lie. The point is, “Who accepts my truth?” That’s today.
I wrote this email to WNYC, officially turning into an old-person crank who writes the media, specifically about the crimes that matter, versus the collusion question which may not.
Here’s what I wrote …
— — — — —
To the Brian Lehrer Show,
Hi! I’m a long-time listener of the show, and appreciate all the work Mr. Lehrer does. He sounded rattled today, nervous at times, and I think I share that feeling. These are dangerous times.
There’s something important that more people in media, still, don’t seem to understand. There’s no such crime as collusion. Recall that collusion means …
“… secret or illegal cooperation or conspiracy, especially in order to cheat or deceive others.”
So, someone may work in secret to deceive other people, but that in itself isn’t a crime. Working with the Russian government to lie to the American people during a political campaign, for example, may not be illegal, depending on …
* what was being lied about? and …
* who was the person being lied to?
The second point, “who was the person being lied to?” speaks to something important. When you speak to FBI agents, there’s no need to be under oath. If the FBI, for example, is investigating a matter, lying to them is a crime. Here’s the statute.
916. False Statements to a Federal Investigator
So, if Trump’s campaign, for example, was speaking with private Russian citizens, but then lied about those discussions with Federal Investigators, THAT is a crime. The collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian citizens in that case wouldn’t be a crime, but the cover-up of the conversation (vis-a-vis lying to Federal Investigators), would be a crime.
If the discussion with private Russian citizens was about, for example, illegally obtained data from private Democratic Party Servers, and the data was exchanged, the exchange of the data would be a crime. If anyone was directly questioned about that exchange, and lied about it to Federal Investigators, THAT would be a crime.
Being under oath to Congress, and lying, could also be a crime.
So, even if the Trump campaign didn’t do anything illegal directly with their Russian contacts, lying to Federal Investigators about those contacts, trying to pretend they didn’t happen, THAT would be a crime.
It’s one of the reasons the investigation is taking so long, because it’s incredibly complicated. It can be simplified into some details about …
(1) Potentially covering up the use of stolen data (Fraud and related activity in connection with computers) | https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/1030
(2) Violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (Flynn, Manafort) | https://www.justsecurity.org/…/primer-foreign-agents-regis…/
(2) Violations of 18 U.S. Code Chapter 37 — ESPIONAGE AND CENSORSHIP | https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/part-I/chapter-37
(4) Lying to Federal Investigators about all of the above | https://www.justice.gov/…/criminal-resource-manual-916-fals…
The sheer amount of criminality is what makes the case so complex. A good primer on “collusion is not a crime” can be found last October from the Washington Post …
When Trump’s lawyer said as much in December 2017, that was true.
I’m writing as a concerned citizen and a fan. I’m not trying to chastise anyone, or even criticize. I’m just asking that when you talk about the Mueller investigation, especially if callers are spreading propaganda based on their own ignorance or (potentially) the ignorance of the audience, that you educate and help people understand.
This astonishing time is something we as a people will survive if we hold to the truth, to the law, and hold each other accountable for our words and deeds. Please, help ensure that you understand the criticality of the issues at play, so that your audience can also truly understand the issues at play. Or at least, for the people with open minds but without the knowledge to understand, that they have the opportunity to fill their open minds with the truth.
Thank you for your time.
— — — — —
If you’re looking at this whole thing, and thinking, “What person in their right mind could believe this memo is based in any kind of reality?” or are thinking of all the logical arguments about why this is wrong, that’s a good impulse.
But it has almost nothing to do with what’s happening. The same people, literally the same people, going with this memo, and promoting the narrative in it, are the same people who believed that the basement of Comet Pizza in Washington D.C. was the source of a child sex slavery ring … even though there is literally no basement in Comet Pizza. A Trump supporter went to that Comet Pizza with a machine gun and shot it up, before being arrested.
What’s happening right now is a national gaslighting, a loyalty pledge for the nation. We all have to decide where we stand.
If you’re neutral on this, just know to paraphrase Elie Weisel and Desmond Tutu, neutrality helps the oppressors, never the oppressed. If you’re neutral, or think there’s some problem with ‘both sides,’ you’re standing with many people who, to this day, still believe there’s a basement in Comet Pizza, who believe that the only answer right now is fascism, but could never see or believe that they’re fascists, because they believe they’re the good guys.
We’re living through the gaslighting of a nation, and the question everyone with conscience has to decide is whether we’ll fight back, and fight for the truth. Fight for the people we love, for the people who depend on us. Fight for the little people who are getting crushed, every day, as these fascists grow bolder. I don’t use these words lightly. I hope I’m wrong.
New York is a sanctuary city. May our flawed, terrible city always stay that way, and may she always be a place that understands that the Statue of Liberty can mean great things, and that it matters to the people who live here.