That is the first line of a Washington Post column titled Bungled collusion is still collusion.
The author is conservative Charles Krauthammer.
By now many know that Krauthammer made clear on Fox News that the recently disclosed meeting with a Russian lawyer and three key figures around Donald Trump was something he could not accept, especially given the email chain that Donald Trump Jr. released.
In this column, Krauthammer explains how he has come to where he now finds himself.
For a long time, he thought the idea of collusion was a chimera, a story without any substance. He could look at all the incidents described, including the Kislyak-Sessions meeting at the Convention and he saw nothing there. As he write,
I was puzzled. Lots of coverup, but where was the crime? Not even a third-rate burglary. For six months, smoke without fire. Yes, President Trump himself was acting very defensively, as if he were hiding something. But no one ever produced the something.
My view was: Collusion? I just don’t see it. But I’m open to empirical evidence. Show me.
But then we have the story over the weekend, culminating with Donald Trump Jr. releasing the email chain before it was released by the newspaper of record driving this particular story, The New York Times.
That changes things.
Krauthammer goes into that chain, noting Donald Jr. saying “I love it” and following that with two words:
The next paragraph is key:
Once you’ve said “I’m in,” it makes no difference that the meeting was a bust, that the intermediary brought no such goods. What matters is what Donald Jr. thought going into the meeting, as well as Jared Kushner and then-campaign manager Paul Manafort, who were forwarded the correspondence, invited to the meeting, and attended.
He does not accept the defense that the lawyer delivered nothing of value, because the three who attended the meeting had been willing to collude, given that they showed up for the meeting after having the entire email chain shared by Donald Jr.
It turned out to be incompetent collusion, amateur collusion, comically failed collusion.
Krauthammer also notes
It may turn out that they did later collaborate more fruitfully. We don’t know. But even if nothing else is found, the evidence is damning.
There is also an extensive dismantling of the other argument offered by some Trump apologists about American intervention in the elections of other nations. I will let you read that material on your own. What I will share is part of what Krauthammer has to say about that:
This defense is pathetic for two reasons. First, have the Trumpites not been telling us for six months that no collusion ever happened? And now they say: Sure it happened. So what? Everyone does it.
What’s left of your credibility when you make such a casual about-face?
Krauthammer is not a lawyer. He is trained as a psychiatrist, a field to which he turned in medical school after a diving accident left him in a wheel chair.
You may not like his political orientation. I don’t. I also normally cannot stand the way he comments on things politically, so much so that the one time I had a chance to speak with him at an event I passed on the opportunity.
But when I glanced at this column I felt it is something I wanted people to know about. He is a skilled writer. His final two paragraphs make that clear. The first of those, which points out the lack of specific statutary banning of foreign interference in our elections may mean that those attending the meeting that has caused the most recent firestorm may not have done something criminal, but what they did
is not merely stupid. It is also deeply wrong, a fundamental violation of any code of civic honor.
Of course, I doubt that anyone here would expect civic honor to be a trait one would associate with Trump and his associates.
And then there is the final paragraph:
I leave it to the lawyers to adjudicate the legalities of unconsummated collusion. But you don’t need a lawyer to see that the Trump defense — collusion as a desperate Democratic fiction designed to explain away a lost election — is now officially dead.
My only question after reading that paragraph is to wonder whether Krauthammer might actually be willing, if the evidence is provided, to accept the possibility that the election’s outcome could have been changed by Russian intervention, particularly if more detailed collusion is shown.
In any case, I wanted people to read the column.